Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission

"Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission" by Dr. Ronnie Floyd is supposed to be a book about participating in the Great Commission. Evangelism is at the core of our mission as Christians, and Dr. Floyd put together this book as a result of his appointment as chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this book. I prepared myself to be challenged & inspired with participation in the Great Commission. I thought there would be some good in-depth doctrine about evangelism, or at the very least there would be some new ground-breaking ideas that would example how to share our faith, especially reaching out to our own neighbors as well as those half a world away. Sadly, there was little to none of it.

The teaching on tithing was a bit unexpected, but flatly driven by guilt & sadly too typical of the teaching that people expect from pastors of evangelical mega-churches. The thrust was: give to us (the local church) all the money you can afford & more without question or any personal responsibility. Dr. Floyd does make a good point in that money is needed in order to spread the gospel, but he misses a great opportunity to drive this home with guilt-laden, out-of-context teaching.

I was hoping for a great book that would inspire people to share the gospel & give them the tools with which to do it. I just don't feel that this book is the book I was hoping it would be.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

If the Shoe Fits...

I admit it. I am a sucker for a great pair of shoes. My three-year-old daughter, Tessa is following in my footsteps and in fact, she loves the Disney movie Cinderella  because of the shoes Cinderella wears to the ball. She absolutely loves the part where the Grand Duke is going around trying the glass slipper on any and everyone looking for Prince Charming's true love. Cinderella dances all night at the ball with Prince Charming but must Cinderella overhears her step-mother inform her step-sisters that no one knows the identity of the girl loved by the prince, and that he will marry whomever the slipper fits. Realizing her sweetheart's identity, and that he is searching for her, Cinderella goes to get her shoe. Seeing the dreamy look on Cinderella's face, Lady Tremaine deduces that she is the mystery woman and locks her in the attic. Just then, the Grand Duke arrives and offers the slipper to Drizella and Anastasia. While the two big-footed women attempt to don the dainty shoe, Jaq and Gus-Gus steal the key to Cinderella's door from Lady Tremaine's pocket. After dragging the heavy key up the stairs to the attic, Jaq and Gus-Gus succeed in freeing their friend despite interference from Lucifer. Before Cinderella can try on the slipper, however, the vindictive step-mother trips the lackey carrying the slipper and it shatters. The Grand Duke is devastated until Cinderella happily shows him the slipper's mate and dons it. My daughter squeals with delight everytime she sees the glass slipper fit perfectly onto Cinderella's foot. Of course you and I both know there is more to the story than a killer pair of heels.

Cinderella's story is far from unique. In fact, the term, "Cinderella Story" has been used over the years as a metaphor which describes the story of an unlikely person rising to greatness. There was not coincidentally the movie "Cinderella Man" about the boxer Jim Braddock during the Great Depression. And it was about his unlikely rise from injury and poverty, to where he defeated the world champion Max Baer. Maybe you saw the film "Seabiscuit." That was a similar story, only with a race horse. Those are stories that inspire us aren’t they? We get a thrill when we hear of the poor boy who becomes a great sports star, or of the deaf girl Helen Keller who makes a great name for herself, or when we read the legend of the poor young squire, who pulls the sword from the stone and becomes king of all England.

Its a story woven throughout the Bible. It is clear from the scriptures that God loves the Cinderella story, too. Most of the people God called for great things were not great people – not by the world’s standards, anyway. They were fishermen, like most of the disciples. They were young men like Jeremiah, and young girls like Mary. They were old men and women like Abraham and Sarah and Zechariah and Elizabeth. And they were shepherds like David. Instead of a glass slipper, the great prophet Samuel comes with a horn full of oil, and instructions from God to anoint the next king. The Lord tells him to choose a king from among the sons of Jesse, and so they’re all lined up, like the ugly sisters putting out their foot. They were all brought before the prophet one by one, like the wicked step-sisters. And like that story, the glass slipper fit none of them. It’s only when the last son is fetched, the most insignificant boy, the shepherd-lad, too small for the ceremony, that God tells Samuel, This is the man. 

 I have to admit something else, too. Since Governor Palin announced October 5 that she was not going to seek the GOP nomination, I have been taking a closer look at the declared candidates. I have been trying to slip the shoe of what I look for in a President onto the wrong-sized feet of every last one. The further I look into each one's records and positions on everything from American Exceptionalism to foreign policy, I cannot be convinced that anyone else can fill Gov. Palin's shoes. You can just look at Jon Huntsman and know there is no way these shoes are going to be a fit. Not even close. Mitt Romney's feet aren't a fit either. Just look at Romneycare or his stance on the debt ceiling to know that his political feet are too big goverment for these shoes. Senator Ron Paul's feet are just a bit too narrow. Despite fitting better than some of the others when it comes to domestic policy concerns like the economy, the glass slippers are way too tight in the toes of foreign policy, especially in concern to our greatest ally, Israel. Governor Rick Perry's feet won't fit either. His history of crony capitalism and the HPV mandate make certain for an uncomfortable fit. Michele Bachman looks like she might have the right-sized political feet to slip into the glass slippers, in fact at times it looks like she is wearing them. However, upon closer inspection you can see her shoes are only knock-offs. While immitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it doesn't hold water in shoe buying or for presidential contenders either. Former Godfather's CEO,Herman Cain is the last of the group to try on the shoes. While it seems like they may fit, they are a little too big. The presidency is is not an entry level position. He has no political experience and that has a way of becoming suddenly and painfully obvious.These shoes are high heels and need to be worn by someone who knows how.

The current GOP field of contenders it seems has forgotten the idea that support of Gov. Palin is unwaivering. Now, Now that Gov. Palin no longer seems to pose a threat because she doesn't appear to be running, every candidate will be scrambling to get Palinistas to pull the lever for them come primary season. They will be working hard to convince you they can slip into Sarah Palin's shoes. I am reminded of a conversation in one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. Clairee asks Truvy what size shoes she wears. Truvy, played by Dolly Parton, responds, "In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight." Evidence of the GOP field trying to force the shoes to fit is visible by their co-opting of Gov. Palin's playbook. Several of the candidates have now become quick advocates for drilling in Alaska's Artic National Wildlife Refuge(ANWR), but Gov. Palin was a "Drill, Baby, Drill" proponent long before this homegrown energy concept was cool. But the shoehorning can be even more blatant than just copying a broad idea. For instance, Michele Bachmann told NBC's Today show "it's very clear that crony capitalism could likely have been the cause" of Governor Perry's executive order mandating the shots, saying his former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck. Bachmann's "crony capitalism" line was the same one Sarah Palin used in her speech at a Tea Party rally in Iowa in early September in which she criticized the "permanent political class" and "the collusion of big government and big business." By the way in the original Brothers Grimm version of the Cinderella story, it does indeed get a little more grim when it comes to Cinderella's sisters trying on the shoes. In the original story of Cinderella, one of the sisters cuts off a toe and the other slices off her heel,so that they could try to fit into the glass slipper! I fully expect the current GOP field to continue cutting off this and that from their talking points to make a better fit as they woo Palin supporters.

In the Disney version, its not as cut and dried as Cinderella slipping on that shoe and heading off into the sunset with her Prince Charming to live happily ever after. While the 'happily ever after' does eventually arrive, there is an obstacle shackling Cinderella and the Prince's happiness. Knowing that the slipper will fit and that Cinderella will marry the Prince, her stepmother trips the footman over while he is carrying the slipper, causing it to drop and shatter into hundreds of pieces All hope seems lost in that moment. Lady Tremaine saw her daughters, Cinderella's step-sisters as the ones who were expected to go to the ball, the ones who were marriageable. Cinderella was nothing more than a servant to her, not worthy of her notice, let alone a Prince's. Yet in the end she was the one who wowed the ball-goers, she caught the attention of the Prince, her foot which fitted the glass slipper.

The GOP establishment, the cocktail party Republicans, and cafeteria conservatives are all propping up Mitt Romney right now. In fact, just prior to both Governor Christie of New Jersey's announcement that he would not run for President and Gov. Palin's announcement that she would not run, one of the RNC talking heads made the statement that they already had their candidate. They don't want Gov. Palin to run. They think of her as someone useful like a servant, but of no real consequence. They certainly weren't going to push for her to be their choice. Like Cinderella though, Gov. Palin wowed "We the People". She has caught the attention of concerned constitutional conservatives across this nation. The shoes do indeed fit her. The permanent political class in America knows this, much like Lady Tremaine knew the glass slipper fit Cinderella perfectly, so they shattered the idea that Gov. Palin could be electable.

That saying is true - The perfect pair of shoes can change your life. Just ask Cinderella. The perfect shoes have changed my life and like the Grand Duke in the Disney story, I am unwilling to try to make them fit someone else. Only Governor Palin fits into those shoes. While the GOP has tried to force her out and it seems all hope is lost because the title or shoe if you will of candidacy seems to have been shattered, remember the other shoe still exists.In Cinderella, The Duke laments over the broken slipper, but Cinderella then reveals she has kept the other glass slipper, much to her stepmother’s chagrin. Delighted at this indisputable proof of
the maiden’s identity, the Duke slides the slipper onto her foot, which fits perfectly. She slips it on and all is well. The Prince has found his perfect mate. In the Presidential race, I firmly believe that the other shoe has yet to drop. Gov. Palin still holds the other shoe. And it fits her to a "Tea".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beyond the Powder Alarm: Mobilizing to Restore America

Many Americans like us have probably forgotten more about the Revolutionary War than students in today's schools learn about it. We know of the Tea Party in Boston Harbor in 1773. We know of Paul Revere's ride, the cold bitter winter at Valley Forge, and the battle at Yorktown. Perhaps what is often lost in history's great moments are the pivotal events that led to the birth of our nation. Long before the Declaration of Independence was drafted but after our famous high tea in Boston Harbor, events like the Powder Alarm of 1774 shaped a revolution.

In the months following the Tea Party, the British Government imposed a series of acts on the colonies including the Massachusetts Governments Act. This legislation was described as, "an act for the better regulating the governments of the province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England". This act had a devastating effect on the existing governments in the Massachusetts colony. It removed the selection of the governor from the general courts or assemblies of the colony and vested that authority in the Crown. It further provided that all counselors, judges, commissioners, the attorney general, provosts, marshals, and justices of the peace, would be appointed by the Governor and approved by his Majesty. The final indignation came when the act required that all agenda items from town meetings had to have approval of the royal Governor, and that only the annual town meetings, in March and May, may be held, without permission of the Governor. Business as usual was no longer an option. The impact of this second act, the Massachusetts Government Act, was felt more severely in the rural communities outside of Boston. The people of Boston were preoccupied with the occupation by the British troops, and though their governments had been suspended, their concerns were other than those of the farmers. Suddenly, these small communities were unable to conduct the business of keeping their government functioning.

In response to these actions, the local communities formed a governing body known as the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Part of the congress' mission was to raise money, supplies and men for the local militias. Readying the militias and keeping all units informed involved clandestine meetings, intricate and dangerous message delivery systems and bravery. Many of the patriots in the Massachusetts Bay Colony whose names are so familiar to us today ran the risk of being hanged for treason if their plans were discovered. The successful organization of the militia was proven on when they issued a powder alarm.

The local militias had stores of gunpowder throughout the colony. This, in itself, was not illegal, nor was the forming of militia. It was its intended purpose that rankled with the General. One such store of gunpowder was kept in Charlestown. On September 1, 1774, General Thomas Gage ordered 260 regulars to go to the storehouse and remove 250 barrels of gunpowder. This caused some rebels to believe that they British were preparing to attack and they sounded the alarm. Discontent began that evening when colonists streamed into Cambridge and began to wonder what had transpired. As the hours pressed on, rumors and speculation took on a life of their own. Stories of soldiers firing on civilians and warships bombarding Boston spread quickly. Beacon fires, which had not been used since the French and Indian War, were lit by local residents to summon the surrounding country to action. The following morning a crowd of approximately 4,000 gathered in Cambridge. Throughout the countryside, tens of thousands of men armed themselves and marched for Boston.

As the members of this spontaneous colonial army approached Boston, they passed inhabitants of other towns who spurred them on towards their goal. According to Ezra Stiles, one witness who "passed thro' the whole at the very time of the convulsion," noted that "all along were armed Men rushing forward some on foot some on horseback." Many communities surrounding Boston "scarcely left half a dozen Men in a Town, unless old and decrepit, and in one town the Landlord. . .was the only Man left." Marching toward Boston and an impending civil war, the men of the New England countryside were encouraged not only by their brethren in arms, but by the entire community. "At every house [there were] Women and Children making Cartridges, running Bullets, making Wallets, baking Biscuits. . .animating their Husbands and Sons to fight for their Liberties." Even after the men left their own homesteads, "Women kept on making Cartridges and after equipping their Husbands, bro't them out to the Soldiers which in Crowds passed along and gave them out in handfuls." 1

Out of the Powder Alarm of 1774 arose a widespread movement with a single shared objective: to fight for the common liberties of the body of people. The significance of this militant uprising was obvious. The Yankees flexed their collective muscle and successfully achieved all they desired that day. Their success begged the question: Would they now return to their homes and allow the normal political players to do what they would with the situation? Or, would the actions of that day live on, and the agency they displayed continue in similar forms in the future? What was the enduring legacy of that impressive mobilization?

As supporters of Gov. Palin and ultimately as a body of people desiring 'sudden and relentless reform' to restore America, the same questions might be asked of us. We have successfully engaged, or perhaps enraged those wanting to expand the reach of our federal government under the auspices of a Palin run for President, but now that Gov. Palin has decided not to run, do we just return home to our quiet lives content to let the GOP establishment do what they will with the situation? Or will the actions we have taken thus far live on?

The spark of ordinary individuals, an engaged citizenry throughout the colonial countryside all those years ago created a movement. That movement sparked the War for Independence and birthed a new nation; a republic. Even though the Powder Alarm consisted of a singular event confined to two days, its effect on the future course of events in New England and America proved significant. The actions and lessons learned during that time energized the country people and hardened their resolve to resist English rule. The moves taken by General Gage and the British Parliament were intended to isolate Boston and reduce the provinces' ability to resist English rule. These efforts backfired. The acts mobilized New Englanders to resist the authority of Britain at all costs.

What will history say of our movement? Will it be that we put everything into one moment - getting Gov. Palin elected President, that we forgot the larger picture? No, I would like to think not and I don't think Gov. Palin would want us to pack up and go home. That is not who we are. We have kept our powder dry long enough. Now is the time to use it. The reality is as Palin has said all along - it is not about her. It is about "We the People". We need to press our demands, make our voices heard, and effect political change. All of us, not just the elite political class, but we farmers, artisans, merchants, and housewives need to continue our efforts. We can't hide behind someone else's skirts and wait for them to do the hard work of returning America to her glory. Today's Powder Alarm has come and gone. We are the driving force and we need to get involved in all levels of government, not just concern ourselves with the top of the ticket. We need to write letters to the editor, attend Central Committee Meetings, and even run for office ourselves. We need to stay focused, energized, and ready to restore America.

1 Primary accounts of the troop movement can be found in the Boston Gazette, Sept 5, 1 774; Dexter, ed., Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles p 480

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gov. Palin's Decision: The Wrong Road Leads to the Right Place

Ever have one of those moments when something comes to you in a dream? In the wee hours of the morning after I had fed our 6-month-old son and drifted off again to sleep, I woke up energized with the thought of Robert Frost running through my head. Well, not Robert Frost in a jogging suit readying for a marathon type of running, but Robert Frost's piece "The Road Not Taken" pulsing through my thoughts and more specifically a quote from it:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I pondered for a moment and then thought almost immediately of Gov. Palin's decision not to run for the GOP nomination for the 2012 Presidential Election. There is some debate in literary circles as to whether Frost was glad he took the road less traveled or regretted not taking the more traveled, more acceptable path. A lot of people think Gov. Palin has chosen the wrong path by not throwing her name in the hat this time around. However, I am a firm believer that wrong roads can often lead us to the right place.

From the dawn of creation, man's story has been marked by people who took wrong turns. At the fork in the road, they went the wrong way but ended up right where they were supposed to be. The Bible is full of stories of people who seemed to be at the wrong place at the right time. A gangly teenager named David was told by his father to carry some food to his big brothers who were fighting a war, and on that road, young David discovered his destiny to be the King of Israel. Think back to the Bible story of the Israelites who made the most famous wrong turn in all of history and zigged and zagged for forty years in the wilderness before arriving in the land of milk and honey. Indeed, almost every Bible character could say, "You know, a funny thing happened to me on the way to (fill in the blank)." It almost seems everyone who gets to the right place spends some time on the wrong road.

Henri Dunant was a wealthy Swiss banker in the 19th century. He was sent by the Swiss government to work on a business deal with Napoleon in Paris. He arrived in Paris only to find Napoleon was off fighting a war against the Austrians in Solferino, Italy. So Henri Dunant got back in his carriage and giddy-upped his horses down to the battlefront, arriving just in time to hear the bugle's blast and see the thundering charge of the battle. Henri Dunant had never seen the ghastly carnage of war before. In utter horror he watched the cannon balls tearing through flesh, leaving acres of maimed and dying men. So devastated was he that he stayed for weeks, assisting the doctors as they cared for the wounded in churches and nearby farmhouses. Even when he got back to Switzerland, Henri Dunant could not keep his mind on his banking business. His thoughts kept running back to what he’d witnessed in Solferino. He became so distracted he lost his fortune; his business failed. But even with his career in shambles, he never lost his sense of personal duty to make a difference. He wrote, “I was aware of an intuition, vague and yet profound, that [this was] God’s Will; it seemed to me that I had [something] to accomplish… as a sacred duty and that it was destined to have fruits of infinite consequence for mankind.”You can say that again! Out of his depression and failure Henri founded the International Red Cross, which has since saved millions and millions of lives in war and disaster,for which he was awarded the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize – all because he followed that wrong road to Italy.

The founder of the International Red Cross had no idea where that road to Italy would lead. He had no idea it would change his life so drastically or the lives of countless others impacted by his choice to take that road. We have yet to know what extent Gov. Palin's decision to go down the unconventional, untrodden path will mean for her, for us, and ultimately for America. We can learn from history an important lesson though, the less traveled road often produces life-changing results.

Irena Sendler (aka Irena Sendlerowa) was a member of Zegota, the clandestine Polish Rescue Organizatio lang="en-US">n, who, at great risk, rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto and placed them with Christian families. She buried jars containing their real and assumed names in the garden, so that they could be one day learn the names of their biological families after the war. Sendler has been called the female Oskar Schindler, but she saved twice as many lives as the German industrialist, who sheltered 1,200 of his Jewish workers. Unlike Schindler, whose story received international attention in the 1993 movie "Schindler's List," Sendler and her heroic actions were almost lost to history until four Kansas schoolgirls wrote a play about her. The lesson Sendler taught them was that "one person can make a difference," Megan Felt, one of the authors of the play, said. Sendler was honored by the Polish Senate and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which brought dozens of reporters to her door. "Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth," she said, "and not a title to glory." Irena chose a path, not tread on by everyone and she changed lives and made a difference in this world.

Coach Ed Thomas also impacted this world by choosing a path less traveled. He was the local high school football coach in Parkersburg, Iowa, when a tornado struck the south side of town killing seven people and destroying 280 homes. Ed Thomas, fueled by his faith and sense of hope, helped motivate the community to put their lives back together. Only 13 months later, another tragedy struck, this time involving a former student and his tragic decision. Coach Thomas was shot and killed by a former player. Though his life was cut short, the path he chose continues to impact lives in those small Iowa communities. In the wake of devastation, Parkersburg maintained the magnanimous attitude that Thomas once exemplified. The most striking example of that mentality came in April of this year, after a tornado decimated Mapleton, Iowa, a town 180 miles west of Parkersburg. A group of more than 85 students -- there are only about 250 in the entire school -- immediately volunteered to help clean up the destruction. No local newspaper or television station organized the effort. The kids arranged it themselves, unprompted.
Ed Thomas and Irena Sendler are two people who didn't need titles to get them onto that road less traveled. They made a difference and impacted the way numerous people live their lives today. Gov. Palin is proving too that she is traveling down the road to making a difference without being the GOP nominee for President. I have no doubt history will show her to be one of those who return America to its Constitutional roots. We might all be disappointed with her decision not to run, but ultimately I think we will get to the point to see that what might seem like the wrong road is going to put Gov. Palin in the right place to change history and make a huge difference for all Americans.

The question for us as people who espouse all that Gov. Palin stands for is this: Will we continue on the path with her? Will we follow her example and take the road less traveled? Will we take that road that everyone else sees as wrong? Will we stand up and continue to fight to restore America? The wrong road will lead us to the right place, if we just have the courage to step onto the path and blaze a new trail.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sarah's Smooth Stone

The First Book of Samuel from the Old Testament in the Bible has been on my mind recently. It seems to be everywhere I turn. We have six young children, ages 9 through 6 months, and we let them decide which book of the Bible we will study out of. Sean, our oldest, mentioned that he wanted to learn more about King David, so we started reading it in September. Our pastor just gave a sermon and mentioned scriptures out of this book too. My husband is reading a few different books(surprisingly he keeps them all straight) that also mention 1 Samuel. I tell you all of this to say, I feel that when something happens more than once or twice it no longer exists as a coincidence. I feel compelled to explore the information further.

With the story of David, specifically the account of David and Goliath present at my every turn, I couldn't help but think of Gov. Palin. The comparison is fairly obvious to anyone who knows anything about Gov. Palin and remembers the story of how a young shepherd boy slew the Philistine giant. The longshot, the dark-horse going against impossible odds. From that aspect, it is not a difficult comparison to draw. And its one I am NOT going to make today. I want to focus on David's weapon of choice.
Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine - 1 Samuel 17:40(NIV)

At this point in the epic underdog story, David has just rejected the traditional way a soldier would protect himself, and has embarked upon his preparation for battle. He instead goes to a stream and picks out some stones. If you were fighting someone approximately twice your height, and you had the chance to select a stone, what kind would you choose? Conventional thinking might lead you to choose the most jagged, rough rock you could find. Preferably something with a big point on it. Right? How do you think that jagged rock would fly? Picture what happens to a golf ball if you don't hit in the right manner. If you don't hit the golf ball in the right place, the head of your club leaves a curved, rough cut on it. Golf balls with big cuts on the surface don't fly nearly as well or as straight as perfectly smooth golf balls. From this I know that if you put a pointed rock in a sling and threw it, it would fly all over--not fly straight to the target. When David chose an instrument to accomplish the Lord's will, he chose something that would hit only the target--it would not fly all over the place. Smooth stones also fly straight.
Do you really think that David could have defeated Goliath? Maybe. But the odds would have been at least a million to one. Certainly the smooth stones did not do it. David could have dredged that stream dry of smooth stones and they never would have caused him to win over Goliath. What won the day in the Valley of Elah thousands of years ago, is the same thing that will win the day for Gov. Palin and ultimately us as Americans; Gov. Palin's attitude.

In the Bible account in the moments prior to the battle between the giant and the shepherd, David's brother Eliab overhears David talking with some of the soldiers and insults David. He insinuates that David isunreliable, irresponsible, has no value, is conceited, and has a wicked heart. How many of you could withstand criticism like that? You want to do or are doing something you feel is of value and what do people say to you? You are irresponsible. You are unimportant. You are doing it for self glory. The natural thing for David to do or any of us to do would be to throw the insult back. Or better yet say, "You know big brother, you are right. Think I'll be heading back to my small flock and I'll let you contend with that 11 foot guy without me." David neither returned the insult or gave up. He let the insult roll off his back. One only has to think to the opening moments of Stephen K. Bannon's "The Undefeated" to recall the blistering criticisms Sarah Palin receives on a daily basis from the media, opponents, even people claiming to be on the same side of the fight. But like David, she doesn't let it get to her. She hasn't retreated permanently to Alaska. She doesn't let it deter her from her mission – to restore America. She stays in the fray. Insults do not stick to a smooth stone.

David's right attitude also comes across in his reaction to Goliath. There is an old saying "The best offense is a good defense", but that wasn't in Old Testament times and it isn't in the 21st Century. It is football season and we know from the fundamentals of the game that there is an offense and a defense. The defensive team can keep you from losing, but with rare exceptions it cannot actually win the game. It is the offensive team that makes the points that win the game. How is that playing out in our political world today? The current climate in the GOP race for nomination seems to that of purely a defensive one. They encourage others not to be discouraged over difficulties. They talk about not losing faith. They act like we are in a "holding action." It is all talking points and meaningless platitudes. Where is our offensive team? Where is the conviction that American values are at stake, and "by God", we are going to do something about it? Sarah is our best offense. She knows things need to be changed and as her husband, Todd best said in a recent "When you move forward, and you want to make change, you're gonna piss people off, you know, but Sarah doesn't care." Sarah isn't going to be busy hand-holding or hurling insults at other candidates in defensive measures. Like David, she will focus on the record of each opponent. David called out Goliath for who he was. Sarah will call out her opponents in much the same manner.
David's attitude also shines through when he decides to take personal responsibility for the task of vindicating the Lord. He didn't wait around for someone else to do it, he took the giant on himself, for his country, his people. Being personally responsible for our own actions and for what needs to be done is very important. Think of the current climate in our country. Everything else is to blame for what's wrong – blame George W. Bush, blame ATM machines, blame your golf game, or blame global warming. The list is as tall as Goliath was. No one thinks its up to them as citizens of this country to help get it back on track. The pervasive attitude is much like that of my 4-year-old's when it comes to cleaning, "I didn't make the mess, I am not going to clean it up." Gov. Palin share's David's attitude. She possesses a servant's heart. The fire in her belly is for America and she will take personal responsibility to change our dire situation.
In The Book of Samuel, David didn't wait for Goliath to strike first. David charged up to the giant and hit him squarely in the forehead with a smooth stone. A smooth stone killed the giant. The smooth stone flew straight to the target. It didn't fly off in another direction, it hit him head-on. Sarah will step forward one day soon, with smooth stone in hand to take America back from the giant threatening its very existence.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Palin's Poker Persona

Poker is a game of skill that paints a picture of what makes us uniquely American. It melds together all that is best of the risk-averse Puritan work ethic and the entrepreneur's urge to seize the opportunity. While the two ways of operating don't necessarily compliment one another they blend in such a way that they have made us who we are as a country. The card game still combines Puritan values of self-control, diligence, the slow accumulation of savings with a mind-set of those who risked it all in the gold rush or even today's lottery ticket enthusiasts. A keen foreign observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in Democracy in America: "Those living in the instability of a democracy have the constant image of chance before them, and, in the end, they come to like all those projects in which chance plays a part." This was true, he deduced, "not only because of the promise of profit but because they like the emotions evoked."
American history is replete with both sides of the card when it comes to the poker personality. General Robert E. Lee, confronting overwhelming supremacy in men, munitions, and technology, was able to keep the Confederacy’s cause alive as long as he did because he picked his battles carefully. He did not engage the Union Army at every opportunity; he selected opportunities where he believed he could negate the Union’s inherent advantages and overcome them. In fact, during the early stages of the war, Union General McClellan was unwilling to commit his troops, even when the odds were strongly in his favor. Like a player who is overly weak and overly tight, General Lee constantly ran him off the best hand. McClellan ultimately suffered the military equivalent of really bad beat ¾ he was sacked by President Lincoln, who, knowing his man held most of the big cards, wondered why he wouldn’t play a hand and therefore couldn’t win!

Think of Gov. Sarah Palin as the ultimate poker player if you will. Author, activist, and self-described rock 'n' roll legend, Ted Nugent penned this of Gov. Palin, "Her rugged individualism, self-reliance and a herculean work ethic resonate now more than ever in a country spinning away from these basics that made the U.S.A. the last best place. We who are driven to be assets to our families, communities and our beloved country connect with the principles that Sarah Palin embodies" And while she is the picture of hardworking America, she is also very much the Maverick. She does things her way, taking what some consider chances in a political party used to playing by a set of acceptable rules. She became known in Alaska as a popular maverick, staunchly conservative on key issues but vocal about problems she saw, including those in her own party. Widely seen as a political outsider who stayed at arm's length from her party establishment, she defeated two political insiders in 2006 to become the youngest, and first female, governor in the Alaska's history.

Palin is making history again, as an unconventional candidate for the GOP nomination. She has yet to declare, but pundits and media alike are trying to force her hand as to when she will announce. On Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch on Fox Business Thursday evening, she had this to say of showing her hand: "You know, I hold my political cards close to my chest, I've certainly learned lessons along those lines and I'm going to continue to do that until I'm ready to make an announcement." Her strategy is very much that of the consummate professional poker player in several ways.

Governor Palin knows to be selective, but also to be aggressive. She knows you do have to pick your battles, and carefully choose when to retreat, (fold ‘em) and when to draw your proverbial line in the sand (hold ‘em). And yes, more than once the song "The Gambler" sung by Kenny Rogers has entered my stream of consciousness since Gov. Palin mentioned she was playing it close to the vest. Read any of her latest Facebook notes and you will soon discover she is very selective when it comes to discussing matters, yet unashamedly bold and engaged when it comes to point out problems and presenting solutions to get America back on course.

She is also practicing the art of knowing her opponents well. If you can pick up tells in a poker game -- where players take great pains not to broadcast them -- think how easy it ought to be to read people away from the table. Understanding the different players that you're up against is the key to success in poker. By knowing your opponents you will call less often when you don't have the best hand and be able to raise and get extra bets out of your opponents when you otherwise would not be able to if the opponent was unknown.

Like every poker player worth their salt knows,you have to have a plan. If you have no standards at the, and adopt an any-two-cards-can-win philosophy, you’ll soon go broke. Knowing in advance which cards you’re going to play, what position you’ll play them from, and how you’ll handle different opponents, are key factors to success at the poker table. It’s no different in the real world. If you don’t plan, you’re just a leaf in the wind. While traveling in a random direction does get you somewhere, it’s probably not where you hoped to go. In the real world, if you don’t have your own agenda, you’ll soon be part of someone else's. Look to Gov. Palin's five point plan for restoring America that she spoke of in Iowa over Labor Day weekend.

While its important to have a plan, know your opponents, and be selectively aggressive, its crucial to exercise restraint. If you want to win in poker and also more so in the game of life, or in this case in restoring America you have got to have this ace in your hand. Governor Palin knows what it really takes to win in life. And what it takes, more often than some people think, is not a whole lot of bluster and confidence. She realizes something vital. If you are not capable of carefully evaluating your own position, your own strengths and weaknesses, than you will play like a fool and be recognized as such by all your opponents. If you tend to "go for it" because you believe you’re invincible, your game is as good as over, before it even begins. While all of us may be wanting her to show us her hand, Gov. Palin is holding back, evaluating her own position. "You have to know when to hold them... Know when to walk away and know when to run." Sarah knows all of these things and when she is ready, she will reveal her winning hand.