Friday, January 31, 2014

PreacherGirl's State of the Union Address!

I had a dream the other night that I was the President of the United States. (Kathy got to be the pilot of Air Force One!) So here is my, State of the Union Address...

Friends and Fellow Americans. Let me just get to it. What is the State of our Union? What is the condition we, together, as Americans find ourselves in? Honestly, what is our national morale?

In the Wall Street Journal today, it talked about Americans feeling unsettled, anxious, divided and very few (only 13%) claimed to be hopeful. These reflect the feelings of people who are floundering and looking for direction. Like travelers on a journey, we find ourselves lost in uncharted territory.

The state of our union is that we have lost our way. We've become a nation of people more concerned for ourselves than their neighbors. We've lost our grandparents' dream of hope in a better future. We've become embarrassed of who we are as a nation. The rest of the world senses it too. We're rapidly losing our standing as the leader of the free world. The light of this shining city on a hill is flickering weakly.

So what are we going to do about it? My message tonight isn't just for Congress and the ruling class. My message is for "we the people." And that means you, the citizens of United States of America. We need to begin by asking ourselves some tough, tough questions.

In a sermon Andy Stanley gave recently (Question Everything), he gave us the question, the one question we must ask before all others. I'm not sure he intended for it to apply to our country, but here it is:

In light of my past experience,
my current circumstances, and
my future hopes and dreams,
what is the wise thing for me to do?

Let us ask this question not to ourselves, but to us, the people of the United States.

In light of our past experience,
in light of our current circumstances,
in light of our future hopes and dreams,
what is the wise thing for us to do?

This question forces us to look back, to study our history, and avoid the temptation to rewrite it to get the answers we desire. Facing the truth is hard. Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners and a United Methodist minister like me, once wrote, that “The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the near genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another." Is that who we really are?

I don't see it that way. I see America as a nation established by those seeking freedom from tyranny and oppression. I see America as a people seeking the freedom to worship God and follow God's teachings, as each persons' conscience leads them. I see America as a nation where each person is free to strive to be the best he or she can be, raising the quality of life for us all.

Perhaps our divide starts here. Perhaps both of us hold a part of the truth.

But this truth I will not compromise. America is a gift from God. I will do all in my power to stop the influence of those who claim there is no God and whose aim is to take away from all Americans the freedom of conscience to worship and live as God-fearing people. The desire to follow God whole-heartedly is why we are a nation in the first place. As Thomas Jefferson said (it's on the wall in his Memorial just down the street): "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

I tremble for our country too. I tremble for our country because as a people we seem to be losing the conviction that our liberty comes from God. We are not a perfect nation and we must continue to strive to be the nation God created us to be. And to do that we need to know in our hearts that our liberty, our very lives, comes from God.

We've forgotten much of our history and allowed those who always see the glass half empty to rewrite much of what is now taught to our children. As a nation we must reclaim and remember our past, the bad and the good. We must confess where we have been wrong, continue to right wrongs as we see them, but never, never forget to celebrate where we have been good and right.

Much of the good and right is laid out in our founding documents.

Hear these words from the Declaration of Independence -

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

And from the Preamble to our Constitution -

We the People of the United States, in Order 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And from the Bill of Rights. I'm going to read them because you need a refresher!

Amendment I:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III (3):
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV (4):
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V (5):
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Amendment VI (6):
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII (7):
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII (8):
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX (9):
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X (10):
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Read them, know them, study them. We need to get back to living into these principles and these laws. We are a nation of laws and not men. We must get back to living this truth.

We must study our history to see how we got where we are. We must teach our children how America expanded the gift of freedom, fought a bloody war to end slavery, conquered a continent, welcomed into full citizenship slaves, women, and millions of immigrants. We need to know how we increased prosperity, promoted education, and fought against evil that threatened other nations. We need to reclaim the truth about who we are as a nation, the good and the bad.

In light of our past experience....

And where are now? In light of our current circumstances, the question asks. Before we can make wise decisions, we need to examine in the cold clear light of day our current circumstances. And guess what, they all seem to revolve around sex, money and power.

Recreational sexuality, an entitlement mentality, and a pervasive attitude that the ends justify the means all seem to characterize our culture. 43% of our children are born to single mothers. And that's on top of the approximately 350,000 children who are aborted each year. I guess this is the fruit of the free love movement of the 1960s.

The number of folks who are capable of working but who aren't is close to 38%. Wait, you say. Unemployment is now under 7%. Yes, that is true, but more people than ever have simply stopped working. Perhaps that is a contributing factor to why 47 million plus Americans receive food stamps.

All the talk these days is about inequality, poverty, the divide between the haves and have nots, how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. My friends, the answers to these problems are not going to be found solely in the halls of government but our answer also lies within our hearts and minds.

Right now I'd like to speak to everyone under the age of 18. If you do not want to live your life in poverty, listen to me. Your future is in your hands - not your parents, teachers, or even your preacher, if you have one. Here is the key to your success.

Get an education, then earn and save some money, then get married, then have children. In that order. Did you know that less than 7% of the folks who follow that path end up in poverty? Get an education, and I don't just mean a diploma. Learn something. Finish high school, develop a skill, go to college or a trade school, discover your passions and abilities, invent something. You do it. You find the people you can help you.

Now, Congress here is going to help you by abolishing the Federal Department of Education and returning the oversight of your education to your state, and better yet your county, and even better yet, to your parents.

Get an education. Then get a job or make a job. Congress is going to work at getting out of your way by making a bunch of regulations disappear and simplifying the tax code.

Then get married. Seriously. Make a commitment to a single person and work really hard and keeping that commitment. It is hard work, but well worth it. Again, and this message is to Congress, our welfare system and tax code must be corrected to not discourage marriage.

But it will take more than some votes in Congress to end poverty. It is up to you, my fellow citizens.

Men, man up, grow up, and stop being nothing more than sperm donors. Make a positive contribution to your employer and community. Provide for your wife and children, financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Women, stop thinking you can have it all without a man in your life. Sure, you may have unlimited access to birth control and abortion. You may have no limits on what your can achieve professionally. But men need women, and women need men. Life is better as a couple. The basic building block of our society is family.

The demise of the American family isn't because of gay people. If a gay couple wants to make a commitment and raise a family, no law should stop to them. The demise of the American family is the responsibility of the heterosexual community who have abandoned an understanding of the roles of men and women in society. Without the family, American cannot be America. Make a commitment and get married.

Then have children. Raise your children in a home with two parents. Love them. Nurture them. Educate them.

Get an education. Get a job. Get married. Have children. Become the person God created you to be. That is the American dream.

I've talked about sex, now I'm going to talk about money. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that we should earn all we can, save all we can and give all we can. Work hard, save your money, share what your earn. Do any of you remember the rule of thumb about managing money that I was taught.....give the first 10% of what you earn to God and the work of God in the world (you know, charity). Then set aside 10% for your future needs, and last of all live off 80% of what you earn. It might take you awhile to get there, but you can do it. More about what the government takes in a minute.

Back to my point. Much of the poverty in our nation would dissipate if all of us helped care for our neighbors and the poor. You will do a better job of it than any government program. This does not mean that the government does not have a role in helping the poor and disabled. Of course it does! But the government is the relief of last resort, the safety net, not the first stop for help.

I'm going to challenge Congress to develop a budget, a balanced budget too, just like I am suggesting you do for your household. As a nation, we cannot afford to continue to live beyond our means, just like you can't.

And the way we are going to decide what we can spend money on - or not - is by starting with the Constitution. We have a system of government where certain powers are given to the federal government (they are called enumerated powers), and everything else falls to the states and to the people.

We will now begin the process of transitioning many of the things the federal government has gotten itself into back to where they belong. In doing so we will not only reduce the federal tax burden on all Americans, but more importantly reduce the intrusion of the government into our daily lives.

There are lots of other issues facing America today. I will briefly touch on two. One, healthcare. ObamaCare has got to go. It was severe government overreach. But now that it has been implemented, it must be dismantled carefully because so many individuals, businesses and the insurance industry have made plans based upon it. We don't want to see a collapse of the best health care system in the world with an over-reaction. In the process, we will restart the conversation with doctors, primary care doctors, not insurance companies. The government needs to get out of the business of meddling between doctors and their patients. Let's start there.

Another issue is immigration - we are a country that has always welcomed immigrants - including my father. Why are there 11 million folks here illegally? Are they here illegally because we haven't enforced the law, or are they here illegally because they have circumvented the law? Do today's immigrants want to become citizens or are they here for other reasons? If we paint this issue with too broad a brush our policies will fail, and we will put our national security at risk. We want citizens who want to be here, who appreciate America's history and traditions, who know the English language, who have proven that they will work hard and play by the rules.

The discussion must continue. Like with healthcare, we must stop talking past each other and truly try to listen to each other. Any of you remember Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? All the habits are good, but here, I'm talking about "Seek first to understand, Then to be understood."

In light of our current circumstances. I've talked about sex and money. Now what about power. What is America's place in the world? We are still the world's superpower, but we are no longer respected or admired. Our money is often welcomed but our friendship is not. We are feared and demonized. We are threatened by our enemies. I will do what I can to keep America safe, but I will not sacrifice our freedom to do it. What I will do is use my power to provide the world with an understanding of America as a land of freedom and opportunity, not conquest and oppression. We must talk with allies and enemies alike, but rest assured, the United States will protect itself, its citizens, and will meet evil head on wherever it exists. In light of our current circumstances....

But now we get to the part of the question that asks us about our hopes and dreams. What are our hopes and dreams? My grandparents dreamed of a better life for their children. That's why they came to America in the early 20th century. My parents dreamed of a better life for their children. And they too worked hard to help make it happen. My parents were proud to be a part of a country that was a shining city on a hill, a light of freedom to the world. My parents and grandparents had hope in the promise that is America.

That better life that my parents and grandparents dreamed of meant more opportunities, better education, freedom to develop our potential, freedom to love whom we wanted, and freedom to teach our children what was important. That includes teaching them about God, the source of our life and liberty. And yes, it includes teaching them, the latest advances in science and technology.

Parents, what do you dream of for your children? Americans, what do you dream of for our future as a nation? I would imagine the dream of our fore-bearers is still shared by many. A better life can be had for us all. A life of prosperity. A life of freedom.

In light of our past experience,
in light of our current circumstances,
in light of our future hopes and dreams,
what is the wise thing for us to do?

So what is the wise thing for us to do?

Hear me Congress and Courts. Hear me business leaders and union organizers. Hear me Moms and Dads. Hear me, fellow citizens of the United States of America. The wise thing for us to do is to humbly recognize that none of us is God and to look to Divine Providence for guidance. The wise thing for us to do is to reclaim the truth of our founding principles. The wise thing is for us to do is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

This is what you can do. Pray. Help your neighbor. And learn all you can about this wonderful representative government we have, this republic of the United States of America.

And to Congress, I want to encourage all of the members of Congress, senators and representatives, to go back to your districts and LISTEN to your people even those, especially those, who didn't vote for you. Then I want you to get together in state delegations and talk about what you have HEARD. Then I want you to share that with me. I will do my own listening tours. Social media is good. Face to face is better. Beginning next week, I will invite members of Congress in small groups to come to share a meal with me and we'll talk, get to know each other, and get about the people's business always asking ourselves....

In light of our past experience,
in light of our current circumstances,
in light of our future hopes and dreams,
what is the wise thing for us to do?

May God bless America and her people. And may her people bless God.

1 comment:

  1. I'll vote for you. You are so on target!! I don't know how many votes you'll get because you are logical.