Book Rec: The Presidents Club

61iyNBdczoLI’ve been reading through the biographies of our presidents and so far have been enjoying getting to know them. It’s interesting to learn about their accomplishments, what drove them toward their failures, and how history has decided to label them.

But there’s one thing that their biographies tend to overlook.

We may learn about each man’s upbringing, his habits, his fierce run for the top job, what made him tick, etc. But even the most in-depth biography touches very little on the behind the scenes story of how each president interacted with one another before and after their arduous campaign battles against one another.

The Presidents Club by Nany Gibbs and Michael Duffy undertakes this task, with every post-WWII president (beginning with Truman and Hoover).

The wonder of this book is in the telling of how unlikely friendships – and rivalries – formed because of stark differences of ideology and running the White House.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is toward the end when we learn about the unforeseen friendship between Clinton and both Bushes, the iconic polar opposites in the political arena.

A colleague of mine a few years back became one of my very good friends, even though we had completely different political views – he a Carter supporter, and me a Bush man. Thing is, we never had a fight or argument. We explained our views and we listened to the other with respect and understanding – understanding that we each want what’s best for our families and the country. But, as he often said, we just have different ways of getting there.

Here is an eye-opening excerpt from The Presidents Club that I think every American can learn from.

“…George W. Bush did me one of the great favors of my life,” Clinton [said]. “He asked me not once, but twice, to work with his father. We took 7 trips together. This man who’d I’d always liked and respected and run against … I literally came to love … and I realize all over again how much energy we waste fighting with each other over things that don’t matter … He can virtually do no wrong in my eyes …” 

The Bush family paid Clinton back at this particular gathering, “conferring on him the highest possible honor: a family nickname … Laura Bush asked all twenty-seven Bushes in attendance to gather for a family picture … Clinton [was] standing quietly off to the side backstage, watching the big family take its places for a photographer when the call came from Neil Bush rang out: “Bill, Bill! Brother of Another Mother! Get in here!” 

And so he did, taking his place in the back row, near some grandchildren. “Yeah,” Clinton mused, recalling the moment a few months later, “the family’s black sheep. Every family’s got one.”

Even in this party-split nation we can still live as one country, in unity and love for one another.

US-POLITICS-PRESIDENTS

Why Switchfoot Won’t Sing Christian Songs Anymore

switchfoot_pic-thumb-2574x2574-29801I absolutely love this article. I’ve never really been a fan of “Christian” music nor shied away from “secular” music, because I don’t think there needs to be a chasm between the two.

Let’s be honest – Christian music is just preaching to the choir. Not that the choir doesn’t often need preached to, but I think a lot of Christian artists, authors, singers, etc., fool themselves by thinking they’re reaching the world with their Christian labels.

Take a look at this article.

Singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band, and his response is definitely something worth reading. This is such an incredible story! I love seeing “faith” driven bands step outside of their comfort zones for the sake of reaching more people.

Read the full article here.

What are your thoughts on his response? How do you go about your work so that it crosses the line from “Christian” to “secular”?

A Christian’s Thoughts on the Late Fred Phelps

MD WESTBORO01 KIRSCHBAUMThe late Fred Phelps, founder of the institute known as Westboro Baptist Church, was a favorite target of tabloids and religious headhunters because of his outspoken views of major issues such as homosexuality and sin.

Phelps and his institute – not church – is linked to Christianity because of his frequent use of the words God and sin and hell. When, in serious conversation with evangelicals, it would not be uncommon for unbelievers to make Pheps-like references about God and sin that had been made popular by the mainstream media.

Folks, let us be clear here. FRED PHELPS DID NOT PROMOTE CHRISTIANITY NOR THE BIBLE. HE PROMOTED HIMSELF AND HIS HATE WHICH IS COUNTERINTUITIVE TO THE CHRISTIAN AGENDA.

I’m not looking for a Get Out of Jail Free card. I’m not trying to break ties between Phelps and Christians because he’s dead now. Any true Bible believing Christian never stood with Fred Phelps because he did not speak the truth – and he certainly did not speak in love.

As you will see in the article by Dr. Albert Mohler below, you will learn that Phelps actually made Christians’ work much, much harder than it needed to be. Please read the article and pass it along to your friends who link Phelps with Christianity.

It’s time to set the record straight and make very clear that Christians do not wish damnation on sinners as Phelps clearly did, and pray that everyone finds salvation in Jesus Christ.

Fred Phelps is dead. The fire-and-brimstone preacher, who for many years was pastor of the institution known as Westboro Baptist Church, died late Wednesday in a hospice in Topeka, Kansas. The announcement was made on his church’s website. The wording was simple: “Fred W. Phelps Sr. has gone the way of all flesh.” Thus brings to an end one of most bitters lives in modern history — and one of the most harmful to the Gospel.

Read the rest of 

Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate — A Necessary Word

Debates and Racism Over Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad

If you didn’t watch the Super Bowl last Sunday (or turned it off out of embarrassment), you missed an ad put out by Coca-Cola that has sparked much debate and criticism.

In my family, we prefer Coke over Pepsi, even though only one of us can taste the difference. A big reason is because of their ads. Commercials and expensive advertising must work; we drink Coke because of those cute polar bears and vintage Santa Clauses. Their ads are catchy and classy, as opposed to Pepsi whose ads tend to be trashy and inappropriate by comparison.

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On Sunday, February 3, 2002, during the Super Bowl, Pepsi-Cola North America unveils a new Britney S..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And let’s face it: if I drank, I’d choose Budweiser for the same reason.

But Coke’s newest ad, which you can watch on the video above, was anything but classy, according to a lot of people.

For a whole minute, Americans from all nationalities and languages joined in in singing “America the Beautiful.”

My wife and I made no comment about it, that I recall. Except I might have mentioned how pretty it was.

It’s touching to see Americans of all races come together and be united as one, though we may differ on subjects of religion, politics, and attire.

And it’s heartbreaking to read comments online like:

Not a fan of the CocaCola commercial. America The Beautiful should not be sang in any other language other than English. Sorry not sorry. 🇺🇸 -BudLightBro (@BudLightBro)

I will be drinking Pepsi after your Super Bowl commercial. We welcome all people but being American should be an honor. @CocaCola #tcot -M Mahathy (@mmahathy)

I am truly disappointed in @Coca Cola for the offensive#SpeakAmerican commercial last night. Speak English!— Janice Rounsaville (@janicehr55)

Read article here.

Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes once said “If you can’t speak English, then I say, shut up!”

He was six. I doubt he’d still say that today.

Some even went so far as to say that terrorists should not be singing our nation’s songs.

It’s too bad that we as a nation are weary to take up arms against our real enemies over seas, but will attack our own under the pretense of assumption and bigotry.

I don’t see people complaining about Disney’s “Let it Go” sung in 25 languages going ultra-viral. Why? Because it’s beautiful.

Like America.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

What are your thoughts on the whole Coca-Cola ad debate? Share your thoughts.

Country Music Part I

country-music

I was a big fan of country music from my freshman year at high school up until about two years ago. After listening to so much of it, though, I came to the realization that they all sound pretty much the exact same. There’s just not much variety in that genre. But there are still a few country songs that I like to return to every once in a while and that actually stand out from the rest. Here are a few of my favorites:

Letter to Me by Brad Paisley – Did you know that Anne Banks from the movie Father of the Bride is married to Brad Paisley? Anyway, this song is fun and relatable for any guy who grew up as an all-American. Takes listeners through the ups and downs of adolescence as Paisley writes a letter to himself and sends it back it time to when he was seventeen. It’s also a reminder to us to appreciate what we have now, right before us.

Sweet Southern Comfort by Buddy Jewell – It’s a little more hokey than most people might care for, but the lyrics are majestic, and takes listeners back to the small town America that most of us missed. This song makes me cry over the kind of life I wish I’d lived, catching catfish on the river, playing in the mud, and sitting under weeping willows. Not that I’m not thankful for the life I did live, I guess the grass is just greener on the other side.

Have You Forgotten by Darryl Worley – Yeah, it’s’ a controversial song, and makes an unpopular political statement, but man, seriously! I think we have forgotten how it felt that day, “to see our homeland under fire and her people blown away.” Never forget. Thank you, Mr. Worley, for your courage in making this song.

My Front Porch Looking in by Lonestar – I’ve purposefully listened to this song no less than a hundred times. Another song that encourages its listeners to love and appreciate their blessings. Love, love, love this song, and always makes me thankful for my wife when I hear it.

Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band – The only other country song I love more than “My Front Porch Looking In” is this song right here. I’m sure you’ve heard it on the radio a dozen or so times. But give it another glorious listen. Just do it. And see if you can’t sit outside in your jeans with a cold beer just once more before the winter hits. Or maybe we’re too late, but spring will be here soon. Also, I love the tribute they pay to our heroes on the front lines. After all, that’s what gets me coming back to country music every now and again.

 

Book Rec.: Rawhide Down

RAWHIDE-IMAGE

I love nonfiction books that point you to a specific point in time that may have lasted from several minutes to an entire day, and every facet of that event is digested and rolled over and over again, analyzing that particularly momentous moment in history. In the case of Rawhide Down, the event on display lasted merely 1.6 seconds.

Del Quentin Wilber captures the near-assassination of former President Ronald Reagan as though the book stood as a telling photograph of that entire day. Not a beat is missed as all hell breaks loose and the players on the stage of this dramatic occurrence freeze, Matrix-style, as the author walks his readers around the commotion, pointing out the structure of the armored limousine that would provide safety to the president and his body guard, Jerry Parr. The would-be assassin goes unnoticed hiding behind a noisy heckler as he steadily fingers his $45 RG 14 revolver, loaded with explosive bullets. Wilber goes into the history of the Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy who was hoping to avoid duty that day so that he wouldn’t get his new suit wet in the rain, and that he never would have known he would become a human shield for the president, taking a bullet to the chest.

Acts of heroism from others such as officer Thomas Delahanty, press secretary James Brady, and Drs. Benjamin Aaron and Joseph Giordano are put on display for us to give our thanks to and honor, for saving the president’s life that day in March 1981.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which I highly recommend anyone to read.

President Reagan has just been informed that he will be undergoing surgery at the George Washington Memorial Hospital in D.C.:

Looking up from the gurney, Reagan spotted Jerry Parr, one of the few familiar faces within view. “I hope they are all Republicans,” he said through his mask. Parr smiled, but he was too anxious to laugh. Reagan would repeat the line later, to better effect.

One nurse monitoring the president’s vital signs was startled by his attempt at humor; given his condition, she didn’t think it was a good time to be joking around. Another nurse was amazed at how calm Reagan seemed. And everyone working around the gurney was impressed by his courtesy. 

“I don’t mean to trouble you,” the president said to one of his doctors, “but I am still having trouble breathing.”

Get it here on Amazon.

A Little Damaged

JetBlue292Landing

You may remember the event that took place on September 21, 2005. For the first time since 9/11 the nation stood still and almost every eye was on their TV set or ear on the radio. Once again, fellow Americans were in aerial danger.

One hundred forty passengers and six crew members were gripped in absolute fear aboard Jet Blue Airlines Flight 292. There were no terrorists on board, but the thing that caused such fear was the plane itself.

The front wheels were jammed in a ninety-degree angle, perpendicular to the direction of flight. Foregoing their destination to New York, the pilots made arrangements to land at LAX to take advantage of the long runway and the expert emergency personnel that would be ready on hand.

After circling the Pacific in order to release aviation fuel, the plane got itself en route to landing at LAX as the world held its breath in fearsome anticipation. With the front landing gear damaged, the plane began its descent toward the runway. One can only imagine how many armchairs were destroyed by the tight grips of the passengers onboard.

But with skill and cunningness, the pilot managed to bring the aircraft to safety very close to the 11,096-foot runway. At once the nation let out its breath and everyone was able to move on with their lives, and life as they all once knew it was restored.

Everyone knew what was wrong with the plane, but something had to be done about it; It wasn’t something that could just fly by without notice. But so many of us choose that route everyday.

All of us are damaged – the kind of damage that is nearly impossible to fix, try as we might. But so many of us choose to just linger high and mighty above everyone else, refusing to make contact with the rest of the world. There’s always a great risk involved when connecting one on one with someone. The risk being that they might discover the broken pieces about us and see us for the messed up people that we really are.

So we refuse to connect. (We often think our flaws are so huge, but in reality they’re as small as a wheel on an airplane.) We don’t allow ourselves to make a connection with the rest of the world. We hold ourselves back. We circle around the ocean of safety hoping to fix ourselves before we join up with the rest of the world. But sooner or later, we will run out of fuel and we’ll have no choice but to land. And a forced landing could be a pretty messy thing.

You know your weaknesses, shortcomings, and troubles. Don’t be afraid to reach out toward someone today and ask for help.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  – Proverbs 27:17

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