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Seek the Welfare of the City

June 21st, 2013

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7, ESV).

Many of my Christian friends ask me what they should do in a nation that increasingly rejects God as either a) non-existent or b) on the wrong side of history – an ironic concept given He is the maker of history, but I digress.

The instructions the Lord gave Jeremiah to pass on to the Israelites as they were dragged into exile in Babylon tell us what we must do. Rather than hunkering down in our enclaves out of fear or despair, waiting for the Lord to return and take us from this world, we are called to live our lives fully and “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…”

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PRISM–Is it Our Fault?

June 8th, 2013

I’ve not commented on NSA’s PRISM program up to this point because, as a former intelligence officer and senior IT professional, I recognize there are many layers to it, and I wanted to address them as cogently and accurately as possible.

Most Americans understand and accept that the interception and analysis of foreign communications is essential to developing effective intelligence. This is an historical and necessary function in the intelligence cycle.

The prevalence of the Internet, however, is a game changer, because most communications, even from other countries, travel through U.S.-based servers.

Intelligence agencies, therefore, require permission from the U.S. owners of these assets to monitor them. Intelligence agencies have to demonstrate that a particular thread of communications from a foreign source warrants attention, and so they make their case to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, mirroring the act of domestic law enforcement agencies securing a search warrant. Once they have this warrant, the companies are lawfully obligated to provide them access.

There are three key points I want to leave with you as takeaways.

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Brave New World Ascendant

May 24th, 2013

“O brave new world, That has such people in’t!” ~ Miranda, Act 5, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

I made a comment recently on Twitter that, lately, I feel like an alien observing a strange world not of my previous acquaintance, and I cited Philippians 3:20 which reads, in part, “But our citizenship is in heaven…”

I know I’m not alone in that disquieting observation, as the world seems hell-bent on discarding every restraint and celebrating a rampant libertinism in some areas of their lives, while embracing the paternalism of the state in others. That this is all happening as an expression of the people’s will makes it all the more baffling, especially for a culture such as ours, built uniquely from its first days on a foundation of ordered liberty.

That said, however, I couldn’t help but think I’d “seen” this before.

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Uncharted Waters Ahead

April 21st, 2013

As I sit here in the quiet of the evening, with nothing but my keyboard and a blank page on my computer monitor, I’m reflecting on what has been one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent American history, and what I’m thinking about is pretty sobering.

Witnessing how we as Americans responded to the terrorist bombing in Boston and the manhunt which successfully concluded Friday night, and the failure of the president’s gun control agenda in the Senate, I’m reminded of several points I’ve made in the past, and nothing this week has changed my mind about them. If anything, they were reinforced.

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Hindering the Children

March 21st, 2013

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, New International Version)

At a recent breakfast for our men’s ministry, we were asked to break into small groups so we could meet someone we didn’t know. Since these “icebreakers” are often filled with awkward silence, our pastor gave us a list of questions we could pose to one another, accomplishing the dual purpose of learning more about each other and covering up those pregnant pauses!

One question in particular struck me, and the answer I came up with surprised me a bit, because my passions and interests are many, so I thought it would be difficult to zero in on just one. The question was:

What in life currently breaks your heart to the point that you’d give up some personal things or time to make a difference in this area?

Try answering that question over pancakes and bacon! I didn’t have a lot of time to formulate a response, but this is what came to my mind:

“The way adults, individually and collectively, put self-interest before the needs of children.”

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On Guns, Err on the Side of Liberty

February 26th, 2013

Note: The Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) hosted a group of prominent figures from the black community on Friday, February 22, 2013 at the National Press Club to speak out against gun control legislation currently being considered on Capitol Hill. The following is a statement I contributed to CURE in support of this event and in lieu of my attendance.

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‘A Nation of Cowards’

February 1st, 2013

Note: We continue to struggle with race in America, even after electing a black man to a second term as president. Reelection of an incumbent president is not a given, having occurred only 21 times in American history. Although my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch, was first published in 2010, it is still timely and topical today. It’s a personal testimony of my journey as a Christian American conservative  who happens to be black. The article below is the first chapter of the book. If the topic and the chapter below stir your interest, please visit my book page and consider picking up a copy. Read the rest of this entry »

One Trophy is Never Enough

January 6th, 2013

Mark my word, you will raise tax rates and you’ll feel good because you went out there and you got those rich people…You campaigned against rich people and you got enough envy whipped up in the country, and you’re going to stick it to those rich people. But guess what? You may not get any more revenue. You may not get any more economic growth. But you can say, “I stuck it to the rich people.” ~ Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

I don’t like emotional appeals. I think emotion deceives and distorts, and I believe the Bible on the folly of letting emotion rule one’s actions: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In the wake of the recent agreement to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” – a hyperbolic and media-friendly term with little practical value – I am struck by the fact that one of the major components of the agreement, raising the income tax rates on individuals making $400,000 or more a year and couples making $450,000 or more a year, has, when subjected to impassioned scrutiny, more emotional than practical impact.

Anyone who looks at the “tax the rich” scenario with the cold eye of evidentiary analysis would correctly conclude that it will have no impact on the national debt, our unfunded liabilities, or even the annual deficit for one year.

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The Restored American Dream, circa 2013

December 31st, 2012

I recently read a couple of articles which, although they validated my skepticism about government assistance, also deeply troubled me.

The first was an op-ed piece in the New York Times by liberal columnist Nicholas Kristoff, who I will give credit for occasionally acknowledging truths that go against the conventional wisdom of the circles in which he resides.

The last time he wrote something that validated conservatives and, I’m sure, exorcised liberals who are intellectually and emotionally incapable of positively crediting their ideological opposites, it was his confession that conservatives are indeed more generous with their time, talent and treasure when it comes to charitable giving than his fellow liberals.

In his more recent article, he confessed that many government programs designed to fight poverty have actually perpetuated it, and this revelation greatly disheartened him:

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Fatal Attraction – A Message for 2013

December 27th, 2012

As we approach the end of 2012, with a contentious electoral season behind us and a year of potential ahead of us, I want to try and address some strongly held notions in America’s black community that, if we are courageous enough to challenge them, could make 2013 a year of significant change not just for black Americans, but for all of us.

The prevailing attitude in the black community in the wake of President Obama’s reelection could be stated as follows: “We delivered for you, so now it’s time for you to deliver for us.” This attitude, in my opinion, is predicated on an unrealistic assumption of how politics works in the real world.

Frankly put, if politicians don’t have to work for your affections before the vote, they certainly aren’t obligated to reward you afterwards.

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