I am not a Know-Nothing

Former US President Abraham Lincoln's statue is seen at Lincoln Memorial  in Washington

Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial is seen in Washington March 27, 2015. The 170-ton, 19-foot-high statue, formed from 28 blocks of Georgia marble, was sculpted by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli brothers. The 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre in Washington is April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron – RTR4WKMZ

I found this writing from President Abraham Lincoln quoted in an article on The Atlantic’s website very insightful. Applying it to today’s political climate produces interesting results:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain,” he (Lincoln) wrote in 1855, in a meditation that reverberates all the way to our current election. “How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/the-party-of-lincoln-in-the-time-of-trump/479601/

Advertisements

With malice toward none; with charity for all

1865oath
Library of Congress
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. – President Lincoln, March 4, 1865
 
We may not think of Abraham Lincoln as “the most divisive president in U.S. history” as some have called President George W. Bush or President Obama, but the truth is Lincoln was president during the only time in our nation’s history that Americans fought against each other in a civil war.
Today, March 4, is the day in 1865 that Lincoln was inaugurated for his second term as President. The closing remarks of his address (above) were relevant then as a way to begin the healing the nation needed. Those same words have meaning today, much for the same reasons.
In the news, on social media, pretty much everywhere you turn, there are messages being shouted that pit one group of people or ideas against another. I look out and see our nation divided. I look out and see divisions, not just between Republicans and Democrats, but among those two groups. What I see is the rising tide of bigotry and racism. This tide is evil and has the potential to drown us all.

We can and must remember our history. We can and must overcome. We can and must do everything within our power to dispell the base instincts that are shouting for attention. Lincoln understood this. He spoke about it and took actions to stop the division. He took actions, just as we must today, to stand united, because should we continue to be divisive we shall fall.

Confronting my own self-doubt

irish steps sunrise

For the last two weeks I have really been down in the dumps. I’ve been put face to face with the questions of “Who I am?” and “What kind of person do I want to be?”. I haven’t been certain how to answer these questions in a way that leads to a positive result until today.

The backstory

In my job, I was told that I just didn’t have the creativity and passion in my writing on an assignment that it was thought that I should have. I just didn’t bring it. And the person that told me that was dead on. She said she was “on my side” and telling me this as an ally. I appreciated that. I just couldn’t produce at a high level. She reminded me that how good or bad the end result is depends entirely on the work that is put in in the trenches.

I have absolutely no formal coaching training. I have a passion for the sport of soccer and I think I have some skill for coaching. Or at least I thought I did, until a parent told me that I deliberately created two tournament teams with 100 percent unfair rosters, leading to one team that was destined to lose. That wasn’t the way to coach and create a positive and encouraging environment, this parent said. Although the other volunteer coach and I did not agree with her, I took a step back to see the argument from her perspective. It gave me the opportunity to reevaluate how and why I volunteer coach.

Just as I was thankful for the advice of the person at my office, so too was I thankful for that opportunity to examine my coaching philosophy.

Fast forward to today

Today rolled around and I took stock of these things. What I realized is that God played a central role in all of this. These two weeks were a valley that He was leading me through. It was an opportunity for introspection. I am thankful to God for the opportunity. It wasn’t easy. It really made me question who I was and what I was doing.

This is the great thing that became crystal clear to me today: These struggles have strengthened my faith in Him. He is my rock and my strength. God is there no matter what and he sent these messengers into my life to challenge me because I was becoming complacent. He also showed me the people in my life that really care about me and will stand up for me in times of need. I needed that. I need Him.

Soul on Fire

image

My car's radio set to K-Love

This morning, driving in to work, the sunrise over the trees was in the rearview mirror as I drove westward. It was a blaze as it rose and burned into the early morning winter sky. The temperature was about 6 degrees. The roads were clear. It was cold, but not bone-chillingly so. It was good ride in to the office.

The reason for this was not just the weather, though. It was how the weather made me feel. I felt GOOD. I was singing (badly, I’m sure :-)) to the positive and encouraging tunes on the radio from K-Love as I drove. I was at peace with the world. And it was because I’ve opened my heart to Jesus and given my life over to God. It is such an awesome feeling.

Now, I also know that God will take me through valleys. Yet, through His strength I will make it through. That thought, in and of itself, is the most peace-inducing thought I’ve had in a very long time. Before, I would have been ashamed to talk about my faith. I wasn’t a believer. I hadn’t opened my heart. I didn’t understand.

That was then. This is now.

I’m at peace because I know the Big Man Upstairs has it. I know I can lift my concerns up to Him and He will listen. I know I experience joys and blessings in life because of Him and I thank Him for them.

These lyrics from Third Day’s song Soul on Fire capture it best:

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have wandered bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

Thank you God.

Amen.

3 Things – The same & different all at once

Be Positive, and Don’t Judge

Humility Promotes Unity

Purity

The three themes of the bible studies I did today.

When I first read each of them, I didn’t think that they fit together. Looking at them again, at the top of this post, focusing on these words, I realize that yes, they are all inter-related.

In this world, we are very quick to judge. We look for that which is different and then do our best to discredit it. We love the negative. We love the “dirty laundry” because it isn’t happening to us. Yet, when the circumstances are flipped, we are ashamed because we don’t want others to know our troubles. We care more about social stature that we do about being kind and helping out whenever and wherever we can. What if we decided not to judge, but to look at the world through a positive lens? What would that world look like?

My guess is that it would be one where we were more unified, because we are humble and recognize how important helping others and not always being right is to living a blessed life. Happiness found in helping others is greater than happiness derived from selfish actions. It lasts longer. And it is real.

Another way to put this idea:  the happiness that happens when you are positive your outlook and humble in you actions is pure.

At first what was muddied is now clear.

 

Forward

looking-back-looking-forward

The faith-based weight loss plan said “God is a forward thinking and acting God.”

I sat there thinking: “That’s remarkable.”

Diving in further, I realized the author was 100 percent correct in saying that “To receive real comfort and move forward, you have to let the false comforts go. Simple as that.”

Simple indeed. But, surprisingly, it is. All we have to do is change to experience change.

We have to move forward in Him, move forward in Jesus. That’s what it says in John 8:31-32. For the first time, I understand this. The freedom Jesus talks about is a freedom from the despair, fear, emotional pain, anxiety, habitual sins, etc. that plague those of us who put our trust in the world, instead of in Him.

By accepting the teachings of Jesus as truth, we are free to live a life that is positive and encouraging. By having strong faith and doing good deeds, we are breaking the chains of worldly bondage that have held us back.

I think that this movement forward is a journey, a step-by-step type process that is one of discovery. It has been for me. A a result, I have confidence in knowing that I will get there because I believe in Him and know He is supporting me throughout.

It may seem odd at first, but just think about how awesome it is that God forgives us as He moves forward. The past is just that – the past. Today is a new day and we have a new opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus. In so doing we are working to make ourselves better people inside and out.

Moving forward like this, we change and experience change. Moving forward like this, we will get there!