Debate Loser – CNBC

Who won Wednesday night’s Republican debate? The Weekly Standard scored it like this: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump were the top three. I had it as Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Many have praised the performances of Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. Clearly, no one stood clearly out front, and no one had a horrible night. Actually, there was one clear loser – CNBC.

The format was awful, as each candidate was given no more than 30-60 seconds to state the solutions to all the world’s problems. When the candidates failed to answer according to the wishes of the moderators, they were quick to argue with the candidates and cut them off. Chris Christie told John Harwood, “You are being rude even by New Jersey standards.” Even the crowd roared its displeasure with the moderators, sounding ready to revolt. Marco Rubio might have had the line of the night, calling the mainstream media a superpac for the Democratic candidates.

I sat through both debates. While I found Lindsay Graham’s performance to be extremely strong (it won’t matter) and always enjoy the infighting among candidates, CNBC displayed three flaws that should forever disqualify them from hosting another debate.

First, the moderators asked stupid questions. For example, Trump was asked if his solutions were “comic book” answers. For a debate that was supposed to focus on the economy, not one question was asked about the exploding $20 trillion national debt. Not one question was asked about the minimum wage. Not one question was asked about the candidates’ different solutions from those of leading Democrats. Instead, they asked about fantasy football.

Second, the moderators were not prepared. The candidates had to constantly correct them. The most glaring example was when John Harwood mysteriously asserted Trump and Carson never negotiated the debate down from three hours to two, when his own network admitted exactly that just a week ago.

Third, they were rude. When the Governor of New Jersey says you’re rude, that bad. At one point, Christie said to his interrupting questioner, “Do you want me to answer your question, or do you want to do it for me?” I can’t imagine a scenario in which they would have treated the Democratic candidates in this way.

The American people deserve better. There are real issues facing our country. It would have been nice if the brain trust of NBC/CNBC would have given as much attention to national debt, minimum wage, growing the economy, and national defense as they did to fantasy football.

Ryan Mallett Fired as Texans QB for Being Late to Work

Two weeks ago, Ryan Mallett was the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans. One week ago, he was the backup quarterback for the Houston Texans. This week, he is off the roster of the Houston Texans. The veteran signed his own pink slip when he missed the team charter to Miami for the game last Sunday. (The rest of the team didn’t show up until the fourth quarter, but that’s a story for the sports section.) He had to get there on a commercial flight, due to being late to the airport.

Mallatt was an outstanding player at Arkansas, but he fell to the third round of the NFL draft because of strange behavior off the field. Drafted by the New England Patriots, Mallett was the backup to all-time great Tom Brady. Many saw him as the man to get the Texans back to the playoffs when he went to Houston last year. But he was injured early, putting his career on hold. This year he was unproductive, then moody. And then he blamed the Houston traffic for being late to the team plane – the same traffic successfully navigated by the other 100 players and team personnel who made it on time.

I know what you’re thinking. They fired Mallett for being late? Think of it like this. What if he was stealing money from the team? That would be grounds for dismissal, right? Well, what he did was steal time from his coaches and teammates. The Bible says, “Commit your work to the Lord” (Proverbs 16:3). Paul said, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In my 30-plus years as a senior pastor, I worked with dozens of staff members. The most common shortcoming was tardiness. I was too soft on tardiness. But giving God less than our best and coming in late every day is a horrible witness. We are stealing from God, and there is a price to be paid.

God cares about your work as much as he cares about your worship. The line between the sacred and secular was not drawn by the God of the Bible. Don’t try to be a witness for Christ at work when you come in late every day. The first job is just showing up. Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. That starts tomorrow morning. Be on time. Someone is watching. If you don’t believe me, ask Ryan Mallett. Go ahead, call him. He suddenly has time to take your call.

Trump – The Beginning of the End

It has begun – the fall of Donald Trump. For those of you who were ready to crown The Donald based on polls from the summer, remember to pay homage to Presidents Giuliani, Perry, and Cain. The fall of Donald Trump has begun. A new CBS/New York Times Poll reveals a new leader. And his name is . . . Ben Carson.

Here are your new top five: Carson (26%), Trump (22%), Rubio (8%), Bush (7%), and Fiorina (7%). In Iowa, Carson’s favorability ratings are at 84%. That is an astonishingly high number. Earlier this week, Carson passed Trump in preference polls in the Hawkeye State, 100 days before the nation’s first caucuses. All of this makes tonight’s Republican debate really big.

We know these polls will be all over the map over the next several months. But we can learn something from these new numbers. People eventually follow leaders they like. There once lived a leader who did what seemed impossible. He led his followers to give their time, talent, and treasure to build the most amazing worship center on earth. The man’s name was Solomon. This is what he said about leadership: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

Historians point out that since the era of television, the more likeable presidential candidate has won every election. Sadly, very few vote based on specific policy positions. John Maxwell defines leadership with a single word – influence. There is an old saying that goes like this: “A man convinced against his will remains unconvinced still.” People follow the leader, not his ideas. And people don’t follow leaders they don’t like.

So here’s the take-away. We still have 15 candidates in the Republican field as of today. And the one who is most likable is the new leader. Ben Carson’s calm, gentle style is starting to be noticed. It reminds me of the greatest leader who ever lived. That leader said, “I have come not to be served, but to serve.” That is the definition of true leadership. We are seeing that in Dr. Ben Carson. Most people don’t know where he stands on ISIS, taxes, or climate change. But they like him. And for a lot of people, that’s enough.

All of Daddy

A close friend once came home from work, and his two young boys rushed outside to greet him at his car. The older boy wrapped his arms around his dad and would not allow his little brother to get in on the action. Finally, as the younger tot began to cry, the older brother looked down at him and scoffed, “Ha, ha! I’ve got all of daddy there is!” Just then, their father reached down and picked up the younger boy and held him tightly. As he began to wipe away the boy’s tears, the younger son glared down at big brother and asserted, “Ha, ha! You may have all of daddy there is, but daddy’s got all of me!”

If you have had a time in your remembered past when you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you have all of Daddy there is. The Bible says that as many as have the Son have the Father and are sealed by the Holy Spirit. There is no “second blessing” that elevates you to a higher level. The moment you were born again, you got all of Daddy there is. The question for today is, does Daddy have all of you?

Why don’t you take a minute and reflect on that question. And if you decide God is not as close as He used to be, guess who moved! He is waiting for you to come back. He is all about grace. And remember this. Even when times are tough and you aren’t as close to Daddy as you ought to be, you still have all of Daddy there is.

All in a Day

A lot can happen in a day. Take today for example. On October 26 a lot has happened in history. On this day in 1492, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. That same day, lead pencils were first used. In 1774, the First Continental Congress adjourned and the Minute Men were organized. In 1787 the Federalist Papers were published. The Erie Canal opened this day in 1825. On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express ended. In 1900, the New York subway opened. In 1916, Margaret Sanger was arrested for cussing. In 1927, Duke Ellington recorded his first hit and in 1941, U.S. savings bonds went on sale. Harry Truman increased minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents in 1949. The next year, Mother Teresa founded Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. Exactly one year after that, Rocky Marciano defeated Joe Louis for the heavyweight boxing crown. In 1954, Chevrolet unveiled the first V-8 engine. In 1958, PanAm flew the first transatlantic trip from New York to Paris. In 1968, George Foreman won the Olympic Gold Medal. The Terminator was released this day in 1984.

Perhaps the most bizarre event on this day in history occurred 27 years ago, in 1988. Donald Trump billed Mike Tyson $2 million for his service in advising Iron Mike over a period of four months. I did the math. Trump valued his counsel at a rate of $17,000 per day. That could only happen in the worlds of Mike Tyson and Donald Trump. Given the mess Tyson made of his life, I think Donald owes him a rebate.

A lot can happen in a day. In one day, God created the heavens and the earth. In a day, he parted the Red Sea. In one day, Jesus died for the sins of man, and on another day, he rose victorious. The Bible says one day with the Lord is better than a thousand days without him (Psalm 84:10). We are told to take life “one day at a time” (Ecclesiastes 9:1). King David declared, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

A lot can happen in a day. Just two days ago, a friend of mine passed into the presence of God. Johnny and I were in the same men’s Bible Study group. One day he was with us; the next day he was with God. The Bible has 7,500 promises. “Tomorrow” is not among them. So make today count. It can be the most important October 26 ever – if you make it count. Pray more today. Read some Scripture today. Bless someone who can’t pay you back today. Hug your kids today. Call your mom today. Invite Jesus to be your Lord today. God can do a lot in a day. This can be that day for you. October 26, 2015 – make it count!

Joe, We’ll Miss You

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden announced he will not seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, effectively ending his long and distinguished political career when his term ends in 14 months. Now is not the time to speculate on why he didn’t run, nor is it the time to debate partisan politics. Rather, it is the time to honor an American patriot.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942, Biden moved to Delaware at age ten, and he never left. From City Council to U.S. Senator in two years, Biden became the sixth youngest senator in American history. The people who knew him best would elect him to represent them six times. To most of us he was known as “Senator.” To the people back home, he was always just “Joe.” Though he failed in two presidential runs (1988 and 2008), he was never a disappointment to the people of Delaware.

They knew him mostly as a family man. On December 18, 1972, a few weeks after his election to the Senate, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. His son Beau was injured, with a broken leg and other serious wounds. His other son, Hunter, suffered a skull fracture. Still, Biden was sworn into office on January 5, 1973. This shook Biden and his Catholic faith. “I felt God had played a horrible trick on me,” he said. To be home every day for his young sons, Senator Biden rode an Amtrak train two hours each way.

Almost 43 years after losing two family members, Biden was struck by another tragedy, as Beau died of brain cancer at age 46. This put his future aspirations on hold. Mr. Biden seriously considered a third run for the White House, but in the end, decided it was too late to mount an effective campaign. With President Obama looking on and with his wife at his side, the Vice President stepped to the podium in the Rose Garden and announced he would not make the run.

For 42 years, Joe Biden has served his country in elective office. He has proven to be a man of strong faith, character, and conviction. In today’s world of extreme partisanship, his words from two days ago are refreshing. “The Republicans are not my enemy,” he said. History will remember Biden fondly. He was prone for epic gaffs, but that was part of his charm. Joe Biden always said what was on his mind. He spoke from the heart. He was never too embarrassed to shed a public tear. And now he is about to exit the public stage, his dignity and patriotism still in place. Joe Biden loves his God, his family, his country, and his state of Delaware. He is a throwback, the real deal. Mr. Vice President, thanks for teaching us the value of family and the spirit of sacrifice. You did it right. We’ll miss you, Joe.

The Democratic Party in Crisis – We Can Help

According to most media reports, the Republican Party is in crisis. As evidence, they point to the Speaker position and infighting among the establishment Republicans and Tea Party sympathizers. And they have a point. You don’t have to look very hard to find these reports. But what you won’t hear is that the Democratic Party is in trouble. Well, they are, and we are here to help.

Evidence the Democratic Party Is in Trouble

1. State legislatures are firmly in Republican hands. Chris Matthews recently said, “The Republican Party no longer exists as a viable political party.” The facts are the enemy of such nonsense. The fact is Republicans control 70 percent of state legislatures, 60 percent of the states have Republican governors, and 55 percent of the state attorneys general and secretaries of state are Republicans. In only 11 states are the Democrats in majority of both state houses, and in four of those, they have a Republican Governor. That means only seven states have a Democratic Governor and Democratic-controlled congress. By contrast, Republicans are in control of 25 states. That is a 25-7 advantage for Republicans.

2. Republicans control Congress. Not sinse the days when Hubert Hoover was President have the Republicans held so many seats in the U.S. House. Add to that the fact that Republicans hold 54 Senate seats, and you have a Democratic Party that is firmly a minority party.

3. Democrats have an aging national presence. Parties are known by their presidential candidates. The six current Democratic candidates have an average age of 67. The three leaders (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden) have an average age of 73. By contrast, the ten leading Republican candidates’ average age is 58, a full 15 years younger. Several of their candidates, such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are in their mid-40s.

4. Democrats are in control of only one large state. After California, the largest state with a Democratic Governor and Democratic House and Senate is Minnesota. By contrast, the Republicans dominate Texas, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina, all among the ten largest states in the country.

Road Map to Success

1. Admit you have a problem. There is an undeniable smugness in the leadership of the party. They are enmeshed in denial. From chairman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz on down, there is a pervasive sense of accomplishment that denies evidence. Content to watch the Republicans implode, they display no sense of urgency which would be necessary to reverse the fortunes of a party that controls just 14 percent of the 50 state governments.

2. Provide a plan. In their first presidential debate, all candidates except Jim Webb embraced free college for all and the most far-reaching liberal agenda in recent memory. Absent were any details on how to accomplish this or pay for it. Nonpartisan groups have put a price tag of $17 trillion on their new proposals, which would double our national debt, which has already doubled during the Obama years.

3. Act fiscally responsible. Eight years ago, in the face of a $10 trillion debt, candidate Barack Obama criticized President Bush and Republican leaders with these piercing words: “That is not American. It is unpatriotic.” Today, not only do the Democrats not offer a solution for the $20 trillion debt, they only propose agendas that will raise it. Any effort to not raise the debt limit is shouted down by Democratic leaders. But millions of Americans, all on a fixed budget, look on with amazement.

4. Quit racing to the left. Senator Sanders has led the presidential field into an all-out sprint to the left. They have unified around several themes: our greatest national threat is climate change, we need free college for everyone, and only black lives matter. They offer no way to pay for the free college, no plan to defeat ISIS, no mention of extremist Islamic terrorists, or a plan to pay down the national debt. The wealthiest top one percent, who pay 46 percent of all taxes, must pay more, while the bottom 50 percent, who pay one percent of all taxes, must pay less. Senator Sanders, leading the polls in New Hampshire, is a self-proclaimed Socialist. Any party that looks to a Socialist for national leadership has run too far to the left to grow its national presence.

None of this is to say the Republican Party has its act together. Too often, they resemble a circular firing squad. The Republican electorate is so enamored with its leadership that 55 percent of Republican voters currently favor a presidential candidate (Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina) with zero elective office experience. But just one of our two national parties controls the majority of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor positions, state houses, and state senates. And only one party has as its leading presidential candidates men and women under the age of 73, indicative of a rising leadership base for the future. That party is the Republican Party. The Democratic Party is in trouble. But these things are cyclical. There is a way out. But the first step, admitting they have a problem, does not seem to be on their radar screen. That is why they are in trouble.



Lamar Odom – Lessons for Us

As an NBA chaplain I spoke to Lamar Odom several times. I always found him to be a very nice man who took time for his fans. He is approachable, kind, and gentle, always with a smile on his face and full of laughter. So I was surprised to hear of his activity near Las Vegas and the price he is paying for poor choices. The 14-year veteran was rushed to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas on October 13 after being found unconscious at a legal brothel. The two-time NBA champion had spent several days on “herbal Viagra,” the subject of warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He allegedly used cocaine along with the drug, leading to a medically induced coma. After a few days, his conditioned improved, for which we are all grateful. From the story of Lamar Odom we can learn some valuable lessons.

1. Lamar Odom is just like a man in the Bible. Perhaps the most famous man in the Bible who remained nameless was the prodigal son. Like the prodigal, Lamar Odom had it all: fame, fortune, and fans. But like the prodigal son, Lamar wasted his money in “riotous living.” And like the prodigal, it cost him dearly. We pray the second half of his story mirrors that of the prodigal, who “came to his senses” and returned to the father. If Lamar does this, he will find a Father who loves to receive his children back, with open arms of forgiveness and restoration.

2. Recovery cannot be done alone. Lamar Odom is blessed to have some pretty famous people in his corner. At his bedside have been Khloe Kardashian, his estranged wife, and Kobe Bryant, one of his closest friends. But dozens of other teammates, family members, and friends have stood with him as well. And if he continues to recover physically and seeks recovery from his bout with drugs, he will learn this long and winding road cannot be successfully travelled alone. Odom clearly has a problem, apparently tied to one or more addictions. The first step of recovery is admitting the problem and one’s inability to handle it himself. When Lamar Odom comes to that place, assuming he recovers physically, he will be on the road to sanity and true recovery. But it is a road that can only be successfully navigated with the help of God and others who are familiar with the terrain.

NBA players are like everyone else, just taller. Most are broke by age 30. Their fame has driven them into a necessary isolation. They have hundreds of friends, yet very few. Fortunately for Lamar Odom, he is getting help, and he is not alone. But true recovery is still in front of him. As with the prodigal son, some difficult decisions will have to be made. But by God’s grace, this story can still have a magnificent ending.

Starting Over – By Andy Stanley

Every great success story in the Bible includes a comeback. Abraham came back from chronic lying, Joseph from imprisonment, Moses from murder, David from adultery, Jonah from disobedience, Peter from denial, Thomas from doubt, Zacchaeus from embezzlement, and Paul from persecuting Christians. The second-chance God came through for them time after time. Pastor Andy Stanley recently taught four lessons on the comeback. Today, I will share the three myths Stanley puts forth on the topic of starting over. If you have made a bad decision, stumbled, messed up, or even found yourself at a crossroads due to no fault of your own, these myths are critical in taking the first steps of starting over.

Myth #1 – Experience makes you wiser. The fact is experience does not make you wiser; it just makes you older. It is evaluated experience that makes you wiser. Many of us are like the children in the wilderness. They didn’t have 40 years of experience. As they just went in circles, they had one year of experience 40 times.

Myth #2 – Since you know better, you will do better. Knowledge isn’t strength; it is knowledge. The reason you need a comeback isn’t because you didn’t know what to do, but because you didn’t do what you knew.

Myth #3 – Time is working against you. Time is your friend, not your enemy. Your pain makes you self-absorbed, and self-absorbed people make bad decisions. You will be able to understand some things later that you can’t see today. Before you jump back in, wait.

Paul said that all things (not some things or most things) work together for your good if you love God. “All things” includes your past, your mistakes, your failures. Joel Osteen says, “Nothing happens to you; it happens for you.” What God allows, he redeems. God has created you for a massive comeback. Whatever your past, you can start over. The journey begins today.

Declassified Report Says CIA Director Led Cover-up of Kennedy Assassination Probe

A 2013 report, just declassified, confirms that CIA Director John McCone withheld information about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The report’s author, CIA historian David Robarge, writes that McCone and other top CIA officials were a part of the cover-up in order to keep the Warren Commission focused on what the agency believed at the time was the “best truth . . . that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone,” according to Politico Magazine.

Days after the assassination, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the Warren Commission to investigate the crime. Robarge claims that McCone and others were “complicit” in keeping “incendiary” information from the commission. McCone’s testimony was considered critical to the commission’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone that fateful day in 1963.

Presumably, Director McCone’s motives were good. He was personally convinced that Oswald had acted alone, so he set out to spare the country from a lengthy, open investigation. So he chose to present the “best truth.” That’s how a lot of us think. We present what we consider the “best truth” rather than the absolute truth. We do it to spare another person’s feelings, to avoid confrontation, or to further our own agenda. And we always have a good excuse to legitimize our “best truth.”

Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). He didn’t speak in terms of comparative truth or half-truth. He was all about absolute truth. With God, there are only two categories of speech – truth and lies. There is no such thing as a white lie, half-truth, or best truth. Our job is to speak the truth in love. When we get into the muck of “best truths,” that always leads to cover-up. And the cover-up will eventually become uncovered. Just ask CIA Director McCone. What he called the “best truth” was no truth at all. And what he was able to hide from the President of the United States, the Warren Commission, and the American people, he could not hide from God. And what he covered up 54 years ago, he could not hide forever.