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Reality Check: Gun Control vs. Shooting Deaths October 4, 2017

Posted by JP in Discussion, Politics, Uncategorized.
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Recent events have me thinking about gun related violence and laws controlling gun ownership. My purpose for this post is to evaluate any correlation between the two and to fix in my own mind what is truth, and what is political rhetoric.

Let me preface my findings with a personal disclaimer and a short summary of my own feelings about the 2nd Amendment:

  1.  I am a disabled US Army Veteran. I do not own a gun, nor do I have a desire to own a gun. I am not a member of the NRA, nor do I have a desire to be a member of the NRA, although:
  2. I believe firmly in the Constitutional right to ‘bear arms’, meaning that the founders of this great nation viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:
    • enabling the people to organize a militia system.
    • participating in law enforcement;
    • deterring tyrannical government;
    • repelling invasion;
    • suppressing insurrection, 
    • facilitating a natural right of self-defense.

I had prepared to present evidence that restrictive gun laws had either a significant impact on the reduction of gun related deaths, or what I admittedly believed to be the case; restrictive gun laws had little or no impact on gun related deaths. What I have found, much to my dismay is that there is no correlation between gun laws and gun related deaths. The raw numbers out there do not point to either conclusion factually.

I could however select my data and statistically manipulate that data to show a strong correlation for either side of the issue, but that would not be the truth. Sadly, that is what we are constantly bombarded with from proponents of both sides of this issue.

If you wanted to take the time to do the research and pull the raw data you would find the task arduous. As I dove into the numbers I found that clear and concise data is very hard to come by. Most findings have so blended the numbers that it is impossible to get a clear picture. I found that most statistics for gun violence, or more specifically; gun deaths, include suicide and accidental shootings. It is very difficult to find hard data that simply says: There were X number of gun related homicides in these states, or cities, for this given year.  Further more, the groups or organizations that present the data at all have convoluted there statistical values to point to a preconceived conclusion.

So, in the end, I have come to the conclusion that there is no direct correlation between the restriction of gun ownership and the reduction of gun related deaths. Nor did I find the opposite conclusion (a correlation between gun freedom and lower gun related deaths).

To be honest, this leaves me completed frustrated. I like to come down on the ‘factual’ side of and issue. If the facts tell me that such and such is true, then I want to be a proponent of that truth. If the facts are not there to support that conclusion then I am saddled with weighing the moral, ethical, social, and political ramifications for supporting an issue.

Gun control is such a case. I cannot say that stricter laws would reduce gun violence, nor can I say it would not. What I can do is look to the Constitution and extrapolate what the Founding Fathers thought could happen to this country if the right to bear arms were not specified as they were.

This country was born of a people who rose up against a tyrannical government. They achieved our independence because of their ability to fight that tyranny, and they were able to do that because they had the means of arms to fight their oppressors.

You may state that we do not have that fear because we are a free nation governed by laws established in accordance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. To that I would have to reply that we are a governed people. Although we are a Republic and supposedly ‘represented’ by those we elect to serve our wishes, the truth is that not enough of us care to involve ourselves in what those representatives are doing. If they choose, as a body, to restrict our freedoms and pass laws that does that, what are we to do?  Rise up?  Absolutely.  If we have the means to resist this possible oppression and restriction of our freedoms we could absolutely rise up and resist.

If, however, we do not have the ability to resist, what are we to do then? We would simply bend under the yoke of oppression, wouldn’t we?

As I talk about this, and as I have thought about it while contemplating gun control legislation, my mind wanders and lands in the middle of the movie “Red Dawn” (both versions). I find myself thinking: if we, as a nation, abolished all arms for its citizens, what would we do if that scenario came into play?  Depend on our military to save us, and possibly die while waiting for help that possibly may never come?  I can continue on with numerous ‘what if’ scenarios and all of them lead me to one conclusion: I need the ability to own a firearm if I choose to do so. As a US Citizen I now have that right, and as a US Citizen I assert that I should be able to retain that right.

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“Where Is The Love?” July 18, 2017

Posted by JP in Discussion.
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But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity

 

Depression in Men April 4, 2017

Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Discussion, Uncategorized.
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(none of the following is my work, just me passing on to you the information from experts regarding a widely unrecognized issue)

Depression in men has long been an ‘unrecognized’ problem, It seems likely men suffer from depression just as often as women, but they are less likely to ask for help.

Men tend to think of themselves differently than women and this can be quite unhelpful. Compared with women, they tend to be far more concerned with being competitive, powerful and successful. Most men don’t like to admit they feel fragile or vulnerable, and so are less likely to talk about their feelings with their friends, loved ones or their doctors. This may be the reason depressed men often don’t ask for help. Men tend to feel they should rely only on themselves and it is somehow weak to have to depend on someone else, even for a short time.

Men also tend to be less adept at recognizing symptoms of depression than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. And while men may experience classic symptoms such as depressed mood, loss of interest in work or hobbies, weight and sleep disturbances, fatigue, and concentration problems, they are more likely than women to experience “stealth” depression symptoms such as irritability, substance abuse, and agitation.

Instead of talking about how they feel, depressed men may try to make themselves feel better by using alcohol or drugs. This will usually make things worse in the long run. Their work will suffer and alcohol often leads to irresponsible, unpleasant or dangerous behavior. Men with depression also tend to give their work a higher priority than their home life, which produces conflicts with their wives or partners. All of these things have been shown to make depression more likely.

For married men, research has shown trouble in a marriage is the single most common problem connected with depression. Depressed men can’t cope with disagreements as well as women. Arguments actually make men feel very physically uncomfortable. So, they try to avoid arguments or difficult discussions. Depression in men often leads to the situation where a man’s partner will want to talk about a problem, but he will not and will do his best to avoid talking about it. The partner feels they are being ignored and tries to talk about it more, which makes the depressed man feel he is being nagged. So, he withdraws even more, which makes his partner feel even more that they are being ignored . . . and so on. This vicious circle in male depression can quite easily destroy a relationship.

Depression affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them—spouses, partners, friends, and family. More than just a dip in mood in response to life’s setbacks and disappointments, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in your daily life. It can interfere with your productivity at work or school and impact your relationships, sleep, diet, and overall enjoyment of life. Severe depression can be intense and unrelenting.

Depression in men can often be overlooked. Many men find it difficult to talk about their feelings so they tend to focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany depression. This can result in the underlying depression going untreated.

Men suffering from depression are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. It’s important for any man to seek help with depression before feelings of despair become feelings of suicide. Talk honestly with a friend, loved one, or doctor about what’s going on in your mind.

There is plenty men can do to overcome depression. The important thing is to recognize the symptoms.

The three most commonly overlooked signs of depression in men are:

  1. Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don’t respond to normal treatment.
  2. Anger. This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive or controlling.
  3. Reckless behavior. A man suffering from depression may exhibit escapist or risky behavior such as pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.

If you identify with several of the following, you may be suffering from depression.

  1. You feel hopeless and helpless
  2. You’ve lost interest in friends, activities, and things you used to enjoy
  3. You’re much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  4. You’re consuming more alcohol, engaging in reckless behavior, or using TV, sports, and sex to self-medicate
  5. You feel restless and agitated
  6. Your sleep and appetite has changed
  7. You can’t concentrate or your productivity at work has declined
  8. You can’t control your negative thoughts

If any of this strikes a cord with you I urge you to speak to your doctor, or visit: Anxiety and Depression Association of America 

Friends in Safe Spaces March 17, 2017

Posted by JP in Discussion.
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Give Peace a Chance March 8, 2017

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No minds - If you are going to be close-minded would you mind being close-mouthed as well?

Take out the trash February 12, 2017

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This morning I heard an interesting analogy regarding forgiveness:

When someone sins against you (does you harm in some way – emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) it is like they have brought a bag of garbage to your house and dropped it on your living-room floor.

Forgiveness is simply the act of you picking up that bag of garbage and taking it out; disposing of it so it is no longer in your house. However, many of us do not take out that garbage. We may move it around – take it into a back room for example and shut the door (out of sight, out of mind…. really?), we may just push it over to the side of the couch, or leave it sitting in the middle of the floor.

The problem is that the garbage is still there. It begins to smell; even if it is in the back room with the door closed, the smell will eventually come out and permeate our entire house. The smell will overshadow everything good in our house and lessen the good with its rotting stench (ever try to cook and eat a delicious meal in a dumpster?).

Our house is our life. It is the entirety of who we are, mentally, emotionally, and physically. The smell of rotting garbage that we have not disposed of properly will eventually permeate our lives ruining everything that we have, or do, or try to do, and will poison and sicken us.

Forgiveness thought of in this way makes a whole lot more sense to us as we reflect on the biblical admonitions to forgive:

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Forgiveness is not about the blessing of another, it is about the blessing of oneself; of following the example of our Lord in His faithfulness to forgive us of ALL of our wrongs, and it is a practical way to keep ourselves healthy in body and spirit.

Anti-Trump protests are hipocracy at its worst February 8, 2017

Posted by JP in Discussion.
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Where was all the talk of Presidential ‘legitimacy’ when Bill Clinton won the 1992 election with a 5.56% LOSS in the Popular vote? Where were the riots, the ‘not my President’ protests? Where was all the nonsense when Clinton won with a much wider deficit than Mr. Trump?

2016 Election:

Trump 45.98% Popular vote, 56.5% Electoral College

1992 Election:

Clinton 43.01% Popular vote, 68.77% Electoral College

Donald Trump refused to say that he’d respect the results of this election. That’s a direct threat to our democracy.

That’s not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections and we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election…

And let’s be clear about what he’s saying and what he means. He’s denigrating—he’s talking down our democracy. I for one am appalled that somebody who is the nominee of one of our major two parties would take that kind of position.

Hillary Clinton on accepting the 2016 election results

On immigration:  President Trump institutes a temporary halt on immigration almost identical to the halt instituted by the Obama administration in 2015, yet there is and uproar from the left (and even from Obama himself).

Mr. Obama used his rights as president to put a halt to some immigrants from arriving here six times. President George W. Bush used the executive powers six times as well, Bill Clinton did so twice, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter instituted bans using their executive powers a combined seven times.

Where were all the protests for those 19 bans? Where were all the cries of racism?

 

 

Question: “What does the Bible say about illegal immigration?” February 4, 2017

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From Gotquestions.org

Answer: Note: We wholeheartedly believe that Christians are called to be compassionate and merciful toward immigrants (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33–34; Matthew 25:35). We also believe that the United States should have a more compassionate and merciful immigration policy. However, that is not the question at hand. The question at hand concerns illegal immigration—whether it is wrong to violate a nation’s borders and transgress its immigration laws.

Romans 13:1–7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The only exception to this is when a law of the government forces us to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29). Illegal immigration is the breaking of a government’s law. There is nothing in Scripture that contradicts the idea of a sovereign nation having immigration laws. Therefore, it is rebellion against God to unlawfully enter another country. Illegal immigration is a sin.

Illegal immigration is definitely a controversial issue in the United States (and some other countries) today. Some argue that the immigration laws are unfair, unjust, and even discriminatory—thus giving individuals justification to immigrate illegally. However, Romans 13:1–7 does not give any permission to violate a law just because it is perceived as unjust. Again, the issue is not the fairness of a law. The only biblical reason to violate a government’s law is if that law violates God’s Word. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he was under the authority of the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Nero. Under that reign, there were many laws that were unfair, unjust, and/or blatantly evil. Still, Paul instructed Christians to submit to the government.

Are the immigration laws of the United States unfair or unjust? Some think so, but that is not the issue. All developed countries in the world have immigration laws, some more strict than the USA’s, and some less strict, and all have to deal with illegal immigration. There is nothing in the Bible to prohibit a country from having completely open borders or to have completely closed borders. Romans 13:1–7 also gives the government the authority to punish lawbreakers. Whether the punishment is imprisonment, deportation, or even something more severe, it is within the rights of the government to determine.

Illegal immigration is a complex issue. The vast majority of illegal immigrants in the United States have come for the purpose of having a better life, providing for their families, and escaping poverty. These are good goals and motivations. However, it is not biblical to violate a law to achieve a “good.” Caring for the poor, orphans, and widows is something the Bible commands us to do (Galatians 2:10; James 1:27; 2:2–15). However, the biblical fact that we are to care for the unfortunate does not mean we should violate the law in doing so. Supporting, enabling, and/or encouraging illegal immigration is, therefore, a violation of God’s Word. Those seeking to emigrate to another country should always obey the immigration laws of that country. While this may cause delays and frustrations, it is better than acting illegally. A frustrating law is still a law.

What is the biblical solution to illegal immigration? Simple—don’t do it; obey the laws. If disobedience is not a biblical option, what can be done in regards to an unjust immigration law? It is completely within the rights of citizens to seek to change immigration laws. If it is your conviction that an immigration law is unjust, do everything that is legally within your power to get the law changed: pray, petition, vote, peacefully protest, etc. As Christians, we should be the first to seek to change any law that is unjust. At the same time, we are also to demonstrate our submission to God by obeying the government He has placed in authority over us.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:13–16).

7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics February 1, 2017

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How to be in the world, not of the world, in a culture of political vitriol.

Not only are believers excused for their political indiscretions, but they are often applauded for committing them. Slander is explained away as righteous anger; winning arguments are esteemed higher than truthful ones (whether or not the “facts” align); and those who stir up dissension are given the pulpit. So I balk when pastors tell me the Church should engage in the political process. Why would we do that? The political process is dirty and broken and far from Jesus. Paranoia and vitriol are hardly attractive accessories for the bride of Christ.

Rather than engage in the political process, Christians have a duty to elevate it. Like any other sin, we are called to stand above the partisan dissension and demonstrate a better way. Should we have an opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Yes. Should we vote? Yes. But it’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

It’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

Here are seven things to remember about politics:

1. Both political parties go to church

There’s a Christian Left and, perhaps even less well-known, there’s a secular Right. Larry T. Decker is a lobbyist and head of the Secular Coalition for America. He’s an “unaffiliated Christian,” but his entire job is devoted to keeping religion out of the U.S. government. Party lines are drawn in chalk, and they’re not hard to cross. The Church must be engaged in politics, but it must not be defined by the arbitrary lines in politics.

2. Political talk radio and cable “news” only want ratings

When media personalities tell you they are on a moral crusade, they are lying to you. These personalities get rich by instilling fear and paranoia in their listeners. If we give our favorite political ideologues more time than we give Jesus, we are following the wrong master. There are unbiased, logical and accurate news sources out there. But it’s up to you to be a good steward of information—to fact-check for yourself, take ideology with a grain of salt and make decisions based on facts rather than gossip.

3. Those who argue over politics don’t love their country more than others

They just love to argue more than others. Strife and quarreling are symptoms of weak faith (Proverbs 10:12; 2 Timothy 2:23-25; James 4:1) and are among the things the Lord “detests.” We need to rise above the vitriol and learn to love our neighbors the way God commanded us. We need to love our atheist neighbor who wants to keep creationism out of schools; our Democrat neighbor who wants to keep gay marriage and abortion legal; our Republican neighbor who celebrates death penalty statistics and gun ownership; and yes, even the presidential candidate from the other side.

If you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved.

4. Thinking your party’s platform is unflawed is a mistake

The social policies of your party were constructed by imperfect politicians fueled by ambition. It’s nearsighted to canonize them—and it will make you obsolete in a few years. Every four years, the parties adopt a current, updated platform at their respective conventions. And while they stay on general tracks, every four years the platform evolves to meet the needs of a growing, modernized and changing party. The Republican party of today doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. We need to know when to change our views to meet a changing culture—and when to stand by them.

5. Scripture tells us to pray for our governing leaders (2 Timothy 2:1-4) and to respect those in authority (Romans 13:1-7)

Translation: if you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved. We should spend more time honoring our leaders and less time vilifying them. This doesn’t mean praying the President will be impeached; it doesn’t mean praying your candidate will win. God commands us to pray for our leaders—for their wisdom, for their hearts and for them to be led by Him.

6. Don’t be paranoid

The country is not going to be destroyed if your candidate loses. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Stand up and demonstrate what God has given you. America has functioned—albeit, at varying levels of success—for years under the direction of alternating Democrat and Republican control, and at every flip, the other side thought it was the end of the world. It’s not. And if we’re a Church that believes God is in control, we have to believe that He is the one in control of the end times—not whoever’s in office now, and not whoever succeeds them.

7. Stop saying, “This is the most important election in the history of our nation”

It’s not. The most important election in the history of our nation was when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Before that, we thought it was OK to own people. Every generation thinks it’s living in the most important moment in history. We’re not, our parents were not and our children probably won’t be. And that’s OK.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from an original version posted in September 2012.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/politics/7-things-christians-need-remember-about-politics#HjOrEzOKr7d4kS4j.99

Work out your own salvation with trembling and fear January 19, 2017

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Php 2:12-16  Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).  (13)  [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.  (14)  Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves],  (15)  That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and…

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