The Sexton Doctrine

The “Sexton Doctrine” is how I look at every single conflict, from personal all the way through international. Briefly stated, it is:

Absorb the first strike, and make DANG SURE you deliver the LAST strike

It is a philosophy of both strong defense AND overwhelming offensive capabilities that are held in check by an overriding desire for peace.

It is under this philosophy that I can be BOTH an ardent non-interventionist AND a proponent of military research and development (ie spending).
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RE: McElhannon Letter about Speaker Richardson

An open letter from Joel McElhannon regarding Speaker Richardson’s announcement was put up on PeachPundit, and there is a piece of it I wanted to discuss here:

The vast majority of arm chair activists, pundits, editorialists, and bloggers should do themselves a favor and just shut up.

You have never had the courage or ability to hold public office, so you have no concept of the pressures those with that courage and ability must endure. After dealing with legitimate constituent problems, crazy calls at all hours about dogs barking and obnoxious neighbors, election challenges, political forces pushing them in every direction, and the pressure all of this puts on their family, to have to endure your ridiculous rants and stunningly uninformed cheap shots is a special kind of hell. Spare us your hyperventilating.

Maybe I’m one of the exceptions when he says the “vast majority”. I certainly hope so. Because unlike a great deal of my counterparts both in blogging and within the Libertarian Party, I’ve done something over the last few months that I think qualifies me for an intelligent discussion on this. I actually ran for political office. Yes, I lost. I’ll even admit that I lost pretty handily. But my name WAS on a ballot, and that DOES separate me from the “vast majority of arm chair activists, pundits, editorialists, and bloggers”.
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We’re Not The Bad Guys

Yesterday news came out that President Obama has decided to try the men accused of planning the September 11th attacks in the US Federal Court in lower Manhattan, blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Centers. The Editorial Board of the Albany Herald has a very good piece on that this morning, and here are my thoughts:

My feeds on both Facebook and Twitter lit up with righteous indignation from conservative – and even some libertarian – activists screaming bloody murder. They throw away the presumption of innocence that is the foundation of our American court system, calling these men “enemy combatants” and demanding that they be given a military trial and summarily executed.

But let’s look at that a bit, shall we?
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Powerful Confessions

Our thoughts and prayers here at go out to Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives Glenn Richardson and his family and friends.

For those who have not yet heard, one of the most politically powerful men in the State – if not THE most powerful – publicly confessed about an hour ago that he recently tried to take his own life. Speaker Richardson is scheduled to be at a fundraiser here in Albany on Monday night for State Represenative Ed Rynders, though we are unsure at this time how this announcement will impact his ability to attend the event.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a decently rich and certainly powerful man – one that many look up to as the very definition of success.

And yet depression struck even him.

We are entering into a time of year where more people become depressed and more suicide attempts are made. If this is you, PLEASE know that you are not alone. We recommend seeking professional help if at all possible, but if you just need someone to talk to feel free to use that contact form at the top of this page. Sometimes even writing things out helps, and I will at least do what I can to give you someone to talk to.

Before you start thinking that I won’t know what I’m talking about, know this: I’ve been there too. I won’t go into any specifics, but it was a while back and I came through that period stronger than when I had gone into it. Indeed, that period was the birth of the man you read now. I’m not going to lie to you and say depression is easy to get over. You and I both know it isn’t, and platitudes don’t help matters. But I can absolutely tell you that you WILL eventually get through it.

If you need help, call 1-800-715-4225. Those are some trained professionals. But if you just need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll listen, and we’ll try to get you what help we can.

It Wasn’t My Choice, OK????

Those are quite possibly the words that changed my life forever.

I’ve been railing against a group I see as legalists and Pharisees for a couple of days now, and I figured it is time I admit a dirty little secret:

I used to be one.

Much like Saul, I was trained in “church” by some of the best in my community. These men and women came from all walks of life, but all of them had a firm foundation in the Bible and what it said. I learned the Bible with my head long before I ever started applying its principles to my heart. I was one of the best in nearly any Bible drill you could think of. At one point, I could name every single book of the Bible in order without any hesitation at all. I could repeat any fact about it in an instant.

And that level of knowledge about the Bible without its core teachings being in your heart is a very dangerous thing indeed. I insisted everyone live according to its edicts. I was one of those “goody two shoes” kids that everyone makes fun of for carrying a Bible around – eerily similar to Grace Bowman in season 1 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I caused SOOOO much pain back then, pain that I didn’t really realize until I finally heard the words in the title.

It was my sophomore year of HS, and me and a then friend were walking the halls after school. I was being very judgmental about the revelation she had let slip that she wasn’t a virgin. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. “It wasn’t my choice, OK?” She yelled at me as she ran away crying.

She had been raped, and my judgment had destroyed any progress she had made in overcoming it.

I said shortly after the incident that her words had cut me like a hot knife through butter, and they still do – more than a decade later.

I didn’t overcome my legalism in that instant. It would take more mistakes, more pain, more learning. But God finally allowed that head knowledge I had of His Word to become a heart knowledge. It became something so intrinsic to me that I don’t have to pray aloud – I know God hears my every thought. It is as natural to me as moving my arm.

I still screw up all the time. Probably have over the last couple of days with my brothers and sisters.

I get easily upset when I see legalism now, because I know all too well the destruction I caused under it and the destruction that it tried to cause me when those around me lived under it. But I’ve been attacking my brothers and sisters rather harshly – vestiges of my old ways. For that, I do apologize – though I most certainly do NOT apologize for fighting legalism in general, only the animosity I have displayed in that fight. Just because my brothers and sisters are misguided does not mean they are not still my brothers and sisters, and I should treat them as such.

I just wish they fully understood, as I do, how much destruction they are causing among those we are called to be reaching.

Still, that does not excuse my actions over the last couple of days. Just wanted y’all to have an idea where I’m coming from.

Christ Had A Choice – And So Do You

As I grow in my relationship with Christ, and as I grow towards what I know to be my destiny, I occassionally get these “lightning bursts” that to me feel more like electricity, but that Jeremiah once described as a fire burning in his bones that has to get out. They aer always unexpected, always amazing, and always something I have to either write about or talk about. I’m feeling the need to write this one though, so here goes:

Christ had to choose to live a sinless life. He had to choose the Cross. We have to choose to follow Him. NO ONE has the right to force us to decide one way or the other on that choice.

If you’re familiar with the Bible – or even if you’ve seen the movie The Passion – you may be familiar with the story of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus of Nazareth literally begged his Father to remove the burden of Golgotha from him – but chose to submit to his Father’s will regardless. This was a son BEGGING his dad not to order him to die, and a dad knowing that there was no other way to save EVERYONE than for his own son to die. In the entire Bible, it is the saddest, most poignant scene – and one of the scenes where the fate of the entire human race – past, present, and future – literally hung in the balance.

But Isaiah knew all about this. Indeed, Isaiah was told that Immanuel – “God with us” – would face a choice every day of his life to choose good or evil. According to Isaiah 7:15, “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know evil and choose the good.” Christ had to experience evil so that he could truly experience the human condition, and he still had to make the choice to choose good.

We don’t know what Jesus of Nazareth experienced as a child or young adult. We can glean a few facts from history that he more than likely saw people he knew crucified by the Roman governtment occupying the land he lived in. Some of those may have been killed for doing things that were perfectly within their religious views, but outside Roman law. We know that he probably saw all manner of decadence and evil being supported by the Romans and maybe even some of his own people – after all, he grew up in what we would probably term as the “other side of the tracks” today. From the Bible, We know the story of his birth, but after that we are given only that his parents went to Jerusalem every year for passover, with one year – when he was 12 years old – having a bit of detail. That can be found in Luke 2:41-52. Essentially, while in Jerusalem that year, Jesus went and spoke to the adults in the local church who were absolutely astounded that such a young boy could know so much about the Torah. After that, we see in verse 52 that Jesus grew both in wisdom and in renown, and men began to trust him.

The next thing we know though, Jesus shows up at the river where his cousin, John the Baptist, is preaching and baptizing people in the name of the one who is to come. Jesus chooses to get baptized over the initial objections of the Baptist, and his Father rewards that choice by audibly calling out from Heaven “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

Next, Jesus faced a period of ourtight testing. For 40 days in the desert, he was tempted to choose evil just a single time over and over and over – and chose good every single time. He didn’t grow weary of the trial and finally give in just to get it over with. Had he done so, we would all be doomed to Hell right now, as would every single human throughout history.

We don’t know that Jesus of Nazareth knew that the fate of the world hung in the balance of every decision he made in regards to good and evil. That is a theological question that I suspect we won’t find out until we can ask him ourselves.

But we do know that those choices were his and his alone. We know that he was separated from every outside influence for a time, and during that time was tested repeatedly yet never failed. We know that ultimately, he faced Gethsemane and had to choose for himself whether to live for himself or to die for us.

Not even his Father – God, the Father, who literally holds power over every single thing in existence – could make that choice for him. Not even his Father dictated to him which way he should choose.

The choice was entirely his own.

Flash forward roughly 2,000 years or so, to our lives. We face the same choices between good and evil every day. In many places around the world, even in the US to a lesser extent, people literally have to make the choice to live for themselves or die for Christ even as I type this. God the Father, who still literally holds power over every single thing in existence – does not make that choice for us, his most precious creation. God the Father still does not dictate to us which way we should choose.

Why then do we humans try to dictate to each other which way we should choose?

Joshua, one of the first leaders of Israel, once said “Choose this day whom you wil serve”. He said it something like 4,000 years ago, and it remains the choice each of us have every single day.

Choose. This day. Whom. You will serve.