Monday, November 29, 2010

Be Happy

In all things, promote liberty for all, and justice tempered with mercy.  In this country, everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Celebrate ethnicity; take pride in your heritage, but value the traditions of others.  Our country’s greatest strength is diversity; honor diversity and keep America strong. While I am generally conservative in my own actions, I am passionately liberal in defense of the choices of others. Personal choices, that’s what freedom is. Remember always that you are as good as any and better than none. Be just, merciful, humble, and be happy. From "Obie's Quest"


A Testimony

 Back in the mid fifties, even I was a youngster.  Following a horrendous spinal tap and the heart stopping diagnosis of Poliomyelitis, I spent several weeks convalescing at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo California. During a two week confinement in a hospital with dozens of other crippled children, a five year old has worlds of time to pray! One night, all alone in my hospital room, scared half to death and miles and miles from home, I called out to Jesus from the depths of my little soul.  Days later the hospital ran some tests, and told my folks to collect me and take me home. When I finally tugged my cowboy boots back on, and Dad and Mom headed for home with me in tow, I began a walk with Jesus that has lasted to this day. When my family and I arrived in Missouri in 1978, I became a member of Dry Creek General Baptist Church, where I was baptized under the bridge at Indian Creek in 1979.  Twenty years later, in 1998, I became a member of Pomona Christian Church, where I maintain my membership today. I live in the Ozarks now.  Suffice it to say, the majority of my church family are lifelong, staunch conservatives. I love those folks dearly, and so far they tolerate me.  As someone who has considered Jesus Christ my personal Savior for over fifty years, I believe in doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with my God, and enthusiastically supporting the rights of others to walk with theirs. I believe freedom is all about personal choices. I cherish my own freedom; I make my own choices, and I passionately support the freedom and choices of others.  If that makes me a liberal, so be it.  I prefer to consider myself an American.   

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Season, 2010

For many, particularly as we grow older, the Holidays are too often a melancholy time,
Haunted by unfulfilled dreams, empty chairs, and unrealistic expectations.
This season can be the very best Holiday Season ever,
If we'll lavish our love for those we've lost,
On those who still surround us.



We, the People

I was having my coffee at my bench out on Reservoir Hill this morning, when I became aware of the distant but unmistakable sound of migrating geese.  Craning my neck to peer up into a brilliant, autumn sky, I spotted something creating vast, sweeping circles in the sky directly overhead.  It had an impressive wingspan and was easily distinguishable by its dark wings and stunning white head and tail.  It was an eagle.

I don’t get to see free flying eagles very often, and I rarely spot an eagle, that the sighting doesn’t bring to mind a poem that I wrote many years ago:  “Freedom is a wild river rushing to the sea. Freedom is a monarch butterfly.  Freedom is an eagle at its perch high in a tree, and its never-ending circles in the sky.”  
During my lifetime I’ve seen eagles brought to the brink of extinction, and I’ve seen our national bird saved.  Do you know what saved this country’s most recognizable symbol?  Our Government.  What do you think of when you hear the word, government?  There is a movement today, a very loud, provocative, misinformed, increasingly popular movement, which seems determined to cast the current government of The United States of America, as some demonic, self-serving enterprise to be hated and overcome.  They’re wrong! Those of you who’ve received some degree of education are familiar with the words “We, the people”.  Those words are from the Preamble of The Constitution of The United States of America
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Whether we choose to participate or not, we, the people, are responsible for our government.  In a very real sense, we are the government. Those of you with an education will also be familiar with the phrase, “And that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth” from President Lincoln's Gettysburg address.  For me, those words,along with many other inspirational phrases found in this country’s historical documents, sum up why our country is the greatest country on earth.  It’s because of our government, or more accurately, it’s because of all those who are willing to vote, serve, contribute, or participate in, the governing of our great Nation. Do you do any of those things?
During the early days of America’s experiment in “Liberty and Justice for all”, there occurred an event known as the Boston Tea Party.  That event occurred when people of this country rose up in rebellion against what they considered to be the unfair tax practices imposed on them by a foreign entity. No one enjoys paying taxes, and our current system of taxation could undoubtedly benefit from some tweaking, but our taxes today are not imposed by a foreign entity. The United States of America exists today because of our Nation's Founding Fathers, our Historical Documents, and all those who subscribe to the American dream, dedicating themselves to the cause of freedom and investing in the dream. We, the people determine the course of our government today, when we vote. Taxes paid today in the United States of America represent our investment in the country that we love. 
Some of you will complain that taxes represent class warfare and the redistribution of wealth. We no longer wage class warfare in our society today. The war is all but over.  The Bernie Madoffs have won. Our financial problems today are not the result of taxes and the redistribution of wealth.  This country’s wealth has been stolen, exported, exploited, unwisely invested in warmongering, and relentlessly drained away, by powerful, deregulated corporations and self-serving, greedy individuals, who invest our money overseas, avoiding their fare share of taxes, and manipulating public opinion through fear, deception, a horrendous manipulation of religious and social values, and ungodly amounts of cash.  
We've been told for the last fifty years that if we'll continue giving tax breaks to huge corporations and billionaires, eventually that money will trickle down.  Well it trickled down all right!  It trickled down in India and China, where all the jobs have gone.  While we've waited for trickle down, the rich have gotten richer, while this country's middle class and most of our economy have been allowed to shrivel and dry up. 
Taxes in America today support infrastructure, our freeways, healthcare, education, National defense, and all the invaluable services that freedom and American ingenuity provide. Taxes and all the worthwhile things they support are why we still enjoy a degree of freedom, justice, prosperity, and uncorrupted media in this country. Taxes are why we still enjoy National Forests, pristine waterways, incomparable parks, unsurpassed cities, and free flying eagles. We have a choice to make.  We can continue supporting policies that make the rich richer at the expense of our country, or we can support policies that invest in America, restore our economy, and bring jobs home.   

Shannon Thomas Casebeer

A Note Regarding Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, families all around the world will gather together in prayer.  Many will be asked to give an account of why they are thankful.  While this year finds me surrounded as usual by undeserved blessings, 2010 has been a difficult year for me. Throughout my life, I've been blessed with an extremely close relationship with my mom and dad.  I've been blessed to spend time with Mom and Dad, almost every week, for almost 59 years.  This year I spent much of the summer watching my dad slowly succumb to cancer.  I began this November by sitting prayerfully at Dad's bedside, holding his frail, purple-veined hand in mine, and literally watching as his last breath slipped away.  So the seasonal question falls to me; why am I thankful?  I'm thankful that, even in times of tremendous loss and sorrow, the Lord has provided His Word to give us hope.  I'm thankful for every minute that I spent with Mom and Dad. I'm thankful that, despite polio, 30 years in the workforce, and two cervical surgeries, I'm still able to walk and live a productive life.  I'm thankful for a wife who loves me despite all my faults.  I'm thankful for my son and daughter and their new families.  I'm thankful for the compassionate people who provide hospice care.  I'm thankful that I have health insurance, and I'm prayerful that someday everyone will.  I'm thankful that the Lord knows my heart, my needs, and my sorrows, and that, according to God's Word, the Lord knows me right down to the number of hairs on my head. The Lord knows what I believe, why I believe, and why, on occasion, I can't, and the Lord loves me anyway. There's a wide variety of professed Christians in the world today.  Some feel called to reach out to sinners in love, as God intended.  Others feel called to wave the Book, and shake their fists in hatred and contempt.  There are professed Christians in this country today who gather like vultures at the funerals of fallen soldiers, denouncing freedom, deploring tolerance, and deriding the country I love.  There are people who hate others because of who they love.  I'm thankful I'm not filled with hate, but by the love of a compassionate Savior. 

 Shannon Thomas Casebeer