Monthly Archives: December 2012

Societal Child Abuse: Washington Allowing Orphans to Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff

In January Adoption2005, I walked down the steps at work. My phone rang and the results of that conversation changed my family forever. That call led to the adoption of my oldest daughter. Over the span of just 9 days, my wife and I went through home studies, physicals, securing lawyers in two states, expenses for travel and then the normal cost of a first child. Our adoption cost a little over $10,000. We emptied our savings account to make it happen. Over time, the adoption tax credit helped replenish those well spent savings. With some adoptions costing upwards of $40,000, we experienced one of the least expensive. I wrote an article in 2009 titled, “Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel” if you want to know more about the spiritual implications of adoption.

Now, I am saddened that the fiscal cliff may mean the demise of the adoption tax credit.

What is the adoption tax credit? Reuters describes the adoption tax credit as,

“the single largest individual tax credit – helps adoptive parents cover the costs of adoption fees, court costs, attorneys’ fees and the like associated with adoption. The credit was expanded in 2011, to a maximum of $13,360, then returned to the lower level of $12,650, in 2012. Without congressional action, only families who adopt special-needs children will qualify for a tax credit, at the much smaller maximum level of $6,000 after this year.”

For even the most fiscally conservative people, coming up with between $10,000 and $40,000 can be extremely difficult. The removal of this tax credit may prevent some couples from being able to afford an adoption, leaving more children in orphanages and harming the future of our society.

Even from a purely economic viewpoint, this move makes no sense. In fact, it demonstrates the lack of common sense that characterizes Washington spending—decisions that increase expense without increasing revenue and ultimately harm those least able to speak for themselves.

Consider the numbers. A Christian Post article claims that, “each child adopted from foster care saves about $235,000 in costs to the government over the life of the child.” So Washington will close a $13,000 tax credit to spend $220,000 more over the life of a child. Perhaps they assume, citizens will continue to adopt, but why not continue the incentive when it helps the government and society?

No matter what happens with the fiscal cliff, we need to make sure that children don’t suffer for the selfish, materialistic decisions of our generation. We have mortgaged our children’s future to finance our own entitlements.

It’s time to follow Philippians 2 and consider others more important than ourselves even if that means doing without some added luxuries to insure a good future for our children.

That means some of us will have to do a better job saving for adoption. Some should donate to help others adopt. Agencies will have to find ways to lower expenses so families can afford to adopt. Christian lawyers can donate their services to defer some legal fees.

We need to get creative to help children. Consider James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)

Now it’s time to rescue orphans from falling off the fiscal cliff or be there to catch them in loving arms when they do.

 

If you want to follow the discussion, check out this website dedicated to saving the adoption credit. http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/   For more information, take a look at this article by Michael Foust http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=39294
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The Land of the “Fees” and the Home of the “Conformed:” Hobby Lobby and Religious Freedom

Hobby Lobby store imagePut the elephants and donkeys aside. Don’t take into account whether you voted for the President or someone else. Religious Liberty lies at the center of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit, and that should have every American watching this issue closely.

I didn’t learn nearly enough in Mrs. Johnson 6th grade class, but I did learn that some brave pilgrims sailed the Atlantic Ocean to escape religious persecution and to find a land of opportunity. Will we now recline in our La-Z-Boy and watch religious liberty disappear like the fading tide? If so, we owe an apology to the pilgrims and to every American soldier who has fought for our freedom.

Let’s review the facts:

  • The Green’s, owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Book Stores, attend Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma.
  • According to SBC.net, Council Road Baptist Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention’s confession, The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, states, “We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
  • The Green’s are not just casual church attenders but active believers who close their stores on Sunday and have given millions to the Oklahoma Baptist Convention and other evangelical education.
  • Obamacare or the HHS mandate requires Plan B (the morning after pill) and IUD’s to be included. These drugs have abortive functions preventing implantation after conception.
  • The government will force the Green family to offer employees at Hobby Lobby and Mardel these abortive drugs or pay up to a 1.3 million dollar fine per day until they conform.

The Green family and many others believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Obamacare forces the Green’s to act contrary to their religious beliefs or pay a monetary fine. This violates their freedom of religion.

Why Big Government’s Invasion Matters to You:

If the government can use monetary penalty to control the actions (or worse yet, the beliefs) of its citizens and businesses, then we no longer have religious liberty in this country.

Maybe you’re not a Baptist or you don’t think these drugs are morally wrong, so why does it matter to you?  Because if the government can use monetary fines to force one business or one person to act against their religion, the government may one day use monetary penalty against your beliefs as well.

How long before the government will use your tax money to pay for abortions, euthanasia or worse? What will you do then? How long before the government labels believing Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven as hate speech spoken by religious fanatics and fines any citizen attending such a church? Will it be too late at that point?

Everyone should watch closely and be ready to act before America becomes the land of the “fees” and the home of the “conformed.”

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Jovan Belcher, Ruined Lives, and Manhood

In the wake of Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide Saturday, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock wrote, “How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?”  Whitlock and many others have decided to blame guns for tragedies like this one; however, I don’t hear the same outrage over alcohol when a drunk driver kills someone on the roads. Guns are not the problem.

Kevin Powell from the original season of “The Real World” came closer to the point, blaming a misguided culture of male bravado for the tragedy that occurred in Kansas City last weekend. But then we’ve been trying to blame others for our actions ever since Gen 3. Adam blamed Eve by saying “the woman whom you gave me” and Eve blamed “the serpent who deceived me.” Blaming others does not remove personal responsibility.

Jovan Belcher holds the blame for what happened. He did it. And it’s about time that we stopped blaming others for our actions and take responsibility for them ourselves.

Now figuring out how men get to this point … that’s a different discussion and perhaps one that can be a useful around the family dinner table or in your church men’s group.

I think the probcbmwlem is a lack of proper biblical manhood. We live in a world that wants to remove gender differences, from the Easy Bake Oven to the Supreme Court. Anyone who has reared boys and girls knows that natural differences exist, and in the case of my children, those differences emerge in almost every area of life. I believe God created men and women equal yet different. Instead of fighting against God’s intended design, we should embrace the biblical model. We need to teach, foster, and encourage men to be biblical men. So what does this look like?  Well here are a few talking points for further discussion:

  1. A biblical man seeks God’s will for his life and how he can best glorify God in relationships, in occupation, and in entertainment. He doesn’t seek his own riches at the cost of others and use people for his own gain.
  2. A biblical man intentionally looks for the lady God has for him (if God wants him to marry). A lady who has a Bible and knows what is in it. Along the way, he leaves every girl better than he found her and treats each woman like his own sister. He does not selfishly use women for what he wants or what temporary pleasure he may obtain to throw them aside later.
  3. A biblical man seeks to protect, provide for, and spiritually lead his family. He does not abandon them for his own happiness.
  4. A biblical man takes responsibility for his actions, including rearing any children he fathers. The earthly father represents a shadow of the heavenly Father who loved mankind enough to send His Son to die for our sins. Earthly fathers should demonstrate unconditional, unselfish love toward children, protecting them and rearing them with consistency and intentionality.
  5. A biblical man takes responsibility for his mistakes and does not look for the easy way out–demonstrates integrity, honesty, and responsibility in his actions at home and in society.

Perhaps you can have a conversation with your children this evening at dinner about what type of manhood you want to model, what your son should strive to become, and the only type of guy your daughter should ever think about marrying.

As Deut 6:7 says, teach your children “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” During this or the next tragedy, don’t blame it on guns, sowing wild oats or a culture of violence. Blame it on personal sin and the lack of true biblical manhood. Then educate your own children to overcome the problem.

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AR Drone 2.0 footage at Southwestern Seminary

I am excited to share some new footage that our Communications team shot with the AR Drone 2.0. If you want to just watch the footage, then skip below. If you want to know the story of how we arrived at this point, keep reading.

For a few years, I’v11.28.12_AK_Helicopter059e wanted to add aerial footage to the delivery of our stories about as badly as a country boy living in the city wants a deer lease. The problem with both is that they are too expensive.

Working for a non-profit ministry means everything happens with little to no budget. Hiring a helicopter or outsourcing aerial footage…well, that’s like having champagne wishes and caviar dreams on a beer and Vienna sausage budget—it ain’t happening.

So Matt Miller, Adam Covington, and I began our quest by personally purchasing smaller RC helicopters with dreams of attaching a GoPro camera to the bottom. To get a helicopter strong enough to carry the camera, I found the learning curve too time consuming, costly, and complicated. All we got was some shaky video and bucket of broken parts.

In the spirit of Jimmy V., we didn’t give up. Enter the AR Drone 2.0. With four rotors, a padded indoor housing, and two built-in cameras with the front camera recording 720 HD footage, we immediately saw the potential. After some research, I tested one at Brookstone in the airport while flying home to see my family at Thanksgiving.

The AR Drone. 2.0 retails for under $300, but we weren’t satisfied. It just so happened that Living Social had a deal for Brookstone who also ran a sale at the same time. Combine that with tax-exempt status and the deal seemed ripe for the picking.

The footage below contains our first attempts at several shots. We attached a thumb drive inside the Drone to record the footage and used an iPhone to control flight. You’ll see my first outdoor flight at our new student housing on campus (a little shaky but again a first attempt). The first phase of new housing will be completed soon, and you can expect to see a tour shortly.

The second video has some nice rotunda and Truett Auditorium shots. The other guys fly it better than I do so I think we can finally get the footage of our Frieze, that I have wanted. And for events like Youth Lab on April 5-6, I can see a crowd flyover with live footage shown on the screen making a big splash. Finally, our campus tour will benefit from the aerial footage. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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