Union Cannon Positions at Manassas

The picture shows representations of where Union cannon were positioned at the top of Henry Hill, facing Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s cannon line on the other side of the hill,  where most of the First Battle of Manassas occurred and where Gen. Jackson received his nickname for standing like a Stone Wall resisting the Union attack.  In the background is a replica of the Hill House that was destroyed during the battle.  Lt. Col. Joe Hinds wrote about this battle in his books, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

America’s Two-Party System

The Founding Fathers had two opposite magnetic poles that attracted American citizens.  One was a group led by Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s secretary of the treasury, who believed that the common man should not control the government.  Hamilton argued that a president for life would be the best course of action, similar to the crown in England.  He thought that mob rule would take over if left to the common man.  The followers of Hamilton were called Federalists (federal rights).

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington’s secretary of state, led the other side, which believed that the people could rule themselves and that the Federalists would promote a dictatorship by taking away powers from the people and the states, giving them to the federal government.  Jefferson wanted a nation of farmers who needed few laws governing them.  The followers of Jefferson were called Republicans (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But these two parties agreed on two important items:  (1) they wanted to do the right thing and (2) they wanted to serve the public.  They just disagreed on how best to do that.  Interestingly, the presidents during this “Founding Fathers” period of time were very independent, and did not follow their party line in all cases.  They did what they believed was best for their country even if they didn’t get reelected.

The evolution of the two-party system has swapped names around so that it is a bit confusing.  The Hamilton Federalists later became Republicans, and the Jefferson Republicans later became Democrats.  However, today the old Republicans are the new Democrats, and the old Democrats are now new Republicans.  It will make it easier if I differentiate the parties with a reference to their ideology at that particular time.  For example, the Hamilton Federalists would be designated by (federal rights) while the Jefferson Republicans would be categorized as (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But because of the maverick spirit of the early presidents, it was never crystal clear about party alignments.  George Washington, the first president, was a very successful independent president by setting a middle course for our young country and never affiliating with any party.  John Adams, the second president of the United States was a Federalist (federal rights), but he lost favor with that party when he went with his conscience and not the edicts of the party.  He was successful though because he avoided a war with France that could have destroyed our young, fragile nation.  Even though Thomas Jefferson, the third president, represented the Republicans, he still followed his conscience.  He was also successful by purchasing the Louisiana Territory.  James Madison, the fourth president, also a Republican, did what he thought was right during his two terms, but he got wrapped up in the War of 1812, which drove the federal debt up for the first time since the Revolutionary War.  He still was a success by winning the war.  James Monroe, the fifth president, also a Republican, created the “Era of Good Feeling” with his expansion of territory and decrease in spending.  Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe all only ran for two terms, believing that it was improper in our democracy for them to stay any longer.  The first five presidents were both independent and successful.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, was independent like his father.  Even though he was elected also as a Federalist (federal rights), he voted for what he believed to be right and not what the party wanted.  This guaranteed one term for both men.  But John Quincy Adams was not as successful as his father.  He was a cold and distant person and had no abilities to compromise.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was elected as a Democratic Republican (citizens’ and states’ rights) over the new National Republican party (federal rights).  Jackson’s party eventually became just the Democratic party, while the Republican party became the Whig party.  Even though Jackson believed in states’ rights, he drew the line with South Carolina declaring that it would not comply with a federal tariff.  Jackson was ready to send in federal troops to enforce the federal law.  It was interesting that many of the early presidents were independent enough to ignore the ideologies of their party lines and stand up for what they thought was right.  Jackson certainly fit this mold.  He vetoed more bills from Congress than any president up to his time, but Jackson was very successful.  The federal debt “flat lined” through Jackson’s administration and over the next thirty years.  It wasn’t until 1860 that the federal debt started climbing, building up to the Civil War.

Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, a Democrat, tried to do the right thing, but he was blindsided by a deep depression caused by land speculation and liberal borrowing of money.  Van Buren was unsuccessful as a president, but it wasn’t really his fault.  American citizens couldn’t blame themselves, so they blamed Van Buren.  William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, was elected as a Whig (federal rights), but he lived only for a few months and obtained no success during that short period.  His vice-president, John Tyler, also a Whig, assumed the presidency.  Tyler stood his ground and supported states’ rights even though his party did not.  Tyler also was a single term president because of his independent positions, but he was unsuccessful because both parties hated him.

James Polk was elected the eleventh president as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Even though he was involved in a war with Mexico, it was one of the few wars that did not dramatically increase the federal debt.  In the peace treaty, America obtained California, Nevada, and part of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Polk was a very successful president.

Millard Fillmore, the thirteen president, assumed this office as a Whig (federal rights) after his predecessor, Zachary Taylor, died suddenly after contracting an illness on July 4th, a year after he was elected on the Whig ticket.  Taylor wasn’t president long enough to be successful, but Fillmore was a success.  Even though Fillmore was from a party that supported a strong federal government and that was against slavery, he was independent and followed what he believed.  He was a big influence on the Compromise of 1850, which made California a free state and enacted the Fugitive Slave Act allowing slave owners to recapture slaves who escaped to free states.  Fillmore was the last Whig president as that party disintegrated after the compromise.  Fillmore also was the last successful independent president until Abraham Lincoln.

Franklin Pierce, a northerner, was elected as the fourteenth president, as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Pierce was one of the first presidents who followed his party line and not his conscience.  He started a string of presidents who followed a strict party policy.  Pierce followed his party and promoted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the citizens in those territories to decide whether it wanted slavery or not.  This was the tinder box that set a fire that led to the Civil War because it allowed extremists to operate and take over in those territories.

James Buchanan, the fifteenth president, was also a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  He did not take a strong stand on much anything.  With two weak presidents in a row, the extremists within America took over and ran us headlong into war.  Buchanan did not want to make anybody angry, especially his party, so he avoided confrontation.  But the country needed a strong, independent leader to avoid the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, was elected as a Republican (federal rights and anti-slavery).  Lincoln was a much more capable president than Pierce and Buchanan, but he did not have much experience, so he was polarized by his party into denouncing both states’ rights and slavery.  If he had been more experienced and followed his own beliefs, he would have selected only one issue – slavery.  Slavery was on its way out anyway and clearly was against America’s principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.  If Lincoln had ignored the states’ rights issue, he, at a minimum, would have shortened the Civil War and may have avoided it altogether.  Lincoln also gave in to his party when they proposed military leaders like Erwin McDowell, who was a political staff officer who should never have led the Union soldiers in the First Battle of Manassas.  Other political appointments of officers led to the early years of losses to the Confederates on the battlefield.  After General Ulysses Grant, who was not political, was given command of the Union army, things turned around.  As Lincoln gained experience, he exercised his executive power more than other presidents had done in the past.  He finally recognized the legitimate reason for the Civil War and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation speech after the Battle of Gettysburg on September 22, 1862.  Lincoln had many good qualities that helped him get through a very difficult period for our country, but his inexperience hurt him in his early years of his presidency.  He became a successful independent president after September 22, 1862.  There was a hiatus in independent successful presidents until Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.

Of the first sixteen presidents, nine were successful independent presidents:  Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln.

The Reconstruction period paraded a series of Republican (federal rights and big business) presidents who were controlled by Congress.  Andrew Johnson and Rutherford Hays should be given credit during this period for attempting to do what they thought was right, but Congress and big business were just too powerful, and these presidents were not successful in their efforts.  Johnson, the seventeenth president, was impeached by Congress when he attempted to do what he thought was right.  Hayes, the nineteenth president, tried to clean up politics, but Congress and big businesses had too much power as America rolled into becoming an industrialized nation.  Ulysses Grant (eighteenth president), James Garfield (twentieth president), and Chester Arthur (the twenty-first president) were all weak presidents who conceded to their parties and Congress, leading to widespread corruption within the government.  The Republicans became more of a party supporting big business and drifted away from promoting federal rights.

Grover Cleveland, the twenty-second and twenty-fourth president, was elected as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), who was going to bring a change along with an honest government.  He also brought a change to the Democratic party, which became less focused on states’ rights and more centered on laborers and small businessmen.  Cleveland made his decisions based on what he thought was right and not what his party dictated or what was popular.  However, he wasn’t successful.  That’s why he lost to Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president, on the Republican (big business) ticket.  But Harrison, who supported high tariffs and big business, lost the following election to Cleveland as farmers, labor, and small businessmen voted for the Democrat (small business).  The pendulum continued to swing back and forth between the two parties as William McKinley, a Republican, was elected after Cleveland’s second term.  All these presidents, as a general rule, followed their party line.

It wasn’t until the colorful twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican (big business), was vaulted into the presidency after McKinley was shot and killed, that successful independence returned to the presidency.  Roosevelt recognized a new division within America, not between federal and states’ rights, but between the rich and the poor.  Even though he was a Republican, he set out on his own to protect the small businesses and workers.  Roosevelt was the first president to successfully follow his own set of values since Millard Fillmore, about a 50-year hiatus.  Roosevelt busted up many of the big business trusts.  He also saved the natural resources in America by establishing national parks and forests.  This highly popular president easily won a second term.

William Taft, the twenty-seventh president, also a Republican, attempted to follow-up on many of Roosevelt’s programs, but he was not as aggressive as his predecessor.  Although competent, Roosevelt was a tough act to follow, and Taft looked weak by comparison.  He was a party man, too complacent to be labeled as an independent.

We continued the swing back and forth between parties as Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), was elected as the twenty-eighth president.  Wilson championed the rights of the people, following the party position.  Wilson was in power during WWI when the federal debt escalated to about what it was during the Civil War.  After Wilson, Warren Harding, a Republican (big business), became the twenty-ninth president.  He was a loyal Republican who voted the party line.  He died in office and Calvin Coolidge, another Republican (big business), kept things going for big business.  Coolidge said, “And the business of government was to keep out of business.”  Herbert Hoover, a Republican (big business), was the thirty-first president.  Hoover inherited the Great Depression, but he still did not want to interfere with businesses through government regulation.

Franklin Roosevelt, the thirty-second president, a distant cousin to Teddy Roosevelt, was a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Roosevelt really was an independent and kept to himself for the most part.  He was the architect for an expansive and expensive federal government.  The Democrat party suddenly looked a lot like the old Federalist, Whig, and Republican parties that championed federal rights.  He became the leader of a Democratic party that now represented the people through the federal government (big government).  He created new federal departments and spent money at a rate never seen before in our country.  He modified his party’s platform to use the full power of the federal government to champion the rights of Americans and small businesses.  He created a larger federal government to get America back on its feet.  The change was perhaps one of emphasis.  The emphasis was on a larger government.  He was elected for a fourth term, more terms than any other president, as a Democrat (big government) but he died in office.

Harry Truman, also a Democrat (big government), became the thirty-third president with the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt over him.  Truman, like both Roosevelt’s, was his own man.  Even though Truman had some shady political ties in Missouri, he stepped up and made the tough decisions, such as dropping the first atomic bomb.  There was no passing the buck with Truman because as he said, “The buck stops here.”  He was from Independence, Missouri, and he was truly independent.  During the Korean War, he took on a very popular General McArthur, but Truman did not back away from making the difficult decisions, and he was generally right.  Even though Truman was able to decrease the rate of federal spending, he still incurred heavy expenses in WWII and the Korean War and our government continued to grow.

Dwight Eisenhower was elected the thirty-fourth president because he was a likeable war hero.  His slogan was, “I like Ike.”  He was a Republican, but his party’s philosophy didn’t look that much different from the Democrat (big government) beliefs.  He pretty much followed the party line and was not considered to be a strong president.  However, he was able to continue a decrease in federal spending even with continued growth in the government building interstate roads and other projects.

John Kennedy was the next independent president after Truman.  He also was a Democrat (big government) elected as the thirty-fifth president based on his personal charm and wealth.  He attracted smart independent advisors, and he was willing to go against the military, corporate, and political powers.  The Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis were both headaches for his administration.  Kennedy was assassinated, but we still do not know why.

Lyndon Johnson, the thirty-sixth president, returned to the Democratic party (big government) mantra.  Johnson started a group of presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, who followed their party line of increasing the size of the federal government, carrying right up to the present.  The Democrats might argue for increased taxes, and the Republicans might decrease taxes, but otherwise the two parties contributed to a higher federal deficit.  Johnson, unlike Kennedy, embraced big government, big business, and big military.  Richard Nixon, the thirty-seventh president, was a Republican, but it was difficult distinguishing him from Johnson except that Nixon got caught.  After his resignation, a very honest president, Gerald Ford, took his place, but Ford ran into an inflationary recession and didn’t have time to make his mark on the presidency.  Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth president, was an inexperienced Democrat who struggled to find his identity and the Democrat party fared no better.  Nixon, Ford, and Carter were able to maintain a reasonable federal budget, but the next president, Ronald Reagan, started the elevator rising to the giant federal debt that we have today.  He didn’t initiate this with the growth of federal government as much as he did with tax decreases.  The reduced taxes increased the debt.

Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president, finally defined and designed the new Republican party.  Reagan was the pioneer leader of this Republican party (business/small government), modifying its big business role to embrace less federal government.  The Republicans became a party that wanted to make the government smaller, making businesses less regulated and less taxed.  Now, the lines were clearly drawn between Republicans (business/small government/less taxes) and Democrats (unions/large government/more taxes).  Since Reagan actually formulated the new Republican party, he did not deviate from what the party line.  He was independent in that he created what he believed in.  And because of his firm ideological beliefs, he was able to dismantle the Soviet Union.  However, the costs for the federal government were increasing under both parties now.

George H.W. Bush, the forty-first president, continued following the Republican ideological philosophy.  Bush was one of our best war presidents.  During the First Gulf War, he formed a coalition of nations to remove Hussein from Kuwait.  Bush announced the objective and turned over the strategy and tactics of war to the military and let them do their job.  It is a lost art called “delegation” that few presidents ever learned.  William Clinton became the forty-second president as a Democrat, still pursuing what was best for a larger government.  Clinton was lucky to see a decrease in the federal budget because of the boost in the economy, giving the government more tax revenue and better profits on its investments. George W. Bush was the forty-third president, following the Republican movement to minimize government and reduce regulations on businesses.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent our federal debt spiraling up into the stratosphere.  Bush understood neither the power of coalitions nor international law like his father did, so America lost some of its moral luster.

Barrack Obama, the forty-fourth president, was perhaps the biggest Democratic champion for a larger government.  We have seen our federal debt go over $16 trillion and watch as Standard & Poor’s downgraded our country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.  With our debt increasing over $1 trillion each year, we are reaching a fiscal tipping point.

In summary, the first five presidents from George Washington to James Madison carried an aura of successful independence about them that may have carried over from being the “Founding Fathers.”  Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln were the next four successful independent presidents, but this combination wasn’t seen again until Teddy Roosevelt came crashing onto the scene.  Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan were the last presidents who exercised successful independent spirits.  I believe that Lincoln fit in the category of independent successful presidents after September 22, 1862, when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Also in my opinion, Reagan did what he thought was right as another successful independent, which matched the new party line that he had created.

In effect, I argue that there were only 14 out of 44 presidents who were successful at doing the right thing for their country even at the risk of not getting reelected.  The most successful presidents were independent, but still knew how to build coalitions.  The least successful presidents were those who just simply followed the party line or who refused to compromise or work with anybody.  I think we could use another independent president, but if we have already reached the tipping point, I don’t know if they could be successful.

Confederate Cannon Line at Manassas

The picture below shows cannons lined at the top of Henry Hill at Manassas National Battlefield Park, representing where Gen. Stonewall Jackson made his famous stand holding off the attacking Union soldiers during the First Battle of Manassas. Notice the treeline behind the cannon, where Jackson had his troops waiting for the Union attack.  Lt. Col. Joe Hinds tells this story about Jackson in two of his books:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

Jesus Was Concerned About Our Thoughts

Jesus was one of the first teachers of ethics who focused on our thoughts.  The moral choices we make in life typically are supported by our set of values, which can come from many sources, including our parents, peers, religion, and philosophy.  Most moralists are concerned about our actions, but Jesus was one of the first to instruct us to be concerned with not only how we lived our lives, but also with how we thought.

Jesus warned us in the Beatitudes not to be angry without cause, nor to lust for women.  He declared in the King James Version of Matthew 5:22, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”  In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus stated, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Why was Jesus so concerned about our thoughts?  We know that Jesus wanted us to avoid the act of adultery, which was one of the Ten Commandments brought down from the mountain by Moses.  But Jesus went further.  He wanted us to not even think about committing adultery.  This was a very difficult assignment.  If a beautiful woman walked by us, it is part of our human nature to admire her, and this admiration may lead us down a lustful path.  Most men that I know are just lustful in thought and talk, but not deed.  They do not actually take any action on this lustful moment, so the majority of moralists would say, “No harm, no foul.”  But Jesus would say that the foul was in the thought.

Jesus said that anger could put you in danger of the judgment.  Jesus was concerned about the harm to the individual who was angry or was lusting at judgment.  I don’t know if Jesus meant that these thoughts during life would place you in jeopardy on Judgment Day or if He meant that this way of thinking would stop you from entering His world.

But He also could have meant that we have to change our way of thinking as we slide into the afterlife.  In other words, when we die and are still thinking, the essence of this awareness at that point may be entirely based on thinking.  Jesus may have wanted us to focus on cleaning up our thought process before we entered the afterlife, because bad thoughts could create hell while good thoughts could create heaven.

In effect, Jesus may have been warning us to control our emotions in advance of death.  Certainly, suppressing our emotions is good advice during our lives since uncontrolled emotions sometimes lead to criminal actions.  But Jesus seems to be more concerned with the afterlife.  Anger, anxiety, fear, and other emotions can creep into our thoughts, and Jesus may be telling us that we must not take anger or any emotions into the afterlife.  Our thoughts must be clean and pristine after we die, but we need to start working on controlling our emotions before we reach judgment.  If we wait until judgment, it may be too late.

When you die and continue thinking, this is when your thoughts could get you into the most trouble.  Your anger and fear in the afterlife becomes much more of a sin than it ever was during your life, because your thoughts will be your existence.  You could even say that after you die, “You will be what you think.”  If you have anger and fear in your thoughts, then you will be an angry and fearful spirit, not worthy of entering God’s event horizon.  Your anger and fear may keep you within our recycling universe.

Your thoughts will be what you carry into the afterlife, so that your action in the afterlife will be your thoughts.  Jesus knew this and may have been warning us to practice during our lifetimes to control our thoughts.  It would be very difficult to allow our thoughts to run amuck during life and then attempt to put the brakes on and control it during the afterlife.

Jesus was very concerned about our thoughts because He knew that our thoughts would be all we carried into the afterlife.  Our bodies would be left behind, so in God’s universe, thoughts are all you would have.  If your thoughts were not pure, then you could not pass through the portal into God’s universe.  That’s why the Beatitudes are critical to following the right path during life that can lead you into God’s kingdom.

After you die, you will still be thinking, but you will be lost in a chaotic universe if you are thinking by yourself.  You must unite and become one with God through Jesus.  The uncertainty of this new environment will cause your thoughts to turn against you.  Anxiety, fear, and other emotions will crush you.  The best approach to eliminating your anxiety, fear, and emotions is to trust Jesus and put yourself in His hands through faith.  Jesus is God’s face for your thoughts.  Turn everything over to God and leave all the consequences to Him.  Any anger, anxiety, and fear will evaporate as you are wrapped in the cocoon of God’s love and peace.  God will protect you in His world from the chaos of our universe.

Gen. Stonewall Jackson

This statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson is located on Henry Hill at the Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  Gen. Jackson is the hero in Lt. Col. Joe Hinds second book, “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The strategies of Gen. Jackson are also studied in his first book, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times.”

Do You Really Want to Live Forever?

Many say that they want to live forever.  Would it be that great if we didn’t die?  If your body continued to age would you still want to live forever?  Oh, so now it becomes you would like to live forever and not age.  Would it be wonderful if your frail body, now wracked with pain from cancer, lived forever?  Oh, so now it becomes you would like to live forever and not age and not have any diseases.  Would you still want to live forever if you had an accident making you a “vegetable” for the rest of your life?  Be careful what you wish for.

We don’t know much, but we think that we know that our universe is closed.  In plain words, nothing can get in but, more importantly, nothing can get out.  You are trapped inside this recycling universe.  Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe.  In effect, you will live, in some state of matter or energy, forever.  So, I guess your wish was granted.  But is that a good thing?

It is interesting to analyze why we are selfish and self-centered and why we demand to live forever.  We view the universe from two windows, peeking outside with that thinking entity that is us situated somewhere on the inside.  The outside world is only important to sustain and entertain the inside world.  The inside world is me and I.  The outside world is you and them.  If people could only have one world, they would pick the inside world because they wouldn’t be aware of the outside world without the inside world.  In effect, I am much more important than you are.

So, let’s talk about this awareness or existence that we treasure so much.  Will you lose that awareness or consciousness when you die?  The law of conservation of matter and energy seems to say that you will not.  The awareness may be a different form of matter or energy, but it will still exist somewhere in the universe.  Thus, if your inner world still exists without your outside world, is that a good thing?  In other words, if you are still thinking but you have no senses to detect an outside world, what would happen?  This is called “sensory deprivation” and is actually considered to be a horrible form of torture.  Within minutes, the individual who is deprived of his senses will start hallucinating.  Can you imagine being trapped within yourself with only your thoughts to keep you company?  What thoughts would you have?  Would you have nightmares forever?  Your thoughts would have no boundaries and most likely would go straight to hell.

That might be a great reason to have something to hold onto both for life and for after-life.  Everybody is different, and you can search for your own life preserver, but mine is Jesus and God.  I need Jesus to reach God, so I will start with Jesus.  I can visualize what He looks like, so He is very approachable.  I know what He believed and I want to follow those teachings throughout life and the after-life.  They can save me from myself.

You are welcome to try different religions and philosophies, and I hope you find one that fits.  But Christianity fits me because it provides an intermediary to God through Jesus.  I would have a difficult time in my inner world imagining what God looked like.  But I can visualize Jesus immediately as my life preserver.

And Christianity offers a second benefit through Jesus.  Jesus paid for all my sin debts by dying on the cross.  After I die if I am still thinking, I will be thinking about Jesus and not about all of my sins.  In a sensory deprivation environment, we would be harder on ourselves than the Devil ever could be.  We would replay all our sins and mistakes and crucify ourselves forever.  But the crucifixion of Jesus erases those thoughts and saves us from ourselves.

Christianity offers a third benefit.  The teachings of Jesus, especially the Beatitudes, are important for us to follow as we deal with life and the after-life.  We must be like Jesus by following His teachings and instructions.

In summary, I chose Christianity over the many other religions because it gives me Jesus to hold onto, which provides an intermediary to God, removes my sins, and gives me a solid ethical basis for my decisions.  No other religion offers so much.

Even if you aren’t thinking after you die, you will still benefit from Christianity because if you make decisions in life based on Jesus’ teachings, you will lead a better and more fulfilling life.  But if you are still thinking after death, then the most important benefits of Christianity will be realized.

Does this mean you will then live forever in God’s universe?  Not necessarily.  The bottom line is that living forever may not be what is best for you.  If you pass the test and enter into God’s universe, where matter and energy may be created and destroyed, then you may find that termination is God’s greatest gift to you.

If you had a painful form of cancer, your wish may be to die and be at peace rather than to live with the pain.  The same may be said of the humanness of man.  You may wish to terminate your existence in our universe and accept whatever is in God’s universe.  If you had one wish, asking to live forever in any universe may not be your best choice.  A better wish would be to hope to do your best to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and leave all the consequences to God.

The Presidential Impressionist

Joe Hinds, “The Presidential Impressionist,” will be doing impressions of seven past presidents at the Veterans Day Citizens Celebration on November 10, 2013, at the Willis Music Stage at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky.  Hinds will be showcased with the Southern Gateway Chorus, the national award-winning men’s choir from Cincinnati, and military bands.  The New Horizons band from Dayton, Ohio, will also be performing.

Hinds will also be doing his impression of Gen. Jimmy Stewart, who will act as narrator, introducing presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Admission and parking are both free to the public to honor the veterans and relatives of veterans in the tri-state area.

Do the Right Thing

During life and then after-life, you must always do the right thing.  The right thing is never easy.  And the right thing is not what everybody else is doing.  It doesn’t matter whether your friends are honest or dishonest, rich or poor, religious or nonreligious… the right thing is probably not what your friends are doing.

It only matters what you are doing, anyway.  If you follow others, the chances are significantly higher that you will go down the wrong path.  Even if you are following members of a church, this may not be the right path.  The right thing is following God’s path during life and death.  If you really are headed down the right path, others will try to distract you, attract you, and sometimes even attack you.  It’s not the easy path.  If your life has been easy, you probably haven’t been doing the right thing and may be on the wrong path.

Many tell you that the early Christians had it hard and were tortured, but that modern Christians will not be crucified for their beliefs.  They say that it is different today.  They say you can worship God and follow the teachings of Jesus without suffering.  This simply is not true.

True believers and followers of God and the teachings of Jesus must be prepared for the worst, and the worst is out there waiting for you when you practice what Jesus preached.  If your life is simple and safe, then perhaps you are not doing the right thing.  You must reexamine your life and see if you are doing something wrong.

It is important to do the right thing during your life, but it is even more important to do the right thing in the after-life.  Nobody knows what happens after death, but the Bible mentions Judgment Day.  This could evaluate what you did during your life or it could be a test to see if you will do the right thing in the after-world or it could be both.

If you haven’t done the right thing during your life, what chance do you have of doing the right thing after death?  What if you are tested by many spirits moving around you pretending to be God’s followers, but, in effect, they are leading you into the bowels of hell.  Would you blindly follow them?  You must think for yourself during life and during the after-life.  Following others is almost certain to lead to calamity.   And if going to Hell is part of Judgment Day, then be prepared to do the right thing, avoiding emotions of fear, anger, jealousy.  Be like Jesus at all times.

The only truth to follow in both life and death is Jesus, who will lead you to God.  Your imagination would not be able to deal with an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God, but Jesus has a human form that you can visualize immediately.  Jesus also has clear teachings, like the Beatitudes, that you can follow.  Thus, when you are deciding what the right thing to do is, always ask what would Jesus do?  I can’t imagine the answer ever being that Jesus would follow what the group was doing.  Even though Jesus had his followers and disciples, He was His own person.  He made His decisions and stuck with them.  And His actions were sometimes very aggressive like when He turned over the tables of the moneychangers.

Jesus could have easily slipped away and avoided being crucified.  He did the right thing for mankind even though it required suffering, going through pain and torture.  The right thing was not easy for Jesus.  Doing the right thing was not easy for His disciples.  And the right thing will not be easy for us.  Doing the right thing is an independent decision.  It is making the right choice even though that decision carries consequences that are painful.

It is interesting that some Christians portray Jesus as a soft, feminine person.  He was just the opposite.  He was unwavering in His devotion to God and in doing the right thing no matter what.  He was willing to have skin lashed off his back and have nails driven though his body because that was the right thing to do.  These were not easy decisions for Him.  And they will not be easy decisions for us.

But we must do the right thing and suffer the consequences from the humanness of man or do the wrong thing and suffer the consequences of God.  The choice is yours to make.

Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This bridge on the Warrenton Turnpike was the primary crossing of Bull Run, but the Union soldiers avoided it because they thought it was rigged to blow up.  They, rather instead, took a long detour following a “cow path” through the woods that delayed their attack on the Confederate troops.  This proves that a little “intel” goes a long way.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This house sits in the valley between two hills:  Matthew Hill and Henry Hill where most of the fighting occurred during the First Battle of Manassas.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The building faces the Warrenton Turnpike.