Wednesday, December 11, 2013

White Paper

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol at
Last evening I was digging through some old papers and came across something from my past; something I thought was lost forever.

In January 1996 my friend Pastor Ken Wood headed up the Oklahoma City office of the Christian Coalition.  The "CC" was active in the political realm, distributing voter guides, promoting Christian values and fighting for Christian-Friendly legislation.  Ken asked me to do some research on divorce for a bill before the Oklahoma State House.

I thought I would share this with you.  What follows is the white paper I put together for Ken, who then distributed it to Representatives up at the State House.


You may be surprised who really makes our laws!

In Support of House Bill 2554 
Dear Friend:

With the onset of "no-fault" divorce in the 1960s, our Nation embarked upon a trend toward quick and easy divorces; a trend that swept through Oklahoma in 1971. Although Oklahoma law does not have a statutory provision entitled "no-fault divorce", the concept is none the less being practiced on a daily basis by our state's courts, and under a statute that was originally intended to be applied quite differently. 

That statute under which the no-fault concept of divorce is flourishing is Title 12, Section 1271 (now 43 O.S.); allowing Incompatibility as a valid ground for divorce. Following is a chronology, excerpted from West's Oklahoma Digest, of the inception, and subsequent liberalization of this law as well as statistical cites of relevance (Notes and italics added for emphasis): 

1953 - Incompatibility is not a ground for divorce in Oklahoma (Vincent v. Vincent) 
        Note: This case involved adultery for which there was no evidence. Incompatibility was ruled not ground in and of itself. 

1953 - The Oklahoma Legislature amended Title 12, Section 1271 to include Incompatibly as ground for divorce.  
        Note: Only New Mexico, Alaska and the Virgin Islands had statutory grounds of Incompatibility, although other jurisdictions recognized it without statutory provision. 

1954 - The Oklahoma Law Review, Feb. 1954 offers the following commentary: "In adopting this ground for divorce we have taken a step forward in recognizing divorce as a sociological problem. However, as a matter of wise public policy, good public morals, and for the welfare of the parties concerned, it seems that the court should grant an absolute divorce upon the petition of either party, only when the court is convinced that the parties can no longer live together in peace and harmony after a bone fide effort to do so. Without this precaution, we could certainly be approaching the domain of 'trial marriage'." 

1956-There must be some conduct creating incompatibility on part of the defendant to entitle plaintiff to divorce on such ground. (Chappell v. Chappell)

1961 -Statutory ground of incompatibility does not permit the court to dissolve a marriage merely because its termination is desired by one or both of the parties. (Hughes v. Hughes) 

1961 - When incompatibility results from misconduct of the complaining spouse, the trial court has broad discretion in weighing the possibilities of reconciliation and in granting a divorce decree. (Wegner v. Wegner) 

1969 - California becomes the first state to embrace "no-fault" divorce. This lit a wildfire of no-fault sympathy, so that currently every state offers no-fault divorce in some form. 

1971 - "Actionable Incompatibility" is determined to exist when there is such conflict in personalities as to destroy the legitimate ends of matrimony and possibility of reconciliation. (Kirkland v. Kirkland) 
        Note: It is no longer necessary to show misconduct causing incompatibility. This ruling liberalized the definition of incompatibility to such extent that it effectively brought no-fault divorce to the State of Oklahoma. 

1979 - Incompatibility as ground implies mutual, not unilateral fault. (Allen v. AIlen) 
        Note: Misconduct cannot be shown now, as the ground does not recognize unilateral fault. This is in direct contradiction to the 1956 ruling. Incompatibility by definition has now evolved into No-fault divorce. 

1991 - Oklahoma Women's Law Manual cites incompatibility as the most common ground for divorce in Oklahoma. 

1994 - State Rankings, 1994 - A Statistical View of the 50 United States cites U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistic which ranks Oklahoma as #2 in the United States in divorce, with 7.7 per 1000 population. 

1995 - Kids Count Data Book 1995, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, cites the following statistics concerning the State of Oklahoma: 

   Percent of families headed by a single parent:  1985-20.4%           

   Percent of children living in poverty :         1985-18.8%            

   Juvenile (ages 1 0-17) Violent Crime Rate:      1985 -165 per 1 00,000 youth 
                                                   1992 -339 per 1 00,000 youth 

No-one is calling for the complete abolition of divorce, but rather a reform in the law so that this wholesale divorce factory in Oklahoma will be slowed and people will be called to responsibility again for their decisions and actions. The passage of House Bill 2554 will help turn the tide in the quest to abandon this ill-conceived concept of no-fault divorce, bringing the institution of marriage back to the place of honor that a fit society dictates. 

Thank You 

April 23, 1996 - Follow Up 

House Bill 2554, which was sponsored by Senator Howard Hendrick, R-Bethany, and Representative Ray Vaughn, R-Edmond, passed the House in March by a vote of 98-2, but was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee by its Chairperson, Senator Bernice Shedrick, D-Stillwater, who refused to place the bill on the Judiciary Committee Agenda. See The Conservative Review April, 1996 -Page 6 column 4. 

The structure of the Oklahoma Legislature is such that a Committee Chairperson sometimes has the power to kill a bill assigned to his/her committee for consideration, which power can be overridden only by the Speaker of the House or the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate. 

Platform of the Republican Party of Oklahoma County, Feb. 24, 1996 Calls for the reform of Divorce laws in a way that will encourage maintaining family units. (See Section 4, Family and Individual Rights, Resolution 14, on page 7. 

The 1996 Oklahoma Republican Party Platform (Adopted April 13, 1996) Calls for "Fault' based ground be reinstated in the divorce court. (See page 2 of the 1996 Oklahoma Republican State Convention, Section entitled Family and Individual Rights, sub-section entitled Family Autonomy, resolution 6.) Actions have been taken in the legislatures of several states on the issue of divorce reform, and Oklahoma may not be far behind. The conservative senators and representatives will continue to introduce bills into the liberal-controlled state legislature until even they will no longer be able to withstand the call for Oklahoma to return the values of our forefathers. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Black Jack

The distance between the stressful day and the serenity of home was disappearing behind me at 75 miles per hour when suddenly and without warning the car in front of me swerved to the inside lane.  And then I saw it - a black object lying in the middle of the road.  

 At first glance it resembled one of those large hunks of tire tread you often see littering the highway.  

The formula of car-lengths to miles-per-hour flashed through my mind as I too swerved, but in the opposite direction, successfully avoiding the thing that blocked my way.  In retrospect I realize the reason I went right instead of left was because the car before me may or may not have created a new obstacle, and the right shoulder offered more surety of safe passage. 

The only thing I had to offer was a quick prayer...

But that split-second decision to swerve right instead of left, while obviously the safest choice, also afforded me a full view of the object I was swerving to miss.  And words fail me as I attempt to express the depth of pain; the anguish of soul that flooded over me at what I witnessed on that sad and fateful day.   That black object lying in the middle of the road started to move! 

Immediately I realized that hunk of tread was not a hunk of tread at all, but an animal that had stumbled into harm’s way.  And even at such a high speed I was able to see that that was not just some animal, but a puppy; an innocent little black puppy that had suddenly found itself in a life or death struggle. 

But in truth, this struggle was over before it began.  At the end of this day the only possible outcome involved the death of this sweet little pup.  

Never before or since have I felt so helpless.  At 75 miles per hour it would take me hundreds of feet to stop.  And with cars and trucks in my rear view mirror, themselves barreling down upon this unfortunate pup, any attempt I might make to help would only serve to create a deeper peril.  The only thing I had to offer was a quick prayer for God to lead this little guy to safety.  But in my heart I knew this was a prayer of presumption, sadly void of any faith or expectation.

Two things happened on that sad day.  First, a little black puppy died on the highway.  And second, a man’s heart was torn with anguish.   

For days I fought the mental picture of a sweet little puppy in peril and my utter helplessness to save him from that bitter end.  And I bit my lip to push back the pain.  But what I really struggled with was the guilt I felt for not being able to save that little dog.  I wanted – I needed to be able to express my sorrow for not stopping – for not offering my own life to save that little guy.  But in truth it was I who needed to be saved.

Three months passed, and you would think that terrible memory would have begun to fade.  But it had not.  Simply put, there was a hole in my heart the shape of a little black puppy!  What I could not know was that God already had the wheels in motion on a plan.

It was adopt-a-dog day at PetSmart and Stephanie and I stopped by to say hi to the homeless hounds.  While we had no intention of adding a third to our K-9 collection, we love dogs and enjoy petting them, then leaving them for someone else to take home for keeps. 

But then I spotted a little black dog, and he spotted me!  This was the cutest, the most innocent, the most loving little pup – obviously created by God with purpose and precision. 

“I want to hold that one,” I told the nice lady.   She retrieved him from his pen and put him in my arms. And at that very moment I knew this dog was my dog.

We say Jack is everybody’s dog because Jack loves everybody.  Jack never met a stranger.  And he has no fear.  Simply put, Jack is the perfect dog.  Period!  If you have been over to the house and met Jack, you wish you could take him home.  But you can’t.  See, while Jack is everybody’s dog, he was built by God to fit a little black dog shaped hole I used to have in my heart.

Oh, I realize I will outlive Jack.  The day will come that I will have to say goodbye to him.  But while that will be a difficult day, I’m not worried.   See, God has already set the wheels in motion on a plan…

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Kepler Mission

Have you heard of the Kepler Mission?  In March of 2009 NASA launched KEPLER; a space observatory (cool rocket ship).  The mission of the Kepler observatory is to survey the Milky Way galaxy and discover Earth-like planets in or near the habitable zone.

As of now Kepler had found over 2,700 candidates, and 132 of those have been confirmed exoplanets.

Now I’m not real sure the definition of such terms as habitable zone and exoplanet.  But it sounds like we might all want to pack some bags in case we will be moving to a new planet soon.  This one seems to be getting pretty threadbare anyway.

...Ole’ Kepler has his work cut out for him!

That Kepler rocket ship has a tough task though.  See, planets revolve around stars, and there are over 375 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone.  Furthermore, there are over 100 billion other galaxies like the Milky Way.  So I would say ole’ Kepler has his work cut out for him!

All this new planets talk got me to thinking about something I read once.  In his book God’s Plan for Man, Finis Jennings Dake said that God lives in a mansion on a material planet called Heaven.  Oh, I realize Dake’s writings are controversial.  Many consider him to be a heretic.  But the Charismatic - Pentecostal world has embraced most of his work as inspired.   Wouldn’t it be cool if the Kepler Mission discovered Heaven!

I’m not sure what all is involved in NASA’s Kepler Mission, or if that's even possible.  But this Kepler has a mission of his own, and a quite similar mission at that.  This Kepler's mission is to actually travel to Heaven – and to take as many with me as my cool rocket ship will hold. 

Come on board and let’s blast off.  But I have to warn you - it's a one way trip!

Illustration courtesy NASA (public domain)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Bananas

I don’t know what you believe on the subject of divine healing. But if you’ve ever been sick or infirm and then sensed the presence of God and felt the power of God – and received a healing, I’m sure you are a believer.  Such is the case with me.

Folks, I’ve seen a crippled man get up and walk.  I’ve seen barren wombs spring forth with new life.  I’ve seen my own child brought back from his deathbed in response to a cry out to God!  I’ve even seen God miraculously set a broken bone as I held a little girl in my arms and prayed.  And the healings and miracles I’ve heard about and read about go far beyond the great things I’ve personally witnessed.

We used to see the Shekinah Glory of God roll across the sanctuary…

To deny the presence of God would be akin to denying the existence of… well, of life itself!  So you can imagine the excitement I felt a few weeks ago when I visited a local church on a Sunday morning and saw the presence of God rolling into the praise service.  The Shekinah – that’s what it’s called.  In the Bible, when God came on the scene it was often in the form of a cloud.  It’s known as the Glory Cloud, and I suppose it could best be described as a fog rolling across the room.   Even in the modern age people have seen the Glory Cloud – the Shekinah presence of God roll across a church as his people entered into newer and deeper realms of worship.

We used to see the Shekinah Glory of God roll across the sanctuary with some regularity, but it’s been a while.  And I was a bit confused by it, since when it’s happened in the past it was in the midst of an incredible worship service.  At the risk of sounding rude or sanctimonious, let me just say, “This was not that!”

Then Stephanie leaned over and whispered, “That fog machine is messing with my sinuses.”



The New Testament church of the 21st century scarcely resembles the New Testament church of the New Testament.  We have the advantage of modern technology that they did not.  Colored lights radiate on cue, controlled by a central panel so they can be made to glow in red or blue or yellow… whatever works to evoke the desired mood… and the desired result!

Oh, I recognize the mindset – new methods to attract a new generation.  And to a degree I understand it – even appreciate it.  In fact, a church close to my house recently ripped out dozens of cushioned pews to replace them with theater seating!  I guess the pews weren’t cushiony enough?  And they probably couldn’t think of anything else to spend that money on… like missions work or feeding the hungry.

It really doesn’t matter.  I’m sure God doesn’t care what you’re sitting on when you’re learning his Word.  You can decorate a church building any way you wish.  You can even hang plastic bananas from the chandeliers (real ones would go bad too quickly).   Then you could say your church is full of the Fruit of the Spirit without having to really walk the walk.

Fancy seating – sparkly lights – casino carpeting… none of it really matters.  But when you put in a fog machine to replicate the Shekinah Glory of God… well my friends, in my book that’s gone too far! 

My first thought is, “Apparently they aren’t expecting the real Shekinah if they’re generating a counterfeit shekinah.” 

My second thought is, “They wouldn’t even recognize the Shekinah Glory if it rolled in…  ‘Look there, Pastor.  That fog machine’s a blowin’ extra heavy this mornin’!”

My third thought is, “I don’t expect the Shekinah Glory will be rolling in there any time soon.”  Hey, don’t judge me for that observation.  Obviously they aren’t expecting it either!

If we could draw closer to God and see the REAL Shekinah Glory again – if we could see blind eyes opened and lame men walk again – I’m convinced even this new generation would sit on buckets in the musty basement of a rundown building to see a REAL move of God!

If you don’t agree with me – fine.  If you think I’m judgmental – ok.  If you’re just down right angry with me – so be it!  You see, I’ve experienced the Shekinah Glory.  I’ve tasted the Heavenly things.  Fake fog and plastic fruit don’t even come close.

Folks, people are hungry for a move of God.  They’ve been hoodwinked at the carnival.  They deserve better from their church.