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Why Oppose Sunday Hunting?

May 1, 2015

Dear C—–: I apologize for taking so long to get back with you. As you know from our emails, it has been a hectic time. Crossover was yesterday, and now the exhausted legislators have gone home to rest over the weekend. The issue of Sunday hunting is deeply personal to Joe McClees and me. We are Christians, and have been intentionally following the Lord since 1985/1986. Before, we were raised in church, but not serious about following the Lord. Understanding and learning God’s plan for the Sabbath (in our culture Sunday) has taken time. Of course, growing up in Greenville, NC, I knew Sunday was distinct from other days of the week. Very few stores or businesses or restaurants were open. We went to church, ate at home most often, and rested. We took time off from the activities of the other six days per week. Daddy did not have to go to work. We did not have to go to school. There were no school activities scheduled for Sunday. In more recent years, I have recognized the Sabbath as God’s gift to us. We are created beings who need a day of rest. While Joe and I have been intentionally focusing more on the Lord in our lives, it seems the culture around us has intentionally departed from the ways of the Lord. All the lawsuits to destroy displays of the Ten Commandments are just one type of symbol of the culture not wanting to know or be accountable to God’s Word, the Bible, including the Ten Commandments.
I have learned “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7. The fear of the Lord is not a panic stricken anxiety or fear of being struck dead. It is a reverential awestruck wondrous feeling when one meditates of the nature and greatness of God. He is wonderful. I am always astounded by the fact that He loves me. Jesus came to demonstrate His love in very tangible ways. He died when I deserved to. He saved me. I am excited and encouraged every day at the goodness of God. In the meanwhile, Joe and I are lobbyists. This is the venue in which we work. We see the workings of government in Raleigh. Everything of much consequence in North Carolina comes through these legislative doors. As our North Carolina culture has become more secularized, the related issues, designed to lead our culture, and specifically the next generation, away from the values and teachings of the Bible, march through the Legislature: demand that homosexual relationships be honored as marriage, abortion tax-paid entitlement programs, sexual instruction and distribution of condoms in Junior High School, powdered alcohol designed to be marketed to early teens, criminalization of spanking of children, values instruction in schools that include everything but Christian values, and Sunday hunting. There are many, many such issues. We do not get involved in everything. But Sunday hunting has been rammed down our throats, with a dare to do anything about it. We are trying to do something: we are saying NO. Sunday hunting has been on the radar for the NRA for years. The NRA has had Sunday hunting on their TO DO list for years, and have been trying to get it accomplished in NC. For many years, Joe McClees represented the NRA in NC. Joe and I are both Life Members of the NRA, and would be Life Members even if we had never lobbied for the NRA. We strongly believe the Second Amendment gives US citizens the hope to retain the rights described in the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights. However, in 2006, the NRA tried to slip in Sunday hunting while Joe was out of state. He resigned from lobbying for the NRA over this Sunday hunting issue in 2006. Yes, the Second Amendment is very important, but God is paramount. God’s Word is true, good, and will endure forever. Unfortunately, the foundational principles of our nation, embodied in the US Constitution, and the values of the Framers of the Constitution, are being eroded. The people who started our nation had a Christian world view, and they embodied it in the founding documents of our nation, including the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The erosion of Christian principles and values signals the weakening and eventual destruction of our great nation. Thus, in 2015, Joe McClees will never agree to Sunday hunting, and I am very proud of him for taking this stand against Sunday hunting. In the meanwhile, we started the NC Sporting Dog Association in 2004. I incorporated the entity on 4/6/2004. We have been working to protect the right to hunt with dogs since 2004. But we will never, never put the secular interests of any of our members, or other interest groups, ahead of our belief in God and reverence of His Word. These are the reasons we oppose Sunday hunting. Thanks for asking. Henri McClees

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Christmas Cooking

December 21, 2012

I am a mediocre cook, always have been.  While I type with chocolate under my fingernails, misshapen mounds of buttery coconut fondant coated with lumpy chocolate are hardening in the freezer.  The “Martha Washingtons” are barely acceptable.  Soon, I will trudge back into the kitchen to mix “Mamie Eisenhower” fudge.  I will never have a dessert named for me, but I love to cook at Christmas.  I bake “Dida’s Sally White Cake” for my relatives, whether they want it or not.  Dida was my great-grandmother.  Don’t know who Sally was, but she made a traditional light fruitcake popular in the South in the 19th century.  I found this deeply satisfying fact and a similar recipe in Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoon Bread, and Sweet Potato Pie.   Me and my great-grandmother in the larger Southern culture.  Tomorrow, I will tackle my aunt’s beloved cheese straws, no lady’s name attached.  If I master the recipe, which is doubtful, I will name them “Aunt Bryan’s Cheese Straws”.  I love the aromas of Christmas.  I delight in the luxury of stacks of Christmas tins, heavy with sweets.  I play Christmas music over the noise of the hand mixer.  I feel love.  I deliver my gifts with relish, taking rare moments to tell people I love that I really do care about them.  Most of the year, I rush past them, with bare salutations or instructions for work.  Now, I am as childishly pleased as when I delivered handmade potholders to my aunts, who never failed in lavish praise for my lumpy squares of multicolored cotton.  I love Christmas!  I love to bring my gifts.  Nativity scenes were everywhere when I grew up, at home, at church, and in the town square.  Now that Jesus has taken His rightful place in my heart, I weep as I set out the tiny figurines in our living room.  The dark Magi are awesome, with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The gawking shepherds bring little, but arrive first, having heard from angels bursting open the dark Judean sky.  My nativity scene has the aroma of cookies wafting from the kitchen.  Jesus’s real birth place smelled like cow manure.  His life of harsh sacrifice enabled my life.  Because He came to die, I will live forever.  In the midst of these massive and amazing incongruities, I adore Him.  I rejoice in it all.  Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!

Reunion of Hearts

August 6, 2012

Yes, I attended my 45th high school reunion.  I linger in the rhythm of reconnection, rich and wonderful.  New friends discovered within old acquaintances.  We rejoiced in each others’ joys and triumphs.  Most hid their sorrows, though brave souls allowed us to share their griefs.  I delighted in the beautiful ones with flawless faces and trim figures in fashionable clothes.  Okay, the rest of us are aging and softening.  Permanent pleasure lies in the authentic lives, whose souls are as well watered gardens.  Scattered in the crowd moved those with struggles and weaknesses, and joyous love.  They enriched me.  AM, who now works outside the home for the first time because of her husband’s failing health, and chooses to approach her job as a ministry.  HM gently leads his halting, struggling wife to the dance floor with infinite tenderness, to dance with his beloved.  BPG revels in her strange new life on a farm, smiling as she describes her husband on his tractor.  The best dancer alternated dances with his wife and any other female who wanted to dance to the Four Tops.  GB mentioned Jesus, and affirmed he was saved at age 12 and recommitted his life to the Lord in his twenties.  Shaking his head at memories of his life, he concluded, “I don’t know where I would be without the Lord.”  I feel more alive because of these connections.  We shared memories, some vague, some sharp and vital.  Long ago, small events changed malleable young lives.  Now, it takes more to move me.  For a few hours after the festivities, I reviewed annuals with my friend CGS, wondering about people in the fading photographs.  I have returned the annuals to their bookshelf. Today, I rejoice in the echoes of voices telling their stories.  Since school, all have traveled long miles, with accomplishments and failures scattered along the way.  Even with lined faces and slow steps, most of us are comfortable with gifts and talents now known, but barely dreamed of long ago.  As Robert Browning wrote,  “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

Give us a King

January 19, 2012

In the biblical story of Samuel, we read the narrative of a nation’s descent from prosperity and peace into poverty and war.  Israel declined as men did what was “right in their own eyes”.  Samuel was a prophet, and his messages from God led the people.  But the sons of Samuel went unrestrained.  Church became a business.  Lust and greed reigned.  Samuel’s sons stole the people’s sacrifices and fornicated at the door of the church.  People of all tribes felt the defilement, and lost heart.  They drifted away.  The people did not want God.  Give us a king!  A king should be tall, dark, and handsome.  They wanted a rock star.  We the people are willing to relinquish our freedoms to a king who is like us, only better.  We won’t need God.  The king will solve our problems.  The government will take care of our problems.  No more moral rules.  Give us a king, though tyranny will result.  God can give what we demand, though He foreknows the painful consequences.  The people of Israel wanted a king, and they got Saul.  Tall, handsome, and shivering with fear on the day of his coronation.  Saul quickly fell from serving God into trying to please the people, taking opinion polls.  Ultimately, he was destroyed by enemies from abroad.  His people perished, and wickedness prevailed.  Saul’s life spiralled down through paranoia, murderous rage, and cowardice.  As Saul was falling, God raised up the greatest king of Israel.  God raised up a man after His own heart.  It took years to make the transition.  King David was God’s idea of a leader:  devoted to God, humble, courageous, a hard-working warrior.  Imperfect, but with a heart to repent.  It matters what is hidden in the heart of any man who would be king.  There is no separation between public life and private morality.  Immorality never remains private.  Let us not chose a tyrant.  Lord, anoint Your man and raise him to the pinnacle of political power in our nation.

Dancing at last

November 23, 2011

MBH entered into the presence of the Lord last night.  I smile at the thought of her.  It is a mystery to weep and rejoice at the same time, but it is so when a saint of the Lord crosses the finish line.  Her flawless face is glowing in the reflected glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  She now resides in light so brilliant our earthly eyes could not endure it.   I strain to glimpse heaven, but it is beyond me, and I will have to wait.  She has arrived, and all is complete.  She is seeing with her eyes what she believed for so many years.  She is free of pain, grief, and disappointment, beyond weary time.  She ran her race, enduring to the end.  She crossed the finish line, and vanished from our sight.  Long ago, she was a beautiful, tense grownup, somehow walking in shadow.  We played quietly when she had a headache.  She lay in a dark room, and the entire house seemed dim.  After many years, I saw her at a crowded Christian meeting.  She stood beaming with happiness.  Light shone from her countenance.  Frankly, I stared at her.  She was at least 30 years older, but more beautiful than I remembered.  When our eyes met, she included me in her joy.  She never told me exactly how she came to commit her life to the Lord, but her testimony was literally written on her face, indelible in my memory.  From a tense, dim existence to joy unspeakable and full of glory.  She encouraged me and many others as she lived graciously, with love, patience, and kindness.  On she ran, through cancer and old age, until she won the race.  Now, she is fully herself, ready to dance.

Table of Blessing

November 4, 2011

Jesus’ disciples were real people, with smelly feet and strong feelings.  They got tired, irritable, anxious, and jealous. By the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, they had laughed, wept, despaired, and been reborn.  Eventually, each faithful disciple learned to suffer, work, and love more deeply than he ever dreamed.  Jesus selected His disciples individually, and each said yes.  He taught them for three years, with daily examples of patience, love, and self-discipline.  He talked to them intimately, preparing them, and eventually sharing truth that most could not believe.  Jesus showed them abundant life.  After times of profound communion with His Father, Jesus walked on water, cast out raging demons, and raised the dead.  Jesus confounded the religiously self-righteous, but healed the plain folks with words of love, hope, and promise.  Bread and fish multiplied in His hands when He blessed it.  The disciples were always astounded.  They never really adjusted to the supernatural, until afterward.  Each disciple got used to having Jesus, and each wanted Him for himself.  I understand.  I have grown to love Jesus since I said yes to Him.  But I like it when it is just Him and me.  Worship.  Reading His Words and really listening.  Last weekend, I found myself at a table of His disciples.  We did not know each other before our structured gathering.  We could have been on the shore in Galilee, but actually it was in Cumberland County.  Loud laughter, wrinkled noses, sideways glances, weary smiles.  A group of disciples, all wanting Jesus, but not necessarily each other.  It was a challenge to love one another.  We began to try.  Lots of side bar rebellion, but He was at work lovingly, patiently, quietly.  By the third day, we had agreed to love each other as well as Jesus.  I feel like a fallow field, having been newly plowed and broken open.  I have been sown with blessings.  By God’s grace, may a harvest follow.

Death, where is thy sting?

July 15, 2011

My older brother would have been 65 years old today. He died at age 47, cut short by cancer that grew in dark places. I grieved when we lost him, and watched others fall into deep mourning. My mother spoke less afterward. My sister-in-law sank low, and my nephew retreated into the deep places of his soul. In the months afterward, I wept, fretted, and blamed God. How could You let this happen? Living in anger toward God was intolerable. By His grace, I chose to draw closer, and not retreat from Him. That choice saved my spiritual life. Today, I look at life differently. Death is not the end of anyone’s story. I expect to taste death, for a moment. Like my brother, I will die, or more precisely, my body will die. Whereas my brother fought a few hard months, it may take years before my aging body gives out and the Lord calls my spirit to Himself. For the dying Hamlet, “The rest is silence”. I certainly hope Shakespeare knew more than he created in Hamlet. As a Christian, I know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Ugly death will clutch a lifeless body, but cannot have the eternal part of me. When I leave my body, when and however it happens, I will join the ceaseless thundering praise of the Lord who saved me and made the way of escape from death. My brother will be there smiling, next to our mother and father. We will know each other, all healthy and joyful, open and loving. My brother is fully known, as he could not be on earth. He deeply comprehends our father, as we never did in this life. He knows our mother, and finally understands her. We will be free and yet joyfully bonded together.  My family members are not merely waiting for me. They are living as they never lived, loving and being loved as they were made to love, belonging to our eternal family. Death, where is thy sting?

Abortion is murder

June 10, 2011

The NC House of Representatives debated a bill about pre-abortion procedures. Supporters want an expectant mother to consider the facts before she aborts.  Require her to undergo ultrasound and counselling to help comprehend what she is doing before she aborts the baby.  “Pro-choice” legislators launched ferocious opposition with eloquent pleas for compassion.  They criticized the cost of the required procedure and “government mandated” tests and invasion of privacy by an ultrasound device.   They decried the embarrassment of it all.  Quick, don’t think.  Just get the abortion, and everything is fixed.  No pro-abortionist mentioned the most vulnerable interested party, or mentioned her rights.  Their rhetoric flew high above her tiny, vulnerable body.  The mother will suffer, yes, but the child will die. Abortions are fatal.  Pro-abortionists deny this bloody reality, as logically they must.  Their tongues and brains are dark and benumbed, and yet they speak of light and truth.  They cannot yet hear the Truth standing above this debate.  They repeat the terrible lies told to my generation.  There is no baby until we say so.  There is no baby unless we want it to be a baby.  Below an unflinching Heaven, they verbally shake their fists into the face of God.  We will kill our children if we want to.  We will not bend our knees to You. We will live our way.  Rebellion causes dark and miserable pain.  Sealed in with a thick coat of denial, this pain begins it work of death to the soul.  My generation accepted the numbing lies and taught our daughters:  the baby is “tissue” and the abortion is a procedure “before there is a baby”.  Our culture drifts in this murky stagnation of death.  Fearful young women enter abortion clinics, benumbed, carrying lambs to the slaughter.  They stagger out, with the guilt and misery sealed into their empty wombs.  Pro-abortionists would leave them oblivious to the truth of abortion until it is too late.

Loss

June 7, 2011

I have committed to give away my Spode china. For a southern woman, this is big. Loss and joy at the same time. Didn’t know this would happen. My wonderful senior nephew has become engaged to a southern lady. Nothing pleases me more than to give her lovely things.  Yet the loss is real.  I have spent much of my life avoiding loss, or over-compensating myself for any loss whatsoever.  Perhaps this is why I have so much china, silver, and other southern stuff.  I was afraid of the pain. Today, I chose to accept the pain as well as the love.  How does this work, Lord?  Now come thoughts of losses greater than mine.  People losing jobs.  Legislators losing programs they worked to create.  My pastor, weeping openly as his first-born daughter leaves for college.  God knows all about loss, actually wrote the Book on it.  It is paradoxical He owns everything, and yet has lost so much.  How much more than anyone has God felt pain and loss and love? He loves all of His children, yet so many reject Him and die. Daily losses. God killed animals in Eden for skins to cover the sin of naked and miserable Adam and Eve.  By His own hand, God lost innocent animals He loved.  He lost the good earth He had created.  When the sin of man became intolerable, He covered His globe with water, and killed every animal and every person, except the few saved within the ark. What loss God has willingly suffered because of us.  He created us, knowing the pain we would inflict upon Him.  The greatest loss was when He turned away His face from Jesus, loving and losing Him to death (for three terrible days).  Pain and loss and triumphant love.

Unspoken Truth

June 2, 2011

During the NC Senate budget debate, the minority party criticized cuts to education.  They praised NC’s public educational institutions, and reacted in pain to budget cuts.  The majority party had the votes, and cautiously declined to say more than was necessary to pass the budget.  This truth was left unspoken:  North Carolina’s educational system is a bloated disgrace.  We have poured millions of taxpayer dollars into our public educational system, with diminishing returns.  With an army of administrators, counselors, and highly trained teachers, high schools produce “graduates” who cannot read, fill out a job application, or balance a checkbook.  Advocates demand money, but offer no retreat from failed policies.  Did you know Christian missionaries ran the first schools in North Carolina?  In colonial times, people learned to read using the Bible.  North Carolina’s first public schools opened in 1840, and taught reading, writing, and arithmetic.  North Carolina’s Constitution states in Article IX:  “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  Fifty years ago, we separated religion and morality from knowledge.  Children have paid a terrible price for our mistake.  After a couple of generations of degradation, where are we?  Many children are unwilling to obey instructions or submit to the discipline required for learning.  Juveniles lash out against a culture that has failed to give them what they need: religion, morality, and knowledge.  The failure of our educational system cannot be resolved apart from a change in direction.  We have created social welfare programs, juvenile justice programs, and countless other patches to handle the symptoms of our moral failure.  We persist in treating only the symptoms.  The truth is, we need “religion, morality, and knowledge”.  Where do we start?  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).   We start with God.   We can meet Him in the Bible.  “Train up a child in the way in which he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We have not trained up our children in the way they should go.  Fifty years ago, we decided we knew better than God how to educate our children.  The truth is we were wrong.  One definition of “repent” is to turn around and change direction.  Repent, North Carolina.