Richard Exley Ministries


Don't Ever Fall in Love With the Deal
Posted on September 11, 2009

While watching President Obama’s speech on health care reform to the joint houses of Congress on Wednesday evening, I couldn’t help remembering something my friend Jack used to tell me. He was an astute businessman who almost never made a bad deal. Once, while having lunch, I asked him the secret of his success. With a slow smile, he raised his finger and pointed toward the ceiling. When I pressed him for something more definitive than divine help he said, “Never fall in love with the deal.”

“A deal,” he said, “is like a beautiful woman. Once you fall in love with her you lose all objectivity. Passion takes over, distorting your judgment. Now all you can see are the benefits. You maximize the upside while minimizing or ignoring the downside. You turn a blind eye to the risks.”

I suspect this is what happened in the last election, not that we had much of a choice. Barack Obama swept the starry-eyed idealists off their feet. They fell in love with the deal and denigrated anyone who dared to suggest that their idealized version of reality might be tainted by passion. Never mind that Obama’s resume’ was terribly thin and that his campaign rhetoric was heavy on style but short on substance. He was charismatic, he promised to change America and he was saying the things many people wanted to hear. Toss in an unprecedented economic crisis, a less than inspiring opponent, a biased media, and it is easy to see why so many Americans fell in love with the deal.

Category: Politics

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The First One Hundred Days
Posted on May 07, 2009

“I can only conclude that our President has a huge blind spot or his “morality” is based on political expediency. Either way it is a distressing scenario.”

Today’s blog is more than a week overdue. Like you, I’ve been busy but that’s not the problem. I’ve put off writing this post, agonizing over its content. I want to write something inspirational and encouraging, and this is anything but that. Yet, try as I might I cannot escape the sense that I must address this issue. It is like a fire shut up in my bones and the longer I delay the hotter it burns. I know I will get no relief until I write what the Lord has laid upon my heart.

Much could be said about this administration’s first one hundred days, but I want to focus my remarks on a troubling characteristic that has repeatedly manifested itself – blind spots in the President’s logic and actions. While there have been numerous incidents – things like pledging to close what he calls “tax loopholes” while filling several cabinet positions with appointees who had failed to pay their taxes, not to mention the fiasco about ending “earmarks” while signing a massive spending bill with over eight thousand earmarks in it – it is most obvious when he talks about “our ideals and our values.” His appeal to the high moral ground seems disingenuous at best and perhaps downright duplicitous.

Category: Politics

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Is This the Promise Land?
Posted on January 21, 2009

We may have reached the “promise land” but the task ahead is daunting. Like our Biblical counterparts we find ourselves confronted by walled cities and giants.

Like many of you, I spent a good part of Tuesday morning (January 20, 2009) in front of the television set watching as Barack Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth President of the United States, and the first African-American ever elected to our nation’s highest office. As I watched history being made, I couldn’t help but marvel at how far we have come as a nation. Growing up in the fifties and sixties I would have never believed it possible. I have vivid memories of segregation at its worst. For instance in Little Rock, Arkansas, Governor Orval Faubus dispatched the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine black students from attending Central High School, forcing President Eisenhower to send Federal troops to enforce the law. In Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor ordered police dogs and water hoses to be used against Civil Rights marchers including children. In Mississippi three Civil Rights workers were murdered by the Klan because they were trying to register Negro voters. And in Memphis, Tennessee, the leader of the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, setting off race riots in virtually every major city in the United States. That was the America of my youth and early adult years.

In the last speech Dr. King gave before he was killed he said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Category: Politics

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God and Caesar
Posted on October 21, 2008

Although I realize that I risk offending some of my readers, I feel I must address the upcoming election, but before I do let me say that I’ve lived long enough to have no illusions about politicians or political parties. In my lifetime I have seen a Republican President forced to resign rather than face impeachment and a Democratic President whose sexual philandering while in the White House has forever tainted his legacy. The bribes, the kickbacks and the sexual scandals on both sides of the aisle are too numerous to detail and at times the level of incompetence has simply been staggering. I mention this, not to speak disparagingly of our elected officials, but only to remind you that there are no ideal candidates and no ideal parties. Even as we fulfill our responsibilities as citizens our hope must always remain fixed on God. 

Some consider this Presidential election the most critical in our nation’s history given the economic crisis, the ongoing threat of terrorism and the assault on Judeo Christian values. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I think we can all agree that these are critical times requiring our most prayerful vigilance. As Christians we have a dual citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom as well as citizens of the United States. While our highest allegiance belongs to God we have civic responsibilities that we owe the country of our birth. Or as Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s’ and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

As a citizen of the United States we have a responsibility to vote, to participate in the democratic process. As a citizen of the Kingdom we have a responsibility to make sure our vote reflects the values of the Kingdom and the King to whom we owe our highest allegiance. While there may be any number of issues on which Christians can vote either way, there are other issues on which the Scriptures are emphatically clear and in regards to these we must never compromise. Non-negotiable issues include the sanctity of life (i.e., abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning) and the Biblical view of marriage (i.e. between a man and a woman).

When both candidates profess to be Christians we must look beyond their words to their actions. Remember Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). We must ask ourselves if the positions each candidate takes on non-negotiable issues line up with the clear teaching of Scripture. We must examine their voting records to see how they have voted on these non-negotiable issues. While a non- Christian may take a Biblical position on these issues, a Christian cannot take an unscriptural position without compromising his faith.

Category: Politics

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Anger Is Not the Answer
Posted on October 07, 2008

“Without a return to civility in our public discourse I fear anger may well escalate into violence.” 

Anger is epidemic! Given the financial fiasco on Wall Street and in Washington, not to mention the vitriolic Presidential campaign and it’s easy to see why. Hard working Americans feel ripped off and betrayed! They want somebody to blame, anybody – greedy Wall Street investment firms, self-serving politicians, activists groups whose radical agenda undermined the integrity of our economic system – anybody. They want heads to roll, somebody has got to pay!

Who can blame them? The melt down on Wall Street has, according to some experts, resulted in the loss of one trillion dollars of value. Americans are reeling! In the past two weeks the face of America has changed. A recession now seems inevitable and a world wide economic depression is a very real possibility. And in tough economic times no one hurts more than the poor.

Category: Politics

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Bank Failures and Bailouts
Posted on September 24, 2008

In the past two weeks we have seen something of a meltdown on Wall Street. Some of the biggest investment banks have failed and Congress is debating a $700 billion bailout designed to head off a total financial collapse. Without question it is the biggest crisis faced by our nation since WW II.  Most of us are asking, “How could something like this happen? Who’s to blame?”

Affixing blame, however, is simply an exercise in futility unless it focuses on learning from our mistakes and not just denigrating those who are most responsible.  In truth, there is enough blame to go around. Some of the most obvious culprits – self-serving CEO’s, greedy speculators, mortgage banks pushing sub-prime loans with adjustable rate mortgages, unprincipled real estate agents, naive home buyers and shortsighted politicians. These all share in the responsibility to one degree or another. Now we must turn our attention to the future, to correcting the underlying causes to make sure nothing like this happens again.

Obviously economics are not my forte, and the intricacies of the current crisis are beyond me, so what I say here should be interpreted in light of that.  Still, having said that, I would like to venture an opinion in regard to what should be done; not to solve the present crisis but to minimize the risk in the future.

Category: Politics

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Will the Real Michelle Obama Please Stand Up
Posted on August 26, 2008

“My experience tells me that what a person says and does spontaneously usually comes closer to reality than a carefully choreographed performance, prepared by a talented speechwriter.”


As I listened to Michelle Obama’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, I couldn’t help but think of something Chaim Potok wrote in The Chosen:  “When his people would ask [my father] why he was so silent with his son, he would say to them that he did not like to talk, words are cruel, words play tricks, they distort what is in the heart, they conceal the heart, the heart speaks through silence.”

Why did that quote come to mind?  Because the Michelle Obama we saw last night was a distinctly different Michelle Obama from the one we had previously seen and heard. Earlier in the campaign she made remarks about her country that can only be described as negative. Some of them were equally misinformed.  For instance she said, “...most American’s lives have gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.”

Category: Politics

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Substance or Style: My Take on the Faith Forum with McCain and Obama
Posted on August 20, 2008

I wasn’t scheduled to write a blog this week, but the Rick Warren Faith Forum with Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama has generated so much interest that I wanted to weigh in.  First kudos for Pastor Rick Warren for having the vision to stage an event like this.  To my knowledge it is the first time anything like this has ever been done. I especially appreciated his rejoinder to those who accused him of violating the separation of church and state. He said, “I support the separation of church and state but not the separation of faith and politics. Faith,” he explained, “is a person’s world view. It determines how he will make decisions and interpret world events.”

Never have the differences between McCain and Obama been more obvious. Obama went first and he was comfortable, conversational, charming, and even witty at times. When he finished I felt sorry for McCain. I didn’t see how he could top Barack’s performance. Don’t misunderstand me. I am at odds with most of the positions Obama espoused, still I couldn’t help but admire his gifts. He was a very effective communicator but as I told my wife, he seemed to have more style than substance. 

McCain exceeded my wildest expectations and nearly everyone else’s as well. He was decisive! Whether talking about his pro-life convictions, evil in the world or his energy program he was unequivocal. There was no doubting where he stood. And he managed to come across as a caring human being to boot. Is he without flaws? Of course not. No one lives 72 years without making some mistakes. Still when the night was over John McCain was the clear winner. Obama was good but McCain was great!

Category: Politics

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