By Dr. Jim Ferguson

As a kid I remember reading about the boy, Aladdin, from the book “One Thousand and One Nights.” Often, I would dream of finding a magic lamp with a genie who might grant me three wishes if summoned. I’m a man now, a scientist and have trouble with the childhood notion of magic. Interestingly, a fellow scientist and science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

I credit my Dad for coming up with the best three wishes for any genie I might encounter. He said I should wish for “health, wealth and happiness.” I still treasure those wise words. Arguably, it is harder to be happy if your physical health is bad or if you are destitute. Money is more a tool than a treasure. And while money may make you more comfortable, it can’t buy happiness. And I believe that spiritual health is even more important than either physical or financial issues.

All of us hope for a long and good life. However, if I had to choose between the two, I’d select the latter over the former. I like old movies, so I recently watched the Godfather trilogy again. The famous melody written for the movie is disturbingly poignant and aptly captures the saga of the Corleones and the destruction of the protagonist, Michael. After reluctantly becoming the Don of the crime family, Michael who had a family, money and power, ultimately lost all that he cherished, including his life and his soul. Jesus said, we should “store up treasures in heaven…where rust does not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:20-21).

George Bush, Hillary Clinton and I share at least something: we identify as Methodists. I’ve been a Presbyterian, lost then found, a Baptist and I married a Methodist who came from a Presbyterian background. I’ve been around so I try and accede to the The Master’s admonition, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). However, for me, judging implies condemnation. This is different than discernment, where I use my experience and observation to form opinions of people and situations. I view hatred as a form of condemnation.

It’s hard for me to fathom that God treasures Bill Maher who hopes for the economy to fail so Trump can be impeached. Likewise, I imagine the Creator is troubled when Robert De Niro drops the F-bomb, Samantha Bee denigrates Ivanka Trump and women with the C-word or Nancy Pelosi calls a bigger paycheck, “Crumbs” because she’s so out of touch and blinded by her hatred of Trump. And now our own Senator Corker brands anyone who voted for or supports the President as part of a “cult.” I assure you that I don’t hate these confused people, but I deplore their comments; but then I am a “deplorable.”

Fortunately, for some inexplicable reason God treasures each of us. His love for us began before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5). Each soul was formed by God and implanted into each human being (ensoulment, Genesis 2:7) as we were “knitted together in the womb” (Psalms 139:12). And God treasures each of us throughout our lives, and for all eternity as Christians believe.

I’m not proposing that the Singapore Summit was a spiritual exercise, but talking heads were critical that Trump met with “Rocket Man” and was courteous. However, would they rather have the President slap the rotund tyrant and provoke a military action? These same wizards of smart crowed support for previous feckless Presidential efforts to deal with North Korea. The hatred of the media has blinded them to reality and relegated journalism to an obsolete status. As President Reagan once advised, we will “trust, but verify.”

As I watched the events in Singapore, I saw an avuncular Trump, powerful and statuesque next to the boyish communist dictator. Folks, for the moment I feel safer after the Singapore summit. Don’t listen to the clueless and hate driven media or experts who “tell you” what you are seeing. Trust your own observations and discernment. Sift the verbiage for the truth.

I am completing this essay on Flag Day which I treasure along with my country and freedom, so I won’t be “taking a knee.” I treasure the fact that I’m alive, I have awareness of the Way and I now understand a bit of what’s really important and how things work. I used to be more conflicted, but now, much less so. This doesn’t mean I don’t listen and analyze diverse perspectives and contemplate my conclusions and responses. I called Senator Corker’s office and courteously asked them to relay the message that I am not a member of a cult.

Like many of you, I have many other treasures. I treasure my wife and my family, who, with one exception, all live in Knoxville. And I live so close to one daughter that I get to see my Knoxville grandkids almost every day. And lastly, I treasure friends and relationships.

I don’t do endorsements, but as of today I have new friends and a new treasured relationship. Last year we built a retirement home within a mature forest area on our small farm. We had to sacrifice a magnificent red oak and a large white oak during the building process, We milled the wood, had it kiln dried and used the lumber for our fireplace mantel and cabinetry. We abhor waste and still use pine boards harvested in our barn raising for pasture fencing.

Two huge hickory trees and another large white oak were saved as we built our new home, but unfortunately, the trees we took such efforts to save became infested with powder beetles, who literally ate the trees alive, killing them. And for the second time in a year we had to call on First Choice Tree Service, an easy name to remember. Folks these are good people and if you need expert tree work you’ll treasure them as I do.