A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Op Ed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Op Ed. Show all posts

December 7, 2016

75 Years Later: Pearl Harbor And The Men Who Went To War

     Please indulge me as I try to capture the spirit of our nation 75 years ago, when the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor.  My father was of “that” generation; the exceptional period of existence that is described in our present age as “The Greatest.”  December 7, 1941 changed the course of his life, as it did so many like him. 
     It had always been my intention to write a fitting tribute to my father, who was such a complex, and at times, difficult man to understand.  Born in 1925, he was a mid-West farm boy who, at the inexperienced age of 17, answered his nation’s call after the horror of Pearl Harbor.  He served valiantly as a tail-gunner in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet of PV-1 Ventura’s, and along with his older brother, came home to resume their lives in a changed America.
     Like most men who go to war, both talked little of their wartime experiences.  When he died in 2007, at the age of 82, I grieved over the lost opportunity to know how that fateful day of December 7, 1941 had changed him. I gave the eulogy at his funeral, and I could share the one aspect of him that I knew well:  his patriotism and love of country. We requested a Naval Honor Guard at his graveside service, and it was a moment I will always treasure.  His service to our Nation had not been forgotten, and the Navy’s own paid him proper respect. 
     But I was sad that I was left with only a few WWII mementos of my Dad: a photograph of him looking young and innocent in his Navy dress blues; a collage of his flight crew in front of their plane; and his poplin flight suit and fur-lined leather flying cap.  I proudly keep them alongside the folded flag presented at his funeral. But I couldn’t ask questions of these inanimate objects and they revealed no insightful answers.
     I felt my chances were slipping away of ever capturing what that era was like…. until one Sunday in the fall of 2009.  Sitting amongst the fifteen or twenty members of my small Sunday School class in Austin, Texas were four of the most interesting and captivating ladies I have ever met.  All in their mid-eighties, they had lived the WWII experience, and they were my path to the past.  This is their story.    

     Nearly eight years ago, four of the most precious women I've ever met -- all in their 80's -- sat around my kitchen table and told me their impressions of what it was like on that infamous day 75 years ago, when the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor swept the nation.
     I recorded their stories and wrote a 28-page biography, chronicling their impressions and memories.  Here is the opening paragraph of that biography: They sit grouped together, a quartet set apart by age, wisdom, and their status as widows.  But they are so much more.  They share a common history, yet each has a unique story of  her own to share.  They all grew up in the innocent years before Pearl Harbor.  They experienced the Depression, the war years, and the expansive growth that was a result of that hard-won victory.  Their lives are a lasting legacy of the enduring American Spirit, and they embody the different facets that, as a nation, we have inherited from all who came before us.
    But I want you to hear their voices; and re-live those days when faith and war were so intricately bound.  Hear the innocence and the resolve that were hallmarks of that generation.  Read these excerpts from their stories and ask yourselves if this current generation is as strong and resilient and determined to overcome the hardships we may face. And listen for the evidence that God was ever present...
     Mary Ann Holcomb was born in 1926 in the small town of Nursery, Texas, so named because a nursery for fruit trees was started there in 1882, along the tracks of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railway.  The small Texas town was located on the coastal plains of the Southeast portion of the state.  Her dad had been a farmer, like his folks before him, and also worked in the insurance business until the Depression hit.
Mary Ann and Bill Holcomb on their honeymoon
     Times were hard for the family, which included Mary Ann’s two sisters, who were more than 10 years older.  At the height of the Depression, her dad decided he wanted a divorce, so he could leave to try to find work.  He took Mary Ann, who was nine, and her mother to Austin, where they were able to rent a little room.  Mother and daughter were desperate for a while.
     “I remember wearing a piece of linoleum in the bottom of my shoe.   Whenever I’d get a hole, it would go flap, flap, flap.  I wore lots of patches on my clothes.”
     Before long her mother was fortunate enough to get a job at the State Library in the Capitol Building.  Her two sisters were receiving training as nurses, so their room and board was provided while they attended nursing school. Circumstances were tougher for her father.
“My dad left Texas and traveled across the country in search of work.  He told me stories of standing in soup lines to get something to eat.  He’d barter for food.  He would go to a grocery store and get a quart of milk for five cents, and then go to a bar, with the milk wrapped in a brown paper bag. In those days, the bars would provide hard-boiled eggs and peanuts if you were seated at the bar drinking.  So he’d take his paper-wrapped milk and pretend to be drinking a bottle of liquor.  That’s how he ate a lot of his meals.”
     Mary Ann’s existence improved as her mother worked and saved to rent a little house.  By the time she was fourteen, her mother remarried and they moved to the new Austin suburb of Hyde Park. The ensuing years were filled with the joys of childhood; bicycle riding, swimming, and learning to dance.  Her innocent childhood was shattered on that December 7th morning in 1941.
     “Pearl Harbor happened on a Sunday morning.  I remember that I was reading the comics and they announced it on the radio.  We were all stunned!  I was fifteen at the time, and everyone wanted to do their part to help fight the war, but there was really nothing constructive I could do to help the war effort.  I was too young to go to work.”
     But as the war ground on, and Mary Ann's friends from school began going off to war, some she knew well were killed, and the seriousness of the War became evident. She would eventually marry Bill Holcomb, a high school classmate, after the war.  Mary Ann recalled that Bill experienced hand-to-hand combat while serving in the Philippines and suffered from nightmares his whole life; and he continued to sleep with a Ka-Bar knife under his pillow until the day he died.
     Jeanne McNabb has the most engaging smile and her eyes sparkle as she tells her story.  It is classic “American”.  She was born in 1926 near the small town of Bertram, 40 miles north of Austin, Texas. She grew up in the country, feeling isolated and as though she didn’t have the advantages of town kids, who could get together and play.  Little did she know that at the age of eight, she would meet her future husband.   He happened to visit his uncle who lived across from her family’s farm.  He would tell her years later that he remembered her as a skinny little girl who looked like “one of those fence posts.”
Jeanne and Clint McNabb, 1945, while
Clint was home on furlough
“Growing up, we didn’t even realize there was a Depression.  Living in the country, we had plenty of food, and parents just didn’t talk about it in front of their kids.” But Jeanne remembers Pearl Harbor with complete clarity.  She was on her first date when she heard the news.
     “We were in this guy’s Model A Ford and it was broadcast on his radio.  We were with another couple, having a great time laughing and talking, and didn’t realize until the next day just how serious it was.”  It would soon affect her personally.  In high school, she became reacquainted with Clint McNabb, the young boy she had befriended when she was eight years old. And it was only three months before Jeanne became both a Child Bride and a War Bride.  At the age of 17½, she and Clint were married one month before he went into the service.
    “He knew he was going to be drafted, so he enlisted before his number was drawn, so he could be in the branch of the military he really wanted.” Clint settled on the Army Air Corps and completed his basic training at Kessler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi.  He then served a short stint on the East Coast before spending the rest of the war in Gander, Newfoundland, as part of a Combat Search and Rescue crew who went out to try and find downed pilots when their planes were shot down.
     “He only came home one time during his four years of service, and he didn’t talk about what he’d seen or experienced.  He did get frozen feet from the cold winters in Newfoundland, and would eventually get a ten percent medical disability as a result.”
     Jeanne served her country as a secretary/typist in the Intelligence Office at Bergstrom Air Base.  “The mission of the Intelligence Office was to detect saboteurs or anyone that might be trying to harm the United States. The Special Agents would intercept letters, read them, and if there was nothing damaging in the contents, the letters would be resealed and passed on. I would type reports on an old manual typewriter, and have to type 10 or 12 copies of a report with carbon.  It was tedious!  And boy, was it hot in that barracks-type building! We never did uncover any kind of sinister plot, but it was an interesting job.”
     Wynette Harris has a personal history that is anything but boring.  Her parents were secretly married when her mother was only 15, and her daddy began a life as a professional gambler. But after the birth of her sister, other parents wouldn’t let their children play with her because her father was a gambler.  He just couldn’t take it, so he began going to night school to learn a trade.
"Blue" and Wynette
Templeton, 1945
     Eventually her father became a civic leader in town and was the president of the Trade and Labor Council for many years.  He was also a Deputy Constable and the Police Chief presented him with a pearl-handled, chrome plated .45-caliber pistol, which Wynette’s son now proudly owns. Her pride in her father is quite evident:  “He is proof that you can raise yourself up and change for the better!”
     Her future husband, Elmer "Blue" Templeton, was like many young men in those Depression-era years; he quit school at the age of 15 to apprentice with a trade.  His brother-in-law was a Master Plumber, and by the time Blue was 19, he was the youngest journeyman plumber in the state of Texas.  He traveled the country, in search of ever-higher wages, and when the opportunity came to help rebuild Pearl Harbor, he jumped at the chance.
     By summer’s end in 1943, he had enlisted with the Seabees, who were the Construction Battalion of the US Navy.  Primarily recruited from the civilian construction trades, they were responsible for building airstrips, bridges, roads and housing. Wynette recalls, “We were engaged the night before he sailed out of Seattle on New Year’s Eve, headed for New Hebrides (a group of Pacific islands west of Fiji).  Two battleships escorted the troop ship he was on.  On the way to their destination, they encountered a typhoon.  Both of their battleship escorts sunk, and their own ship lacked only two degrees from having waves swamp the smokestacks.  They were without power for two days, and subject to attack by Japanese submarines at any moment.  Help eventually arrived and the ship was hauled to Bora Bora for repairs, before continuing on to the New Hebrides islands, where he served for the next sixteen months.
     When Blue came home in November of 1945, he was discharged at Camp Wallace near Galveston, and the two planned a whirlwind wedding ceremony.  “My girlfriend went with me to pick him up.  It took three days to get your blood test results, so three days after he landed in Galveston, we were married on November 30, 1945!”
     Jeannie Paxton is a born storyteller. She is proud of her birthplace, Cowpens, South Carolina, which was the site of one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War.  Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and his ragtag colonial militia routed a much larger British contingent under Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton.  That same stubborn American spirit would be ignited once again in her generation.
     Jeannie was one of 13 children, and all the members of her family worked in the Southern Textile mills. “My mother had a hard life.  She had 13 children and I was the youngest.  She lost three or four children to the diphtheria epidemic, and all within three months time. But we grew up in a happy household.  We didn’t have a lot, but we always had food.  Everyone that lived on that mill road was allowed to have cattle, and we raised ours in a pasture back behind our house.  We also had a garden every year, and a couple of peach trees.”
Joe and Jeannie Paxton, 1946
Faith was an important part of the family’s life and Jeannie describes her mother as “the most Christ-like person” she has ever known.  Her mother’s influence led her to a Bible study group, being taught by two women in Cowpens.  They invited several young girls to study the Book of Revelation with them. “I was 14 or 15, and we’d heard the rumblings on the radio of what was happening in Europe, and these ladies were convinced Hitler was the Anti-Christ.  We’d study every week, and I would tremble, I was so afraid!  But I read in the Bible that ‘Blessed are you if you read this Book’.  So it eased my mind some.  But these ladies were convinced that Germany was the Gog or Magog of the Bible.  Then when Pearl Harbor happened, it became the Japanese we were fighting, not the Europeans.  So how did that work into the Book of Revelation?  It was a very frightening and confusing time for me, as a teenager.”
     She would meet her future husband, after the war, when he was finishing up his 4-year commitment to the Army at Fort Blanding in Florida.  He accompanied her brother-in-law home on leave to South Carolina, and after one weekend, he announced, "I'm going to marry you."  Jeannie and Joe would exchange letters over the next few months, and although she would only see him three or four more times before marrying him, she felt she knew his character.  "Joe would never come to the house without wanting to say hello to my mother.  He was just that way.  My mother was such a good judge of character and liked him from the first moment she saw him". Joe came home on two week’s leave in July of 1946 and they were married.
     All these precious ladies agreed with Jeannie Paxton when she said,  “I think we all wrote almost everyday to our husbands or boyfriends.  And my husband would ask me to write things that made me blush!  Our letters were so sentimental and personal.” In today’s world of explicit and open displays of public affection, I found this era’s discreet expressions of passion and love to be both refreshing and romantic.  There were often long periods of time where the lovers were stationed abroad and the mail was the only connection they had to each other.  Today our military are oftentimes able to connect to their families and loved ones through instant email, texting and video link-ups.  But during WWII, families often went weeks without any idea of the location or status of their loved one.
     And all the ladies echoed this same sentiment:  “The nation prayed a lot.  We prayed openly in our churches for our military, and we would conduct all-night prayer vigils.  We prayed in school the first thing each morning, along with standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was common for Bible verses to be read over the loud speakers at the beginning of each day.”
     Jeannie Paxton’s cousin was a living example of the power of prayer during the War. “My cousin Albert lied about his age, and went into the military before WWII at the age of 13.  He served in Africa, and later went up through Europe and ended up fighting at the Battle of the Bulge.”
     The Battle of the Bulge was fought in the Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium during the brutal winter months of December 1944 through January 1945.  Estimates of American casualties range as high as 89,000, with 19,000 killed and as many as 26,000 captured and missing.   It was the single largest and costliest battle for the American military during WWII.
     “I’ll never forget the day he came home.  It was near Christmas of 1945 and my brother went to the bus station in Spartanburg to pick him up.  My mother had made a huge breakfast for him: biscuits, red-eye gravy, ham and sausage.  He sat down at the table and just cried.
     He said to my mother, ‘Aunt Patsy, I know you were praying for me when I was at the Battle of the Bulge, and I want to thank you.  I was in a foxhole and people were dying all around me.  Everyone in that foxhole, but me, was killed.  I know that Jesus held that foxhole.’
     Jeannie continues, "The amazing thing was that we later figured out that the very night he survived, my mother had a sense that Albert was in the middle of a fierce battle.  She stayed up all that night, praying for him, and he knew that was the reason he was alive.”
     Another common memory was how much the nation sacrificed for each other and the war effort.  Jeannie Paxton made sure I understood the way it was. “They didn’t ask us to sacrifice.  They didn’t have to!  We were willing to do it.  It was ‘What can I give up? What can I do?’ “ She laments that “Now it’s “What’s in it for me?’“
     Jeanne McNabb chimes in and shares a poignant memory.  “My dad, bless his heart, gave up his grandfather’s Civil War guns during a metal drive.”  Such was the sacrifice those citizens were willing to make. Everyone in the country was behind the war effort.  Movie stars used their popularity to sell war bonds, and several high profile stars even put their careers on hold to serve their country. My, how times have changed!
    But sacrifice was the byword of the nation.  Rationing became commonplace among American homes. Among the items rationed were coffee, sugar, gasoline, oil, kerosene, nylon and silk. All the women remembered giving up their nylon stockings, and they laughed, remembering how they would draw an imagined seam on the back of their legs to resemble the phantom stockings.   Wynette gave up sugar on her cereal and in iced tea, and doesn’t use it to this day.  Jeannie remembers that her in-laws mixed their small allotment of coffee with some kind of leaves.  Imagine asking Starbucks junkies to consider making that sacrifice!
     But the biggest sacrifice came in the number of American lives lost.  It is estimated that, over the course of the War, nearly 416,000 American military personnel died on the beaches of Normandy, in the fields of Europe, and among the islands of the Pacific.
     America paid a high price for securing the freedom of millions of Europeans and Asians from the diabolical plans of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. But with the end of the War, these returning soldiers and my four ladies set their lives in motion, taking the steps that would lead them to me.  And as each of the women reminisces about the young men they married, it is quite evident that their respect and love grew with the increasing years.
     Jeanne McNabb, who married at the beginning of the War, settled down in Central Texas.  Her husband Clint came home in 1946, and attended the University of Texas on the GI Bill.  While in college, he became a member of Alpha Chi Omega, a service organization, and followed up on his pre-war involvement with the Boy Scouts.  It was a life-long commitment, and an activity he so enjoyed.  His professional career included various sales jobs, and a major position with Retail Credit Company (now Equifax), which took his family to Corpus Christi, TX, Atlanta, GA, and back to Dallas, TX. In the early 1970’s, terrorism was becoming a threat to the nation, so Clint once again went to his country’s aid and served as a Sky Marshal.
     In his later years, Clint’s pride and joy was his garden, which included peach, pear, and plum trees, berries, and four raised vegetable gardens.   He was very successful, and the neighborhood benefited from his green thumb!  “He was a conservationist before it was popular.” Another of his loves was working with the youth of Irving, TX.  He was active in the baseball and football programs of his community.  Jeanne said she spent many hours sitting in the bleachers!  And then after 45 wonderful years of marriage, Clint passed away in 1989.
     But as with all of these men, Clint’s greatest legacy was his family.  Jeanne tells me how proud she is of their only child, Clinton Edward McNabb, now a Captain with Continental Airlines.  She also takes great pride in her two grand-daughters (both Texas A&M graduates) and her three great-grandchildren.
     Mary Ann Holcomb married her husband Bill, the high school soda jerk from the drugstore, in 1949.  Bill also went to college on the GI Bill, and they both were in school at the same time.  But she didn’t finish “because I was so in love and just wanted to be married.”.  He studied Business Administration at the University of Texas, and began working for the Texas Highway Department at a monthly salary of $300.  She remembers those lean, early years of their marriage and saving $500 for a vacation to California in 1951 or 52.
     Meanwhile, Bill’s career at the Highway Department lasted for 32 years.  He was the Assistant Director of the Purchasing Division for the entire state of Texas, and his duties included submitting the annual budget for the Department, as well as being in charge of Right-Of-Way purchases.
     When asked to describe her husband, Mary Ann’s first word was, “Wow!”  She is clearly moved.  “He was one of those tall, strong, quiet, and low-key types.”  She likens him to the actor Jimmy Stewart in both temperament and appearance.  “But he would light up the room when he walked in; people gravitated towards him.  He was affectionate, tender hearted and very romantic.  I guess you can tell how crazy I was about him!  My heart never failed to skip a beat when I heard his car in the driveway.  Honestly, to me, he was the most perfect, loving husband anyone could have.”  She was devastated when Bill died in 1981 at the age of 54 years from cancer. Their marriage lasted for 32 years and their only daughter, Judy, has provided Mary Ann with three wonderful grandchildren.
     In 1945, after the War, Wynette and Blue Templeton were married “in my home in Port Arthur, Texas; the only house I had ever lived in.”  After a honeymoon in Mexico City, they settled in Odessa, Texas where he worked for a plumbing company.  By 1948, Blue had become a Master Plumber, and joined with his boss to form Heath and Templeton Plumbing Shop in Midland, Texas.  In 1953, the family, which now included their three children, moved to a farm in La Pryor, Texas.
     The plumbing business had eroded and the state was undergoing a seven-year drought.   The family suffered through five or six hard years, trying to make a go of the farm.  So when the heavy construction business began emerging, Blue was quick to take advantage of his opportunities, and was able to support his family.  The business consisted primarily of installing pipelines for gas companies and installing underground irrigation pipe for area farmers.  By 1970, they owned two farms, a heavy equipment business and a retail business in Del Rio, Texas.
     Wynette had this to say about her husband:  “He was a man to be admired.  With little education and a lot of guts and determination, he made a success of his life.  He was very much an extrovert, and made friends easily---and had many.  He loved his family and his family loved him.”  Blue Templeton died October 25, 2001 in Canyon Lake, Texas.  He is buried in Coleman, Texas, where many of his ancestors lie.  He and Wynette had three children:  Dennis, Janis and Ann, and were blessed with two grandchildren.
     Jeannie and Joe Paxton were married after the war in 1946.  While attending college in South Carolina on the GI Bill, Joe taught at a trade school, helping men get their GED’s and then pointing them in the direction of jobs in the trades, such as brick-laying and plumbing.  He went on to get his degree in Chemical Engineering, and was employed by Dow Chemical, building chemical plants across the country.
     In 1951 the family moved to Texas.  “Joe was a very smart guy, and had a strong and determined personality.  You either liked him or you didn’t.  Of course, I thought he was so special!”  Jeannie adds that while engineering was his profession, Joe was a farmer at heart.  “And he loved to go fishing!”  And when Joe needed to escape the pressures of his professional world, he would turn to his love of architecture and designed homes and buildings to foster his creative side.
He and Jeannie had five children, four daughters and a son.  The love of Jeannie’s life was tragically taken from her, when Joe died in 1974, at the young age of 48.  The long life they had planned together was shortened way too early, when Joe was stricken by a heart attack.  Jeannie knows he would have been proud of their nine grandchildren.

     So these are the stories of four ordinary, yet remarkable, and unabashedly all-American young men, and the amazing women who loved them.   While their lives won’t be commemorated in any historical journals of the day, they led their lives in extraordinary and honorable ways. With thoughts only of responsibility and duty, they answered their Nation’s call, and earned the right to be called “The Greatest”.  And that title applies to those who fought, and those who waited at home.  
     I’d like to think that my dad would have recognized my motives for writing this memoir; to honor all those, who like him and his brother, Clint, Bill, Blue and Joe, stepped up to the plate, and in true American fashion, selflessly put their country first.  They sacrificed their youth and got the job done, then came home to get on with the business of living; loving their wives, raising children, and working diligently to provide a future for their families.  
     And I have to confess that I have another motive for writing this memoir.  I fear that only two generations past the lifetimes of these remarkable men, there is an attempt to alter the “heart and soul” of the American character.  The hopes and dreams of these men to provide a better world in which their children could work hard and flourish, has degenerated into an “entitlement” society.  They were proud to be called Americans and honored the heritage of those who came before them. 
     They also honored and feared their God, and the nation came together to pray for the safety of these men and for deliverance from the evils of war.  We would do well to mimic the simple lives of these amazing and faithful people.  Thank you for letting me share their story on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Micah 6:8    "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"






November 14, 2016

What Now? How Do We Move Forward?

     It has been nearly a week since our national election and there seems to be a concerted effort to continuously promote division amongst our populace.  It's as if a powerful "force" is determined to create rivalry, bitterness, and hostility between us.  We can point to outside agitators, but we know who that "force" really is, don't we?  And I believe that the animosity we are seeing here in our nation, on earth, is mirroring the hostilities that are occurring in heaven between God and His host, and Satan and his followers.
     So, how are we to react, and what are our responsibilities?  I think I can sum it up by sharing an interesting experience I enjoyed this past weekend.  I have told you that my husband is an artist and part of our business is to exhibit his art at various shows and events.  He is primarily a Western artist, but every once in awhile, he is inspired to paint a different subject matter.
      As to be expected, there is always a cross-section of people who enjoy the arts.  They are not classified by political ideology, race or ethnicity, or whether they share religious beliefs or not.  In fact, we try to receive all people on an identical footing, with the idea that we are disciples of Christ, wherever we find ourselves.
"Yeshua" - My husband's comment on the painting:
"The emotion and impact of the Crucifixion is
stunning and heart-rending. The cut limestone
background and weathered Mexican wood
of the sideboard it rests upon only accentuate
the emotion of this piece.  Dramatic lighting
and the carved stone of the figure of Messiah
are poignant and touch my spirit". 
     That being said, it has been suggested to us, by one of the venues in which we exhibit, that presenting faith-based paintings is probably not a good idea because the public isn't interested in seeing them.  Of course, that doesn't deter my husband, who will not deny the glorification of our Lord because someone doesn't accept Him, or it makes them uncomfortable.  And, often, they are the first paintings to sell, because they strike an emotional chord in someone who loves Him as much as we do.
     Another artist who attended our opening was a photographer who had the same experience.  Likewise, she was advised not to enter a moving photograph in a contest because it featured an image of an open Bible through the window of an old church, with the panes casting a shadow of the cross across the wooden floor.  That photograph was very emotional and she received several orders for it.
     I relate all this to illustrate how easily the Enemy tries to convince us that our message of Christ is unwanted, unwelcome, and uninspiring.  And I believe that is the message that is being encouraged in the wake of this contentious election.  But, I believe just the opposite is true!  Right now, our nation needs the hope that Jesus inspires in those of us who are His disciples.  And it's taken me a bit to get to my point, but here it is .... Now is the time for us to live out what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  And exactly what does that mean and how do we do it?
     First of all, a careful study in Strong's Concordance tells me that to be a disciple of Jesus is to follow His teachings.  That means more than to be His student or pupil, but to be an upholder, a defender, and a true believer in Jesus.  In other words, it is our faith accompanied by action; to be an imitator of Christ within our spheres of influence.
      Very simply put, we need to show our nation -- and the world -- that we have faith in Jesus's message; that we live and love according to His holy principles; and above all, to show them what a life abiding in Christ looks like.  We are not nasty, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist haters.  In fact, we are honorable and moral people who will accept you even if you don't accept us.  We won't hate you for your sins, because we know what it is to be a sinner.  By exhibiting what it's like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we hope to show you Someone greater to believe in than yourself or the shiny temptations of the world.
     Don't get me wrong, we would love nothing more than to create a curiosity in others about the peace we find in the midst of all this discord and disharmony.  We want to share our testimony and tell you how we've been able to endure the difficulties and struggles in our lives; how and why we don't covet money, or prestige, or possessions.  We want to share the Source of why we are moved to paint, or photograph, or write about the One who defines our life.  Yes, I will admit that I want to teach you about Him, so that you might love Him as much as I do.  But I want to do that by showing you what it's like to serve others, to put others first, and to seek  Him above all things worldly.
     Those are attitudes that have been missing in our national discourse, and no elected official is going to be able to legislate Discipleship.  True discipleship comes from being a committed follower of Jesus, imitating Him in how we treat others, and adhering to His commandment to be the Light of the world.  There will be those who will respond to us, and those who will reject us.  We mustn't concern ourselves with the job of convincing people to accept us.  We must live our lives as examples of Christ, and let the Holy Spirit convict those He will.  So, in the intense and impassioned days ahead, do not lose your focus, nor turn aside from your responsibility as a Disciple of Christ.  Let not the world discourage you nor dissuade you from your purpose… because they will certainly try.  Just remember that we are equipped to carry on as His witnesses ... and our nation needs our example.

John 15:8    "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples."

February 12, 2016

Your Local Elections Matter!

     It was a packed house.  The line was out the door and it was standing room only.  The people had come to hear and to be heard.  And unlike past years, I wanted to be a part of it.  The occasion was a Meet The Candidates forum for local elections, and in three of our most important offices.  Men running for District Judge, District Attorney and County Sheriff came to present their qualifications and why they deserved our vote.
     Before you dismiss this post as uninteresting and boring, let me tell you why I wanted to share my experience.  As do many of you, I believe this year's election cycle is the most important one in my lifetime, and if all the dire predictions and prophecies we are hearing turn out to be true, it may very well be the last election we ever participate in.  So, this subject matters!
     You could feel the anticipation in that room, and I wondered how many people felt the same as I did ... knowing that these particular offices will profoundly affect our lives in the near future.  I might have been inclined to dismiss the candidates for District Judge, until one of them pointed out that District Judges have more power over our lives than any other elected office.  They have the ability, by law, to take your property, send you to jail, take your children away from you, grant you a divorce,  and have jurisdiction over many other civil matters in a citizen's life.  How they view the law, and your rights, will have far-reaching consequences if this country slides further towards government tyranny.  Just ask the ranchers in Texas's 13th District, who are fighting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over property rights.  The question of property rights is destined to become a hot-button issue, as the UN is getting increasingly involved in this area.
     The office of District Attorney was the second of the anticipated forums, and the candidates ran the gamut in personality and positions.  They were allowed to each speak for three minutes and then answer a few selected pre-written questions from the audience.  The first candidate came off as an egotistical, hotshot lawyer who wanted everyone to know that he would be hardline against any offenders of the law... "if you break the law, I will prosecute you" ... period.  The second candidate just seemed to be the lackey for the current DA in our county, who is leaving the office (amid rumors of injustice surrounding some of his practices) ... so he suffered from the guilty-by-association factor. The third candidate was so laid-back and low key that I wondered how much energy he really had for the job, because the duties of a District Attorney will have a sweeping effect on the lives of the citizens of our county.  The DA prosecutes felony criminal cases, works with law enforcement in investigating criminal cases, presents cases to the grand jury, represents victims of violence in our county.  With the increase in drug trafficking and illegal aliens streaming into Texas from our southern border, we need to know that our District Attorney has the safety of our citizens at heart.
      I was all ready to vote in the straw poll for the hotshot lawyer-type over the sycophant or the too-relaxed lawyer until it came to how they answered one question.... A District Attorney in Houston recently filed felony charges against the filmmakers involved in the Planned Parenthood films because they forged fake California drivers licenses, which is tampering with a governmental record. Would you have charged them with a felony?  Both the hotshot lawyer and the lackey both smugly announced, "If you do something illegal, I'm prosecuting you ... period."  Then the third candidate calmly and succinctly announced, "No, I would not have charged them with a felony.  You have to have some common sense in administering the law, and it was obvious that what they were trying to do outweighed the infraction."  I know for a fact, that I wasn't the only one who changed my vote after that answer!  Then I realized why I suddenly liked this guy ... he was like Peter Falk as Columbo.  He might look harmless and innocuous, but he's the guy you want on the job!
      Lastly, came the most important race in my mind ... the election of our next County Sheriff.  Those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning may recall a post I wrote about Sheriff Richard Mack.  He was the County Sheriff who defied the Clinton Administration and the Federal Government in regards to requiring sheriffs to conduct lengthy background checks on every potential purchaser of a handgun in their county.  Sheriff Mack fought that law all the way to the Supreme Court ... and won!
     I heard him speak nearly four years ago and what he said has made a lasting impact on me.  He said that our county sheriff's are among the most important elected officials in our lives; they are bound by their oath to the Constitution (that each took upon taking office) to stand between us and an over-reaching federal government.  In the intervening years since I heard him speak that is becoming increasingly clear.  So, I wrote my question down on a 3 x 5 card and turned it in ... As our County Sheriff, how would you protect us, the people, from the tyranny of the federal government?  Only one candidate answered to my satisfaction.  He exclaimed, "Boy, am I glad that question was asked!"  And then he proceeded to quote the 10th Amendment and how he would uphold it to his utmost.  One other candidate nonchalantly hinted that he agreed with Candidate #1, but seemed to indicate that he had the popular vote and the election in the bag.  But I liked the guy with fire in his belly; the candidate who seemed to be the grassroots candidate, and would be a "sheriff of, and for, the people", so to speak.
     After the forum finished, and this Candidate came in a distant second to the popular guy, I noticed that many in the crowd approached my selection for Sheriff, and were drawn to his enthusiasm for the office.  I told him I was the one who had asked the question on the 10th Amendment and I liked his answer.  He gripped my hand with determination, stared me boldly in the eye, and declared, "I will stand for you!"  And that is why my friend (and neighbor) and I are going to try to set up a meeting to introduce him to as many people in our sphere of influence that we can.
     It's time to get involved in local elections!  Yes, this nation is being rightfully and deservedly judged by our God.  We know that and see it clearly.  But, the Bible also tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
     So, for those of my fellow Christians who think these elections don't matter, I submit to you that they do.  And it is very clear to me what our obligations are ... We pray and intercede on behalf of those who would have authority over us, and then we vote.  So, I hope you will take the time to go to your Town Hall meetings or your Candidate Forums and listen to what they have to say.  Are they Godly men?  Do they still believe in the Constitution?  We have a duty and a precious right to vote.  Let's pray and take it seriously.

Deuteronomy 1:13   "Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads."

January 12, 2016

Where Are The Feminists?

     In our current political season, a favorite rallying cry is that there is "a war on women".  It is usually lodged against the Republican Party to describe their policies and legislation as a wide-scale effort to restrict women's rights, especially reproductive rights.  As unmerited as this charge is, I realize that the so-called Feminists in our nation love to play the victim card, and are always on the look-out for causes or women who have been wronged.
     So, why are they so silent about the abuse being heaped upon the women of Europe by the Middle Eastern refugees?  They love to throw the word "misogynist" around, and what could be more representative of hatred or disrespect towards women than headlines like this at The Daily Mail:  "Migrant rape fears spread across Europe: Women told not to go out at night alone after assaults carried out in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland amid warnings gangs are co-ordinating attacks."
     I mean, Donald Trump is loudly and vociferously castigated across the airwaves for his admittedly crude remarks, while not one of those feminist political strategists makes a peep about young women being fondled, raped, and being subjected to all manner of physical violations by gangs of Muslim men.
     The warnings in Europe come as reports emerged that Austrian and German police tried to cover-up the issue over fears of reprisal attacks on asylum seekers and damage to the countries' tourist trade.  Where is the uproar over the last part of that statement?  Putting money ahead of the safety of their young women?  Where are all those radical feminists who scream about gender equality, racial justice, the silencing of women?
     Where is the outrage over the chilling police report (about the attacks in Cologne, Germany) which describes women being forced to run through a 'gauntlet' of drunken men while officers themselves were mobbed by victims claiming they had been sexually assaulted.  Where are the champions of a woman named Jenny, who suffered serious burns when a firework was shoved into the hood she was wearing? "I heard a sizzling sound in my hood," she said. "I somehow tried to get the firecracker out of the hood. Then it fell into my jacket and burned everything. The scars will be permanent. I was lucky that it didn't explode."
     In Sweden, a gang formed a ring around girls and started molesting them. A police spokesman said, "They grabbed their breasts and genitals. In some cases they tried to drag girls into a waiting car, but those girls escaped, luckily."
     Perhaps the most chilling report is that which comes from German police, who have confirmed what they found on one man they have arrested from the gang of Arab and North African men who attacked women in Cologne.  Written on pieces of paper, police discovered lurid phrases in Arabic translated into German for him to use against women victims.
     Among the threatening messages was: "I'll kill you."  The notes also had the phrase for "nice breasts" and "I want to have sex with you."  The suspects arrested from the Cologne sex attacks reportedly included 9 Algerians, 8 Moroccans, 4 Syrians, 5 Iranians, 2 Germans and one each from Iraq, Serbia and the USA.
     So, once again, I ask, Where is the outcry by American feminists?  Why are they not marching in the streets, as are the German protestors who question just how their government is prepared to react to this outrage, and frankly, the danger it presents their women?  Is it that they fear it will contribute to another of their cause célébres, "Islamophobia"?  It is true that the people of Europe are trying to determine how the flood of refugees is going to affect their countries.  And after the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne, it has inflamed a debate over Germany's ability to integrate the 1.1 million asylum seekers it took in last year alone.
     The facts remain... there is a clash between cultures.  Middle Eastern refugees see Western women in skimpy clothing and hugging and kissing in public.  In their culture, that equates to prostitution.  Does that necessarily lead to the flagrant rape and molestation that Europe is experiencing?  Or is there something more sinister at foot?  Regardless, there is a cancer spreading in Europe, and the growing crimes against women threaten to release an explosive reaction upon an already nervous and anxious European population.
     So, are we prepared to deal with similar ramifications from our own refugee policies?  Will the feminist politicians speak out for the potential victims, or will they remain silent, so as not to offend those of a different religion?  Do not think that we will remain unscathed in this nation.  I pray that our communities and cities, and those who are elected to protect us, become aware of this potential problem before it happens here, and prevent the horrendous experience of European women.  American feminists, this is your challenge.  What are you going to do about it?

2 Corinthians 5:11    "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience."

August 31, 2015

# Black Lives Matter; Unless It's A Fetus

     How difficult it is for mankind to see the heart of this matter; and how easy it is for Satan to deceive us.  All he has to do is whisper, "Look!  Focus your attention over here ... don't think about how hypocritical you've been for the last forty-odd years."
     We are all aware of increasing racial tension in this country since the Trayvon Martin killing five-and-a-half years ago.  Out of that racially-charged trial, as well as the Michael Brown trial, the "Black Lives Matter" movement was born.  Although this protest movement has, at times, become a vehicle for personal vendettas, it does have an "official" mission statement:  "the demand of freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us."  Furthermore, its purpose is "to create, spark innovation, solidarity, and foster the practice of Black Love."
     Now, there will be those who will tell me that I have no right to comment on this topic, since I am a white woman; that I have no life experiences that can identify with the black community or the perceived injustices they have incurred.  I agree, in part.  Yes, I have not experienced the disproportionate number of deaths (by race) in my community; nor have I encountered excessive prejudice from a figure of authority that does not share my race.
     However, I am disappointed in the obvious disingenuousness of those that seek to lay the blame for all black deaths at the feet of another race.  I don't have to site statistics to convince you that gang murders contribute more to the deaths of young black men than the injustice of white police officers.  But where's the authentic and honest dialogue that will admit that the immoral welfare State has bred simmering hostility, leaving generations in bondage, and contributing to a criminal element that effects far too many law-abiding black communities?  These communities need protecting from the criminals, and who is it that is willing to provide that protection?  Don't you think that their presence and willingness to protect shows that "black lives matter" to these police officers, too?
     But, I don't really wish to engage in a conversation about which race is right and which is wrong.  The truth is that all humans have the ability to discriminate against those different from themselves.  That's the sad, sinful part of our human nature.  Rather, I wish someone with a voice louder than mine would point out the need to re-focus the "black lives matter" movement to the aborted black babies whose lives matter, too.
     How can we, as a nation, scream and shout and protest that black lives matter, while ignoring the shocking numbers of black aborted babies?  Don't get me wrong!  All aborted lives matter!  But if you want to convince me that you care about saving black lives from oppression, cruelty, and tyranny, then show me that you recognize how abortion has contributed to far more deaths within the black race.
     According to BlackGenocide.org, minority women constitute only about 13% of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36% of the abortions. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion; (by the way, the Guttmacher Institute is a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health through birth control, including abortion, so they have no reason to pad that statistic).
     Another website, Abort73.com, provides the following statistics:  "Every day in America, an average of 3,315 human beings lose their lives to abortion.  Based on the percentage of the races in this country, that translates to between 683-829 of those babies being Hispanic; between 1,093-1,174 are white; and between 995-1,207 are black.  (BlackGenocide.org cites statistics that say the number is much higher; on average, 1876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.)
      Not only are black children being killed at a far greater percentage than white children, it's possible they're being killed in greater numbers, period. Is that not shocking?! Though the white population in the U.S. outnumbers the black population five to one, abortion may well be killing more black children each day than white children. "
     Why isn't the Black Lives Matter movement focusing their attention on this fact, and on the preponderance of so-called "health clinics" in their neighborhoods, but which are, in reality abortion mills?  Has Satan completely blinded them to his schemes?  This movement claims they are fighting the belief that black lives have no value, and protesting the unnecessary loss of black lives in this country.
     Yet, the incidence of abortion seems to indicate the very things they are demonstrating against ... abortion says that black lives have no value, and it causes the greatest and most significant loss of life. It has been estimated that since 1973 black women have had about 16 million abortions. Author Michael Novak, an American Catholic philosopher on culture, has calculated "Since the number of current living Blacks (in the U.S.) is 36 million, the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss, for without abortion, America's Black community would now number 52 million persons. It would be 36 percent larger than it is. Abortion has swept through the Black community like a scythe, cutting down every fourth member."
     So, why can't they see that they have fallen for Satan's lies and committed the greatest loss of lives themselves?   But, I guess that is why Satan is so successful ... when he can tempt us with a false enemy, we fail to see his tactics, which are those of our true Enemy.
     Sadly, the young black leaders do not listen to older, wiser, and Christ-centered voices like that of Alveda C. King, daughter of slain civil-rights leader A.D. King and niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., who quotes her uncle often when outlining her opposition of abortion. She writes:  [Martin Luther King, Jr.] once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.
     Yet, the white population is not without sin in this deplorable practice.   We must face the truth that Satan has infiltrated our ranks, too.  How many of the abortionists in this country are white versus Hispanic or Black?  John Piper, who is a white pastor with a heart for racial justice, remarks on the disparity of abortion this way:  The main effect of putting abortion clinics in the urban centers is that the abortion of Hispanic and Black babies is more than double their percentage of the population. Every day [at least] 1,300 black babies are killed in America. Seven hundred Hispanic babies die every day from abortion. Call this what you will—when the slaughter has an ethnic face and the percentages are double that of the white community and the killers are almost all white, something is going on here that ought to make the lovers of racial equality and racial harmony wake up.
     That might not be a popular sentiment, and it sure makes me wince at the accusation, but can we deny these words?  We, as a culture and society, must own our complicity.  And can the human race(s) bear to pull the beam out of their own eyes before accusing another?  Misguided members of the black race feel justified in killing innocent police officers out of some distorted sense of self-righteous pride.  It's all so tragic; and nothing gets solved.  Satan's strategy keeps us from loving each other and ourselves -- more babies die and the racial tension mounts.  Could the words of Matthew 24:12, be more true? .... And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  God have mercy on us, and send your Son quickly!

John 10:10    "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

May 6, 2015

"It's About Being An American!"

     Believe me, I am not one to repost videos or remarks from Facebook.  But today is the exception.  If you have been reading my blog since its inception, then you know that I have been fortunate enough to train under Travis Haley, a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine.  I have written about the ways in which he has made me a better person, as well as a better shooter.  I respect his military service, his creativity, his innovativeness, and his code of honor, morals and behavior.
     So, it was with a good bit of interest that I noticed he posted a "selfie" video, so to speak, on his Facebook page, titled "Don't Ask Me Again! Make A Difference."  As soon as I clicked on the video I knew it was not coming from his professional side.  This one was personal!
     He had received a Facebook message asking him his opinion on what our "course of action" should be regarding the incidents in Baltimore and around the country; on racism, to be exact.  The ridiculous charge by the messenger was that men like Travis could "grab their guns and go there, make a huge difference, and stop this."  To say that Travis was taken aback, is putting it mildly.  Anyone who knows him could gauge his reaction by the steely glare into the camera and the set of his jaw.  His response?  "You're ignorant, and a racist a--hole for asking those kinds of questions and making those kinds of statements."
     His anger stemmed from the fact that the person who contacted him insinuated that as a celebrated American soldier, who had fought Evil and terrorists who were trying to take away our freedoms, he would be the perfect candidate to put a stop to what was happening in Baltimore.  But Travis's response was unequivocal ... "These are Americans; we are ALL Americans at the end of the day.  If you are a legal citizen of America, whether you are black, white; whether you are Hispanic, Asian ... it doesn't matter what your race or culture or ethnic background is.  If you are here legally, you are an American citizen."
     As you listen to him explain his theory about anyone who would dare to suggest that it is the role of the military to stop citizen protests, you know where he is coming from.  Those who try to use race or "the color card" to divide, do so to destroy us as fellow Americans.  He pointed out that this tactic clouds the more important point that "American" should be the description by which we all identify ourselves.  As he says, "American ... that's a pretty important word!"  That is what he and his fellow Marines (of all colors and ethnic backgrounds) have fought for.  He charges that Race and Racism is wrongfully becoming the priority -- the focal point -- rather than who we are ... Americans!
     He's tired of people asking him what his stance is on Baltimore, or Ferguson, or the like.  Instead, he challenges us all to stop focusing on the distraction of racism, and to "be significant; get some substance in your life and make a difference."  Basically, he is drawing attention to the fact that every social media site and news outlet is making racism the predominant story!  We should not buy into that narrative!
     As Travis concludes, he points out that we are not born racist; we learn racism.  Instead of waking up each day and embracing this negative persona; drinking the "racist koolaid", so to speak, we should get some substance in our lives, stop making racism the primary issue of your existence, and stop making excuses.
     Believe me, his statement was a bit more colorful than I have expressed here today, but I think you get the drift.  Racism is being used to divide and conquer this country, and we need to do our part to stop the tide and eliminate it from our consciousness and vocabulary.  Our lives should stand for something more important than something so worthless and divisive as racism.
     As a Christian, I couldn't agree more!  And as much as I respect and honor Travis Haley and his bold statement on this issue, there is another man whom I try to model my life after, and His words are even more courageous and indomitable.  He saw us all as only one race ... the human race.  And He made us all in the same image; in the likeness of Him and God, the Father.
     In the end, this human race has been plagued with racism, prejudice and antagonism for thousands of years.  But we don't have to accept that!  We can repent of our discrimination and forgive those who discriminate against us.  Above all else, we can love and respect each other, just as He loves each one of us.  At the end of the day, as Travis said, it really is all about who we are as people; and as my Savior commanded us, we should be kind and compassionate to each other; forgiving each other.  We were made to be better than this, and we can be better than we are!

Ephesians 2:14    "For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility."

April 16, 2015

I Wouldn't Trade Places

     These past few weeks I have encountered soon-to-be high school and college graduates who seem desperate to hide their panic about their futures.  Faced with high unemployment rates and few options for sustainable careers, they are realizing that their choices are limited.  Add to this the fact that they are bombarded through round-the-clock technological "connectiveness", which is screaming the threat of war across the globe.  You can't blame them for feeling apprehensive about a less-than-bright future.
     And in case you think that other generations have faced similar fears and negative prospects, I would like to remind you that past generations stood on the foundation of a national faith in God, strong family values, and a solidly cohesive populace.  This generation of young adults has witnessed a battleground in all those areas, and stands on shaky ground.
     These college graduates pursued degrees because their parents still believed that a college education was the roadmap to success.  And you can't blame them ... education has always been a building block and a stepping stone to achievement and success, no matter what path you took in life.  But you can no longer expect that a job will be waiting for you at the end of that four years, or even with a graduate school degree.  Too many of our college graduates are working two or three temporary jobs in the simple hope of being able to move out of mom and dad's house!
     So where does that leave the high school graduate?  There is certainly nothing to encourage them to take on the debt of college; they see those who have gone before them in desperate search of a job.  Why go down that road?  And the military used to be a viable option for high school graduates and for building a career.  But I'm sad to say, that with the treatment that our military receives and the attempt to remove God from our armed forces, I no longer think that noble service to our country is a wise choice.
      While the Greatest Generation of WWII may have faced the ultimate Evil of their time, they could concentrate on defeating the Enemy without having to contend with transgenderism within the ranks, being accused of "white privilege", or being restricted from practicing their faith during wartime.
     I graduated from college during the Carter years and in the midst of a failing economy.  But I didn't have to worry about every comment being scrutinized for racism, while suffering under an oppressive culture that was trying to force me to bend to their sexual agenda, at the same time that I was trying to figure out how I was going to afford health care insurance.  I also knew that my church was a safe haven from the influences of the culture; a place where I knew I could receive God's truth about how to live my life.
     So, while the wealthy and elite are trying to discover the fountain of youth and ways to become immortal, I have no desire to be young again.  I cannot imagine facing a long life of our decaying national identity, or determining how to navigate in a world that I can no longer recognize or respect. That being said, I deeply desire to reach out to these young people; to help them maintain a sense of individuality and marching to a different drummer than society is forcing on them.  We may not have left them hope for a prosperous future, but we can still try to instill in them a notion of uniqueness and character and value as a child of God.  They're going to need it.

Revelation 21:7   "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son."

October 7, 2014

Where Have Our Manners Gone?

     I don't know if you saw the recent reporting of the 80-year-old man who was enjoying a drink at his local Florida Applebees, and approached a fellow 26-year-old patron, asking him to discontinue his loud use of obscenities.  According to the police report, Harry Sander, the octogenarian, politely asked Mikie Sawyer to quit using the "F" word and repeatedly talking about T & A.
      First of all, I can remember a time when people would have been embarrassed to be heard talking that way in front of strangers.  But did Sawyer respect his elder's request and tone it down?  No!  Like the spoiled, narcissistic society we've become, he announced that he didn't have to stop cursing if he didn't want to.  So according to witnesses, Mr. Sander leaned in once again, and informed Mikie that in his native Germany, one didn't speak in polite company like that.
     Well, Sawyer was not only unconcerned about being polite in the company of others, but he made sure to disparage the elderly man's thick accent and his heritage, saying, “I don’t care where you are from, whether it be Russia or Dutch, take your ass to the other side of the bar.”  [Apparently, Mikie not only showed a distinct lack of character, but doesn't know his world geography, either.  Someone needs to tell him "Dutch" is not a country].
     But it is not simply his lack of respect and crudeness that is deplorable, it is what he does next that I find so reprehensible.  The police report records that Sawyer then punched Mr. Sander in the face and pushed him to the ground.  The elderly gentleman doesn't remember much after that moment.  Witnesses corroborated the incident and the mistreatment of Harry Sander, and Mikie was arrested for battery on a person over the age of 65 and disorderly conduct.
     According to Florida law, "A person who is convicted of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a person 65 years of age or older shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years and fined not more than $10,000 and shall also be ordered by the sentencing judge to make restitution to the victim of such offense and to perform up to 500 hours of community service work. Restitution and community service work shall be in addition to any fine or sentence which may be imposed and shall not be in lieu thereof."  We can only hope that justice is served in this case.
    If it was up to me, I would like to invite Mr. Mikie Sawyer to Texas to meet my friend, Maurice Chambers.  I believe that Maurice just turned 78 years old; although as the holder of several state long distance running records, and a still-active Texas rancher and hunter, he would be mistaken for a much younger man.  In fact, I have seen him out-run and out-work men half his age.  He is one tough and rugged Texan!
     But he is also a devout and pious Christian man.  I have seen him tell many a foul-mouthed cowboy and hunter who was visiting his ranch that he would not tolerate profanity; especially in front of ladies.  He even told a legendary rock star (with his own hunting show) that he was not welcome to bow hunt on his property if he continued using the "F" word.  In Maurice's world, there's no compromise when it comes to old-fashioned manners.
     And where has that standard gone in this country?  Where is the respect for others, and the esteem for our elderly?  Have we become such a self-centered, narcissistic nation, that we have no concern for our fellow citizens?  Are our egos so big, that none dare oppose us?  I suspect that we have raised a generation or two of spoiled kids; children who are now adults, and who think the world rotates around them.  They owe consideration to no one but themselves.  And, now we see a decline not only in manners, but in our ability to see others as unique and worthy of courtesy and honor.  As in the case of Mikie, they become ugly and despicable human beings.
     So, the next time Mikie Sawyer decides to disrespect an elderly gentleman, whose only crime is a request for good manners, I hope he meets someone like my friend, Maurice.  If Mikie continues to exhibit his rude nature, I guarantee he will be the one picking himself up off the floor.  It will be in his best interest to have a change of attitude, and to give another thought to becoming well-mannered and better-behaved.  Yep, I'd like to see Maurice teach Mikie a thing or two ... and the first lesson would start with respect.

1 Peter 5:5      Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

June 17, 2014

A New Awakening?

     Yesterday was a heavy day for me.  Monday's usually are.  It is the day I return to the mundane tasks of my life in this world system.  I am just coming off a spiritual high of spending the Saturday Sabbath in rest and rejuvenation.  I allow myself that day, plus Sunday, to let go of headlines and emails and endless texts; of household chores and business duties, so that PLW and I can spend quiet time in our Bible studies and going wherever the Spirit takes us in our endless quest to learn more in the Word.  And it often involves a much-coveted afternoon nap or escaping into a historical novel.  But it all adds up to an appreciated respite from the weight of world events.
     Then Monday arrived.  Yesterday meant it was bill-paying time, which always brings me back to the reality of living in the world.  And then I tried wrapping my head around the Biblical world view that was presented to me.  It seems that there is not a place on earth that is not on the brink of catastrophe.  Whether it is the slaughter of Christians throughout Iraq and Kenya, or the ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, the wholesale sell-off of America's land to Chinese interests, the increase in solar flares, meteor activity, volcanos heating up, the strength of our currency cooling down --- it all adds up to a tension in the universe.
     Yet how many Americans got up yesterday morning, and it was business as usual?  How many were totally oblivious to the alarming news reports, or the condition of their country, let alone the world?  I'm afraid that too many are buried in their phones or iPads; checking in on their Facebook page as they stand in line to feed their double pump caffeine fix.  Wouldn't it be nice to just live in a digital/caffeine fueled haze, unconscious and unconcerned about all the circumstances that could have a lasting effect on your life or your family?  That may sound like a gross exaggeration and an over-simplification, but I know far too many people who fit that description, and are setting themselves up for both a huge shock and a grand deception.
     For those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we must cope with the reality of what we see, as well as endeavor to reach our sleeping associates.  And while I oftentimes get frustrated with the reluctance of others to clear their minds and become observant, I am also encouraged by the growing numbers of those who are awakening from their slumber.  In fact, I was listening to a podcast yesterday from an enlightened Christian author, and he was taking phone calls from the public.
     Call after call was a testimony by fellow Christians who had, sometime during the period of 2009-2010, developed a deep hunger to know more about the Jewish roots of their faith, while coming to the conclusion that their Church was not meeting their needs.  (PLW and I now realize that we are a member of this family of faith). These were spontaneous calls that began feeding on each other, and every caller was eager to share his/her experience.  Where once they had felt they were alone in this unconventional desire, they were finding out that others had been receiving the same yearning and determination to grow their faith outside the norms of the American church experience.
     For all of us, that new and unorthodox thirst for more Biblical knowledge gave us an awareness to see national and worldly events from a Biblical perspective, and an even greater calling to share this outlook with others.  I am speaking for everyone who fits this description, and I think I can safely say that, at first, we were considered radical, and perhaps even border-line heretical by mainstream Christians.  Non-believers just thought we were some kind of Christian conspiracy nuts.  But the Holy Spirit would not let go of us!  As we persevered in presenting our Biblical evidence -- (hopefully) with respect for those who were not at the same place we were -- we began to see individuals receive their own anointing, as if the scales were instantly removed from their eyes.  Instead of feeling like we were in a wilderness of our own making, we began to see a growing family of revived disciples.
     Until hearing that podcast yesterday, I had no idea that our experience has been repeated in such vast numbers throughout the country.  Could this be a Third Great Awakening?  Could this be the answer of the prayers of the faithful in this Land?  I confess that I am reluctant to label anything so personal by a name associated with traditional Church and national history.  The First Great Awakening in America was the result of powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ.  The Second Great Awakening reached out to the unchurched, and resulted in the enrollment of millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations.
     This Awakening, if indeed it be so, is not the result of powerful preaching from our churches' pulpits for the redemption of men's souls.  And while the evangelical movement is good at resulting in mega-churches with millions of new members, it remains focused on itself while the members' eyes are cast inward instead of up towards their Deliverer.  No, if this is a true Awakening, it will be different from the others.  The modern Church will not play a central role; indeed, it is falling away from its mission.  It is aiding and abetting a spiritual blindness that will not serve Christians well.  This Awakening is a direct hit on the hearts of Believers by the Holy Spirit Himself!  We are seeing the layers of the mysteries of the Bible being peeled back; we understand the Word like never before, and we are growing in numbers!  
     If you do not know the saving power of Jesus Christ, then you may think this post is not for you.  But I am here to tell you that there is no better time to get to know Him.  World events are falling in line with ancient Biblical prophecies and I don't want anyone to be caught unaware and unprotected.  The same Holy Spirit that speaks into my heart, will answer your call... anywhere, anytime.  I just urge you to please not go back to sleep!  This life is just a blip on the radar screen--don't lay eternity on the line for the empty promises this world offers.

Romans 13:11    "Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."

May 17, 2014

Saturday Morning's Random Thoughts

     There are some days that I just don't get a clear direction of what to write about.  There's so much in the news; most of it unsettling, so what takes precedence?  Rather than grasping at something that is not in focus, I will share some thoughts that have occupied my mind this last week.
     •  First of all, I enjoyed a visit from my niece (also God-daughter), her husband, and their beautiful nine-month old daughter.  I'm always fascinated at God's craftsmanship in creating us.  This child, even at this young age, shows tremendous curiosity, persistence, stubbornness and ingenuity.  She has unlimited potential because she is made in God's image.  Let's hope that mankind does not stifle His purpose for her.
     That's why I had to hold my tongue when her mother informed me that the baby had acid-reflux and her pediatrician has prescribed Nexium for this child.  If I'm to have any influence on my niece, I know it will be by staying calm; even though everything in me wanted to scream, "Run from that doctor!"  When I checked a reputable online site for any information in treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in infants, I found that it had recently been approved for short-term use in children aged 1-11.  Then there was this warning:  The most common adverse reactions in children treated with Nexium were headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, gas, constipation, dry mouth and sleepiness. The safety and efficacy of Nexium has not been established in children less than one year of age.  My great-niece is nine months old!  What is this doctor thinking?  And I hate our culture's fixation with always looking for a magic pill!  And I hate, even more, the thought that this beautiful child is being directed down a path of life-long dependency on Big Pharma.
     •  I have also been confounded by the astounding number of people that I have been asked to pray for who are the quintessential picture of perfect health one day, and within 24 hours find themselves gravely ill.  Tests are run and it is determined they have acute liver and kidney failure, or brain tumors, or their body is riddled with cancer.  How could there have been no prior signs that something was wrong?  Aren't these kinds of serious health issues usually preceded by some clues that something is beginning to deteriorate?  Yet these people are all seemingly blind-sided by their diagnoses.  Is it, as PLW is beginning to think, that God is taking out (early) His people who will find it difficult to endure what we will shortly suffer through?  That He knows who will be able to withstand the coming persecution and so stand for Him?  That in His mercy, He is delivering the less strong?
     I know people get sick every day, but I am sometimes overwhelmed by the magnitude of the number of Believing individuals who are experiencing life-threatening situations; and how quickly the afflictions are manifested.  God, in his infinite wisdom, knows the reasons why.  All I can do is pray for them.
     •  Finally, there seems to be no end to the barrage of global happenings of critical consequence.  There is the increase in violent storms, earthquakes and warnings of collisions with meteorites and other heavenly objects.  "Nuclear war" is now in the headlines of every major news outlet.  Radical Islam has no fear of retribution in forcing conversions, even on innocent school girls.  Over 36,000 violent criminals were released on the streets of America -- just before they were scheduled for deportation.  Iran claims to have cloned one of our drones.  The third case of MERS is announced in the U.S.  And here's one of my favorites:  Trans-humanists predict that, very soon, our emergence with robots will allow us to become our own gods.
     Is it any wonder that there are days I sit dumbfounded at the world in which I find myself?  It is difficult to imagine what life will be like in the next year or two, let alone 5 or 10 more, should the Lord decide I am to remain on this planet.  Honestly, I feel like everything is spinning out of control, yet I must continue to hang on to the only thing that will help me survive ... my faith.  It is so clear in these present days that money, stature and things are not the rewards I wish to seek.  There is nothing in this physical world that means anything.  I only care about what I receive from my relationships with others; those whom God has put in my path and who help me realize that love is the most cherished possession I have.  Let me grow in this precious commodity!

2 Timothy 3:1   "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty."

May 6, 2014

A Victory For Prayer

     Yesterday, it was announced that the Supreme Court upheld the town of Greece, New York's right to open their town council meetings with a prayer.  Although the decision was narrow, with five Justice's upholding the right to pray, against four dissenting Justices, I will gladly take the victory.  But the dividing line was quite obvious -- the Liberal Justices versus the Conservative/Moderate Justices -- and we should not be so confident as to think that this battle against Prayer is over.
     It should be quite evident to all, that our First Amendment right that prohibits the interference with the free exercise of our religion hangs in the balance … literally.  The appointment of one or two more ideologically liberal Supreme Court Justices, and the next case before the highest court in the land will not go our way.  One can see the differences in philosophy and political theory when reading the merits of the case, as seen by the opposing sides of the Court.
     As reported by the Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions.  "The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Kennedy said.
     However, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court's four liberal Justices, said, "I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality -- the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."
     So, let me pose a question to you … it is a fact that the town of Greece, NY has a population of just under 100,000.  Additionally, it is a fact, that the population is primarily Christian.  If you are curious like me, you can Google the yellow pages website for churches in the town of Greece.  I stopped counting at page 14, and over 400 religious institutions.  I counted one Islamic church, eight individuals (who I can only assume offer some sort of non-traditional worship services); the rest all fell under the category of "Christian".  So does it not seem logical that the town of Greece would wish to dedicate the service of their town officials by offering a solemn request for help, or an expression of thanks … and that this would be addressed to the Christian God?
     By the term religious "equality", I am left wondering if Justice Kagan prefers that all prayer be discontinued, or just prayer to the Christian God?  It appears to me, that if the town council had wished to pray to Allah or some Wiccan deity, she would not have disagreed.  On that point, we may take some encouragement at these words from Justice Kennedy:  "Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred, any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy." So for now, as long as town councils do not attempt to convert anyone to Christianity, or demean another faith,  we do not have to censor the use of "God" or prayer in opening ceremonies or formalities.
     But, lest we let down our guard, we must remember that it is the express purpose of the godless to limit our expression of faith and worship to our most Holy God; especially in public forums.  The more they can limit the influence of Christianity, the more they can control us.  A populace who believes in the inherent rights given to us by a God who promotes individual responsibility and accountability, is a nation that will never be suppressed.  So take advantage of the liberties still left to us …. AND PRAY!

Luke 18:1    "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart."