Thursday, February 28, 2013

Red Dawn Part two the Mt Rushmore Idea

I have to say I am kind of intrigued with this spin on Gun rights as being we need a Citizen Army to protect us from the Government . Here is my take on it . First of all it does seem a wee bit paranoid . But putting that aside lets take a look at how it might function . First of all I must assume there would be a clear and decisive reason why such a Army would be needed . I'm sure there might be any number of reasons the entire citizen population of the USA would decide to uniformly take up arms against the Government . For the sake of working this all out lets say that once again the Government decided to go dry and beer was off the Shelves . This in my opinion would certainly constitute a national emergency of epic proportions:
So now we have our emergency , what happens next ? I suppose there must be some sort of Comand Center . Some place where the Citizen Army can use to get the Neccesary intelligence and subsequent orders  to fight back .
 I would propose Mt Rushmore to be honest . Its accessible and yet remote , in case of a counter attack by the Government forces the Civilian army could hole up under Jefferson's nose or hold it hostage .  No matter clearly there would be some need of command and control ..not only a well organized campaign , but one that can easily communicate with each other quickly ( facebook comes to mind ) .
So assuming that the proponents of a civilian deterrent to Government abuse , have such a infrastructure in place what next ? What Targets would this Ad Hoc Group of Civilians want to assault ? would the attacks be coordinated and have a singular objective ? Or would they be indiscriminate ? Who would be the leaders of this group ? what sort of discipline would they require from the group . Would they have to pay at Krogers for supplies ? Or would they " borrow" what they needed ? Some Creative militia groups in the USA have actually turned to bank robbery and Armored Car Heists . Anyway a Civilian army would have to find some way to pay for its costs  .
As I said I don't think this has been very well thought out . The reality is we would have spontaneous groups running around in different Geographical areas each claiming they were patriots angry with some slight or procedure or law they decided did not suit their needs . In short Anarchy ....The Red Dawn Myth . each group of malcontented men and women would have their own individual targets which may or not be similar to the Individual rights of the Militia Next Door .
I can imagine a Scenario of the Northern Idaho Militia filled with disgruntled Steelhead Fishermen , attacking the Western Columbia Militia largely based on the Commercial fisherman of the Oregon Coast . Some Militias would be attacking black targets , some Muslim targets . There would probably be a group who targeted The post office and even a misguided group who confused UPS with a Government group and waged war against UPS . And imagining travelling Cross country ...every Militia Jurisdiction would have a stop point , armed guards interrogating you . One thing is certain if you are driving across Country in this kind of environment a Ford .
 Without a Command and control and discipline combatants it would be no better than Gang violence . And who would be the ones who suffer the most in this ? Innocent men , women and children .
"Militia are hopelessly inadequate as a means of defending a free country. While "people's war" militia-based strategies have been employed to wear down invading armies in numerous countries over the past century, not one of those countries (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, southern Lebanon, etc) is "free". This is not an accident of history. Freedom is the product of orderly democratic governance and the rule of law. Popular militias are overwhelming likely to foster not democracy or the rule of law, but warlordism, tribalism and civil war. In Lebanon, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Colombia, the Palestinian Territories and elsewhere, we see that militias of armed private citizens rip apart weak democratic states in order to prey upon local populations in authoritarian sub-states or fiefdoms. Free states are defended by standing armies, not militias, because free states enjoy the consent of the governed, which allows them to maintain effective standing armies. Like every other free country apart from Costa Rica, the United States has a standing army in times of peace, and has since 1791, when the founding fathers realised a standing army would be necessary to fight the irregular popular militias of the continent's Native American peoples. (Guess who won?) "
Lets be quite honest about this ..we have the best Military in the world not only because they have the best in weaponry , but because of Discipline and training . So what happens in the Civilian Army when the Civilians decide they are not being represented in the Command Structure ?
Seriously using this " we need Civilians " to protect us from the Government falls into the really silly category , how about having citizens simply exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choice ? How about having Citizens who study the facts instead of make them up .
And one more thing . I am a Christian and I believe there is a Bibical approach to this that is being ignored. Im not sure how we can Use the Bible to support our anti Abortion sentiments and then use the Constitution to support our so called Gun rights . but that's just me . Oh yes , I do find it very disturbing that the Right side of the Aisle has now started using the Genocide of the Native American Indians as a Argument for Gun Rights .... Ironic and Shameful .

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Red Dawn Myth part 1

Recently I have been seeing a disturbing pattern of using the Genocide of the Native American Indians as a reason for Law abiding Citizens to Have guns . On the surface this seems a lot like Using the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima as a Public Relations campaign to gain the Nobel Peace prize .
After the responsible adult person in me stops laughing at the cynical and yet strangely humorous argument , another part of the responsible adult in me is seething . How can such a short argument complete with visual so wrong on so many different levels that it almost overwhelms the intelligent person into believing it ? This whole campaign of using the Genocide of the American Indian as a pretext for arguing against responsible gun control is cynical and reprehensible . The only glimmer of good that can come from it would be perhaps the tacit confession that our Native American Policy was flawed in the first place .
I Guess the basic reason why this is popular is because some people want to believe it and they also failed American History .
Lets take a look at the whole Idea here :
First of all the implication is if the Indians had of been able to keep their weapons they would not have been destroyed by the American Government . Is this even close to being Historically accurate . In a word no. The Native Americans were defeated because they were not aligned as a homogeneous group . Essentially the Native Americans operated as independent Militia groups dispersed through out the USA . Often even fighting amount themselves for competing interests and objectives ,You might say reminiscent of the Civil War . ( remember that we will come back to it )
The other implication is the US Government is trying to take weapons away from Citizens and well they are not . Responsible lawmakers and Citizens Are urging for some control over the purchase and ownership of Guns , and are also questioning the use of Automatic Weapons .
The whole argument becomes a Straw man Argument ....It begins with " If the Government takes away our guns we cannot have a citizen army to defeat the government " IT falls apart when you realize that in none of the recommendations to curb Gun violence is the Government planning to take Guns away .
At stake are the lives of thousands of American Citizens opposing potentially Millions of dollars in Profit for the Gun and Ammunition Companies .
So now the Gun Lobby is suggesting the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to provide for a Citizen Army to rally to the defence of the country if the Government went bad . This is a real Air Ball ...Does the constitution make any provision for such a citizen revolt ? what conditions does it set forth for such a decision ?
The Gun Lobby would have us belive that American citizens have the right to engage in violence against the United States' armed forces and state or municipal police forces, whenever they decide that governments are usurping their powers. By Pushing this agenda the Gun Lobby is suggesting that Americans have a right a right to insurrection. There is no such right in the American constitutional order. It is illegal for American citizens to decide on their own to attack law-enforcement agents or soldiers, regardless of whether they believe them to be acting on behalf of the "arbitrary power of rulers". Here is the deal In America, the government is chosen at the ballot box, and our representatives make the laws and execute them. For the Gun Lobby to imply that instead of this Choice we have as an option insurrection is ..well how do you sugar coat treason ?
So lets recap up to this point :
1: The Government of the USA is not taking away your guns .
2: The Native Americans were not defeated because we took away their weapons . They were defeated because we devalued them , and picked them off tribe by tribe .
3. The Purpose of the 2nd Amendment was not to create a Citizen Army to protect citizens from its own Government .
4. Our Government is changed the same way it has been for over 200 years by well informed people voting for representatives of the people who make laws and execute them
TO be fair I really don't want to be in this argument ..I am a Christian and as a Christian I believe the bible suggests an entirely different world view than the one promoted by the world when it it comes to guns , wars and self defence . But the issue for me is the Christians who are weighing in on the gun discussion don't want to include the Bible as a foundation for their arguments ..and instead have opted for the Constitution of the USA for their foundation . When it comes to guns apparently the Constitution Trumps the Bible .
Next : The Red Dawn Myth

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This my first post over here in some time , I mean some long time . I had decided I was getting too grumpy , too critical of others and not spending enough time trying to change the person I have the very best chance of changing , namely me.

But lately I have been noticing a disturbing trend And at least I want to shed some light on it perhaps a different light .

Its not unusual that I am often reffered to as a " Social Justice " Christian , and when its said it is not being said as a compliment . There seems to be a movement afoot that is trying to discourage Christians from helping the poor and working for the rights of the marginalized , and weak.

The people who are doing this find a few scriptures that to them seem to imply God is not interested in the poor and then using the Bible as their moral touch point they use these verses to promote what I would call the gosple of shelfishness.

One I hear frequently is when Jesus said " the poor you will have with you always ". John 12:8

I Guess the assumption here is that Jesus is advocating world wide poverty ...I think that is the wrong assumption . First remember who Jesus was talking too , it wasn't to 5000 people gathered on a mountain it was said to Judas who was preparing to betray Jesus . It is also from the Old testament , the complete verse comes from Deuteronomy 15:11:
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.I think Gods instruction here is pretty clear ...Help the poor and notice God does not say Judge them to see if they are truly in need .

Now lately I have been hearing people quote from 1st Thessalonians 3:10 " “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Now the assumption here is if a person is not working don't share with Him.

But is that what this verse is really saying ?

The context is the witness that Paul and his Ministry group provided to the Thessalonians ...Paul is really saying you folks should consider the way we have behaved while we were amoung you ...we all pitched in as believers ..our rules for our selves were straight forward , if a member of our Ministry team did not help witht the work ... ( the work of the Lord ) he should not eat . Paul then goes on to say that is what we expect of you . You claim ot be Christians now act like it !

We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. Ist Thessalonians 3: 11-12

There you have it the Message here is not to condemn people in the world for not working ..the message here is to tell the servants of God to get busy !
The Context of this verse was a challenge to those already in the Christian community. The principle is sound as a guideline to affirm that every member of the Body is a servant of our Lord Jesus, committed to obedient service. However, to make it a rule, especially one so unqualified and expressed to those outside the community of faith is not only absurd, but an abuse of Scripture.

To me this is just another example of why we need to read our Bibles. There is one Scripture I often use as a litmus test if you will to the veracity of Scriptual interpertation . It comes from James 3:17 : But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Prime Directive

" the Church exists for nothing else , but to draw men unto Christ ...If they are not doing that all the Cathedrals , clergy , missions , sermons , EVEN THE BIBLE ITSELF , are simply a waste of time. " , God became man for no other purpose , It is even doubtful , you know whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose " C.S. Lewis

When I first accepted Christ I had a vision of Christians surrounding themselves with walls and ramparts building strong fortifications against the world , and raining arrows and pouring hot oil on the people clamouring to break into their fortress ...I also saw Christ coming back and tearing these walls down , filling in the moats the oil was no longer hot but instead fragrant and healing ....

Of course I was a young Christian in those days ...Saved by Grace and passionate to understand more about God ...I devoured books and commentaries ...I read the Bible daily and went through a list of Christians Writers that included Chuck Swindol , Charles Stanley , Max LUcado , Phillip Yancey , Tony Compolo , RC Sproul , John McArthur , Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Francis Schaeffer ... and many many more ...and a curious thing happened ...I moved away from grace ...I began to fancy myself quite the Bible scholar and I even had a Hebrew Greek Study Bible to prove it ...I found my self wondering why more CHristians weren't as well read as I was ...I was always a little bit startled to find older more mature Christians who seemed to struggle with finding Ephesians , or Titus in the Bibles ....I began to judge my walk with God with my vast knowledge of things Bible ...I began to involve myself in meaningless and trivial arguments about trivial and meaningless minutia ...I was in short overlooking the forest for the trees ...A year ago God had enough of that ...He moved us to a Church where I was hit square in the face with Worship and Praise hindsight I can see that I moved from a sitting church , to a doing church ...We praise Him in music , Song and dance , we have genuine fellowship , we accept each other as Christ accepts us , with spots and stripes , with worn out luggage , ties and tee shirts ...We are encouraged to read the scriptures , we are encouraged to pray ...but always with the purpose of loving Gods Children ....all of them .

In my past I would keep a running " debate " with the Pastor preaching , Here in the new terrority God placed me in there was none of that ...each word from all of our pastors and speakers ...was appointed to find its way into my heart to set me free from the bondage of the walls I had built up myself separating myself from other Christians . My Pedantry , and Scholarship had no meaning in a sanctuary filled with Love and Grace ....

Gods Kingdom is here and there is heaven ward and it is inside each of us ...I believe true Christianity , finds its expression in accepting others as Christ has accepted us ...there are no exams ...our faith is not measured by our knowledge of the difference between Armenianism and Calvinism , between Pre Mil and post Mil , mature Christians which I am so thankful for express their faith in Love ...Love does not separate , love does not hold a record of wrongs , love is patient and long suffering ...How can you say you love God , when you do not love His people ...all of them .

It now seems to me if your time spent in study of God through the Scriptures , if your time spent in front of a pulpit ,( if you do so) leads you to believe that fewer and fewer men/women are " true believers " ...that if your time in private fellowship with God makes you hard as flint , if it separates you from mankind , from your brothers and sisters in Christ ...if you spend your time studying the scriptures in a effort to separate yourself from the common and the less " committed " followers of Christ . you need to close up the book , get on your knees and ask God for forgiveness ....The Christian call is one of action , not meditation ...while many religions have set themselves up as centers for personal enlightenment , the Christian faith was one of going out ...moving boldly into the world , not fortifying itself against the world ...

Paul was quite clear ...Christ and Christ Crucified is the main course of our faith all else is garnish . I Believe there are seasons in our Christian life , and all have their merit ...I have gone through seasons of study and solitary introspection , a season of vanity , a season of grace , a season of Sovereignty , but all of these should lead me to Faith expressing itself in love ...and how do we show God how much we love Him ?
by Loving His people , by loving His children despite their faults , their imperfections , their theology or lack


If we only have love
Then tomorrow will dawn
And the days of our years
Will rise on that morn
If we only have love
To embrace without fears
We will kiss with our eyes
We will sleep without tears
If we only have love
With our arms open wide
Then the young and the old
Will stand at our side
If we only have love
Love that's falling like rain
Then the parched desert earth
Will grow green again
If we only have love
For the hymn that we shout
For the song that we sing
Then we'll have a way out
If we only have love
We can reach those in pain
We can heal all our wounds
We can use our own names
If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons
If we only have love
Then Jerusalem stands
And then death has no shadow
There are no foreign lands
If we only have love
We will never bow down
We'll be tall as the pines
Neither heroes nor clowns
If we only have love
Then we'll only be men
And we'll drink from the Grail
To be born once again
Then with nothing at all
But the little we are
We'll have conquered all time
All space, the sun, and the stars.

Jaques Brel

1 Corinthians 13
The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Life is a fairway ( reprint from Face book )

Yesterday for the first time in at least 3 years I went golfing ..It was a wonderful Spring day , four men brought together in Gods purposeful way. Golf is a game that engages all the senses , the budding trees , the flags fluttering in the distance the sound of the ball going into the cup, the taste of fresh mud as your wedge cleaves into the soil , the smell of sun lotion and Ben Gay , The camaraderie was enjoyable , each person cheering each other on , and some good natured kidding and gamesmanship . Although the Starter Pistol gag was a little extreme. But considering this is the South I am blessed it wasn't a shotgun .

My only regret was the game I had planned to play remained in my mind and not on the fairways . When I was much younger I would frequently end up playing with these " older " golfers . It was not unusual for me to blast the ball far past their best efforts ...yet steadily they moved forward more often than not they actually played in the designated fairway , they hit it short but straight , simply by playing each long hole as one stroke more ( par fours became par fives , par fives became par six ). Mixing in some great short game play these old golfers would sail around the course posting scores in the low to mid 80's.

My game was usually more dramatic , turning 3's into par fives and par fives into threes as I would post scores in the low to mid 80's as well . When I was playing competitively in college I played to a solid 3 handicap , spending several hours a day working on my game , and while playing cursing every shot that was less than perfect . In those days I owned several club records including the greatest distance for throwing a Driver with no wind assist ( 123.5 yards ).

I wasn't much fun to play with in those days ...I was grouchy and my style of play left me alone in one distant fairway or another wasn't until much much later that I started to enjoyed golf on a whole new level , this really started to happen when I actually had to pay to play . I had little or no time for practice , I started to put less pressure on myself and simply enjoy spending time on the course. I started to notice some interesting changes in my game . I was actually hitting the ball longer , much longer , due in part to the change in golf equipment ( metal woods, graphite shafts ) And a change in body weight ( I was no longer a slender Adonis , instead I had become a chubby wood nymph ..... Middle to long irons where just a little off , and the short game was unpredictable . But when I posted a score it was usually in the high seventies to low 80's . I found myself actually enjoying the people I was golfing with , especially my favorite foursome stubby , lefty and hoot. Not only an interesting group of nicknames but an interesting trio , these three guys had worked in the Portland Steel mills and were all now on disability leave since an unfortunate explosion in the foundry. Stubby had lost three inches off his left leg, Lefty was one armed , and hoot had no hearing and no balance . Suddenly I found myself wining more beverages than usual at the the 19th hole . Although in time Stubby became quite a good golfer when he learned to take advantage of uphill lies.

All good things often come to an end ..and this was no exception , married with child on the way...responsibility crept into my life , like a dust bunny under the couch ...for the next 13 years golf was pushed aside as I worked to provide for my family. I worked as hard on providing asI had worked on my youthful Golf game , I returned to grouchy and not being much fun to live with and in time I squandered the relationship , and watching my daughter grow up quickly as a golf ball can swerve dead left and into a lake , I found myself alone with nothing but debt and set of golf clubs that had once ruled the Astoria Golf and Country Club Fairways ...

To take my mind off the failed marriage , I worked as a fireman at a local resort , Black Butte Ranch in the Foothills of the Cascade Mountains ..I had been very active with the local Volunteer Fire dept. and through this association I started also helping out at the resort , It was a busy department with a fair share of motor vehicle accidents , ambulance calls , forest fires and a few structure fires . We lived on site and that provided me with shower facilities since I had given the house to my former family. I also had golf privileges there and started playing regularly ...we couldn't play when we were on shift but we could hit balls and practice putting if we carried our radios .

It was at this time that I met Lori ...we met on the Internet , in a Christian Chat Room on AOL . In a short time I had found that special someone ...Lori and I were married in 1996 , by then I had once again put away the clubs ...I had actually sold my Ben Hogan Irons. left most of the rest at the fire department. Lori and I moved away from Oregon in 1999...we moved to Tennessee and I started working at the Opryland Hotel ...while in Nashville I tried to pick up Golf again , but I was surprised by how expensive it had gotten , and how humid it was in Tennessee..I couldn't understand why everyone used golf carts , that is until I tried to walk 18 holes on a pleasant July day . My golfing outings were few and far between. I found a public course that had a practice area which I could hit some and shag them , and as I moved up the ladder at the Hotel I started to play more often and thought about getting into some amateur tournaments ...And then came 9/11 .

After the attack I made a decision to move back to the Northwest ...In March of 2002 I drove to the Northwest with out a Job prospect but fully trusting in Gods Providence ..on the way I had a book on tape by M Scott Peck called Golf in the Spirit ...and it kept me company from Nashville to North Bonniville Washington . There my first stop was a Hotel Property called Dolce Skamania Lodge was a great wooden building sitting above the Columbia River . the property had beautiful Golf Course carved into the mountains . After my first interview all I could think of was this is the Job I want , there are no others ...I was asked back for a follow up interview I was surprised , overwhelmed and blessed to have been offered the position .

Skamania is about thirty miles from Portland in the Columbia river gorge is one of the most beautiful places in the world ... Housing would be a problem , or not , in a matter of hours I had located a nice apartment in a wooded area just a few miles from the Hotel . Lori was in Nashville but it would be joining me in a few weeks ..the job at the hotel was a dream job , I was the front office manager and the weekend MOD at night , part of the Job included dining at the restaurant with my wife and critiquing the food and service , not to mention unlimited free golf.

Lori and I were close to friends and close to my daughter , we could drive to the ocean in a few hours or explore the Columbia River Gorge and its vast number of waterfalls and trails. My Golf game improved dramatically and it was certain I was going to do very well in the Senior golf tournaments in the area. I made it a point to visit some of the courses I had grown up on in the Portland area and set personal bests on most of them ...even though my game in many ways had suffered from the years , my attitude and enjoyment of the game was so positive and encouraging ...And then it all came to an end ...Just before Thanksgiving of 2002 I was downsized position at the Hotel had been eliminated , low occupancy in part to 9/11 , forced management to eliminate some management changes and I was low man on the totem pole ...

This remote beautiful area I worked in which was at one time such a friend , became a liability ..and soon it became apparent that Lori and I would have to return to Tennessee where Lori's parents had suggested we could share their home with us ...We returned in June of 2003 and I went to work again at the Opryland Hotel ..assuming that with my experience I could easily work as a front desk manger ..I was humbled by a job offer for a front desk agent ...We needed the income and I accepted ..It was at this time that I received a small inheritance and we used the money to purchase a High end Digital SLR and I started reestablishing a relationship with photography ...soon I was passionately addicted and found myself also working for the hotel as what can be best described as an on site photographer. In time I was promoted several times. I was watching our income and found that I could either take photos or golf in my spare time . Golf was about $30.00 a game and photos were for all practical purposes free .. I choose photography. I played in two church tournaments. and twice in the Opryland employee tournament. These four tournaments were all a four man best ball format and in all of them our team did very well . The highlight round was at a local Lebanon Golf Course where my church team had three straight eagles ....and ended up scoring 59

I left Opryland February of 2006 ...and decided to reinvent myself as a Commercial/portrait Photographer ...I picked up a few weddings , some portrait work and some commercial work... but income was very scarce at one point to make ends meet I tried to sell my clubs ..but at the last minute held onto them .

One night as I was coming to the inescapable conclusion that I was going to have to give up my current " dream " job ..I was speaking to a friend of my wife , she was talking about her daughter's volleyball team and how disappointed she was with the quality of the photos she had of her daughter playing Volleyball , ..I offered to go to a game and take some photos, at the same time she told me of a company in Smyrna that had been taking the photos I also decided to contacted them to see if they needed any Photographers.

I dropped off a resume at Micheal's Photography and a few days later I was contacted by a Dave Warren he asked me to come in for an interview ...Dave hired me and for a year and a half I worked for Micheal's as a free lance photographer ...I loved this job and it also became the glue that held our developing photography business together ...David and I developed a friendship based on our Christian faith , Photography and an Interest in Theater ...David even extended to Lori and I an invitation to come and see a production of Guys and Dolls at some place called Lamplighters theater ...Lori and I love theater , and we were involved with a theater company in Mt Juliet ...we loved the production and were really excited to find out that the Theater Company called Lamplighters was sponsored by a Church ...Lori and I had always wanted to start a Church based theater company . we had wanted to reclaim the arts for the Glory of God ..and here was a church doing it ! Only problem was we where very happy in our church home and we lived about 25 miles away from the Smyrna Church.

Lori and I went about our business we directed a play for the Mount Juliet Theater group and had great reviews fact we shared some review space with a local blogger with another show at Lamplighters .."Much ado about nothing " .

That spring ( 2008 ) was interesting . I was on the board for the Local Community Theater , and was involved deeply in our local church ..Leaving Opryland had been very good for my Church life , Sundays could be spent at church regularly..we even had the opportunity to belong to a Sunday school class...with a modest but steady income from the Photography business , the ability to return to doing some theater and a developing church family ...everything seemed in perfect harmony ...

Then ...I started losing confidence in the Theater Company , who was in my opinion starting to experiment with titillating theater in order to build an audience board member in particular was very uncomfortable to work with ...I choose to leave my board position , then I ran into some problems at the church I was going to and was asked to leave over theological differences ...

Lori and I decided to do some Church shopping and while preparing our list we accepted another invitation from my friend Dave warren and his wife to visit Smyrna Assembly ...the Church that sponsored Lamplighters .

We were simply overwhelmed by the Church service ...while we lived in Oregon we had gone to an Assembly of God and loved it , and we felt right at home ...Lori actually had tears in her eyes after the first service ...that was the first week of June ...and soon there was no doubt in my mind that this was the Church for us ... The worship filled such a void in my life , a void that I had tried to fill up with academic study in theology I seemed much more at peace with myself and my relationship with God ...A few weeks ago Michael's Photography went through a " change " , I no longer have that account , but that has afforded me some " spare " time . I am in a play ( 12 Angry Men ) at Lamplighters. Ironically for the first time in years I am not angry ..I am feeling strangely blessed ..I look back down a series of fairways , of challenges , friends and opportunities all bringing me, a child of God born in Denver Colorado , with a wonderful woman , born in Pennsalvania to a town named Smyrna , with a set of golf clubs I should have sold several years ago.

Yesterday the day I started talking about I went golfing with my Pastor and two Church Members , I played horribly and left physically tired and drained , but it was without a doubt the best golf experience I can remember ...for me it was more than a game , it was an affirmation of Gods steady and mighty hand on my life ...A God who knows when to prune and when to graft , a God who knows how to knit and weave , and bring all things into harmony and unity in His time ... A God who bears us on wings of eagles and can even remind us in a great and ancient game of His grace and love ...

Looking back there has been no random actions ...all is part of a plan still playing out ...and I feel so blessed and so humbled to have been invited to the game .

It was a pleasant spring day , one day in a stretch of days that trail back to the foundation of time , a day purposefully and deliberately planned ...and I was so thankful to participate in it ...

What does Grace look like

Conservative late night talk shows are enjoying a considerable amount of attention because there is a possibility that some of the 270 detainees in Gitmo may be released to live in America. If you believe the late night pundits you might think that all 270 are scheduled to move to someplace like Palm Springs or The Hampton's and live in Luxury condos at taxpayer expense. All this hub bub from a comment made by Eric Holder that some may be allowed to live in the USA many ..unknown , where , unknown , details unknown ...that it may be a possibility ..known.

I have been thinking about this for sometime today ...on several different levels. The first is the most obvious why get upset with this news when so little is known ? Lets get the facts before we drag out the rope , tar and feathers and other playthings of the overly excitable. I had planned to write both a Secular response and a Christian response to this discussion , but I think only one is needed and that is the Christian Response:

Matthew 21 : 22-35

Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go."But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
for some a non sequitur alarm must be going off , but wait !!! Think of it this way ...aren't all of us at war with God ? What do we deserve from God ? Do we deserve the basics of life ? Is God required to sustain us ? to provide for our food and our shelter ...we turned away from God ...the wages of sin is death . We have no rights as far as God is concerned , even the foundations of Human Existence were because of HIS good will and pleasure ..and it gets much better than that ...even while we were enemies of God He choose to save us ...not because of what we have done , but because of what He has done ...we call this Grace ...Unmerited favor ...we will live with Him in his home for eternity , all of us who were once at war with Him and those of us myself included who despite His grace still sin.

We are called to be Living Epistles , what does that mean ..that we turn our backs on God when the Crow calls out , when its inconvenient , or unpopular ?

Before its said and it will be said would take a great deal of courage to offer to have one of the Gitmo detainees live in your home , in your neighborhood ...I am not sure I would have that much courage ...but I hope that I would be encouraged by others in the faith to at least be forgiving , to love mine enemies as God has loved me ...

And of course this is an extreme situation ...its like another parable I heard in a sermon once was about a man who arrived home to find his family horribly murdered ...the man had a choice to find the killer and kill him in return , that would be revenge ...Or he could trust in the authorities to find the man , prosecute him and execute or incarcerate him , that would be Justice ...Or he could find the man and offer to let the man live with him in the house the Murderer defiled ...that would be Grace ...

While simply stated this is a story that has a much deeper meaning ....God actually does that for us ..who by our Sin , was the cause of the Death of His Son , and God in spite of that Sacrifice of His precious son ...has prepared a place for us in His Kingdom ...

I do not believe that I would ever have enough courage to take a murderer into the home I share with my In Laws ...but I do pray I would have courage to stand up for one who would ...I would also pray that each of us encourage one another to have such courage show the world what Gods Grace looks like on Earth. It may not be popular , you may not be invited to alot of bunko parties and Superbowl games might even get a Canadian Application for Citizenship emailed to you ...but God never said it would be easy .

In the past few months I have realized that I need to surround myself with such encouragers ...people who are unafraid of the consequences of preaching the Gospel of Forgiveness and reconciliation ... I have made that my prayer and I am so blessed to be meeting such people ..If we can't bring ourselves to engage a terrorist perhaps we can engage a homeless man , or a cranky neighbor , hire a paroled felon , or worse yet a Liberal .

For copies of the Secular response you can send a check or money order to ....( name and address withheld out of fear ) it will come in a plain brown envelope with Prominient American Flag adorned stamps :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Firm Foundation

Imagine you are in charge of building a magnificent building , the plans have been reviewed , the Architect has completed the most fantastic and enourmous creations ever seen ... you have the plans in your hand ...but after scanning them briefly you from memory , or worse from hunch or your you think there might be a possibility that something might go wrong?

Usually soonner than later , then instead of reviewing the plans you should have looked at and followed dillagently in the first place , you try to improvise on your own understanding ?

Im sure you see where I am going with this ...

Seems painfully obvious that the Bible provides anyone with a great blueprint for a abundant and peaceful life ...and yet

even worse what if someone maintains that the Bible is the foundation of the building ...and we simply accept that statement with out discerment ?

Thats how I feel when I hear that this Country was founded on Biblical Principals .
It wasn't . It may have been founded by Christians but it our nations foundations are not biblical.

Before someone sends me ( another ) application for Canadian Citizenship , let me simply ask ...

what Christian Principals are we talking about ?

Here I believe is the Foundation of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Document seems to be saying that ALL men are created equal ...the Bible doesn't make that claim in fact Biblicaly its fair to assert that God favors some more than others ...not to mention the obvious hypocrasy that several of the founding fathers had slaves, and women were generally considered second tiered citizens.
The Document then goes on to say that as human being we have these rights given to us by God ...Life , Liberty , and the pursuit of Happyness ...I really don't see those Rights as God given, God does say that through Jesus Christ we will have life but the Bible insists that to have life you have to die to self , that our life with Christ is an eternal one. Liberty a God given right ? Liberty is a great blessing from God but Liberty from what ?
Then there is pursuit of happyness clause ... is that a Christian value , are we confusing joy with being happy ?
Does the Bible give people the right to even change their Government ? Did the founding fathers overlook the words of Paul ?

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

There is no doubt that Americas Founding Fathers crafted a remarkable Government , currently despite our struggles we are the envy of the " civilized " world , and certianly the Big dog on the block ...I do not know if we will beat the record set by the Roman Empire or even the History of Egypt ...but we have been remarkable and have been well rewarded for our industry and organization.
But is this Country built on a Foundation of Godly principals ?

Psalm 127
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

At first blush it would seem that a Nation that practiced Forgivness , instread of revenge , that prayed for its Enemies instead of bombed them , that treated the foriegner the same as a citizen , a nation that left vengence to the Lord , and that openly loved one another , and forgave its debtors ...well it would seem that such a nation would quickly perish ...a door mat for the non Christian Nations it seems it has been institutionalized that in order to protect the rights of its Christian Citizens ...we accept the ways of our non Christian Enemies .

At least that is my take on it ...