THE TWO PATHS: (The King of Pop)

THE TWO PATHS
Proverbs 4:18-19                                                                         SAL-96

Introduction

Two first-year deer hunters were high in the mountains in the State of New York.,  To their amazement, they had shot their first deer. He was a prize: an enormous,  buck with a majestic spread of antlers.,  They began dragging the huge animal out of the woods.,  They stopped to catch their breath again and again.

A veteran hunter not far away had heard the report of their weapons as,  they had blazed away over,  and over.,  He instinctively made his way toward them.,  Not long after, he saw them toiling along the trail out of the woods.,  They looked desperately tired.,  He offered them some advice. [Read more…]

The Regime Change in Iraq

The Regime Change in Iraq

Four years ago today Mr. George Bush, the president, started the war with Iraq. He had been saying he was going to do so for several previous months. One of the phrases he used to promise coming war was: “It’s time for a regime change in Iraq.”

As we start the fifth year in this war tomorrow, I feel compelled to ask the question, “Has it been worth it to change regimes in Iraq?” This morning on the nationwide television, Ms. Rice, Bush’s Secretary of State was asked this very question. After polite comments of sympathy to families who have lost their sons and daughters to regime change, she answered, “Yes, it was worth it.”

I write tonight with a single motive, to save my grandchildren from the clutches of Bush’s “regime change.” You see, we are no closer this minute to regime change than were we four years ago. If it be argued that “We are keeping the enemy from coming to the shores of America with his mass suicide and car bombings by having our youth die in Iraq,” I remind those who confuse the issue thusly, that those things had already happened here before we went into Iraq.

The reason for going to war was this regime change to “get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.” As Mr. Bush said in his speech at the time, it was to bring “freedom” to the people of Iraq.

Well, where are we four years later? I will summarize:

1) A bad dictator is gone and now we have a government which exists only within the confines of a “Green Zone” of the heaviest of military protection the U.S. can offer. Open this fortress and the government wouldn’t last an hour!

2) “Freedom” has come and now it is so dangerous that most of the cultured and educated key people in Iraq have fled elsewhere or are trying desperately to do so. Almost two million have left the country as I write

3) Our American boys, and some brave women, are still in Iraq in numbers so great that our American military is now accepting convicted felons in a desperate attempt to fill its dwindling ranks. Rather than being “greeted as liberators,” as our irresponsible vice president put it four years ago, the vast majority of those “we liberated” want us to go home!

4) Now that “major combat operations have ended,” as President Bush put it, standing under a sign reading “Mission Accomplished” a few weeks into the war, we are losing an average of three soldiers or marines a day–still!

5) The oil that Iraq possesses, which was to be tapped into to “pay for the war” is in such short production that it is still below pre-war levels. “Who is paying for the war,” you ask. The answer is “No one!” That is, no one is paying yet. You see, the 437 billion dollars it has cost so far is borrowed money. My children’s children, and yours, will still be paying for it in the years that lie ahead since the war is being financed on credit. Mr. Bush has never made the war a part of his regular budget proposals!
6) Going into Afghanistan after the “9/11” attacks was justified. We had the moral and ethical high ground. We had been attacked and devastated. Going into Iraq was the opposite. We did, with our unprovoked attack upon Iraq, what Hussein had done in Kuwait. We made up a cock and bull story and came rumbling in with our tanks. At that moment we gave up not only the moral high ground, we gave up the divine right to wage rightful war. God has not, cannot and will not bless such trickery! This has been made all the more culpable by our president and his administration because Mr. Bush professes Christ as his personal Savior.

7) Finally, though there is much more that could be pointed out, the greatest cost is that to the poorer people of our country, for the most part, whose sons and daughters have borne the awful cost of this war in lives lost and tragically changed forever. As of today 3,218 coffins filled with their remains have made their way back home, where is it now illegal to film their arrival. More than 24,000 have been wounded. Thousands of these have lost limbs are burn victims, brain-injured, paralyzed, and on it goes. Thousands of others have an injury no one can see. It is called “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Four years ago I stated, at the beginning of Bush’s shameful war, that “Saddam Hussein is not worth Jeremiah’s life.” Jeremiah is my brave grandson who fought from a tank in Baghdad in the assault Bush ordered him and thousands of others to make on April 19, 2003. Jeremiah has relived, apparently many times, his ordeal of killing young Iraqis under this president’s orders. Now he is suffering from PTSD. He has been granted at least partial disability benefits. He has been told this may change upward. Nope, I stick by what I said four years ago: “Hussein is not worth Jeremiah’s life.

I would like for someone, after carefully considering what I have said, to write and tell me one good permanent change that has taken place as a result of this war. You see, when we entered an immoral war, with made up excuses by which to convince the populace that it was okay, we took our country away from the blessing of God. We have paid heavily and we always will until the day we go back to the place we abandoned God’s blessing, repent, and try to do right. The regime of misery and woe in Iraq is still with us—four years later! God have mercy on us!

A Moral Mandate

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

A Moral Mandate

Today, March 13th, Marine General, Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff found himself in a very difficult spot. He was responding to an inquiry about how the military’s policy of “Don’t ask don’t tell” regarding homosexual persons in the military was working.

In the course of his comments he gave a very clear presentation stating that military persons “who sleep with the spouses of other military persons” are immoral and implied that this worked to the determent of the military.

Following the same logic, he compared similar behavior between homosexual military persons and made clear the immorality of it.

Very soon a storm of protest began to arise. One spokesperson for the media I heard stated that General Pace had been called in by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, his boss, to explain. Apparently under fire, the general then declared these beliefs to be his own in order to appease those who “were offended.”

I bring this to my readers’ attention at this point because President George Bush was elected and reelected on a platform of personal declaration that he is “an evangelical Christian.” I invite each Christian reading this to keep his and her ear to the ground to see if Mr. Bush, as an evangelical Christian comes to the defense of his beleaguered and courageous general. I certainly pray that he does. What a perfect opportunity to let his Christian testimony shine.

One thing is absolutely clear, no evangelical believer who knows his Bible either would or could defend homosexual practice. That puts every Christian on the good general’s side. More power to him.

Why is This Happening?

The president of a nation, an ally of the United States, is under terrible accusation of sexual impropriety with numerous women.

The mayor of an influential American city is seen many times in the company of women, none his wife. It is noted that often in public he is “tipsy.”

The president of a large American evangelical church organization is caught in a homosexual relationship with a male prostitute.

Now, most recently, an American astronaut is placed under indictment for attempted murder as part of a “love triangle.”

Yesterday, a news media report contained the comment regarding the last of the above-mentioned incidents. The woman commenting said, “It’s too bad this had to happen to someone of her stature.” This gave me pause to spend some time thinking about this whole situation.

The Bible writer, Peter, quoting from the Old Testament, gives a pungent and appropriate poetic expression that bears upon our subject:

Humans wither like grass,
and their glory fades
like the wild flowers.
Grass dries up,
and flowers fall
to the ground.
But what the Lord has said
will stand forever” ( I Peter 1:24-25,CEV).

That no one is immune to the ravages of uncontrollable sin in the human heart is clear from the following quotation from the writer James: “Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead” (James 1:15,CEV).

The problem in our modern world of sophistication is that, for the most part, we have rejected all the above that God’s Word, the Bible has conveyed to us. When we wake up and renew our acceptance of His Word we will know why all this is happening to our society and what we can do about it.

As for my two quotations, the first in Peter’s writings speaks of the process of ongoing human failure before God while the terse words of James tear away any attempt we might make to “sugar-coat” human failure.

Whether president, mayor, minister or astronaut, we are all helpless to change our sin-prone ways. Helpless, that is, except for this one provision God made for our escape from the penalty and power of sin: the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Stature? Indeed, all we of human kind stand on the same ground as regards a holy God– we are depraved, Hell-bound, lost sinners, slaves to sin.

So, the solution is simply this: yield our lives to Christ, first to take away the penalty of sin. Then, yield our lives to Christ, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute to take away the power of sin. Here then, is the result as expressed by the Apostle, Paul:

“Now you have been set free from sin, and you are God’s slaves. This will make you holy and will lead to eternal life. Sin pays off with death. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23, CEV).

It is imperative that we get down off our proud high-horse and, complete with our sin-bound hearts, flee to Christ!

WHAT IN THE WORLD “The Essential Element”

I write a little column some of you may see from time to time that I call “Car and Driver Tips.” As a believer, the area of my life in which I have found it difficult to apply what I am talking about today, is in the area of my driving.

Having been in Christian circles every week of my life for the past fifty-two years, I can say that I have seen a lot. On the one hand, I have experienced many kindnesses directed to me over the years– very many. Lots of them, I assure you, have been undeserved by me.

On the other hand, I have known too many Christians who have been on the receiving end of severe unfair play, to say the least. I mentioned driving my car. As with you, probably, I have been on the receiving end of numerous unkind actions while on the road over the years. I ask myself, “How do I respond when someone on the highway is very unkind and thoughtless to me?”

God’s Word is crystal-clear on my responsibility to those roundabout me, regardless of their actions to me. I am to love them. This is the “essential element” of the entire Christian life. Read again, the story in John chapter 13 of Christ’s lesson to His disciples at the table of the “Last Supper.” While His disciples maneuvered among themselves for the choice seats around His table, Christ left the table, took the garb of a lowly slave and with love and tenderness washed the feet of each of them.

Oh, if the essential element of self-less love could be again restored to every Christian church in America, the world would soon see a new and dynamic church in every city and village in our great country and it would make a difference.

NO POWER

Two A.M. according to my watch, but why was the clock face dark? “Oh, Oh, no power.”

When we retired Sunday night I was afraid something like this was out in front of us. An ice storm brought a fresh challenge to our community. I stared through the blind- “Yep,” I remarked to myself. “Everything else is out too.”

Monday morning brought some serious discomfort to bathroom activity. The living room thermometer showed 57 degrees, not terrible but far from comfortable too.

The power company estimate came to me over the automated voice on their line, “Your estimate is 11:59 P. M. Tuesday.” This was Monday morning. We had taken a serious hit.

Monday evening and Jane was finishing with work. Mercifully, her office building had not lost power or heat. It was quitting time but, understandably, she wasnt relishing coming home. We ate at Wendys.

Tuesday morning brought more cold but also jogged my memory. We still had hot water as the water heater has a standing pilot light and is served by gas. It was a little odd though seeing steam rise over the hot water coming from the shower.

Tuesday evening, still dark. I called the electric company. New estimate! “Your power is scheduled to be restored by 8:00 P.M. Wednesday.” We ate at Wendys.

As a Christian, my mind went to the winter before in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The earthquake victims lost their homes in the mountains and spent the whole winter in the cold– very cold. My problems, I decided were nothing.

Wednesday in the forenoon the power actually came on. The Lord had taught me a lesson on how soft I was, how prone I was to demand the creature comforts. I couldn’t say I was glad the power went off but I was glad the Lord used it in my life. Then there is appreciation. In 51 years of marriage this three days was the worst such difficulty we had experienced. The Lord has been very good to us.

A Little Cardboard Suitcase

WHAT IN THE WORLD

I sat in the large chapel yesterday. It was crowded beyond capacity. This was the chapel building on the campus of Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan.

Last Lord’s day, in the early hours, Dr. Tom Malone, Sr. slipped away from his sickroom into the presence of Christ. Now, today, January 10th, I sat with hundreds of other preachers and their spouses. It was Dr. Malone’s funeral. As I looked around I was conscious that not only were there many older preachers there, but there was a wonderful and godly-looking cadre of younger preachers as well. I thought to myself, “Dr. Malone would love this,” young preacher boys and those a little older, with their wives, looking for one or two of the scarce empty seats left in this auditorium. Dr. Malone dedicated his life to enlisting people, young and old, in the army of the Lord. He would take great satisfaction in knowing that, though he was gone, there were many fine young people ready to go to work for Christ and to win sinners out of this wicked world.

Tom Malone was born in 1915. He grew up in very humble surroundings. Shortly after he was saved, he knew he had to answer God’s call to preach. There was a small school for preacher boys in Cleveland, Tennessee, called “Bob Jones College.” He determined he would go there. This backward, uncultured boy packed what few belongings he had in a little cardboard suitcase and set off for Tennessee. He prayed it wouldn’t rain on him as a considerable part of the trip would be on foot.

Dr. Malone said, “When I got to college, they put a tie on me for the first time in my life. When they did, I thought I was tied so I never moved.” This humble young man was to be used mightily of God to raise up an army of preachers and missionaries and their wives who now circle the earth. Theirs is Tom Malone’s message: “Get saved and let Christ change your life.”

Eventually, that “uncultured” preacher boy would also become a number of things I’m sure he never dreamed he would that day they “tied” him. Tom Malone learned to fly airplanes. He eventually earned an instructor’s rating on multi-engine aircraft.

Among the numerous academic degrees he received was his bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones College. Later, when I knew him, he was working on a Ph.D. at Wayne State University. One room in the chapel building, where he had a study office, was completely devoted to hundreds of volumes all on the same subject. He was a serious student of Shakespearean literature. His doctorate was awarded to him after studying, directing and performing in numerous Shakespearean plays.

After fifty years as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Pontiac, Dr. Malone could also look back on the success of Midwestern Baptist College which he founded in 1953. The college rose from a farm field given him to invest for the Lord. Emmanuel Church had been a dance hall before the Malones came to Pontiac.

God allowed many difficulties to come into Dr. Malone’s life, but he rose above them all to yield his life to Christ from that day he left home with the little cardboard suitcase till the day he entered Heaven last Sunday, January 7, 2007.

Two Presidents Die

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

Separated by only a few days in those that closed 2006, the deaths of two former presidents, whose passing has been firmly documented on worldwide television, have spoken eloquent volumes about the nature of two world religions.

The former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was the first to be buried. A lone pick-up truck carted his coffin in silence to the simplest of graves near his hometown in that war-ravaged land he once ruled with an iron fist. A freshly-turned pile of dirt is his memorial.

The former president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford was taken to his final resting place in his hometown too: Grand Rapids, Michigan. A grateful nation set aside the busy routine of life to follow the progress of those farewells which began shortly after his death in California and which proceeded on to Washington, D.C. All this respect and dignity was shown in behalf of a president who led the nation only briefly but that with kindness and compassion.

The National Cathedral, the site of President Ford’s funeral in Washington, rang with Christian hymns delivered by bands, soloists and the public. God’s Word was featured reminding all of President Ford’s trust in Christ.
The atmosphere of cherished civility and faith in the Lord, crowned with the peace of God upon many faces could not have been missed.

The ghastly scene featured Saddam Hussein standing upon a crude platform of ugly gallows. His defiant but whitened face curled as he hurled back the taunts his tormentors shouted at him: “Go to Hell,” they screamed at each other. The hangman’s noose was affixed to his bound body. Just as the platform dropped away carrying him to his death he could be heard to shout: “I do affirm that there is no God but God [Allah] and Mohammed is his messenger!”

The hatred of these “good Muslims” of this “great religion of peace” gave the lie to all for which this and all of paganism stands. It does not represent truth and it does not find God. Ironic though it is, the final half of the verse John 14:6, obviously intentionally omitted from the Episcopal priest’s Scripture reading at President Ford’s funeral, gives the death knell to godless Islam: “… no man cometh to the Father but by me [Christ.]”

“New Strategy”

WHAT IN THE WORLD

Following the report of the “Iraq Study Group” headed by prominent former administrative and legislative figures, news began to “leak” out that President Bush was going to change strategies in Iraq. No one doubts that the disastrous losses of the President’s party at the polls in November led directly to these proposed changes.

Now news reports flood the airwaves: “Bush will increase troop levels temporarily.” Others speculate that he will announce modest troop reductions. A virtual parade of field and general grade officers, mostly retired, is being quizzed by the various media about the advisability of what is guessed to be Bush’s new “strategy.” No one knows. Everyone awaits the President’s announcement.

Meanwhile, every day our brave soldiers and marines are ordered out to the streets in Iraq’s cities. Three to four per day, on average, are blown to bits and are shipped home in body bags in coffins. Dozens of others are severely wounded by snipers’ bullets, burns from roadside explosives, have severed limbs, and on and on it goes. To what purpose?

That we can never win this conflict militarily, everyone agrees. So why do we stay? “To make America safe,” in the standard answer. This is exactly the answer our government gave throughout the Vietnam War. That is, until it was realized we couldn’t win militarily. Then what did we do? We left! And what happened? We established standard trading policies with the “new” Vietnam.

Our most precious national commodity, our dear young people, is being squandered, every day in this war that is destined to go down in history as the gravest mistake any American president ever made. Let’s do what we did in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia: leave! National pride! Is it worth one more gallant soldier or marine?

The Climbers

For the past two weeks it dominated every news report. At first, I assumed the three missing climbers, trapped on Mt. Hood, had been conducting research, taking test samples or performing some other scientific exercise. No, I found, Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke, were “recreational climbers.” They were, as a family spokesperson later related, “pursuing their passion.”

Sunday, December 10th brought a frightening cell phone call from James. For some reason he was hunkered in a snow cave and the others had “gone for help.” His call sent a small army of searchers into action.

Over the next ten days with law-enforcement people in charge, volunteer climbing experts with skis and snowshoes put their lives on the line to scour the mountain.. C-130 aircraft conducted flights around the clock with sensing devices. Helicopters large and small flew in to search. The U.S. Army sent a cadre of climbers. Worsening weather conditions hampered their efforts. The anxious families, professing Christian faith, prayed for their beloved men. A watching world tuned in to hourly news reports.

Sadly, rescue was not to be. The body of Kelly James, frozen to death, cell phone on and drained of power, still at his side, was found in a makeshift snow cave. The others, thought to have fallen to their death, may never be found. Photos, in a camera on James revealed that the men had gambled with the elements and were “traveling light” for a “quick trip” to the top.

The Bible calls the insignificant achievements of this world a “corruptible crown.” Heartbreaking though it is, the best that can be said of these dear men is that “they died doing what they loved to do. To compound it all, taxpayers of the State of Oregon get the bill for the ill-fated rescue, at least $100,000! “Oh mighty Christ,” my heart cries, “I want to live and die for more than fun.” Don’t you?