Facts Are Stubborn Things: Part II

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams, December 1770

While having coffee downtown recently, a song from the 60’s gently passed through the coffee house speakers. It was Pete Seeger’s ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone’ sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. As I listened, I found myself back 40 years ago when I was returning from Vietnam. It was March 1970 and I was at San Francisco International waiting for my flight to home to NYC. As I thought more about that “homecoming,” I recalled a young lady at SFO, strumming her guitar and singing near a snack bar where I was eating my first glazed donut in over a year. The lyrics were as clear today as they were that day:

“Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards every one

When will they ever learn?”

(Where have all the Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger)

As the years have gone by, other veterans of this “conflict” that I have met seldom share combat related stories. “What year were you there?” and “what unit” is usually the extent of conversation.  I have met people who did everything to avoid military induction during that time. I never had any animosity against them; especially now after reading Robert McNamara’s memoirs about the Vietnam War.

Robert S. McNamara former secretary of defense for two presidents acknowledged in his  memoir of the war, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, that he and his colleagues were “wrong, terribly wrong” to pursue the war as they did. He acknowledged that he failed to force the military to justify its strategy and tactics, had misunderstood Asia in general and Vietnam in particular, and perpetuated the war long after he realized it was futile. He concluded that “the achievement of a military victory by U.S. forces in Vietnam was indeed a dangerous illusion.”

Thanks Bob!

Should his statement(s) be considered a ‘fact’ the United States was defeated or a bridge to closure that some desire? If so, what does one do with his “fact?” Recently, a military historian friend of mine reminded me that the United States did not lose one battle during the Vietnam War, not one. But, what of the loss of life?  Here are some ‘facts:’ The human cost in terms of fatalities was huge; 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotian and Cambodians. 58,159 U.S. soldiers killed along with 153,452 injured and 1,740 missing.

As we enter year whatever in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can only hope that some past, current or future government leader of the United States will not write in their book about these wars and come to the same conclusion that McNamara did. My son, who is currently serving in Afghanistan, would probably feel the same I do today.  “When will they ever learn”?


“But, I Filled Out A Card When I Was Five!”

I have met over the years people who have doubted their salvation. My only resource is God’s word when I guide them to where they are today. It really comes down to their life long commitment to Christ, doesn’t it?  Then I meet people who filled out a card when they were very young. What commitment does one have when they are 5 years old and they fill out a card that “surrenders” their life to Christ?

I really believe that practice should be stopped. I do not believe pastors understand some of the complications that can come along with that immature “commitment.” Faith is not only a declaration of dependence, it is also a vow of allegiance. What 5 year old can do that? A few, chosen by God, yes; but all 5 year old? I think not. Where the element of surrender is emphasized and the element of reception is not understood, the result is a legalistic experience, with little hope or joy.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me and the one who comes to Me I will by no means (certainly not) cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40

Now If A Salvation Law Can Be Passed: Part 2

“Paul, an apostle (not from man nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),” Gal 1:1

I wrote previously  (3/23/10) on how some churches have developed a lecture series in order to be saved, so much so it defies common Biblical sense. Richard Hooker’s conception of Law has an interesting thought: “..when walking on slippery pavement and you neglect the law of Prudence, you suddenly find yourself obeying the law of gravitation.” (Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie, 1594)

When I live my life in Christ, but seek the confirmation of man in everything I do, I am walking on slippery pavement. If I am not careful, I will fall.

For many years the Lord was speaking to me so that He would speak through me to another person. I used to be so unsure of myself that I would not claim Christ was speaking through me, but Charles Stanley, my Pastor, or someone with “worldly” recognition was the subject of my speech. It was ‘drilled’ in me that I had to have schooling, degree’s, ordination to have the Lord speak through me.

Now I understand that I “am no longer under a schoolmaster”, the Holy Spirit speaks through me every day and I have never been so happy in my life. This absolute freedom could never and will never come from man. Paul’s declaration in Galatians 1:1 was bold in its time and is today as well.

I cannot imagine going through this life in Christ without having the Holy Spirit  speak through me. ”The intimacy between God and even the meanest creature is closer than any that people can attain with one another.” CS Lewis (The Problem with Pain) Don’t miss a minute of this intimacy. Imagine spending just 25% of your time with God than the time you spend with man!

Does Revelation Exist in Our Neighborhood Church?

“Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of revelation that I went up; I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles….”

Gal 2:1-2

I have had the opportunity to visit many churches over the years, read many monthly church periodicals, listen to tons of speakers, and I can not recall anyone say (or in print) what God has revealed to him or her. It could be of course that I was not there when it did happen. Nevertheless, if you live or work in a church environment, or most of your friends are believers of our Lord Jesus, and many years have gone by, wouldn’t you think that someone along the way would share a revelation from God?

Along the course of a day, month or year, we do get an “urge” to do something that at first does not make any sense; but when we do it, and it is working out beyond expectations, we wonder why we second guessed it in the first place. For those in the faith of our Lord Jesus, can that be classified as revelation? I believe it can be classified as such. Otherwise, “happenstance” is why we did what we did.

I do not believe Paul was bored or desired a change of venue. God obviously saw it as a good time to get His people to talk to His other people. I often wonder what Titus and Barnabas thought about such a journey. Were they excited, skeptical or simply curious to learn more of what they found themselves now involved in?

If you pastor today said that he received a revelation from God concerning the church you are attending, what would be your reaction? If you (and others in the church) are skeptical, is it time to find another church? If others are following and you don’t, what is the course of action?

Paul, as did Titus and Barnabas, trusted God and each other. There is your perfect congregation. Titus and Barnabas followed Paul and the outcome of the Council at Jerusalem was incredible. Paul’s gospel was accepted by James, Paul and John (Gal 2:9).

I believe God’s revelation to man is alive and well today; only to those who believe it is alive and well.

Part 5 My Alcoholic Christian Friend: Not a Program, But God

“Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”  Matt 9:29

My friend has not had a drink for 8 days. I hate these countdowns, but for whatever reason, alcoholics use these type of markers along this path to recovery. We had coffee yesterday morning and he shared with me that for the first time, “I hate alcohol..I really hate it.”

He told me that after his last sip of beer, he gave everything to God.  For 72 hours, he had chills, shakes, vomiting, diarrhea and all the physiological effects of “detox.” He further shared that this “detox” was different. No medication to “assist” him through this. No 12 step readings. No counselor telling him things he alrready knew. Most importantly was that the incredible state of loneliness he experienced over the years (which he believed made him consume alcohol) had dissipated. Now, this moment, he really felt “cleansed.”

Thank you Lord! I can’t imagine him going through these trials and tribulations again.

Homeless Children: America’s Contribution to the Orphan Crisis Part 2

In my home town, it was discovered that there were at least 1,500 high school students who were homeless. In a town of 200,000 plus, I would think that to be a significant number. Tracking the reasons why this has happened is still in the works; but the use of the “O”  (orphan) word seems not to be popular in these parts. Abandoned, is not used. Homeless is the “in” word. More drama? I don’t know. Whatever you want to call it, it is pathetic. They sleep where they can; usually friends house or the garage of a friend. Rescue shelters do not take in children under the age of 18. (Unless they are female and accompanied by their mother). There are few if any shelters who take in single fathers and their sons who are under 18.

In the United States, married adults now divorce two-and-a-half times as often as adults did 20 years ago and four times as often as they did 50 years ago… between 40% and 60% of new marriages will eventually end in divorce. The probability within… the first five years is 20%, and the probability of its ending within the first 10 years is 33%… Perhaps 25% of children ages 16 and under live with a stepparent. (Wikipedia 5/2009)

Prior to the 1970s, divorcing spouses had to allege that the other spouse was guilty of a crime or sin like abandonment or adultery; when spouses simply could not get along, lawyers were forced to manufacture “uncontested” divorces. The no-fault divorce revolution began in 1969 in California; South Dakota was the last state to include no-fault divorce, in 1985. State law provides for child support where children are involved, and sometimes for. The median length for a marriage in the US today is 11 years with 90% of all divorces being settled out of court. (Wikipedia 2/2010)

School teachers many times are not aware of a child homelessness immediately. As this homelessness situation continues, certain tell-tale traits appear. Extreme drowsiness, inattentiveness, dirty clothing and absent quality hygienic practices. As far as I have read into this subject, our society has not come close to addressing this problem with any vigor.

My Alcoholic Christian Friend Part 4: Go to Meeting and Text Me in the A.M.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our (your) faith” 1 John 5:4

My friend has stopped drinking now for 24 hours with the assistance of another friend. Friend #2 has become a “payee” for him; food, utilities will be all the money he gets.

Throughout all of this,I’ve come to witness once again that those who help others need to be “obedient by faith” and not hand out advice. My faith is one of relationship. Relationship with God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1John5:5   I am wondering if his church ‘thinks’ the same way about relationships. My friend needs to overcome this worldly addiction. He needs prayer!

The church he attends tells him to go to AA meetings; the Spirit of God tells me to “communicate with him”. I see the church’s point; get out of the house where the temptation is not that strong and ‘hang’ with those who are have either beat this demon or are in the same position as he is. But to date all his church (which is 2 miles away) has done is send text messages to him. “Go to mtng and let me know how it went” I suppose that is better than nothing. Yet, the question may be posed, “Is that the best that church can do?”

If I’m hurting (pick a subject) what will I desire more from my pastor and church; a personal visit/phone call or a e-mail/ text? What do you think?

Waiting On the Lord: Part 1

“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart. And watch watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected” Habakkuk 2:1

Am I wrong to believe that every day is a miracle? I do not force myself to believe that way; it has been a part of me for a long time. Everyday, I am thankful for His blessings. I tell people it is much easier to “wait on Him” when you are already with Him. I believe that you know you are with Him is when the thought of sin enters or you know the peace of  His presence and that “fiery trial” hits you by surprise.

Looking at that verse from Habakkuk, I can see a daily life of “waiting on Him” in everything I do and say. Since I have not seen this day as He has, it makes sense to follow His presence.

Today, as always, I will wait on Him.