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Friday, August 30, 2013

Church of the Eighty Foot Parking Lot

           Church of the Eighty Foot Parking Lot

       Many people have different criteria for a church.  I drove a truck over the road for almost twenty years and had a pretty simple set of standards for a church.  It had to have a parking lot nearby that I could park an eighty foot long truck in.  This often did not allow the luxury of choosing a denomination.  If all Christians are seeking to follow Jesus Christ example in their lives then I should find Christ in any church professing to believe in Him and His Word.  I discovered in the course of my life that is not as easy as it sounds.

       It started for me when I was kid and my Mom took me to church.  She would have been ninety today.  She was a perfect example of a Christian, at least as close as I have seen in my travels around this world.  Not just because she was my Mom but, because she lived it.  She was always looking for the perfect church.  I have attended almost every denomination I know of.  That includes Christian Scientist, Pentecostal and Apostolic to name a few.  Almost every church had at least a couple people who believed and lived the Bible.  Sadly having attended hundreds and hundreds of churches I have only been in a few that I would call true Christian churches.

       If you go into a church you have never attended before most people will be friendly.  The first thing they want to know is what church do you normally attend.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Churches need to protect themselves from unbelievers and ones who cause dissension in churches and then move on. Often it is only so they can pigeon-hole you and put you in the appropriate box.  Many people are not comfortable with someone they can’t figure out.  They have opinions or views of most other denominations and once they can put you in a box they are comfortable.

       Many times I have been invited to an individual’s home for a meal, a shower or a place to sleep.  Only in a handful of churches in seventy years has that been the attitude of the majority of the congregation.  The more common practice is to break bread with you and share the cup of fellowship, but after leaving the building I have no use for you till next Sunday.  It is often hard to even find a person to go to a restaurant with.  It doesn’t even matter if you are buying your own meal.

         Over my years out on the road I found an exception to the above statements.
Many truck stops have an old trailer somewhere on the lot that has been converted into a chapel and usually a volunteer chaplain.  Christian truckers stuck out on the road tend to migrate to these locations in their off duty time.  It is an awesome experience to have several deeply religious people of different denominations come together to share fellowship.  It can make for some lively discussions and sometimes requires deciding what doctrines and principals are important to you.

       There are a lot more issues than most people would ever consider.  Communion is a big one for many people.  Tongues can start quite a few arguments.  Even whether a person should or should not have a beard can become a major issue to some people.  We tried to come into agreement using the Bible to establish our views.   If we could not agree on an issue, we would lay the issue aside and let Jesus Christ rule.  

       Caring for and sharing with each other is the overriding obligation as a Christian.  The example I had as a Mother gave up her home and most of what she owned to move half ways across the country and help my brother raise his daughter after his ex-wife died.  She often did without.  So they would have what they needed.  When I hear the story of the Widow’s Mites I automatically think of my Mother.  She was the most unselfish person I ever knew.  Her faith drove her life.

       Another person who made a deep impression on me was a lady named Geneva Kleinman.  She raised a ton of kids.  She ran a day care center and she took in many kids full time when their parents abandoned them or fell on hard times.  One of the churches I grew up in, which was her church, helped her with food and bills.  Many people also helped her by volunteering as they could.  She always had fifteen to twenty kids or more.  These were kids who fell through the cracks in the system back in the early sixties.  There were no programs to give her money.  She did it because she had a heart for God.  Those kids never went hungry and they never did without.  They may not have had what they wanted, but they had what they needed and they knew at least one person in the world loved them with all her heart.

       This world needs more Geneva’s.  More people like Mother Teresa.  Regardless of what one thinks of the Catholic Church she devoted her total life to caring for those with needs. The Bible says in Micah 6:8  “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?  James made it clear who Christ taught him to care for. 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, Too visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

        Faith is not about saying we believe the Bible.  It is about acting on that faith when we see a need.  It is about rising to supply that need if it is in our power.  I have seen a church in action that lived as close as any church I have ever seen.  It is in Durant, Oklahoma a town of about 15,000 people.  Victory Life had an attendance of just over a thousand.   Their food bank fed almost 8,000 people a month when I last attended there before I had to quit trucking.  They also had a free tape ministry that gave away free tapes all over the country.  I used to haul boxes of them up to New England and other places.  The labeling and boxing of the tapes was all done by volunteers in the church.  The pastor’s goal was to give away a million tapes a year.  It was a fantastic church and the few times I have asked for tapes since I quit trucking they have been there for me.  It was one of those few churches where people invited me out to dinner or offered me a place to stay.

        There are churches walking the Christian walk.  They are the exception not the rule though.  The secret is that any church can choose to be a Bible and Christ centered church.  It is not about the length of the sermons.  It is about the hearts of the people.  One church I attended had a lady who said she was going to quit when we got a new pastor because he went over on his sermons sometimes.  It messed with her preset oven program.  In almost seventy years of life I have seen many churches, split, wither and die.  We are living in a nation that is following suite because we are not living what we profess.  There is almost a hatred of the poor among many of the wealthy in America today.  Their attitude is as if the poor are parasites who might want to take some of their blessing away from them.  They are forgetting where it came from.

       One pastor I like has a habit of saying.  “If the Lord knows he can get it from you.  He will get it to you.” In other words God blesses those who share their blessings.  The attitude of the wealthy is part of what is dragging America down. They would rather take America’s jobs overseas so they can get more and let the poor whose job they took fend for themselves.

       When I was trucking I used to see people all the time sitting on their bags in a truck stop.  My habit was to invite them to eat with me and let them know up front I was paying.  At least I would be able to feel the person out and know if I needed to help them.  If they needed help I gave them more than enough to pay for the meal and told them to pay the bill and keep the change.  It was not much but it was better than nothing.  At least I knew they were not going to be hungry for a while.

     The last ten years since my heart attack I have had a wood shop in the town where I live.  I would go to a local Amish auction and buy broken or cheap furniture and fix it and sell it cheaper than they would be able to buy it most places.  It is sure to have helped some people.  Recently I sold the building though and need to find a new way to help others.  I met a pastor in New Jersey who used to fix up used cars and plate and insure them and provide them to missionaries to use while they were back home in the states for a visit.  There are many ways we can help others.  Sometimes it just takes opening our eyes and looking around us.  People can reach out to the single mother with a couple of kids.  Why not give her a break to go shopping or do something she needs to do by volunteering to help with her kids.  Little things that cost nothing but your time can help a bunch

        Sometimes just letting a person know you care and are willing to listen and not share their problems with the world allows them to vent.   That can really lift a person’s spirit.  Especially when they think there is no one who cares.  I have had people tell me they were not going to let me buy them a meal so I could feel good about myself.  That was fine and I honored their wishes, but they can’t stop me from praying that someone is able to touch their life in a good way.

       I have no delusions that I am an awesome Christian.  My wife can get rid of that thought in a couple of minutes.  She knows all my short comings.  She also knows I am trying to be a better person than I used to be.  I have made progress over the years, but it is a never ending challenge to grow and to be better.  We all can be if we just put our hearts and minds to it.

        Next Sunday take the time to get to know one of your church brothers or sisters.  In fact get to know your extended family and maybe take time to meet your neighbors.   That is an area I could use some practice in.  This sounds strange but I live on a road where seven out of twelve of us are truckers, or were.  I met most of my neighbors out on the road in another state from where we live, simply by striking up a conversation or talking on the CB radio.  Something I failed to do at home and having lived next to them for years.  So yes even I need practice at what I am preaching.  Oh yeah and a couple of my neighbors are preachers.  We have talked but I have not been invited to their churches.  Not lately anyhow.  I have attended their churches at least once to show I respect what they do.

       We may be singing out of the same hymnal, but we are not singing together and if we are going to fix America and get it back to where it used to be as a nation that has to change.  As an asocial person that puts the burden of changing on me. It is a step I am willing to try and take.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Have You Ever Made A Leap of Faith?

Have You Ever Made A Leap of Faith?

      Years ago when I was a sky diving instructor in the Army we loved new students. Many people say I would never do that.  All I can say to that is you do not know what you are missing. When a student made his first jump we would often say he was fat, dumb and happy.  He did so because he had no idea what he was getting into.  He was like a sheep going to slaughter not a clue about what was going to happen to him.  I never had a student I trained refuse to make that first jump.  If they went up they jumped.  I can honestly say I never pushed a student out of the plane.  The last thing in the world you want is a panicked student who can’t think clearly.   When it came to the second jump however, that was a whole different story.  Yes several backed out of the second jump.  Most students were hooked on a totally new way of life.  It almost becomes a religion to many, to others it becomes an obsession.

        Most people who do not want to live a Godly life are not willing to make a leap of faith.  They feel that way because they think you have to give up too much.  You can’t convince them that it is totally the opposite.  You gain so much. It takes a leap of faith to place your life in the hands of God.  The truth though is that it already is. The only thing you are really doing is acknowledging the truth of the situation.  When the spirit awakens in you it creates a thirst to know more about God and how he has revealed himself to mankind.  One who is truly searching is not closed minded but open to receiving the revelation of God in their lives.  The ones who have closed minds are usually the ones who are following the sayings and leadership of a person and not God.  Many supposedly enlightened people have an agenda.  It is usually to convert people to their own point of view. Seldom is that a truly enlightening experience.

     One of my favorite songs is by an artist named Kris Kristofferson and he has a verse in the song , “Jesus Was a Capricorn”  The verse says it all. “Most of us hate anything we do not understand” That is one of the most honest statements I have ever heard in my life. There is so much truth in it.  Even inside the Christian faith there are issues that will divide people.  The issue of speaking in tongues and the gifts of healing are just a couple.  Some groups say those two things are no longer valid.  Still others say if you do not believe in them you are not a Christian. So yes not understanding can cause problems.
       My view on the matter is pretty simple. In the Bible it says, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Well he healed in the time of the prophets like Elijah and Elisha.  He healed at the time of Christ and he is still healing.  If he isn’t why are we wasting our time praying for him to do so?  The verses that statement is taken from is 1st Corinthians 13:8-10  Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

       My view on the matter is pretty simple.  Yes it says those things shall cease, but it puts a condition and a when they shall cease.  Verse 10 makes clear it will not happen till that which is perfect is come.  That which is perfect is Christ.  As this was written when he had already been here and left it had to mean when he came back.  I base that conclusion on a prayer by Jesus himself.  Mark 16: 15-18 is one time Jesus speaks on the matter and it is for those spreading His Word.  When I put in quotes I put the whole part it is in.  The parts I consider important are underlined.
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Then in John 14; 12-31 again he says it is for after he leaves.
     Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  19 Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me,  ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
 Finally in John 17:17-20 Christ makes clear he requests it not only for his followers, but those who come after.
     17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
        If you read these in their proper context you can plainly see that Jesus made sure that those that came after had the same powers he gave to his disciples.

      If you look at what God has to say on the matter you quickly learn that things that are issues to lots of people do not even come into view when you are looking from Gods perspective.  Take a look at Proverbs 6:16-19 and you will find things that are an issue with God.  The Bible says there are seven things that are an abomination to God.  Four out of the seven are issues which involve the tongue.  It is funny adultery and homosexuality did not even make the list.  Lying, bearing a false witness, devising wicked imaginations and sowing discord among your brothers are on the list.  Maybe a few things could be grouped under wicked imaginations.  It is not our job to determine what things are or are not in the categories above.  It is anyone following Gods Word to stay away from that fine line that separates good and bad. Guess who has the final word on the matter.  It is not us.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

You Are What The Army Needs You To Be.


     Sometimes fate gets in the way of life.  Things happen we have no plan for but when the door is opened we go through it not realizing it may change our whole life.  I got into trucking in Vietnam when I was running from God.  I volunteered for Vietnam to escape from what I thought God was going to do.  I had a dream and thought the end of the world was going to come in the spring of 1967.  My volunteering was suppose too make that not happen somehow.  God was going to say to himself.  Hey Ric is going to Vietnam, guess I better put all my plans for creation on hold till he gets back.  I did end up going back almost two years later but that is another story. God does have a since of humor I found out.  I returned two years later on April Fool's Day.

     In April I found out I was to leave for Vietnam the 20th of June.  On the 5th of June the Israeli Six Day War broke out and all of the airborne units in Germany went on alert.  If Israel started losing the U.S. was going to back them up.  I had been through several Rig Outs (preparing all the equipment for a parachute drop) in my first two years in the Army.  My job was packing parachutes and rigging supplies for airdrop.  The Eight Division geared up quick and tried to cram months of door to door training into a couple of days.  We knew it was serious when they started issuing the soldiers a basic load of live ammo.  That did not worry me I had seen it happen before.  What finally told me this was no joke and that it was real was when they sent us blood plasma to rig for a parachute drop.

        Some of the units we rigged first were moved to the flight line at Rhein-Main and from the stories we got they took off and went all the ways to Turkey.  There they sat under the wings of the planes for a couple days waiting  for things to develop.  Israel kicked butt and did not need our troops for backup.  So the units reboarded the planes and flew back.  We learned something else from the process.  Switzerland, Austria, East Germany and France would not allow our planes to overfly their territory en route to the Middle East.  Our planes had to fly around France down to Spain and then head east.  That added a lot of hours to the flight.

      My view on the situation was a little different than most people I imagine.  I thought great, I volunteer to go to Vietnam and God decides to end the world before I even get to go.  Well the war ended in six days with Israel kicking butt.
We could take some lessons from them.  After 9/11 we should have told Russia, China and India we are going to nuke the side of the mountain where these jerks are hiding.  Russia would probably have given us the nuke after their experience in the area.  It was a mountain hillside in the middle of nowhere.  It definitely would have made a statement.  We would not have had to hunt for al Qaida for the last twelve years.  The rest of the world would have known we meant business and delivered them to us.

Getting back on track I got to Vietnam on 2nd of July 1967.  Then when I did get there none of the units I went to needed me.  They were all over strength and did not have much to do.  We sling loaded supplies as there were no major airborne operations going on in Vietnam.  We even made a training jump which they wanted to classify as a combat jump.  The whole drop zone was secure before we even took off.  The only Combat jump in Vietnam was made by the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

        After the practice jump the Air Force needed people to guard some water pumps that pumped water back to the airbase so they could take showers and do their laundry.  They were in a completely different war than us.  We had outhouses and gravity feed showers that came out of tanks that were filled with cold water from a truck.  Getting a hot shower was a matter of timing.  The sun would heat it.  Then it would get scalding and you could not stand it.  When they refilled it, it would be about right.  Then it would run out again and be dark and it was cold showers or nothing.

        The Republic of Korea forces, or as we called them Roks, left to go home. The Roks would leave by boat and they would all go home for thirty to forty five days and then come back.  To replace them the Air Force asked the Army to supply guards.  All the excess guys in my unit who had a secondary MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) in the combat arms was drafted to go.  Thirty five of us ended up living in sand bag bunkers for ninety days.  The Army decided we were doing such a good job they sent the Roks to secure bridges and escort convoys.

         The Army decided we needed new bunkers and we started building a new perimeter of seven bunkers and a command bunker.  Each bunker required forty five hundred sand bags.  We also built a two story command bunker in the center of the new compound and it took almost eleven thousand sand bags.  Believe me that is a lot of sandbags.  We adapted quickly and got a routine going that made it almost a pleasure to be stationed there.  The picture below was where I lived for almost seventy days.

                     Home Sweet Home for 90 days of my life

       We would get up and have breakfast at seven.  From seven till eleven we filled sandbags.  Then at eleven we went swimming in the river.  That is where the pumps got their water from to pump five miles to the air base.  Lunch was from eleven thirty to twelve thirty and then back to filling sandbags.  We filled bags till four or four-thirty and then went swimming again.  The swimming was a blessing. The water was just right and it got rid of the sand that got into everything.

        We never did get attacked, but one night a couple trip flares went off and a one sided firefight erupted.  We had a machine gun and a grenade launcher on each bunker.  We also had a mortar pit in the middle of the compound.  I forgot all those sandbags for the mortar pit and the ammo bunker.  We also had direct fire artillery support from the main base several miles away.  In the morning we found we had killed seven water buffalo’s.  Speculation was that Charlie was testing our defenses.  They never attacked us so I guess we passed the test.  Really Charlie didn’t have to attack us.  Every couple days they would blow a hole in the pipeline somewhere between us and the main base.  It accomplished the same thing at a lot less risk to them.

      A couple of months into it Charley blew a dam on the river about thirty miles away up in the mountains.  We had not finished our new bunkers but we had to move.  The river came up quick and in just a couple hours our old bunkers were covered by ten feet of water.  We got out our guns, ammo and some personal effects.  We had to move most of it on air mattresses as the river continued to rise.  We had to blow all the claymores in place and our booby traps blew up on their own.  Needless to say it put a little pressure on our schedule to speed things up.

     At the end of ninety days the Army moved us back to base and started using soldiers who had been wounded on line and that could not handle the walking to take our place.  Don’t know if it is true, but supposedly sixty days after we left the water point was over run and most of the guys on duty were killed.  Like I said that is hear say.   When we returned to main base they shipped most of us to Cam Ranh Bay and filled out the Rigger units stationed there.  Again we were excess baggage and a couple of us got sent TDY (temporary duty) to a transportation unit to drive trucks.  The fact we did not know how to drive a truck was a mute-point.  Over next ninety days or so I became a truck driver. 

      My training consisted of making a figure eight around base with and empty trailer and never going over about ten miles per hour.  When I asked how you went faster the Sgt. Said shift the lever on the floor and shift all the gears again.  I had till next morning to figure how to hook up to a trailer.  We took two milk runs to Nha Trang.  Out in the morning and back late in the day.  The third day I was hooked up to a load of bombs and it was learn as you go.

The rest of this story is on my blog titled “How Not to Go Down a Hill, Vietnam it is dated 12 April 2012.    The point of this story is to fill in the gap between when I got to Vietnam and when I started driving a truck.  I am putting it altogether in a book which hopefully someday I will finish.  Hope you enjoyed it.  You have a good story I would love to read or hear it.  Enclose it in the body of an E-mail and send to me at

Monday, August 19, 2013

Following The Road To Emmaus.

                  The Road to Emmaus

        Most Christians know the story of the Road to Emmaus and what happened.  It is an awesome story of how Jesus worked through a couple disciples to bring understanding to his followers.  The two had been in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion and left after they thought things were over.  They moved on with their lives. Then on the road they met a man who started talking to them and told them all about the Bible and all the times it referred to Christ. Finally when they stopped to eat their eyes were opened.  They realized it was Christ who was walking with them. Immediately they went back to where they had left Jesus disciples and shared their experience.  Then Jesus revealed himself to His disciples as they spoke.

        Having read the story many times I always wondered why Jesus did not just show himself to his disciples.  Over the years and a lot of Bible study and my own experiences finally gave me an answer.  The disciples, while they loved Jesus were probably worried about their own survival.  Were they going to be next?  What should they do?  Where should they go?  Their focus was not on Jesus at that point in time.  Many times when bad things happen in our lives we tend to try to solve the problems ourselves and forget to take the matter to Jesus in Prayer.

      The two men on the road to Emmaus did what they thought was right.  They moved on with their lives.  They continued to share Jesus with each other and that allowed them to have the experience they did.  Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” The verse makes clear that we must be seeking Jesus.  Sometimes we become so involved in fellowshipping, that we forget we are seeking Jesus.  It is easy to do.  Understanding this makes it hard for me to sit in Sunday school classes.  It is not that I feel I do not need to know what they are teaching.  I definitely do need to know.  My problem is if you put a book in my hand I become so focused on what I am reading I tune everything else out.  If I find it interesting I may be totally gone. This has happened to me on occasion and someone asked me to pray and I was at a total loss as to what to pray about.  While I may have been physically present with the people in the room my mind was not there.  It was lost in whatever I was reading.

        Why or how I know that is based on my understanding of another verse in the Bible. 1st John 2:27, “27But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”   Based on this verse I get so focused on understanding what the Bible is saying to me I have a tendency to tune everything else out.  That is mainly because I have a one track mind and multi-tasking is not something I do well.

         Many groups share in the spirit of Emmaus and focus on knowing the Bible and the time of fellowship that they spend together.  That is a very important part of the experience and should not be ignored.  The problem for me is that I find something else just as important, if not more important.  It is being where God wants you to be or needs you to be, regardless of your own feelings in the matter. Following what I feel to be the leading of the Holy Spirit has saved my life on more than one occasion.  It has also opened the door to share the Word of God.  Let me give you two examples.

          I drove a truck for a living and one time I was going through Georgia and was northbound on I-85 between Atlanta and the South Carolina state line. It was raining very hard and the traffic was very heavy.  Considering the road conditions I felt the traffic was moving much too fast.  A truck past me and the driver had his front bumper only about two feet off the bumper of the car in front of him. I made a comment on the CB that if he kept following like that sooner or later he was going to kiss one those bumpers.  He looked over at me and said, “Mind your own business old man.” I had just taken a long break and ate breakfast on the west side of Atlanta only a couple hours before.  Normally I would drive five to six hours before taking a break, but I felt moved to get off the road.  It was a very strange and strong feeling.  I followed the feeling and exited to the Petro truck stop.  I was only half ways up the ramp to the overpass which would take me to the truck stop when the radio exploded with screaming and warnings.  Someone had lost control in the rain.  There was a bad wreck involving many cars and trucks.  A vehicle went across the medium and hit some southbound vehicles head on.  Several people were killed in the wreck.  It took them many hours to reopen the roadway.  If I had not followed that small still voice I would have been right in the middle of that mess.

        Another time which was much less dramatic I needed to go to my daughter Glenda’s house to take her to an appointment.  For some reason that escapes me at the time I did not have a car.  I walked the two miles to the main highway and hitchhiked to my daughters.  When I put up my thumb the first car to come past me stopped.  The driver was a pastor and he was taking his pregnant wife to an appointment in Evansville.  They went out of their way and dropped me off in my daughter’s driveway.   A couple years passed and my daughter who was going through a seven year battle with a brain tumor asked my wife and I to come to a dinner at her best friend’s house.  My daughter was in the process of going through a divorce, which is another story.  Any how my wife and I arrived at the dinner and it was and awesome experience.  The purpose of the meeting was so I could meet my daughter’s pastor from her new church, which her best friend attended. The Pastor was the one who had given me a ride.  He also knew my wife through a prayer service for a member of our church who had cancer.  While six strangers all sat down to eat, our paths had been prepared and in reality we all knew each other.

          My daughter went home to be with the Lord in August of 2010.  Her pastor was there at her side right up till the end.  Since that time the church my wife and I were attending closed its doors through attrition.  It got down to eight people and it was not fair to the preacher.  If anyone did not show up he would be preaching to only three or four people.  Our pastor was awesome, but we could not seem to revive the church and my wife and I moved to our present church.  It was our daughter’s church and the pastor has been a blessing in our lives.

       One of my favorite verses is John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  A big part of walking the walk of the Christian life is following where the Lord leads us.  That is what the men on the road to Emmaus were doing.  At times we may not understand why or where our life is taking us.  That can be seen many times in the Old Testament.  Joseph, Moses, David and Daniel are just few stories that tell us that all things do work together for good.  We may not understand it at the time.

     When I had my had my heart attack in January of 2004 and had to sell my truck and go on disability I did not understand it.  Looking back I do know that God was definitely working in my behalf. You can read that in Part 2 of my book Further Down the Path, 3/29/12 which is free on my blog.  Just scroll down to the Testimony which is at the end of that part.  The book is in seven parts and is about some things I see happening in the Old Testament of the Bible. Similar things seem to be happening in this day and age.  So it is mainly an End Time Bible study.  The book does have a lot about me in it, but it is about how I came to understand the things I write about.  Look for what it says about the Bible and ignore me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Holder's Plan Passes the Buck,Does Not Fix The Problem

        Love it when the government and media start quoting things I have been saying for ages.  Well it may not be exactly quoting, but they have started saying things I have been saying for a number of years.  Typing in the word drugs or prison on the search bar of my blog will bring up a number of articles I have written over the last three years saying exactly what the media is now saying.  Well I guess not exactly because I advocate fixing the problem.

       Before quoting the media I would like to quote God and the Declaration of Independence on the matter.  First here is what God had to say in Genesis 1:29-31,
     “29And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.   30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 
31And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

       I am pretty certain God knew all the possible uses of the plants he created.   Notice that the issues of manmade concoctions like alcohol and wine were not even addressed.  They are also both made from seed bearing plants. Proverbs 31:6-9 gives the purpose of alcohol.  It does not ban it.

       Notice God did not make any exceptions.   God also said it was very good.  So is our government banning that which was part of the act of creation.  Are we arguing with God? So much for being a Christian nation.  The Declaration of Independence makes clear we are endowed by Our Creator with certain rights.  It seems to me if God said it was okay that would make it a right.  Two of our Founding Fathers and ex-presidents grew hemp on their farms, (Washington and Jefferson) so I doubt they considered it illegal.

        America’s first drug laws were not designed to make drugs illegal unless they fit in the category of snake oil.  Snake oils were concoctions created mainly to relieve people of their money and had no or very little medicinal quality at all.  Once Satan got his foot in the door with one law he had a field day.  Based on what my Grandfather told me.  Pot was made illegal in the 1930’s because at the end of prohibition alcohol companies were not getting their business back.  They lobbied to eliminate the competition from pot which according to my grandfather became very popular during prohibition.  My grandfather also told me that during World War I he drove a mule team and hauled rope to the front lines and that the dough boys consumed great quantities of the hemp rope he hauled.  Who is going to argue with their grandfather?  Especially since he was there and saw it and lived it firsthand.

     Recent statements by Attorney General Holder show that the writing is on the wall for drug enforcement.  Pot needs to be reclassified and made at the same level as alcohol.  It needs to be removed from the Controlled Substance List entirely. His recent quotes on NBC made clear the present drug laws are not working.  Holder said,

    “It's clear - as we come together today - that too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason. It's clear, at a basic level, that 20th-century criminal justice solutions are not adequate to overcome our 21st-century challenges,” Holder told the annual meeting of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in San Francisco. “And it is well past time to implement common sense changes that will foster safer communities from coast to coast.”

     “This means that federal prosecutors cannot - and should not - bring every case or charge every defendant who stands accused of violating federal law,” he said. “Some issues are best handled at the state or local level.”
      NBC also said, “Holder argued the policy shift reflected a “pragmatic” approach that he and President Barack Obama is needed in its enforcement of drug laws. He said that the widespread incarceration that results from mandatory minimum sentencing cost the U.S. $80 billion in 2010 alone.
       Holder’s goal is not to fix the problem but pass it on to the states.  Arguing they should enforce Federal laws.  The present mood and trend in the states is making clear that is not going to happen.   With twenty states having Medical Marijuana laws and two states having legalized the use of Marijuana completely the tide is turning against Federal incompetence.  Four states have legislation pending and twelve states have voted on legalization.  While they may have defeated legalization temporarily the issue may be bought up again.  If all those states passed the bill they would only be one state away from having enough to make an amendment and actually fix the problem with America’s drug laws.

    In 1970 President Nixon ordered a review of drug laws and amendments under Part F of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.  The Commissioner for the study Raymond P. Shafer stated,

     “The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.”

      If that was the conclusion of the study how did we get to where we are at today?  Everything that has been done seems to go against the common sense decision made by that Commission.

       The recent program on CNN by Dr. Sanjay Gupta says we might want to review our whole drug law program.  Holder’s view of shifting responsibility is not the answer.  The answer is in reviewing the entire law and changing it to do what it was originally designed to do.  Not to ban drugs, but to get rid of snake oils and the ones who provided them.  Once the laws are changed the government stands to gain a lot of ground.  Jobs would be created in manufacturing/growing, licensing, taxing, administering, not to mention the spin off industries like bio fuels, rope, materials and paper for a few.  These jobs are badly needed and is time for the government to get off its collective A__ and do something to fix the problem.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Widow' Mites

                            The Widow’s Mites

    When Jesus told the story of the Widow’s Mites he commended her on her giving.  It also says Jesus observed the rich men casting in their gifts. In Marks version it makes clear that Jesus called unto him his disciples and shared what he saw.  Was it a judgment against the nation for their not helping the widows and the poor? Only someone who was there would know.  The writing implies there may have been a difference in attitude toward the wealthy and the poor.  In this day and age in America it seems like there is almost a contempt for the poor. The Book of Micah says pretty clearly what God thinks on the matter in chapter six.

6Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 
9The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.  10Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?   11Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?  12For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. 14Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. 15Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

James makes it even clearer what God says about the duty of man

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

      Then as they left the temple Jesus disciples changed the subject by commenting on the beauty of the Temple.  Jesus made clear that wealth and beauty were temporal things. He told them it would all be torn down. He also told them they would hear of wars and rumors of wars.  Kind of like the Middle East is experiencing in this day and age.  He also mentioned there would be earthquakes, famines and troubles, but this was just the beginning of sorrows.  He warned them they would be hated for his name’s sake.  In verse fourteen of thirteenth chapter of Mark, Jesus makes a very subtle change of terms from hearing what was happening to seeing what was happening.  Was it an accident or did it have intentional meaning.  In Jesus time everything was transmitted by what they heard. Today the whole world can see what happens.  This is something that could not have happened until the advent of satellite communication.  It is something that had to happen for the prophecies in the eleventh chapter of Revelation to be fulfilled.

      Jesus mentioned Daniel by name and made clear that Daniel’s writing would be pertinent to the time to come. He made clear that those in Judea should flee into the mountains for their safety.  Both Daniel and Jesus made clear that their words would not be clear or understood till the time of the end.  Daniel 12:4 makes it very clear when Daniel is told to shut up his words and seal the book even to the time of the end.  What we are told by Daniel is at the end many shall run to and fro.  That means there will be a lot of traveling in the end time. The other part of the revelation was that knowledge would be increased.

.      While knowledge is in an explosion mode today many people miss the fact that the real beginning of it all was in the late 1400’s.    At that time Guttenberg’s printing press started the explosion.  Guttenberg’s most famous project was his printing of the Bible.  One has to wonder if the printing press had not been invented would Martin Luther have had his epiphany.  Many of the great minds of the Middle ages were all contemporaries.  Columbus, Cortez, DaVinci, Michaelangelo, and Martin Luther lived at the same time. Overlapping their lives were Newton, Galileo and Magellan.  In less than eighty years the printing press was invented and the world had been circled for the first time.  The prophecy of Jesus that His Word would be spread through the whole world was a real possibility.  Yet nearly five hundred years later that explosion is not slowing down. 

       The Bible often implies or equates knowledge with light.  In the 30th Chapter of Isaiah it says, “the moon shall be as bright as the sun and the sun shall be seven times brighter.”  When I try it understand something I like to look and see how the Bible used the words in the past. The first place I see the Sun and the Moon used together is in Joseph’s dream.  Based on that, when I see the Moon becoming as bright as the Sun, it means equality.  Joseph said his Mother was represented by the Moon in his dream. Then when the Sun becomes seven times brighter, it means seven times smarter.  The Sun represented his Father in the dream.

     Joseph’s dream was a partial fulfillment of a prophecy God made to Abraham.  God told Abraham that his descendants would inherit the Promised Land.  God put several conditions on the promise.  The story is in Genesis 15and gives the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham.  First Abraham’s seed would be strangers in a land that was not theirs.  Nowhere does it say they were slaves for four hundred years. Not only would they be strangers, they would serve the people of that land and be afflicted.  God said he would judge the nation they served and they would come out with a great inheritance. God also told Abraham he would die in a good old age.  Then in the fourth Generation his people would enter the Promised Land.

       Things went well for Abraham and he had his son just as God promised him. His great grandson was the one who the promise of going into captivity fell on.  Joseph had a dream in which his Father was the Sun, his Mother was the Moon and his Brothers were the stars.  When he told them the dream and that they would all bow down to him things started going bad.  His brothers sold him into slavery and he worked his way out.  Dreams delivered him from prison and put him in a position to save his family.  All went well for a while and then they were put into slavery. 

        One piece of trivia I heard years ago and love is the story of Jacob’s blessing of his children.  When he got to his grandchildren who were Joseph’s children he crossed his hands and blessed them differently than Joseph wanted them blessed.
The significance of that was that Joseph’s wife was a Gentile and not a Jew.  According to the speaker who was telling the story you are not a Jew unless you are born of a Jewish mother.  I do not know the facts on that but it was interesting and has always stuck with me.  By crossing his hands Jacob implied how they would be saved.  There salvation would be through the cross.

         God being good to what he promised, he raised up a man to deliver his people from their captivity.  Moses followed and obeyed God and in Exodus 12:41 it says they left at the end of 430 years to the very same day. (To me it was 430 years to the day from when God made the Covenant with Abraham. That is just my point of view.)  The point of being so specific caught my attention and always made me wonder why it had to be that specific day.  It made me wonder how long a generation was.  I have heard people use 20, 30, 40, 60 and 70 years.  The problem was four times any of those numbers did not work.  They had to come out in the fourth generation.  Why?  God said so and that was the end of it.  They wandered in the wilderness for forty more years and still were not in the Promised Land.  That bought the total years to 470 years when they were ready to cross the River Jordan.

        In the course of studying I read Genesis 6:3 and it says man’s days shall be one hundred and twenty years.  Bingo I had found the number.  Four times one hundred and twenty was four hundred and eighty. So they made it in the fourth generation with ten years to spare.

        Some time later I was reading in Joshua and made another interesting discovery.  Joshua said that he was forty years old when Moses sent him in to the Promised Land to search it out.  It also says in Joshua that, “having done all that the Lord gave him to do.  He died being one hundred and ten years old.”  Well if you add it all up he spent thirty years taking possession of the Promised Land from the time he entered it.  Which when you add the seventy to the 430 they finished taking possession of the land after a total of five hundred years.  Remember I mentioned that number earlier.

         Well I knew the story from Ezekiel where a judgment was past down on Israel for failing to observe the Sabbath Day.  In Ezekiel 4:5-7 he was told to lay on his side for three hundred and ninety days each day for a year against Israel and then to lay on his other side for forty days each day for a year.  Which added together equals four hundred and thirty years.  Then Israel went into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. There is starting to be a pattern here. This judgment works out to five hundred years also.

           Finally it says from the time they came out of the captivity and started rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem till the coming of the Messiah was to be four hundred and thirty years.  That was followed by the ministry Jesus and the destruction of the temple in 70AD.  It started to become clear to me that failure to follow or obey God could bring on a period of judgment. Again this came out to five hundred years.

        This would not have bothered me if I had not read in Amos how God gave all of Israel’s neighbors a fourth chance.  It was clear there were three five hundred year periods in the Old Testament.  That is when I realized that from the time Martin Luther nailed his paper on the door of the church in 1517 till Israel became a nation again was four hundred and thirty years.  Just a strange coincidence I am sure.  The interesting point is that after each four hundred thirty year period there was a period of judgment or conflict.  Jesus promised there would be great tribulation in the last days.  When you consider World War II led up to the start of the present seventy year period,  Are we in a seventy year period? What kind of turmoil are we looking at?  Jesus said it would be the greatest since man was put on the earth.

        The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 “The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  It means he does not change and what he has done in the past he will do again.    In Malachi 4:5 which is at the very end of the Old Testament we are warned,  the Great and Dreadful day of the Lord is coming.  Peter warns us in 2nd Peter 3:8-11 that, that is the message he got also.  Are we ready?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Justice Anybody?

                                         Justice Anybody?

     The link at the end of this paragraph made me wonder just where we are headed as a nation with two million citizens in prison.  We may have some problems that need fixed especially as law enforcement seems to get more and more out of hand. I could name a dozen incidents that people know about. Rodney King, Ruby Ridge, Waco, and I am sure you can supply a few of your own.  The three above all ended in court with the government paying huge sums of money, which many people who did not follow up on stories may not know.  This lead paragraph was actually written after the story. A recent post on the Bluegrass Pundit's blog on July 30th reminded me of the last part of this story. Follow the link to read it.

                                     YOU THINK JAIL IS BAD?

     If you think jail is bad, in comparison to what? This is a short true story to make you see how bad, bad can be.  In the American correctional system you have it made at least in comparison to some other places in the world.  My last two years in the Army were spent in the Panama Canal Zone.  For those who do not know.   The Panama Canal crosses fifty mile long and ten mile wide strip of land that links the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  America built the Canal, but during the Carter Administration we agreed to give control of the Canal to the Panamanian government.  That happened during the time frame when I was there in 77-78.

      Occasionally an American soldier would get busted in Panama and outside the Canal Zone.  The U.S. government had no authority or jurisdiction outside the Canal Zone.  It would take some major negotiations to get the soldier back and out of the Panamanian jail.  Panama was ruled by a dictator and his LaGuardia Nacional, or National Guard. The National Guard had soldiers assigned to almost every city block, especially in the bigger cities.  A good comparison to the National Guard would be the Nazi Gestapo under Hitler.  The La Guardia ruled and most of them could be bought for a price.  They got a piece of any action that generated revenue on their block.

    This is a story about a soldier.  I will call him Peabody. The name has been changed to protect the guilty. Everybody has met a Peabody at some point in their life.  Peabody was about 6 foot and probably a good 250 pounds when his problems started.  Peabody was down town when he got arrested for drug possession and thrown into a Panamanian Jail.  It took us a couple days to find out what had happened to Peabody.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday the American Military Police would make a visit to the Panamanian Jail to take food to the American Prisoners.  On their Monday run they were informed by the Panamanians that they had Peabody.  Also that he had been busted for possession.  After some negotiations it was agreed that Peabody would be released for the sum of $500 dollars.  This is where it starts getting complicated.  Our government would not bail out GI’s.  The soldier had to come up with his own bond money.

      What usually happened was that the Military Police informed the soldier’s home unit and the unit would take up a collection among his fellow soldiers.    Then the Military Police would take the money and negotiate with the National Guard as to the exact terms of the release.  Peabody’s problems really started at this point.  Peabody was a bully( a phony one it appears), a slob and a bit of an all around general asshole.  Nobody liked him because he was a trouble maker.  Usually the money would be raised by passing the hat and each person who contributed would be entered into a log, along with the amount they contributed.  When the person got out of jail he would have to pay the money back to those who bailed him out.  On payday he would stand in line and pay each soldier what he owed.  If he had nothing left at the end of his paycheck.  The next month he would do the same thing till he had paid back all the money he owed.

      When the hat came back around for Peabody it was empty.  All his trouble making and attitude had a price. This meant Peabody would have to sit in the Panamanian Prison till he earned enough pay to pay his fine out of his own money.   Well Peabody barely made $300 a month and with the timing of his arrest he would have to sit in jail for almost two whole months.  He swore he had $250 in his pocket when he got arrested, but the National Guard said all he had was $2 (bus fare) and his military ID.  It would be a very long two months for Peabody.

      In many prison systems around the world, and Panama was one of these systems, the state does not feed the prisoners.  It is the duty of the friends and family to provide for the needs of the prisoners.  Those prisoners who have no one to bring them food have a few options.  They can starve, they can beg from the prisoners who have food or they can take the food from anyone they can whip.  Unfortunately for Peabody, he was big, but he was not bad.  When the Military Police showed up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they would take each GI two military C-Ration meals per day.  The other prisoners looked forward to it.  They gave Peabody enough of his rations to keep him alive so they would get more rations.  When he returned Peabody said the boxes the rations came in were almost as valuable to his fellow inmates as the meals.   The prison cells were right on the water front of the bay.  It had a slit trench that came in through the wall.  When the tide came in it flushed the toilet.  The beds were nothing more than raised concrete slabs.  The prisoners would use the cardboard to lay on and cover up with when it got cold.  It hardly ever got cold in Panama, but being around the water it could seem cold.

     When Peabody finally earned enough money to get himself out of prison another reality hit home.  Panama considers a drug charge a very serious offense.  So they could not just let a person who was in jail for drugs go free.  A compromise was made.  The National Guard would suddenly discover a pocket knife and turn it over to the Military Police.  The prisoner would then sign a confession that he had a knife in his possession when arrested.  A copy of the confession would be given to the National Guard and the drug charge would suddenly disappear.  However carrying a concealed weapon is an offense under the American military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice.  It was a dischargeable offense and within a couple months of getting out of jail the soldier would be sent home with a less than honorable discharge.   However he was out of the military and did not have to do any time in a military jail.  Peabody considered that a bargain by the time he got out of jail.

     Peabody’s time in the Panamanian jail transformed him.  He became a Yes, Sir and No, Sir soldier.  He was humble pie and gave no one any problems.  In fact he went around apologizing to a lot of people for being such an asshole before he went to jail. When he came back he probably weighted between 120 and 130 pounds.  His time in jail had been really hard on him and I am sure he will never forget it.  So when you are having a bad day, just be glad you are in an “American Jail”


                                            Instant Justice

        As bad as all the above sounds, being in jail in Panama might be a blessing.  At least you were still alive.  A friend of mine recounted the following story to me therefore I can’t swear it is accurate.  Having seen other incidences of “instant justice” while stationed there I believe it could be true.

      He was downtown shopping and started to enter a store.  Just as he grabbed the door handle the door flew at him knocking him to the pavement.  He saw a guy jump over him and take off running down the street with a package in his hand.  Suddenly the shop keeper appeared in the door way and started yelling.  He then heard someone in the opposite direction from the running man yelling stop in Spanish.. People started dropping to the pavement around him. He turned just in time to see the La Guardia draw his pistol and aim. The La Guardia fired one shot into the air followed almost instantly by two more.  He looked back toward the running man just in time to see him lurch forward face first into the pavement and his body going over his head and finally coming to rest on the pavement. The La Guardia moved toward the man who had been shot stepping over my friend. When he got to the man he kicked his arm and there was no response.  He put his pistol back in its holster bent and picked up the package.  He then returned it to the shop keeper and helped my friend up.  The La Guardia started to walk off and my friend asked if he wasn’t going to do something.  The La Guardia cool calm and collected turned to him and said. “I did. There was a crime which was a criminal problem and I took care of it.  It is no longer a legal problem.  It is now a sanitation problem.” and he walked off.

     This last part was bought back to mind by an article I recently read on the blog of the Bluegrass Pundit. July 30th which can be read by following the link in the opening paragraph. Made me wonder are we progressing as a nation or going backwards.