Skip to content

Is This the End of America?

In my devotions this morning, one writer made reference to Isaiah 6, where the prophet sees the Lord.  Considering what precedes this section of Scripture in Isaiah, that he had called out to a rebellious people warning of coming judgment unless they repented, Isaiah’s response is one of abject horror and despair.  Why?  If anyone could stand in God’s presence, surely it would have been Isaiah.  It’s as if no matter how righteous any descendent of Adam is, before a holy God, we are filthy deserving of nothing but God’s righteous anger.

This had been a time of national crisis following the death of King Uzziah in 740 B.C., the entire nation of Judah was in turmoil providing an opportunity for looking anew at their relationship with the God of Jacob.  As in our own country today, it seemed that Judah had lost its way and was adrift from God and His Word.  Isaiah, in an earlier plea to the nation (Isaiah 5), the prophet had warned the people of coming judgment unless they repented.  Surely this would mean that Isaiah was in good standing with God, right? 

Some time ago, while doing a field day clean up in our home, we lifted the coffee table off of the area rug we had in the living room.  We had vacuumed around the coffee table without moving it, and to our eyes, the area rug was clean of the usual pet hair, crumbs, and dirt that usually accumulates in any household.  But, when we took the coffee table off of that one area, we were confronted with how the area rug should look and were taken back at the difference between what we perceived as clean and what was truly clean.

So, Isaiah’s response upon seeing the Lord was a natural outgrowth of his understanding not only of Judah’s sin but his own as he stood in the presence of God.  I once heard a man say something that, at first, shocked me, but the more I thought about it, the more accurate it was.  He had been told that apart from God’s grace and the completed work of Calvary by Jesus, even someone viewed as righteous as Billy Graham would bust hell wide open.  When we compare ourselves with others, especially those who are recognized by society as evil (Idi Amin, Adolph Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., etc., ad infinitum), we can seem to be pretty well off.  But that comparison gives anyone doing so a false sense of security as Isaiah and others found out.

Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”  Isaiah 6:5 NLT

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  Isaiah 6:5 NIV

“Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! —because I, a man with unclean lips,living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, AdonaiTzva’ot!”  Isaiah 6:5 CJB

America is at a crossroads that will determine how long we, as a nation, shall go on.  Voices have been calling for some time for the dissolution of that upon which our country was founded.  We seem to want to decide for ourselves, apart from any outside interference, what is right and good.  The sexual revolution with abortion on demand rejected what God had said about the purity of the marriage relationship as well as the value of life itself.  This pattern continued as the idea of there being more than two genders (at last count, I think there are supposedly over seven!) based not upon science (though some argue for scientific justification of such), but upon how one feels about oneself.  This is now to the point where national stores allow men in women’s bathrooms; this pattern is repeated in public schools and even in prisons!

“All things are equal, and nothing is forbidden,” is the cry of these modern-day ‘prophets.’  What once was sacrosanct, is now considered old-fashioned and passe’.  Recently while one group was deemed to be selfish and self-serving for demonstrating peacefully for businesses to be allowed to re-open, others who rioted in our streets, causing tremendous damage, as well as the injury and deaths of many, were lauded as heroes.  What was right before is now thrown aside, and I have to wonder (perhaps as Isaiah had) what would be the end result.

“The Upward Look (6:1–4)

With the upward look, Isaiah saw the Lord (6:1). We know when that was (740 B.C.) and that Uzziah was one of the great kings. His death was a time of national mourning.

Times of national crisis are opportunities for people to have a new experience with God. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. Recent events have been opportunities for revival in our land, but I haven’t seen much indication that it has taken place.

Isaiah went into the temple. The earthly throne was empty, but Isaiah saw God on His throne. Regardless of what goes on down here, God is still on His throne.

Vines Expository Bible Notes, Copyright © 2020 by Jerry Vines. (emphasis added)

God told Isaiah that his commission was one of woe, speaking to Judah that they would hear and see but not understand and repent leading to God removing them from the land just as He had already used Assyria to remove Israel (the northern kingdom). 

Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying,

“Whom should I send?
Who will go for us?”

I answered, “I’m here, send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people:

‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand.
You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’

10 “Make the heart of this people [sluggish with] fat,
stop up their ears, and shut their eyes.
Otherwise, seeing with their eyes,
and hearing with their ears,
then understanding with their hearts,
they might repent and be healed!”                                          Isaiah 6:8-10 CJB

This may seem almost evil on the part of God; after all, it seems as though He is going to destroy the nation, not allowing them to repent.  When you review the history of Israel and Judah, you see many times that God extended mercy and grace to them over their history.  Even a potential war among themselves following the death of Solomon was not warning enough of their wayward path.  Yet even with prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah pleading with the people, they went on their way to destruction.  Why?

The excerpt from Vines reveals what had not happened to Israel and Judah; they had neglected to look up and see that God is always on His throne.  In our country, where it seems that no place is protected from the mayhem and strife occurring, we must stop looking at others and find our focus upon God.  Only with such a focus will we individually and corporately find our way again.

Only then can we hope to indeed remain, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.                                                                                2 Chronicles 7:13,14 ESV (emphasis added)

We, the Church, must remember that the burden is upon us to bring about change.  We cannot rely on any political solution as those will change with public opinion; it is not external to us that needs to change but, as the old gospel hymn puts it:

“It’s me; it’s me, O Lord, standing in need of prayer…”

https://hymnary.org/text/not_my_brother_nor_my_sister_but_its_me

We must remember how Mordecai admonished Esther when she had been asked to intercede on behalf of the Jews:

“…Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

Esther 4:14 b

This is the time for the Church to step up and make a difference; to show the world and our nation that violence is not the answer to any injustice.  Pastor Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s and, through non-violent demonstrations brought the impact of Jim Crow laws and segregation into the public spotlight that would not allow them to be overlooked any longer.  We can and must do the same now.  Remember God’s reply when Isaiah asked for how long he would be ministering the word to Judah:

“Until cities become uninhabited ruins,
houses without human presence,
the land utterly wasted;
12 until Adonai drives the people far away,
and the land is one vast desolation.
13 If even a tenth [of the people] remain,
it will again be devoured.”

Isaiah 6:11 CJB

God willing, this will not be our country’s end.

Who You Gonna Call?

I long for the American that I grew up in; yes, we practiced ‘duck and cover’ under our desks at school, there was no Internet or home computers, and phones came with a cord.  One thing that I do not miss of that time (the ‘50s through the ‘60s) is the systemic racism that did exist (DID exist), but for me, it was a gentler, kinder time.

Growing up in a military family, I was already ‘integrated’ as all the Armed Forces had been so since after WW 2; sadly, my Mother carried an attitude toward ‘persons of color’ she had learned from her parents in England and passed on some of that to me.  As I related in a previous blog, even as a 5-year-old kid, there was a questioning of why this ‘separate-but-equal’ existed.  We have not yet reached Dr. King’s dream, but up until recently, it seemed that such was something that could be accomplished.  The economy had grown under new leadership, and the chances that brought to our country did include all people.

Those in the leadership of the Democratic party seemed bent on overturning the election of a sitting president through innuendo, falsehood, and fabrications that caused an incredible amount of wasted time, loss of focus, and (sadly) an increasing polarization between many in this country.  Imagined threats to our Republic perceived only by those of the Left have further harmed not only the country but caused growing tension nationwide.  Despite being exonerated on all charges, it seems the Democrats are bound and determined to prevent the re-election of President Trump even if they have to destroy our nation to do it.

COVID-19 was initially perceived as a viable threat to our nation’s health, going by the information we had received from China and the World Health Organization (not necessarily two distinct sources as we later found out).  A plan was devised to protect our populace by essentially placing most of us under house arrest and curtailing any and all traffic with China.  The media was filled with the impending deaths of millions of our citizens, and panic seemed the order of the day.  The governor in our state (North Carolina) chose which businesses were deemed ‘essential’ and could continue operation and which had to close their doors indefinitely.  What I found ‘interesting’ about his choices (and the decisions of other Democratic governors) was how the so-called Planned Parenthood baby-murders would continue, liquor stores remained open (in N.C. they are run by the state; apparently Governor Cooper wanted there to be no decrease in the revenues from this ‘vital’ industry), and all the big-box stores (with deep pockets to donate to said governors?) while the small businesses had to either close outright or jump through innumerable hoops to operate.

The media kept harping on the severity of COVID even after ongoing research showed it to be no more a threat than the usual seasonal flu.  Calls began to reopen our nation and get our economy booming again, but we who supported such were called selfish and uncaring as we wanted to be out in public again.  The major media outlets painted all such protestors (who were always peaceful and never caused damage to any business or threatened the police who had to enforce Cooper’s edicts) as selfish and causing danger to the nation.  The supposed plan to reopen our state (and other Democratic-run states as well) stretched out indefinitely, the lack of income from their businesses had caused many family-run stores or shops to shut their doors for good.  Again, the main-stream-media stepped in with hype about these demonstrators, reporting on them while being duly cautious by wearing a mask, but taking the mask off when the cameras were not rolling. 

Then four police officers in Minneapolis, MN, conspired together to cause the death of George Floyd. 

Suddenly COVID-19 was no longer a story; overnight, it completely disappeared from media outlets.  Many were shocked and disgusted by the behavior of these four men and their flagrant disregard for Mr. Floyd; in the video recorded of this, it was as if these men knew they were causing Mr. Floyd to die and just did not care either about this or how many people filmed it with their smartphones.  Why?  Why did they not only put him in the car when he was already handcuffed?  True, despite what the media reported, this man was a known felon, but that does not excuse how he was apparently murdered in cold blood (looking at the expression on the face of the officer who was kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, it was as if he was watering his garden at home, not snuffing out a life).  One death at the hands of four men, a needless tragedy that it seems has sparked many more deaths and the destruction of too many businesses to count.  Why?

During the Civil Rights Movement in the ‘60s, Dr. Martin Luther King chose to emulate the behavior of his Savior, Jesus Christ, and that of Mahatma Gandhi in demonstrating for integrating our society as the founding fathers saw it.  Yes, there were many of those demonstrators (named and those who just disappeared) who were killed during this time, but they did not seek vengeance against those who did violence to them.  By their behavior, they shamed them and all of us with the rightness of their cause and opened a new chapter in the history of our country.  Demonstrating against those specific men who killed Mr. Floyd in a peaceful manner would have had the same result.  But, there seems to be a movement in this country to destroy the many things that make us a free nation, and now law enforcement appears to be the primary target.  Why?

Cries of police brutality and systemic racism are all over the media and make the law enforcement community appear to be nothing more than a bunch of KKK goons (by the way, that organization and the Jim Crow laws they supported were gifts to our nation from the Democratic Party).  The supposed systematic killing of any person of color by the police became fact overnight when it is actually quite the opposite.  Look at any statistics recorded in any city in our nation, and you will see that more white people are killed by the police than black even though a disproportionate amount of violent crime is done by black men and women.  But again, the media and Democrats have painted a picture that all law enforcement everywhere are guilty of racism and so must be punished.  Why?

What plan could the media or Democrats (or anyone) have for demonizing the police, sparking all the riots and destruction nationwide, and engendering the unrest that is occurring?  Another question that I have; why, when we protested in public for reopening the economy, were we vilified in the press, but these rioters who are bent on wholesale destruction and looting seem to be hailed as “…mostly peaceful demonstrators…” by the same media.  There have been many genuinely peaceful demonstrations, and I do applaud that, but the large-scale war on our law enforcement community is an attack on all of us!  Disbanding the police will do nothing but hand our nation over to the anarchists.  As the line from a famous movie put it, “Who you gonna call?”

Remember?

We do live in troubling times when it seems that the calm sharing of differing viewpoints has been replaced with strident calls of revolution when it makes you wonder what folks are revolting against and what they would replace our current system with.  Yes, there is much in America that needs changing, but you again ask yourself, organizations that are rioting in the streets today over the horrific death of one man (but overlooking the deaths that occur both during their so-called demonstrations and those who are murdered daily in crimes that stain our communities); what do they think they will accomplish with their chants of ‘no justice, no peace?

In this present time, it is vitally important to remember from where we have come, the strides we have taken  to overcome our own evil natures, and the price paid by those who have come before us.  Throughout our nation’s history, there have been voices that cry out to remember the principals upon which our country was founded and how from the very start we were meant to be a people without limitations placed on our God-given “…rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” as the Declaration of Independence puts it.  Our forefathers came to this land seeking a place without constraints on religion, on personal freedoms, and the desire to better self without being held back by reason of birth or social class.  They fought, bled, and died securing our new nation; the blood of free men continues to be shed to keep us free.

According to the American Battlefield Trust, around 230,000 proto-Americans fought in the Continental Army, though never more than 48,000 at a time. The colonial militias mustered up another 145,000. With a death toll of around 6,800, the chances of dying in combat in the Revolutionary War were roughly 1.8%.

During the War of 1812, or “Mr. Madison’s War,” as it was derisively called in New England, the U.S. Army had 35,000 men at its peak, with another 458,000 militiamen throughout the nascent United States, not all of whom were called up to fight. Some 15,000 Americans died as a result of the War of 1812. But only around 2,260 deaths were due to the fighting. The rest were from disease.

In the Mexican-American War, the number would be staggering if you had no idea that diseases and other non-combat mishaps killed 11,550 more, a stunning 14.67%. Before the Civil War, diseases were more effective at killing American troops than the enemy was. The total death rate in Mexico was 16.9%, which would have been memorable if not for what came in the next war.

A rough estimate from the American Battlefield Trust puts the number of Americans killed in the Civil War at around 650,000. The VA estimates around 2.2 million Union combatants. When combined with the Confederate combatants, the number of Americans who fought the war reaches 3.26 million.  With these numbers, the overall likelihood of fighting and dying in combat was 6.6%, around the same likelihood of fighting and dying in the Union Army. The chances of dying in combat in the Confederate Army was around 7%. In all, including non-combat deaths like disease, the chances of dying as a soldier or sailor in the Civil War was 18.9% — still the largest death rate in U.S. military history.

Throughout the early history of the United States, the U.S. Army worked to support “Manifest Destiny” and westward expansion. The VA estimates some 106,000 American troops fought to “tame the West” and at least 1,000 died doing it, giving the combined wars with Native American tribes a death rate of 0.94%.

The total number of American service members who fought in the Spanish-American War hovered around 306,700, with only 385 dying in combat. Only 0.12% of those who fought in the war were killed by the Spanish.

If the Spanish-American War showcased the U.S. military operating at high efficiency, then World War I was the beginning of the end of that. With 4.73 million men in uniform, World War I saw Americans mobilize like never before. Around 2.5% of those Doughboys would not make it home, as 53,402 fell to the enemy and another 63,114 to other causes.  So a Great War-era soldier was almost as likely to perish due to trench foot or Spanish Flu as to a German bullet.

World War 2, which saw more than 16 million Americans don a uniform and completely reshaped American society, actually had a lower proportional combat death toll than the Civil War.  Only 1.8% of the 16,112,556 Americans who served in combat died at the hands of the enemy, a combat death likelihood roughly on par with World War I. According to the National World War II Museum, for every 1,000 Americans who served in the war, 8.6 were killed in action, three died from other causes, and 17.7 received non-fatal combat wounds. 

During the Korean War, for war it was,around 2% of the 1.79 million who served in Korea would never come home. The Defense Department states that 36,574 Americans died fighting in the Korean War theater and a total of 54,246 died as a result of the war (the total has been reduced slightly over time).  While this is the current tally, the number of Korean War-era deaths has changed slightly over the years. A 2000 CBS News report found the DoD had been slowly changing the number of combat deaths and Korean War-related deaths over the ensuing decades. At the end of the war, the tally was 54,260, which combined 33,643 combat deaths with 20,617 “other deaths.”

The chances of dying skyrocketed for participants of the Korean War’s famous battles. Of the 30,000 U.S. troops in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, for example, just under 6,000 were killed or went missing, a 19.75% loss.

As of November 2019, there are now 33,739 reported combat deaths in theater, 2,835 non-combat deaths in theater and another 17,672 non-combat deaths outside the Korean War. If the Korean War had lasted as long as the Vietnam War, the death toll would have climbed to 168,630 — more than World War I.

The number of Americans fighting in Vietnam nearly doubled, up to 3.4 million, from the number in Korea. But the number of troops killed in the war grew by only 62% — and that was over the span of 14 years, starting from when President John F. Kennedy ramped up U.S. involvement in 1961, compared to the three years of fighting in Korea.  More than 58,220 American troops died during the course of the Vietnam War, for a death rate of about 1.7%. Despite the prolonged fighting, improvements in battlefield medicine and the mobility of helicopters helped save many lives.

The Gulf War of 1990-1991 saw a force of 694,550 American troops in service or deployed in support of the war. Of those, only 383 were killed, for a death rate of 0.1%, according to the VA in November 2019.

The success of American battlefield medicine and operational risk management continues through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the most- current analysis of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, updated May 2020, 2.5 million American troops deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. Of those, 5,364 died in action, and another 1,476 died in non-hostile incidents.

As of 2017, an estimated 624,000 American veterans were dying every year, most from natural causes. A study from the National Institutes of Health estimates that half of the men who die every day are veterans. As we remember America’s fallen troops on Memorial Day, we might also stop by and visit those who fought past wars and listen to the memories of their fallen comrades in arms — they may not be around come Veterans Day.

Reading through this list and knowing how many have died (and continue to offer the “…last full measure…” as President Abraham Lincoln coined it), how can we not, but remember how precious the freedoms we have today are?  But do we?

When I remember growing up in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it is readily apparent that we have come a long way.  When compared with other nations, especially, we see a marked difference in how our society does indeed face problems and seek to address them.  Martin Luther King, taking a cue from Scripture and Mahatma Gandhi, led the Civil Rights Movement in passive, non-violent protest whose effect was to awaken the conscience of America to the very real poison that was systemic racism within the heart of the nation.  As with Gandhi and his followers, through their willingness to face whatever oppression and physical attacks those protecting the ‘old ways,’ they focused attention on how peaceful demonstration in the face of such vilification and suffering.  Laws were enacted to reverse (to some extent) this evil and, while the hearts of far too many refused to accept this change, society as a whole began to move in a new direction foreseen by our founding fathers.

Is everything all ‘sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows’ today?  Not hardly and such will never be achieved until Messiah rules on Earth as He is in Heaven.  But there is a difference today that many thought to see when I was a small lad I who wanted to see the inside of the “Colored” men’s room in a busy bus station in Chicago.  When I entered that place, I stood aghast at the lack of anything that could be called ‘pretty’ and was wondering why it was called “Colored” when the only color I could see was a muddy brown stain everywhere.  Then I heard a gentle voice asking me, “Little boy, what you doing in here?”  I turned to look at an older gentleman who was black, standing between me and the door (he’d obviously just come in).  Keeping in mind this all happened almost 67 years ago, and there is no memory of my being afraid of him, just a curiosity of why this bathroom was different from the ones I was accustomed to.  I told him that I wanted to see this one because it was ‘colored’ while the other was only ‘white’ thinking that this one would be prettier.  He laughed and told me that I would probably be better going to the ‘white’ bathroom.  Still curious, I asked him why there were two separate bathrooms and that this one was so different.  He smiled, placed a hand on my head, and said, “Little man, maybe you will be part of what changes things.”

In the book (and movie, the book being much better) Missing Figures, this disparity in how our fellow Americans were treated was brought out quite well.  Again, having lived through this time and witnessing first-hand how much we have changed, I am shocked at the current state of affairs in America.  Do we not remember the price that has been paid, not only by our soldiers, sailors, and airmen but also by those who were murdered (many who just went ‘missing’ and whose story was never told) throughout our history (one such event was the subject of the movie, Wilmington on Fire

Yes, we can and MUST do better for all Americans to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Violence in the manner of these so-called ‘revolutionaries’ is NOT the answer and will only play into the hands of those who object to equal standing in the law.  We ALL are “…created in the image of God…” as said in Genesis 1.  God clearly does NOT separate any of humankind into one better or greater than the other.  There are several different ethnicities, but only one race; humanity.  The only distinction that God makes is between the man and the woman; all else is the same regardless of what color is within the first few layers of skin cells.  Why can we not remember that?

If we cannot follow the example of Jesus, then can’t we emulate Pastor King?  Is that not a better and more effective way of bringing change to our country?  One thing anchors my heart in all of this, whether           COVID, murder hornets, or the present destruction supposedly objecting to the death of one man; God is still on His throne and has not abrogated His authority to anyone else.  Let those who are of Christ remember the warning to us in 2 Chronicles 7:14;

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

God is not speaking to unbelievers, but to His own.  We must remember this and step up, not in violence, but in a peaceful demonstration, calling all who want to revert to Jim Crow to repent and seek the only Source of Hope and Life, there is in this world.  Maybe things will change or perhaps not, but if we do not heed the call of Scripture, then remember what God caused to happen to the nation of Israel following the death of Solomon; first division (which I fear is now happening within America unless we repent) then utter destruction. 

Remember!

Protestors?

I grew up in the ’60s, graduating from high school in 1969 and saw my share of idiocy and mayhem perpetrated by those who were ‘protesting’ various and sundry things.  There were instances across the country when rampaging mobs torched blocks of buildings inside our major cities, but not once did Pastor Martin Luther King or his organization join in such violence.  In fact, such behavior was antithetical to what Dr. King was all about, not only as a pastor of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but as a man who recognized that violence and hatred only beget more of the same.  Taking a cue as well from the non-violent protest led by Mahatma Gandhi that resulted in England leaving India, allowing them to become a sovereign nation, he chose the path of non-violence (much as his Savior, Jesus Christ had done) to protest the genuine, horrific persecution of those of color.

So, what is happening now as a so-called protest of one tragic and evil event is no longer such, but has degenerated into mob rule (much like what happened here in Wilmington, N.C. on Thursday, November 10, 1898) seeking not justice, but blood and mayhem.  There have been lots of discussions online, and face-to-face about this and I hesitated to join in as there are those whom I respect and admire who have a viewpoint of my position because of an offhand (and admittedly thoughtless) remark made one day that was meant to be funny (having spent several years in the military, particularly in submarines, and then almost 24 years in prison, my sense of humor is decidedly warped).  After this happened and I was confronted and counseled about it, I sought to apologize for my remarks and have since stayed away from any such form of humor.  But, and this is the part that still does bother me, one person in particular when I approached them asking forgiveness, said that they would be watching me and if my behavior warranted it, would then forgive me.  That ‘pea’ kept irritating my sense of belonging in that place to the point that I left.

I remember watching the news back then (Chet Huntley and David Brinkley) and was amazed at the violence done to the civil rights protestors.  Some were killed, many jailed, and most suffered horribly at the hands of law enforcement and others across this nation, but they just took it without seeking revenge!  Pastor King became known as a leader and proponent of this nonviolent protest taking his cue, as I said above, from Mahatma Gandhi and also Bayard Rustin.  He soon found himself in a position of leadership in the civil rights movement and continued in this role until his assassination on April 4th, 1968.  As Scripture puts it, ‘though dead, he still speaks…’ (Hebrews 11:4). 

The peaceful and gentle man and those who emulated him caused a groundswell of support for the cause of civil rights for the oppressed people of color, and the movement in that direction has continued to this day.  Can anyone honestly say that anyone is not better off today than what was common practice in the ‘50s and ‘60s?  Yes, there is still improvement in how we all treat our fellow man, but is that reason to revert to animal-like behavior seen across this nation recently?  Whatever happened in Minneapolis is no reason to toss aside the lessons that Gandhi and Pastor King taught us.  By becoming violent, any support for change that would take place vanishes like mist on a sunny morning.  Yes, protest this and other wrongs that have been done, but do so as Dr. King demonstrated and shame those who are so evil to perpetrate these crimes.  Don’t join them in their violence; be at peace with all men and let society see the difference.

Am I Peculiar?

In times like these, it can be puzzling somehow, that if we don’t ‘go’ to church, are we really the church?  What is the church?

In my reading last night in 1 Peter, I came to the second chapter, where Peter describes believers as “…living stones…”  In light of the ongoing isolation foisted upon us by our Governor here in North Carolina and the way that many churches have gone online to teach and worship, this really seemed to speak to me.  It’s always been my belief that the building is not the church; those who gather there (or not) are the church.  Some time ago, I had shared this with someone who had been skipping coming to church services and used the analogy of how he was one brick in the building of the church.  Picture everyone coming together as bricks gathering to create a structure; each that does not arrive will leave an empty space making the structure incomplete.

Peter goes on to compare/contrast those in Christ with those apart from Jesus, that those who now refuse Him will stumble and fall while we who are in Christ can declare God’s goodness and light:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NLT)

The KJV phrases it differently:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light… (1 Peter 2:9 KJV emphasis added)

As with many things, the English language has undergone many changes over the years.  In today’s vernacular, peculiar has a far different meaning than it did in 1611 (much as gay and some other examples I can quickly think of), but peculiar?  Reading in the NLT (or many other translations) shows how as disciples of Jesus, we are called by Him to be different, not peculiar in the modern sense (though some of us can be), but to be set apart from what culture describes as normative. 

So, what does it mean, as the church (the Body, not the building) to be peculiar or set apart?  Peter uses language in his epistle that would have shocked or even enraged ancient Jews as it is the same language applied to God’s chosen people, Israel, and specifically to the priests whose duties separated them from the ordinary Jew.  Such passages as Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; Isa. 43:20-21; and Mal. 3:17 all were, in the original context, thought to be speaking of and to only the Jew.  How is it that Peter is speaking to Gentiles in this way, and what does it mean?

2:9 a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. Peter continues to describe his Christian readers in terms the OT uses only for the ancient nation of Israel. “Chosen,” “royal,” and “holy” describe collectively the nature of the relationship between Christian believers and God. a chosen people. See Isa 43:10, 20–21; see also Eph 1:4 and note. All who believe in Christ—whether Jew or Gentile, regardless of nationality or ethnicity—make up the chosen people. a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. See Exod 19:5–6. As God’s royal priesthood, all Christians are to be holy and set apart for the Lord’s service as priests were expected to be in the ancient world. Regardless of one’s nationality by birth, Christians, by new birth, form a new nation in the world that is set apart for God (Mark 12:17). This holy nation is “God’s special possession” in a way that the rest of humankind is not. Christians are set apart to declare the praises of God in a world that rejects him, and they are in some times and places despised for it.”

NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan.

We, as Jesus’ disciples’, are to be different than those apart from Him.  We are not meant to be weird, strange, or odd necessarily (though many think us so), but to reflect to the world around us the wonder of God’s grace and light. 

Even now, with a proclaimed quarantine and isolation, we are His and must use every ability at our disposal to let His light shine.  Many church families, Crosswinds Church here in Leland, The Bridge Church in Wilmington, and the Chapel Hill Bible Church, have taken their services online and shared them with many who would usually avoid ‘going to church.’  This supposed pandemic has provided His Church with an opportunity for being a witness that is unparalleled since the time of the Caesars.  In strict obedience to Governor Cooper’s mandate, we have been ‘having church’ online (and the plans are to continue broadcasting online even after we have begun meeting together in our building).  This is as it should be as we are called to obey lawful authority unless and until they are telling us to do what is anathema to God.

So, peculiar doesn’t sound so bad; I kind of like it!

I want a raise – Where is my cut?

Well said and a lesson for all those screaming for “free stuff.”

theleansubmariner

I want a raise.

Of course I want a raise. Sadly, I am retired and no one pays me to write this blog. But the natural reaction for many people during any change in business is to expect some kind of pay increase. I mean, I came to work nearly all of last year. The company or organization seems to be doing better. Where is my cut?

Where to begin?

As someone who has been a manager over the years, I have faced this same issue when approached by those who worked directly for me. Companies want to attract and maintain good talent and pay is certainly one of the largest factors involved in this process. Note to anyone who is seeking more money” don’t forget that your worth is actually compensated for with a wide array of benefits including time off.  This article focuses mainly on the “financial compensation”…

View original post 1,579 more words

Can You God Home Again?

original.png

In The Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King, there is a particular scene that always seems to grab me by the throat. Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are riding back to the Shire when Gandalf notices that Frodo seems somewhat disconnected from the others. When queried by Gandalf, Frodo’s response is particularly poignant;

“’ Are you in pain, Frodo.”

“It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me.”

“Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,” said Gandalf.

“I fear it may be so with mine,” said Frodo. “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same, for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?”

Gandalf did not answer.’”

Gandalf had fought in the same war as Frodo, and so understood the wounds that are often unseen, yet remain deep within those who fought.  Changes that occur within anyone who has seen conflict are little understood by those who never have done so.  It seems to me that often even my beloved wife, Kathy, just doesn’t get it despite the many times I have tried to explain my wounding.  Enduring the unendurable and moving on (“Just get over it already!” is something I have heard) is, at best, an exercise in futility.  Even speaking with other Veterans can be less than helpful as we each have experienced a different part of ‘the elephant’ that is experiencing combat in its various forms.  ‘Seeing the elephant’ is a descriptive phrase first used following the Civil War of those who had fought.

“In some military quarters, having “seen the elephant” has been used as shorthand for having experienced combat.”

War and its many facets, affect those who have been through it in many ways. Even those in the same unit can have dramatically different views on what has happened; for those who seek to understand what the other has gone through, is best illustrated by the parable of four blind men discovering an elephant;

“A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable.” So, they sought it out, and when they found it, they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said: “This being is like a thick snake.” For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar-like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, “is a wall.” Another who felt its tail described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.”

For me to have an intelligent conversation with a MARINE who has been through ground combat (or for him to understand my view from inside a submarine), we must first realize that, like the blind men, we have ‘touched’ a different part of the same beast.  However, for the person who has never served…well, that is a different animal altogether. 

As with Frodo, there can be no ‘going back’ to the person we once were or viewing the world from the same eyes.  Hopefully, those who love us will understand and continue to walk with us through life.  My travels through life have shown me that few will remain despite the idiocy I can do as my mind fights with itself.  Through the good and evil, they stay and my heart treasures them above all riches.  My beloved wife, Kathy, is chief among these for she sees (and experiences) the depressive episodes, the rage that can appear without warning, and just wondering if I’ll ever be sane again.  Our faith sustains us through it all (both while I was in prison and since), and Scripture is a constant reminder that Jesus is the “God Who Stays.”

Again, like Frodo, though, it seems that until I leave this life (pictured in his journeying with Bilbo, Gandalf, and the elves to the land across the Western Sea from Middle Earth), my struggles and my desire for my friends to walk with me, will continue.  God’s grace and the real friends that I have found (that God has gifted me with) are a reminder that no matter the struggles and failures, there is a “far country” waiting.

The journey continues…

Precision Delegation – A guideline for leaders who find themselves in new roles

theleansubmariner

This article is dedicated to all of the people who have recently found themselves elected to new roles in their local governments. It is also something that might be useful to any number of people who are already in leadership but aren’t very effective in getting things done. Outside of time management (which is directly tied to delegation) there are very few things that can trip up a leader in the execution of their duties as much as delegation.

The article comes from my years as a submariner, business leader and business excellence teacher.

Precision Delegation

Delegation is defined as the assignment of any authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership. However, the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate…

View original post 2,492 more words

The Last Navy Day – How Truman almost killed the US Navy

theleansubmariner

Navy Day is October 27

(sort of)

Not to be confused with the Navy’s Birthday, which is celebrated on October 13, Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from President Warren Harding.

Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:

“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.””It is well…

View original post 1,711 more words

First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen

theleansubmariner

I asked for a sign and this is what I got (1638 EST 1/7/2019)

I monitor the traffic on the web site each day to see what is working and what is not. It was kind of an interesting surprise to open the blog up and see that number on the left.

Recently, the focus of the blog has been on Polaris submarines and the year 1959. I had already introduced the book written by Admiral Rickover that was based on his many letters to congress in regards to the names of the boats within the Polaris and Poseidon program. But I have struggled with how best to tell the story. The original work was published by Congress in October 1972 and is protected by copy write. I will do my very best to respect that for moral as well as legal reasons.

But the way the Admiral welcomed each…

View original post 987 more words