Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor + 70

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which drew the United States into World War II.

On the one hand, 70 years seems like a very long time. 70 years is a lifetime, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten," wrote Moses (Psalm 90:10.) The generation that fought World War II is dwindling; the youngest still living are in their late 80s, and, all too soon, they will be no more. There were some 84,000 American servicemen on Oahu when Japan attacked, but, today, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association only lists 2,700 members still living, and only 120 are expected to attend today's memorial service in Hawaii. 2011 saw the passing of the last World War I veterans, and there was only 20 years between World War I and World War II.

But, on an historical scale, 70 years is a very brief time. World War II is still very recent history that had a great deal to do with shaping the modern world in which we live. Ripples from those events still push driftwood up onto the shore of today. A knowledge and understanding of the events of 70 years ago are important in understanding modern times.

We also need to keep in mind a providential view of history. History is not a chronology of meaningless, however intricately interconnected, events. History has a purpose and an end that has been determined and decreed by the God who created the world and all that is in it. God decreed the wars of the 20th Century, as well as the wars of today, for His purposes and for His glory. Certainly, we are usually unable to understand what His purposes always are, but we know that He has a purpose. Nothing that occurs, however monumental or minor it may seem to us, occurs outside of God's will. His hand guides history.

Sometime today, I plan on watching Tora! Tora! Tora!, in my opinion, the best film about the attack on Pearl Harbor ever made.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A The Squirrel Can Cook Classic

By popular demand, here's my slow-cooker turkey breast recipe • republished from last year. We just had one of these a few weeks ago!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
It is 6 days until Thanksgiving, and thoughts turn to turkey dinner. But turkeys are HUGE, and, unless you’re cooking for a big family or a bunch of guests, a whole turkey, even a small one, really is just too much. For smaller gatherings, consider a boneless turkey breast. Today, we’re going to cook a boneless turkey breast in the slow-cooker. (Technically, it is a “turkey breast roast” because the de-boned turkey breast has been rolled into a roast shape and bound with a string net.)

Our ingredients are:
Turkey breast roast – thawed
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
Squirrel’s Low-sodium Cajun Spice

Remove the turkey breast from its package (but leave the string net on), rinse it under cold water, and pat it dry with paper towels. Coat with olive oil and then rub a generous amount of Squirrel’s Low-sodium Cajun Spice all over – top, bottom, and sides.

Place something in the bottom of your slow cooker to hold the turkey about ½ inch off of the bottom. (I’ve got a nice little wire rack that works well. An upside-down saucer would work, too.) Fill the bottom of the slow cooker to just below the level of your rack. (The chicken broth adds flavorful humidity to the slow cooker, and keeps the turkey nice and moist. Nobody likes dry turkey!)

Place the turkey in the slow-cooker, skin side up. Cook on high for 1 hour, then cook on low for 6 hours. After 6 hours, check internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Your turkey breast is done when the center reaches 170+ degrees.

Remove from slow cooker, place on a rack above a drip-pan, tent with a sheet of aluminum foil, and allow the turkey breast to rest for 15 minutes.

Slice and serve! Serves 6 (or four with some sandwiches later) (or two with lots of sandwiches for later!) Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

ReSquirreled: Does The Bible Teach Socialism?

[In light of some discussions I had recently about the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd, I thought I'd reprint this from April 2010. -Squirrel]
During the recent health care debate, I had a long conversation on Facebook with my cousin Tom. In the course of the exchange, he wrote in support of the new legislation, “Contrary to your claim that we are a pagan nation, I believe our basic approach to taking care of others in time of need is of a Christian manner.” So, does the Bible teach Socialism?

First, let’s define Socialism. One good definition is, “Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.” ("Socialism." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Apr. 2010.) Another definition is, “A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” ("Socialism." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Apr. 2010.) What it boils down to is public vs. private ownership and/or control of property.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about the ownership of property. Starting with the Ten Commandments, we see that people have a right to their own property.

The Eighth Commandment states, “"You shall not steal.”(Exodus 20:15) Stealing is defined as, “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.” ("stealing." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Apr. 2010.) So, we’re seeing that there is property that one person has rights to that another person or persons does not. It’s not looking good so far for the socialists.

The Tenth Commandment says, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) Coveting is different from stealing. Coveting is, “To desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property.” ("covet." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Apr. 2010) The Tenth Commandment says that it is wrong to want something that rightfully belongs to another. This doesn’t help the socialist, either.

But, wait! That’s all Old Testament stuff. Didn’t Jesus talk about the poor? He sure did, let’s look at some of what He said:

In Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Here He is speaking of the spiritual poor, and not necessarily the materially poor, so we can move on.

In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Here He speaks of giving to the poor from pure motives, and not out of a desire to impress others. He does say “when” and not “if,” so there is an assumption that his followers will give to the poor. But any command here is implicit, not explicit.

Mark 14 tells the story of a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume shortly before His crucifixion. Mark tells us, “But some were indignantly remarking to one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’” (Mark 14:4-5) John tells us (John 12:4-6) that Judas Iscariot was the one who raised the fuss, and that he did it not from any desire to help the poor, but so that he, as the groups treasurer, could have access to the funds himself.

Jesus’ reaction to this grumbling is very telling. He said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” (Mark 14:6-7 NASB) Did you catch that? He said, “(W)henever you wish you can do good to (the poor).” When and how a person helps the poor is up to their own wishes. He also indicates that no amount of human effort with ever eliminate poverty. “You will always have the poor with you,” He said.

“But wait!” I hear the Biblically knowledgeable socialist proclaim, “The early church was socialistic! They sold all their possessions and shared everything equally!” Well, that’s true to a degree. Acts 2:44-45 says, “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” And Acts 4:34-35 says, “For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” The question, however, remains; is this socialism?

Perhaps, if we examine the curious case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, we’ll have a clearer understanding.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.

Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
(Acts 5:1-10)

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land and did not give all the money to the apostles, and so God struck them down? Is that what happened? No! God struck them down for lying about not giving all the money.

Look at what Peter said to Ananias. “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?” Ananias didn’t have to sell his property; it was not required of him. And, having sold the property, the money was his to do with as he wished. Peter clearly acknowledges Ananias’ and Sapphira’s right to do with their own property according to their own desires. One of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s sins was greed, sure, but it was coupled with pride to lead them to do what they did. They wanted to be “big shots” in the church. (See Matthew 6:1-4 again)

No, the truth is that the followers in the early church engaged in commerce, buying and selling privately owned property to raise needed funds. The fact that they shared their funds with those in need shows that they were caring and generous people, not that they were socialists.

While the Bible clearly teaches that we are to support our government & pay our taxes (Romans 13:6-7), Scripture also strongly supports the right to private ownership and control of property. Do I think we could (& should) do more to help the poor? Sure I do. But it should be up to the individual who owns the property to decide when, how, and how much they give. Will many people not give as much as they could? Sure. But that is between them and God, as it is God who gave them their wealth in the first place (2 Chronicles 32:29.)

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(I highly recommend that everyone read Dr. Walter E. Williams' lectures on Economics For The Citizen. I took a year of economics in high school, and two semesters of economics at the University of Montana, but I've learned more about economics by listening to Walter Williams guest-host for Rush Limbaugh and by reading the materials on his website, then I ever learned in school.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 • 10 Years Later

“Eventually, September the 11th will be a date on the calendar. It will be like Pearl Harbor Day. For those of us who lived through it, it will be a day we’ll never forget.” – Former President George W. Bush, in an interview with the National Geographic Society, 2011

Time passes. The older I get, the more I realize that time passes, and seems to pass more quickly each year. Today’s events are tomorrow’s memories, and tomorrow’s memories soon become historical events. I was a freshman in high school during the 40th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This year marks 150 years since the start of the American Civil War. Next April will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.

And then there is today: The 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

The September 11th attacks are still emotion-laden memory for most of us, but it will not be many years before the events of that day become just another item in a newspaper’s “This Day in History” feature – an important item, to be sure, but, still, just another historical event, like Pearl Harbor or the Titanic.

And yet, near or far, minor or momentous, anniversaries are important. They allow us to reexamine things; things that we think, things that we feel, things that we know. And to reexamine these things in the light of what we have learned since.

I would urge you to spend some time today in quiet reflection on the events from 10 years ago. May I suggest the following video, a panel discussion from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as a “jumpstart” to your reflections?

911 Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Atom Bombs Save Lives! (And, Then Again, They Don't...)

Sixty-six years ago today, the United States dropped the first of only two atomic weapons ever used "in anger," i.e. for real, in battle, as weapons.

80,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima, with another 60,000 to die days, weeks, months, and even years later from the effects of the radiation burns they suffered that day. In total, it is estimated that 140,000 to 160,000 people died as a direct result of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Another 90,000 would die 3 days later, when the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

The United States War Department estimated that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would result in 500,000 to 1,000,000 American casualties, and at least twice that many Japanese casualties. Ending the war quickly saved 1.5 to 3 million lives, so, in that sense, the atom bombs saved many more lives than they ended.

But, then again, almost everybody who would have died in the invasion of Japan is now dead. Within the next 10 or so years, the entire WWII generation will have passed away. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, wars do not increase death, since 100% of us will die. All war does is concentrate death into a smaller space and time. But children were born who would not have been, if their parents had died in that invasion, so their lives, too, were, in a sense, spared by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So, in the light of history and the harsh math that a military planner must use, the atomic bombing of Japan saved a great many lives. But, also, in the harsh reality that, in a post-Genesis-3 world, everyone is under a sentence of death, the end of another war did nothing to stop the death toll that sin exacts.

The fact that all are sinners and that the just punishment for sin is death is the Bad News that makes the Good News so very, very good!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Um... Uh...

Wow... I've got a blog... Who knew?

I think I'll do something with this sometime soon...

The truth is that I've been very busy lately. I've not forgotten about the blog, and I've got stuff I want to write, but time just has a way of filling up quickly, as I'm sure many of you can testify to, as well. I just wanted to let y'all know that I've been missing you, and I'll be back soon!

(Sad... I just blogged about blogging...)

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Ronald Reagan on the 4th of July

Here are some thoughts from Ronald Reagan from July 4, 1983.

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Declaration of Independence

(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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Happy Independence Day, America!

Happy 4th of July!

Today is the day we Americans celebrate the overthrow of our evil English overlords (not to be confused with our modern English friends... It's complicated...) in the American Revolution of 1776-1783. This is a day for cookouts and fireworks and such with friends and family.

America is far from perfect, but I can't think of a better place on earth. I get teary-eyed when I hear The Star-spangled Banner, and I always try to say, "Thank you," when I see someone in the uniform of our armed forces. I pray that God will bring true Christian revival to America.

[Note: The "Patriotic Squirrel" image was designed by Carla Rolfe, and is available as a fantastic tee-shirt! Check out all of Carla's great designs!]

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Never Knew...

This photograph was sent to me today...

I never knew I had my own coffee shop! I'll have to have legal contact them regarding royalties or something...

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Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory of Our Honored Dead

Reposted from Memorial Day 2010

Memorial Day is the day set aside to remember the unpayable debt we owe. In our nation's 233 years of history, 657,970 service men and women have died in combat. That is combat deaths on the battlefield, not total war deaths nor all deaths in the line of duty.

On Memorial Day, May 31, 1982, after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, President Ronald Reagan made the following remarks. While there are references to the geopolitical situations of the era, but the sentiments are timeless.

Mr. President, General, the distinguished guests here with us today, my fellow citizens:

In America's cities and towns today, flags will be placed on graves in cemeteries; public officials will speak of the sacrifice and the valor of those whose memory we honor.

In 1863, when he dedicated a small cemetery in Pennsylvania marking a terrible collision between the armies of North and South, Abraham Lincoln noted the swift obscurity of such speeches. Well, we know now that Lincoln was wrong about that particular occasion. His remarks commemorating those who gave their ``last full measure of devotion'' were long remembered. But since that moment at Gettysburg, few other such addresses have become part of our national heritage -- not because of the inadequacy of the speakers, but because of the inadequacy of words.

I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.

Yet, we must try to honor them -- not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.

Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we -- in a less final, less heroic way -- be willing to give of ourselves.

It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. War will not come again, other young men will not have to die, if we will speak honestly of the dangers that confront us and remain strong enough to meet those dangers.

It's not just strength or courage that we need, but understanding and a measure of wisdom as well. We must understand enough about our world to see the value of our alliances. We must be wise enough about ourselves to listen to our allies, to work with them, to build and strengthen the bonds between us.

Our understanding must also extend to potential adversaries. We must strive to speak of them not belligerently, but firmly and frankly. And that's why we must never fail to note, as frequently as necessary, the wide gulf between our codes of morality. And that's why we must never hesitate to acknowledge the irrefutable difference between our view of man as master of the state and their view of man as servant of the state. Nor must we ever underestimate the seriousness of their aspirations to global expansion. The risk is the very freedom that has been so dearly won.

It is this honesty of mind that can open paths to peace, that can lead to fruitful negotiation, that can build a foundation upon which treaties between our nations can stand and last -- treaties that can someday bring about a reduction in the terrible arms of destruction, arms that threaten us with war even more terrible than those that have taken the lives of the Americans we honor today.

In the quest for peace, the United States has proposed to the Soviet Union that we reduce the threat of nuclear weapons by negotiating a stable balance at far lower levels of strategic forces. This is a fitting occasion to announce that START, as we call it, strategic arms reductions, that the negotiations between our country and the Soviet Union will begin on the 29th of June.

As for existing strategic arms agreements, we will refrain from actions which undercut them so long as the Soviet Union shows equal restraint. With good will and dedication on both sides, I pray that we will achieve a safer world.

Our goal is peace. We can gain that peace by strengthening our alliances, by speaking candidly of the dangers before us, by assuring potential adversaries of our seriousness, by actively pursuing every chance of honest and fruitful negotiation.

It is with these goals in mind that I will depart Wednesday for Europe, and it's altogether fitting that we have this moment to reflect on the price of freedom and those who have so willingly paid it. For however important the matters of state before us this next week, they must not disturb the solemnity of this occasion. Nor must they dilute our sense of reverence and the silent gratitude we hold for those who are buried here.

The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI's of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way.

Winston Churchill said of those he knew in World War II they seemed to be the only young men who could laugh and fight at the same time. A great general in that war called them our secret weapon, ``just the best darn kids in the world.'' Each died for a cause he considered more important than his own life. Well, they didn't volunteer to die; they volunteered to defend values for which men have always been willing to die if need be, the values which make up what we call civilization. And how they must have wished, in all the ugliness that war brings, that no other generation of young men to follow would have to undergo that same experience.

As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish: that no other generation of young men will every have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice.

Earlier today, with the music that we have heard and that of our National Anthem -- I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.

Thank you.

I can add nothing to President Reagan's words except my own humble, "Thank you," to all who have paid the highest price for the liberty that you and I enjoy.

2011 • It is often said that freedom isn't free. Freedom is payed for by the blood of heroes and patriots. Join me in thanking God for the heroes and patriots who have paid the price for our freedoms. Pray also that our nation will repent of using those freedoms to pursue lives of ungodliness and unrighteousness and return to the Biblical morals that were foundational to America at her birth. Amen.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 5/28/2011

A Saturday Nut Special!

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

Well, those nuts have been piling up for several weeks, so let's get to it!

First up, we have a story out of Chicago about a woman who felt directed to walk, naked, to the police station - with the predictable result that she got herself arrested and admitted for psychological evaluation. She told police "that spirits told her to take her clothes off and walk to the police department." A friend asked me if they were distilled spirits...

Quick note: Don't take Mommy's pot stash to school for show & tell... “Right now, I can’t speculate as to what charges might be brought against the mother,” Deputy Sheriff Chris Welborn said.

In the wake of Harold Camping's failed prediction of Judgment Day® last week. (And he's still saying that everything will end on October 21, 2011...) We'll get to go through it all over again with the Mayan thing in December of 2012. Seems like the Dutch are getting ready... because an old, failed, pagan civilization can't be wrong! Right?

I see stuff like this, and all I can think of is, "We don't pay our police officers near enough..."

I am an aircraft buff. I like flying machines. And I've always had a soft spot for the airships of bygone days. Therefore, I was overjoyed when I read that Goodyear will be replacing their signature blimps with bigger and faster honest-to-goodness Zeppelin airships! That just rocks!

Let me see if I've got this right; The monastery's abbot is described as, "A flamboyant former fashion designer," and their star attraction is a dancing nun who used to be a stripper? Is that all? I can't understand why the Pope would want to shut them down... and for, "lack of liturgical, financial and moral discipline," no less!

From the "The wicked flee when no man pursueth" department comes the story of a man who jumped into the river because he thought the police were after him. They weren't. No doubt they are now wondering why he thought they might be. Oops.

It is an undeniable fact that tourists will buy anything...

Growing up, I'd always thought that the Caped Crusader's "Gotham City" was analogous to New York. Well, it seems I was wrong. Turns out, Gotham City is really Petoskey, Michigan. At least, that's were they found Batman to be living...

I'd never even heard of a "fish pedicure" until I read this story. In light of the ongoing "Bunnygate" fiasco, I think the beauty salon is getting off easy...

That's all I've got in The Nut Cache right now. Thanks for stopping by, and keep those nuts and letters coming!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Quick Note to Dejected Followers of Harold Camping

May 21st has come and gone without the Judgment Day that Harold Camping predicted so confidently and taught so forcefully. You are discouraged. You are dejected. Perhaps you are financially destitute, because you cashed in all your assets to buy advertising for today's non-event.

I am not writing this note to ridicule or mock you. Yes, I have mocked Harold Camping and his teachings, but I did not mock you. You were deceived. You were lied to. No doubt your disappointment and discouragement will quickly turn to anger at the person who deceived you - and rightly so.

But all hope is not lost. You put your faith in the wrong place. You trusted someone who twisted the scriptures. When he lied about the date, understand that he also lied to you when he said, "The Bible guarantees it."

The Bible has not let you down.

Camping's false teaching was a fault, not the scriptures.

If you cannot sleep tonight, read the Gospel of John. Read it all the way through.

Or watch this video.

Also, order this book. It will teach you how to properly understand God's Holy Scriptures.

In the morning, go to a true, Bible-believing church. You can start your search for one in your area here.

I, and many others, are praying that God will open your eyes to His Truth.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Family Radio's Camping's Trip

(NOTE: For detailed information on the errors that Harold Camping is teaching, check out Alpha & Omega Ministries' Family Radio Resource List)

As no doubt many of you already know, Harold Camping has, through a tortured process of numerologically gymnastical scripture-twisting, determined that this Saturday, May 21, 2011, is Judgment Day®. Billboards announcing the event are blazoned with "the Bible guarantees it!" Vans and RVs have been crossing the country with bright warnings of impending doom painted on the sides. I just heard Camping say last night (No, I don't normally listen to Family Radio. But this week is... special.) that the rapture and a great earthquake will hit each timezone at 6pm standard /7pm daylight.

I'm writing this post to go officially on record with my prediction that Harold Camping is totally wrong in regards to the timing of the return of Jesus. The odds are that nothing out of the ordinary, supernaturally speaking, is going to occur on May 21st.

Just as Camping bases his prediction on the Bible, I also base my prediction on the Bible. Whereas Camping pulls numbers from totally unrelated passages all over the Bible, I can base my prediction that Camping is wrong on just a few verses - All direct quotes from Jesus Himself, and all in the context of Jesus teaching about His return!
Matthew 24:36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."

Matthew 24:42 "Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."

Matthew 24:44 "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

Matthew 25:13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Mark 13:32-33 "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (33) Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come."

Acts 1:7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority."
Now, as Pastor Jim McClarty is fond of saying, "Wherever you and the Bible disagree, one of you is wrong. And it is you." So Harold Camping is clearly wrong. And Saturday will just confirm what we already know.

Well, Camping has been wrong before. He predicted that the world would end on September 11, 1994. When it didn't, he explained himself by saying he had not studied the book of Jeremiah before making that prediction. Well, okay, then. That explains it...

So what will Camping's followers do when events show that he was wrong yet again?

I expect that some, finding themselves still here on May 22, may decide to leave this world by their own hands. This saddens me, but I do expect there will be some. There doesn't seem to be any sort of organized plans for a mass exodus, ala Marshall Applewhite, but I would not be shocked to hear of individual Campingites suiciding over this, especially those who've emptied their savings to pay for the billboards and newspaper ads and whatnot.

Others, having believing that Camping read the Bible right, and, therefore, that it is the Bible that is wrong, will turn away from anything to do with the Bible at all. After all, "The Bible Guarantees It." I expect that James White is correct, when he says that we will soon see atheist groups pushing broke and disillusioned ex-Campingites as spokespeople for "the destructiveness of Christianity." Already, Atheists are mocking all Christians because of Camping's kooky predictions.

Some will simply act like nothing happened at all. Back in 1980, the Baha'i predicted the end of the world. A couple I knew were Baha'i and were very vocal about the prediction. After the date passed without incident, they just refused to talk about it at all. Ever. If anybody brought it up, they would walk away or leave the room. They'd do anything but acknowledge the failed prediction. I expect many of Camping's followers are about to learn a new phrase; "Harold who?"

But, after all is said and done, Saturday, May 21, 2011, will not be the end of Camping's teachings.

You see, back in 1822, a Baptist preacher in Vermont by the name of William Miller started a movement when he began teaching that Christ would return October 22, 1844. Well, when October 22, 1844 came and went, many left the movement. But some didn't.

One of these Millerites, a young girl named Ellen, claimed to receive visions from God that explained how Miller had been right after all. Miller had gotten the date right, he'd just gotten the event wrong. Jesus, it seems, was beginning His "Investigative Judgment" in 1844, and would return physically when He was done. And, thus, the Seventh Day Adventists were born.

All Camping's teachings need to gain new life and continue deceiving people for years to come is someone to play Ellen G. White to his William Miller.

So, what should be the Biblical Christian's response? The Bible does, after all, say that Jesus will return. How do we respond to those who would lump us in with the Campingites and other fringe groups? Our response should be same response we should ever have to any false teacher - the Truth!
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)
We should correct error by patiently teaching what the Scriptures actually say. It is simple, but it will not always be easy.

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P.S. - See you Sunday, May 22, in church!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Brief Thoughts on Bin Laden's Assisted Assumption of Room Temperature

I was informed by my daughter Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I sat and watched the news with her. We watched President Obama's announcement. I saw the pictures of folks celebrating in front of the White House and in Times Square. After an hour or so, I went to bed.

It has now been a few days, and I have a few thoughts on the whole thing.
  1. I was honestly surprised to discover that Osama bin Laden was actually still alive. I have thought for years that we was killed in the fighting in Afghanistan years ago. I thought that the leaders of Al Qaeda were working to keep the myth alive.

  2. Osama bin Laden was a very evil man who was responsible for the deaths of thousands worldwide. He was a coward who hid in the shadows and conned others into doing his fighting for him. He deserved to die. (Genesis 9:5-6)

  3. Osama bin Laden was not a criminal to be arrested and tried. He was an avowed enemy of the United States responsible for the deaths of American citizens. As such, he deserved to be hunted down and killed. He got what he had coming to him.

  4. I feel a grim satisfaction that Osama bin Laden was taken down by members of the American military. Yeah, it's payback. Huah!

  5. There are a lot of conflicting stories about how bin Laden died. Was he armed? Was he unarmed? Did he resist? None of it matters. Even if he surrendered, was captured alive, made to kneel down in the driveway, and executed with a shot to the back of the head, justice was done. As I have already said, he wasn't a criminal to be arrested and tried, he was an vicious animal to be put down.

  6. While I have real satisfaction that an enemy of my nation has been killed, I do not celebrate his death. The dancing in the streets that I saw on the news is unseemly. Death, even when so undeniable deserved, is never to be celebrated.

  7. I do not believe that we owed Osama bin Laden a burial in accordance with his religious beliefs. I think his body should have been chopped up, mixed with pork, and fed to dogs, and his head should have been spiked above the White House gate as a warning to others who might desire to take up where Osama bin Laden left off. I have no problems sending strong messages.

  8. It stands to reason that, if I have no problem with the public display of his severed head, I have no problem with the release of photographs of his corpse. People have been taking photos of dead people for as long as there has been photography. The FBI used to routinely release photos of dead gangsters, such as "Baby Face" Nelson & "Pretty Boy" Floyd, in the 1930's. I don't think it's any big deal, really.

  9. In his remarks Sunday night, President Obama, echoing the words of President Bush before him, said, "... our war is not against Islam." I think this just shows that we still do not understand who our enemy is, and what motivates him. I have no doubts that Islam is evil in and of itself.

These are just some of the things I've been thinking about in the wake of Sunday's news. For much more intelligent thoughts on the matter, I would direct you to Al Mohler's article from Monday.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

"He Is Not Here, For He Has Risen"

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28 ESV)

The tomb is empty! Praise God, the tomb is EMPTY!

I pray that your worship today will be filled with joy, because the tomb is empty!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/23/2011

A Saturday Nut Special!

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I don't know about you, but I find the combination of pride and ignorance amusing. Especially when the combination is found in a governing body. You may be familiar with famous examples, like the Indiana General Assembly's attempt in 1897 to legislate the value of π. Or the 1998 motion by an Australian MP to impose a global ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide. Now, it seems, in 2011, the government of the African nation of Malawi bids to join the ranks of legislative bodies that make you go "Huh?" by making flatulence a criminal act.

Every area of the planet has it's own dangers to be watched out for. As I endure the winters in Montana, I often think that it would be nice to live someplace warm, and I imagine pastoring a church is some tropical paradise where I can wear sandals on Christmas day instead of snow boots... And then I read a story like this...

Ever since it was erected in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has stood in New York harbor as an enduring symbol of freedom. Many Americans are decedents from immigrants who's first sight of America was the view of the Statue of Liberty from the deck of a ship. And there are many of America's sons who were welcomed home from war by that same sight of Lady Liberty's upraised torch. The Statue of Liberty is such an iconic figure that it is no surprise that she has appeared on many US postage stamps. But, if you were going to issue a new postage stamp featuring a photograph of the Statue of Liberty, wouldn't it be a good idea to actually use a picture of the real Statue of Liberty? Oops!

I remember, back during the Cold War, whenever the Soviet Union bothered to publicly deny something, it was usually true. And, while the Soviet Union has been, as Ronald Reagan predicted, consigned to the "dust-bin of history" for about the last 20 years, that attitude of doubting official pronouncements by the government of Russia has stayed with me. Therefore, I really have no idea what, exactly, to make of this...

Russian Cosmonauts may not be having sex in space, and Canadian dentists don't seem to be, either. At least if their spouse is also their patient. Canadian regulations regarding physical relations between health professionals and their patients are, it seems, without exception.

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Johnny Mac Throws Down on Rob Bell!

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." - Ephesians 5:11
Shepherds of the flock of God need to feed the flock that is entrusted to them with the Word of God, both accurately and completely. But that is not all. A Pastor also needs to warn the flock of danger. John MacArthur has done both of these tasks faithfully for years.

Now, for the past few days, at the Grace to You blog, MacArthur has been critiquing Rob Bell's theology. It is some of the most hard-hitting and theologically sound criticism I've read to date.

If you've not read MacArthur's comments, I would encourage you to do so.

Here they are, in order of publication:

Rob Bell: a Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

Rob Bell: “Evangelical and orthodox to the bone?” Hardly.

Bell’s Inferno

Rob Bell’s Unbelief in His own Words

Yesterday, my friend (and closet Squirrel Fan who, for some strange reason, has taught his daughter to call me "Mouse") Fred Butler made some great observations about the mindset exhibited by Bell's supporters and defenders in his post Hip and Thigh: Hell’s Bells.

(Programing Note: Stay tuned for a Saturday Nut Special tomorrow!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of the Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

If you listened to my message from last Sunday, you know that I hold to Thursday as the day of the Lord's crucifixion. I'm not blogging today to defend that view. If you want to know my reasoning, you can give it a listen.

I'm going to take some time today and contemplate the Cross of Christ. It still amazes me and fills me with awe that the Creator would not only enter His creation, but would pay the terrible penalty of sin to purchase for Himself a people.

We can never repay such a debt. We can only worship Him forever.

I will be listening to this song several times today...

The Power of the Cross

by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

© 2005 Thankyou Music, administered by songs
excl. UK and Europe, administered by Kingsway Music, Used by permission.

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