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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