BOOTS ON

This is a lesson in coping, not fixing. Fixing is for God to do. He will help us cope until He does fix things.

Strategies for Coping When You desire to Serve but Cannot

Not long after my fall and the subsequent fracture of my fibula, a friend, who is also an aficionado of wearing western (cowboy) boots as an everyday and only shoe, took me to task for not having my boots on! And right he is! Had I been wearing any of my pairs of trusted boots, I most likely would not have slipped on the wet grass and fallen.

Most of us know the term ‘died with his boots on.’ It is a way of relating how someone kept doing the work they knew to do right up until the Lord called them home. The fellow who ‘dies with his boots on’ is content with life. He always perceived himself useful and respected for his work.

In the great movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” Jimmy Stewart plays Ransom Stoddard in competition with John Wayne as Tom Donophan  for a lovely young woman’s affection. Until Stoddard, a tender-foot new lawyer shows up in the small old-west town, Donophan is the big man, well liked and respected. They vie for the love of Hallie (Vera Miles). Because Stoddard believes in the rule of law not violence, he is forced to face Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) in a show-down. It’s a lopsided duel with Stoddard not sure from which end of the gun the bullet comes out. Stoddard is certain to be killed.  Donophan shoots Valance from the shadows making everyone believe Stoddard was the victor. He won not only Hallie, but a lifetime as Senator in Congress.

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Donophan believed he was without a purpose in life. He existed in self-imposed isolation.

THE LESSON: Don’t believe everything you tell yourself.

Returning for Donophan’s funeral, Ransom and Hallie found him to be a forgotten man, destined for a pauper’s grave. Ransom looks in the coffin and sees Donophan doesn’t have his boots on. The undertaker argues ‘they were almost brand new, almost never worn.’ Ransom demands Donophan’s boots be put back on him.  About to be buried without his boots, Donophan is the image of a man who died believing he had no purpose, useless. Stoddard shared the whole story with the newspaper reporters and they threw it away. An iconic line of the movie is the editor’s response to Stoddard’s request. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

I’ve always worn boots, since my Air Force days and then as a cop. Off-duty it was western boots and they remain my favorite of all shoes. I have probably gone through countless pairs over the years. Most of them eventually became useless, worn out and not good for anything unless you wanted to make a flower garden decoration out of them! Many of them are still lying about in a closet or a hallway. I just can’t get myself to throw them in the trash. Some, sure. Most, I just can’t. Those old boots are retired, their initial job finished.

Because those boots are inanimate objects, they feel no despair over becoming retired and even unusable. In today’s society, however, trauma and stress affect individuals from feelings of a life mission not completed to being pushed away by younger men or women. Some may believe they can do it better and have no need of an older person’s input. The same is true for believers who agonize over ministry unaccomplished because age, infirmity, or simply discrimination have blocked paths for many of these folks. Some studies show over 70 percent of pastors report depression over such stress. (www.charismanews.com) What are some of the causes of our pain over retirement or simply being shut out of a ministry? How can individuals learn to cope?

This is a lesson in coping, not fixing. Fixing is for God to do. He will help us cope until He does fix things.

There are a great many people who find retirement particularly difficult. If their profession was one in which they took a great deal of appropriate pride and it remains part of who they are, then separating from it is not easy. A study by the National Institutes of Health show suicide rates for career police officers are statistically higher for police within five years of retirement suggesting a correlation between suicide decisions and depression based on pending retirement. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) As a retiree, it is important to fight the empathy one feels toward those old boots; to feel like you’re just lying around the closet. Find ways to cope.

Grandkids are a great remedy for such malaise!  Some say they keep you young. I say they keep you alive! In family, the retiree is still needed and, if your family is like mine, you best keep those boots on because you could be rolling out anytime for something   critically important in the moment.

THE LESSON: Family is a great way to make sure you keep your boots on.

If there were western style boots in the first century, no doubt Paul and Timothy would be wearing them or a reasonable facsimile thereof! They were ready for anything at any time. First-responders in first century ministry, Paul and Timothy were the template for today. Remain in ministry, in whatever way it is defined for you, until the Lord calls you home. Even if debilitated, there is still some ministry function; becoming a prayer warrior is one example, through which God will use you.

THE LESSON: Be always ready to do whatever the Lord calls you to do.

There may be those who find no place for your work in a ministry they oversee. This is one of the most difficult hits to take. Even though you are not aware of any trouble between you and the person or a ministry team, to be disregarded is never pleasant. If the doors are closed to you within a group where you desired to work; this can become a serious struggle. As disheartening as it might be; hold true to what you know. Paul wrote to Timothy and advised him to let no-one criticize him for his youth. The reverse can be true. Pray for all those involved in ministry no matter their actions or attitudes toward you. Give grace.

THE LESSON: Be ready in all seasons to give an account for the hope that is within you.

A story is told in Ukraine about why the crosses on Ukrainian believers’ graves are at the feet of the deceased’s plots and not the heads, which may  have a small identifying marker. A reference is made to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24. He instructed His followers to ‘take up their cross and follow Him’. The belief is that on that day when the dead in Christ are raised with immortal bodies, as they step out of their graves, they will be able to reach down and pull up their cross and follow Him. I have no authoritative source for the story; but it does provide a good analogy for how prepared we are to be… always ready to follow Christ along whatever path He is directing us.

Retirement from a job or profession can be a wonderful new chapter in life. Ministry is not a job description. It is what happens when people who love God allow themselves to be His hands and feet. Everything we do can be ministry if we do it with the right heart. For too long Christians have left Ministry (capital M) to the “professionals.” Today, there is a greater awareness of the intimate connection between loving God and doing what He asks.  If you have made yourself available and then were overlooked, ask God to help you understand His plans and to accept by faith what you cannot understand through reasoning.

The last LESSON for ministry in retirement…

Work when you can, advise only when you’re asked, pray unceasingly and

                                                                                                              keep your boots on!

EXPECTATION!

Some of you may remember the retro-Heinz Ketchup commercials from the mid 70’s, most of you, probably don’t. One of my favorites was a policeman sitting at a diner counter next to a small boy very similar to the iconic Norman Rockwell painting. In Rockwell’s painting the boy was running away. In the Heinz commercial, both he and the policeman are eagerly waiting for the slow ketchup to finally make its way out of the bottle. The intended message was: They knew how good it would be so it was worth the wait.

I began thinking about living expectantly. A couple of analogies came to mind before I began thinking about Ketchup and the lovely Carly Simon singing about how great anticipation is when what is coming is going to be so incredible! The first was about high school seniors.

Do you remember senior week in high school or college? It was the last week when seniors were in the building. They came in to take whatever final tests they had to take and then of all the requirements for graduation were met. They were free to leave and go enjoy the early summer sunshine while the underclassmen remained in school. The seniors had not yet graduated; but, you would think they had by the way they acted. Their joy and exuberance at being free was cataclysmic! Graduation was still a week, or at least a few days, away. They were living large, knowing they were done with school. They were positionally graduates, even though they had not yet crossed the stage and had not yet ceremonially turned their tassels from right to left. (Or is it left to right?)

The other group that came to mind was also high school seniors who had received acceptance letters to the college to which they had applied. It was late April or early May and the seniors were still taking high school classes but they had been accepted to their college or university and suddenly, they were wearing the school colors or something with their college’s name on it. Their car suddenly sprang decals and window stickers about whatever college they were going to attend. They were enjoying living in great expectation of college. They were already there, positionally. On paper they had all the rights and privileges of a student of that university. Their position as students of the university allowed them to live in great expectation of the amazing times to come!

Have you ever wondered why so many Christians walk around looking like Sad Sack?

Sad Sack first appeared in 1942 YANK Magazine for soldiers.
It became extremely popular. Published by Simon and Schuster

Poor Sad Sack, nothing ever went right for him. He lived with a continual dark cloud over his head! No matter how hard he tried, it seemed all of the world was out to get him and the sergeants in the army were at the front of the line!

Sadly, many non-Christians look at Christians who are Sad-Sacking their way through life and wonder why anyone would want to be a Christian!

We have the ability to be living in great EXPECTATION! We are seniors knowing we’ve finished school and even though we have yet to cross the stage, we are already there, positionally! We don’t have to worry until graduation day, sitting there in cap and gown for the speaker to stand at the podium and when he or she calls our name says, “No, get off the stage, you didn’t make it!” As an entering freshman at our university on the first day, we don’t have to stand in a long line in a gymnasium on campus and get to the table, the registrar looks down a long list and says, “Sorry, your name is not on here, Goodbye!” No, positionally, we have already been accepted.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1 expressing the joy which comes knowing God has chosen us and preordained we will live with Him and He has blessed us with every blessing in heaven.(1) He goes on in his letter to the Ephesians and in chapter 2 verse 6 we read how Jesus has seated us in the heavenly places with Him. (2) The term used for seated is sugkathizó. (3) It is used only one other time in the New Testament in Luke as it talks about Jesus’s arrest. A group of people had been seated by the fire. (4) The word sugkathizó is a verb and it speaks of an act already completed. Jesus is not going to seat us, He has already sat us down or seated us in the heavenly places. POSITIONALLY we have already been placed in heaven though we have not yet walked across the stage of death or flipped our tassel from life on earth to eternity, but we are already there. It is a done deal.

Why would God do such a thing when we accept Christ as Savior and not wait to see how we live, how much we give or how many people will pray for us when we die? Because it is not about us! It’s about Him and His great love.

Certainly, Jesus tells us we will have trouble and heartache here on earth; but, we can take heart because we have already been accepted by the university, I mean the heaven of our choice!

I have plenty of days of pain and, yes, even some stress; but I am recommitting myself to live like a senior ready to graduate, knowing I don’t have to accomplish anything else myself; I’m done. That means I can start living every day for Christ! I won’t do it to try to earn heaven, I’m already there… I’m going to do it because I love Him and want to show my love to Him. I want to allow the Holy Spirit to use me any way He wants.

I commit to living as an Accepted Son and not a Sad Sack!

NOTES:

(1) Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [a]made us accepted in the Beloved.

 and God, being rich in kindness, because of His great love with which He loved us,

even being dead in the trespasses, did make us to live together with the Christ, (by grace ye are having been saved,)

(2) Ephesians 2:6

and did raise [us] up together, and did seat [us] together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus,

that He might show, in

the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus,

for by grace ye are having been saved, through faith, and this not of you — of God the gift,

(3) Strong’s Concordance 4776 sugkathizó

(4) Luke 22:55

Can you? Should you? A consideration of Progressivism and Political Ideology

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow explains to a young Mr. Will Turner, as the latter dangles precariously over the water astride the mainsail beam, in life there are only two things to consider. Those are, simply, what a man can do and what a man can’t do. In the movie scene, Will must decide if he can square with the idea his father was a good man and a pirate or he cannot. Each subsequent decision related to the matter would stem from his  decision.

Just prior to taking a ride on the mainsail, Will challenges Captain Jack

In an exceptional discussion of the political ideology of today’s Progressives versus the Liberal ideology of Democrats even one president past, Greg Weiner in Infinite Ideology points out the basic premise upon which each operated and now find themselves within a self-consuming paradigm of political thought. Weiner writes, “Liberals believe in the capacity of government to do good. Progressives believe that governmment’s job is to push society forward toward ever sunnier uplands.” (Weiner, 2019)

Such an ideology negates the accomplishments of the past Liberal administrations’ accomplishments for they will always be too small an attempt at what could be. It also consumes any current actions of the Progressives. Whatever a Progressive attempts today will be krill for consumption of the humpback whale of Progressive government tomorrow.

Weiner continues, “…the internal logic of progress reject limits, when progress is employed as a system of political thought or a principle of political action. It cannot respect dissent because progress is an inherent good, not a matter of dispute.” What a man can do and what a man can’t do implies limitations on what can be done and such cannot be visualized in the Progressive mindset. Where Conservatism, according to Weiner, “embodies a natural principle of limitation for one must ask what and how much to conserve.” (Weiner, 2019)  He also alludes to Daniel Patrick Moynihan as a Liberal spokesman who understood limitation because one could ask how much can government do? Such a question is not posed in the Progressive handbook.

 One Step Further

Captain Jack Sparrow

We have left Will Turner hanging on the mainsail long enough, let’s turn the ship’s wheel and bring him aboard. At this point in the movie, Captain Jack Sparrow asks young Turner, as he lays supine and breathless on the deck of the Dauntless, at the point of the Captain’s sword, Can you sail under the command of a pirate or can you not?  For the Progressives, Liberals and Conservatives there must be another subset of questions. It goes one step further than what you can do and what you can’t do.

Politicians must learn to wrestle with these questions, more critical perhaps than the first set, for Americans, as a whole, feel the tension without ever hearing or seeing it recognized. These questions are gigantic elephants in a very small room; the room in which the roles of government and bureaucracies among a people are considered. It is not just what you can do and what you cannot do… the questions are: What you should do and what you should not do.

To admit these questions exists is antithetical to each ideology, whether Liberal, Progressive or Conservative when it comes to the professional politician or the life-long bereaucrat. It reeks of restriction and limitations upon those in government. Yet, the people understand there are things with which an individual American simply does not want the government interfering. No doubt, this is best understood by the Conservatives and most loudly voiced by the far-right of Conservatism. Perhaps because it is most clearly or vociferously advocated by the far-right, many mainstream Republicans shy away from such contentious debate. They ignore such provocations at their peril.

These Americans rally behind political organizations with varying central themes, whether it is the NRA or another strong body of voters. With wagons circled over particular issues, these constituents have declared: “Enough is enough!” They will stand their ground as the politicians and bueaucrats circle relentlessly seeking to gain more and more control over individual Americans and their lives.   They have further decreed:  “This is a space where government will not act in our supposed best interest!” Americans believe they do know better and they have the Constitution on their side to give  them authority to call a halt.

No doubt, if members of the Liberal or Conservative schools would debate internally or among the schools of thought,there would be ample difference of opinion as to where the lines of what government should do and what it should not do would fall. However, the questions deserve to be asked. As Americans consider the dogma of the Progressives, who will not even allow such questions to be raised, American voters will turn enmasse away from the Progressive Kool-aid dispenser in haste.

Impeachment – The Enemy Within

“America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln

1838 speech – Springfield, Illinois

I am driven to write this, not out of a desire to share something of good that has come to my soul and it would near strike me down if I did not share it; rather, this is something heart-rending which tears at my soul and longs to be set down in print for others to consider.

I was not far from a local school recently and as I got closer to it, just about at the ‘School Zone’ signs, I saw a yard sign. Written upon it was a celebratory exclamation because the House had moved forward on impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Gladness and celebration at the prospect of taking the leader of our nation, the most powerful position in the world and attempt to show he has committed high crimes and/or misdemeanors worthy of being driven from office? How many children see that sign every day and what do they think about what they hear concerning America?

No American should revel in the fact that our nation is at a horrendous crossroads requiring us to consider such a trial. We should, rather, be broken and saddened by the state of our nation. This is not a political ‘we win – you lose’ game. This is all about the vibrant life of the greatest nation the world has ever known, so blessed by God; yet, so ardently denying Him.

Yes, it is a good thing we have a system which allows us to hold the President of our nation accountable to the people. But it is a sad and unnerving thing to think we have come to this point. The move toward impeachment should be a very last resort and one which is undertaken with deep sadness and regret, desiring any other option than this one to be possible, regardless of which side of the political fence – because we are Americans first over political party.

It matters not whether you like President Trump or despise him. If the Democrats are doing this solely out of malice and a whimsical belief that to bring President Trump down is to elevate their party, how very wrong it is! Neither American party will be enhanced by an impeachment. Both will lie, wounded and bleeding in the morass of the swamp they are creating. America’s enemies will win the day when we are so divided as to spend our elected representatives’ time dealing with a witch hunt, at its worst and the lawful taking down of a president over what may prove to be another red herring. They all have so much more pressing work to accomplish.

There may never have been a time in our history when the two principal parties in America’s system are so opposite one-another in their beliefs. To bring it to its simplest, the Democratic Party is widely endorsing the socialist economic methods which seek to evenly distribute the wealth of the people, no matter who worked harder or who achieved more. Those who have will give to those who have not, so everyone has a similar station in life. Healthcare is no cost to the individual because everyone is paying for it. That is translated, those who have worked hard and earned the most are paying for it for everyone else. Margaret Thatcher, once Prime Minister of England is reported to have said, “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of someone else’s money.” If Communism is so wonderful, if socialized medicine so great… why do the citizens of countries where such can be had are clamoring at our borders trying to get in?

Sadly, such rhetoric as free healthcare, free college education, a monthly income guaranteed by the government for everyone whether you work or not, whether you are a citizen, or not still comes with a cost. Someone must pay for all these things. The richest will have loopholes to avoid being the ones to pay and, yes, that includes the Democrat politicians who are advocating it. All these bright juicy apples of temptation hang just within reach of those who advocate for this system, but more Democrats are needed. The answer, for them, is open borders. Let those who want to come, come regardless of any previous immigration limits and, yes, they all can have all the benefits – the freebies and they can have the right to vote, too! Problem solved, more Democrats. If one can get past the allure of all the free stuff, common sense tells you such a system cannot work. Why model ourselves after a system which failed so badly across Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R.

The Republican Party claims allegiance to ‘conservative’ governance with capitalism or free enterprise being the standard applied for economic planning. You earn it, you keep it minus a fair share to the government for services such as the military protection we value so greatly. Immigration is strictly limited to those who, coming in will be income producing and a positive benefit to the nation. Healthcare, insurance and as much of everything else as possible is privatized getting the government out of running every portion of our lives. The failure of Social Security should prove to anyone the government has no business trying to manage your money!

 The federal government has a very limited role, constitutionally. However, those roles have morphed over time by more stretching than any elastic has ever done – except for some Walmart shoppers’ wardrobes. Limited government, greater home (local) rule and the private lives of people being private; such is where the Republican Party has historically stood. They need to return to their roots.

Many who read this will say I have incorrectly stated this position or that and want to argue the fine points of each party’s platforms. Remember two things. First, I gave the caveat that I was stating the sides at their simplest. Second, this is not about which party is saying or doing whatever. This is focusing only on the issue of factionalism which is tearing our country apart. Every single one of us is to blame. If we have voted, we are to blame. If we have not voted, we are to blame. It is time we, the American people, held our representatives accountable to do the job we have sent them to do and to stop trying to destroy one another in hopes of improving their own station. If self advancement or even party advancement is what this entire impeachment is about then those behind it should be seen as traitors to the people they are supposed to represent.

Impeachment without true cause is horrific abuse of a political answer to the most grievous of situations with a President – using impeachments as a party tool to create division, confusion, and prevent progress to an administration simply because you disagree with him and long for something you think is better, but haven’t been able to win at the ballot box, is itself a misuse of authority and should be prosecuted.

 Any elected official who uses their Congressional power to advocate and vote for impeachment with the only motive being obstruction of the administration in office should be held accountable for their own misuse of power. Voting for impeachment should be a very heavy, last resort kind of move; when there truly are high crimes and misdemeanors being committed and every other remedy has been attempted and come up short then is the time to wrestle over the need to impeach. Not before every other possible solution has been exhausted. When people begin to clamor for impeachment before a person has even taken office is more than ridiculous, it is criminal.

Abraham Lincoln was right about many things. His quote, written at the beginning of this is so sadly correct. May God help us.

Art provided courtesy of Nathan Greene Studios.

The ‘Father of our Country’ our first president, General George Washington was elected to office before there was such a thing as political parties. As he prepared to retire after 8 years, when he was encouraged by many to seek a third term; he wrote an impassioned letter on his retirement from public office. He believed the Constitution needed to be ratified and he sought that through his pleas. To promote the strength of the Union, he urges the people to place their identity as Americans above their identities as members of a state, city, or region, and to focus their efforts and affection on the country above all other local interests. He reminds the people that they do not have more than slight differences in religion, manners, habits, and political principles, and their triumph and possession of independence and liberty is a result of working together.

Copy of lithograph courtesy of http://www.thefederalistpapers.org

President Washington was very wary of political parties and the sectionalism and greed for power and wealth may have on those in government service. Washington warns the people that political factions may seek to obstruct the execution of the laws created by the government, or to prevent the branches of government from enacting the powers provided them by the constitution. Such factions may claim to be trying to answer popular demands or solve pressing problems, but their true intentions are to take the power from the people and place it in the hands of unjust men. His wisdom echoes down through the centuries and should shake us from our slumber and urge us to watch with prayerful resolve the outworking of today’s political power-hungry despots. These political swankpots may actually have convinced themselves they are the answer to America’s concerns. Some who push for impeachment may truly believe our government will be so much better off with them at the helm. More likely, they have no altruistic motives but desire only the self-aggrandizement which pulls at their already grossly inflated egos.

Allow me to close on a more up-beat note. I have had the pleasure of knowing some very bright, dedicated and patriotic political persons. These truly seek office in order to serve their local communities, their state and our nation. Some of these are veterans who put their life on the line in countless ways and remain excited about coming to work in the people’s house daily. They too are bothered by what I have described here because they see it up-close and personally. These men and women long for a better day in America and they fear the demise we have outlined here. They deserve our prayerful support. Their’s is not an easy task and it is one which can be overwhelming to the point of despair. If you know of such a one also, please let them know you are in their corner. They need to hear from you.

SPACE EXPLORATION – Sinful?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleaides, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens or fix their rule over the earth?”

Recently, I felt compelled to pen a letter to the editor of a Christian magazine after an article on India’s space exploration program. The letter is re-printed here for your consideration in part due to a conversation I had with a brother-in-Christ just this morning. We spoke of enjoying and encouraging the imagination of our young children and grandchildren. We reminded each other of times spent as children ourselves staring at a sky with white puffy clouds and calling out what animal or other images we saw the clouds forming. It is an amazing joy I share with my grandchildren as we sway lazily on our hammock under the shade of a sprawling oak tree. Imagining ourselves in the clouds ourselves must be on the mind of many future space explorers! With that in mind, I wrote the following to Mr. Arno Froese.

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min

Arno Froese, Executive Editor The Midnight Call P.O. Box 84309 Lexington, SC 29073

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I write to say how much I enjoy Midnight Call and to beg a question of you from the September 2019 Issue, under World Focus “Moon Landing”. You pose a question as to the purpose for India to be so involved in space exploration and putting a rover on the moon. You answer your question with, as you say, “one word: pride.” For those who set themselves a nest among the stars, Obadiah declares the Lord, those shall be brought down. Still, I could not settle myself on the idea of condemning the Indian exploration as sin, i.e. pride and leaving it go at that. I think of God who is the Creator magnificent who takes great joy in His creation, all of it, man, animals, earth and space. God, in putting Job into a correct understanding of God’s greatness, asks, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleaides, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens or fix their rule over the earth?” (Job 38)

I believe God is quite pleased with his heavenly creation and given proper attitude of His human creation, He would welcome and has blessed our exploration of it. God proclaims in Genesis 1:14 of the heavens which sepearate the day and the night, “let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years.” Men of Issachar could watch the heavens and thus understood the times (1 Chron.12

Can we begin to know, even in these last days what wondrous discoveries that might lead to cures of human maladies, stop the suffering of children or feed more poor than gleaning will be spun from a laboratory’s accelerator after exploration of space? More importantly, can we know another man’s heart? Can or should we ascribe guilt of sin to everyone attached to a nation’s space exploration program?

When considering the purposes of space exploration, we should also mention, the very real threats now looming like the Sword of Damacles across the globe for any maleficently minded country leader to shock our world with electronic pulses. Must we not know and have a command of space to stop such threats? I venture to say there are many noble purposes for space exploration. Although pride may be the Achille’s heel for some within such programs, still let us ask God to bless such work for learning more about our Creator and His creation as well as what boon to mankind it might bring.

I am reminded of the poem by Jahn Gillespie Magee Jr., the last lines which read, “while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod, the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” President Regan quoted this poem after the Shuttle disaster many years ago. When it comes to space exploration, the heavens are a creation which reveals the very nature of our God. We should relish every touch we can have with it.

Respectfully,

Dr. Ross Riggs  

Front Steps and Back Patios

t may be a pity too few may read this post for, even though many seem driven to cast a pall over America’s horizon and bemoan how Americans will never be what they once were, there is a brighter hope I see emanating from the shadows cast by all the nay say-ers

                    InSCIghts is one of a half-dozen titles under which this author writes some basic and other more detailed and complex concepts of law enforcement relations with their communities. Sadly, it is also one which has been bereft of any serious works of late. In thinking about why and trying to explain it to my son, I made the comment, ‘life happened’ but such has more in common with an excuse than an explanation. In hopes of filling the void on my web’s blog sites and reviving what once was a plethora of article submissions – to which several quality magazine editors would let out a long sigh when they saw the familiar SCI logo in their ‘in-box’ – I take pen and paper in hand and begin to swipe at the cobwebs of my mind and see what awakens! Okay, so I use a laptop and mouse not pen and paper and most of the cobwebs which have begun to take over my ‘attic’ are too entrenched to go with just a swipe. It is going to take a shop-vac on full suction to get those bad-boys out of the corners!

                    It is a combination of the ‘Patriot Day’ just passed which brought with it friends lamenting how communities and neighbors were so much closer in the weeks following 9-11 and the simple realization that students now high school seniors, to graduate in the Spring of 2020, were not yet born in 2001. They cannot share the common experience of Americans from that fateful day; nor can any of their classmates who come after them. These thoughts began to stir in me a desire to write. I realize when I pen an article or blog, there may be only a handful of people taking the time to read it. But, that’s okay. Writing is cathartic for me and if, by chance, it does some smattering of good for someone who is inclined to read it; all the better.

                     It may be a pity too few may read this post for, even though many seem driven to cast a pall over America’s horizon and bemoan how Americans will never be what they once were, there is a brighter hope I see emanating from the shadows cast by all the nay say-ers. What began as a faint glow and then was just an unsteady glimmer has begun to brighten and is overcoming the darkness one front porch at a time, or perhaps a back deck; maybe one kitchen at a time or within the family rooms of people who share a common bond. 

                    When traveling abroad for many years; Karin and I were taken by how a sense of community existed in a bond between people of the town and it seemed founded upon the small groups which would appear like magic on front steps or back patios, even along fence rows, as men and women, their work done for the day did not retreat  behind closed doors, shuttered windows and loud televisions. Instead in what were some of the  most financially destitute villages, we enjoyed these visits; when the evening light was fading and the one or two streetlights would crackle and buzz until the dim light within came on, brightening and lessening as the available amount of electrical current along the line would fluctuate and neighbors sought out neighbors to do nothing more than share time. In a world driven by money and possessions, those with the most of each seem to have less time than those who could not afford a cellphone, even if service was available. These folks were rich because of the way they valued and used their time.

                    The people who graciously gave us of their time and allowed us to share ours, in these far-flung villages were Christ followers. Not Christians because their names were dutifully entered into a ledger of some national church at their birth but people who had found the richness of the grace of God irresistible and they had given in, fully and completely plunging themselves into the love of Christ and learning what it meant to live in a community of believers. The New Testament has a name for such communities of believers, they are called the church.

                    What I am finding refreshing and the provider of hope for America, is these ‘old-world’ ways – the appreciation of time, the enjoyment of being involved in an event for the event’s sake and not for what each may get out of the event as another notch on their social status belt or recognition of their worldly wisdom. Men and women of America, more and more, are re-learning the joys of being. They are enjoying being together, being involved in others lives, being accepted and even needed – not for some thing they offer to the group but needed to just be part of the group. Those who seem to be succeeding at this new adventure seem as if they are living in an older, simpler time. Likely it was not truly simpler – maybe – just less complex, but not simpler. What I mean by that is; those who lives were less complex back in my parent’s and grandparent’s days were still not simple lives. There was pain and hurt, financial troubles, World Wars and much more. Still, their lives were less complex. They took time to have time and to share time with others. Family time was held sacrosanct. You did not find an excuse to miss family time, no matter how, as a teenager one might believe family time to be lame; or as a young adult might have too much work or something else as a priority, there was no excuse for missing family time.

                    There is, thankfully, an extension of family time. People, some related by DNA matches but many more who are together, making time, sharing time, enjoying time in simpler ways on front steps and back patios, even over fence rows and no one is looking to see what time it is or how late it is getting. These people begin to grow together and learn to care for one another building into one another’s lives. It all happens because they are blood relatives. All are saved by the precious blood of Jesus. They are Christ followers, not perfect people, hopefully not legalistic people or judgmental but similarly they have come from a past of yuckiness and brown stuff and found how Christ can forgive and forget and He loves them all the same, anyway. These followers of the Yeshuah are laughing and loving; learning and praying; hurting and crying; living and thriving – enjoying time together. Seldom is the television on (unless its football season – there can be a little leeway here – and it doesn’t matter because you would not be able to hear it over the talking and laughter anyway. Sometimes when they gather, they study their Bible or discuss ways to cope. No matter the mix – within it is hope. They are communities of believers in Jesus Christ who love one another and love getting together – the New Testament called it the church.

                    Is it perfect and without problems? Nope. But, there’s hope.

                    In this group, when it is believers who are mostly American citizens, there can be a range of political beliefs but politics which divide are not part of the ingredients of these groups. What is incredible is how these groups can become the strongest fiber, the most level foundation, the walls of support for a nation such as ours who desperately needs to know Jesus. These men, women, both young and older people of prayer will be what holds the American experiment together – not just because America is exceptional but also because these Americans are exceptional. What makes them exceptional? The God who made them. Their faith and trust in Him will hold them while the ship of state rocks on heavy seas.

                    If there was ever a time in America’s history when people of faith needed to be strongly united in being Behind the Line – the Thin Blue Line – it’s now. Together, prayerfully asking for God’s blessing and faithfully following His lead; Americans can overcome all of the dark forces which are vying for America’s lifeblood. Behind the Line – that is where I want to be – yet at the same time, Christ has asked His believers to be on the front line and it is possible be both. Christ is who He says He is, and He will do what He has said He will do. In the in-between time; when the day’s work is done and the streetlights falter, then flicker on; its good to get together and spend the most valuable resource you have in life – time, and it’s better when you spend it together.

Who Are You?

“Who are you?”

About a week ago I had the pleasure of going with my wife and daughter to a local theater to see the movie called, Overcomer. What started out as a simple pleasure of enjoying time with family became an amazing experience, enjoying a simple but powerful film which is, for many I am certain, life-changing. A young lady, Aryn Wright has an initially very subdued role and then POW she explodes in the power of the story. Other main characters are truly believable, like ‘Coach’ – he and I share a LOT in common – but the one who really struck me was Cameron Arnett in his character.

As much as I enjoyed the players in this dramatic, bring a box of tissues, leave reconsidering where you are in life kind of stories, was what captured the story, what drove people to the point of wonder. It was the Christ within the story. The movie, as we like to say at NCC, makes much of Jesus.  It is the clearest, simplest most incredible way to share the Gospel. When the high school principal sits down and takes Hannah Scott, (Wright), through the basics of salvation and leads her in a sinner’s prayer, (Yep, it’s a Christian school), you could hear a pin drop in the theater, and we were nowhere near a bowling alley!

No spoiler alerts, here, you have to see this, no… you need to experience this movie. The story that is all about Christ in this movie will change you even if you are a solid Christian who no longer needs to grow… this movie will drop kick you right through the goalpost of life! (Don’t worry, it’s not a football movie).

The two brothers are a bit too nice to each other… I love my brothers but… well, maybe we just didn’t see how they acted out of camera view! The little guy, I enjoyed how he always replied, “Yes, Ma’am” to his mother. It doesn’t happen much nowadays. I don’t remember not saying “Yes, sir” to my father and not because he demanded it. He deserved it. Us four boys were usually respectful of mom, not just because she deserved it, but on that one… dad demanded it! He used to say to us, ‘boys, she may be your mother; but, she’s my wife!’

If you haven’t been to a movie theater in a long time because the cost is high, and the movies are junk… Take the time to go out and enjoy this one. We need to support these films with great stories. No, they don’t have $100 million dollar budgets and groups like moviefone will always thumb their nose at them but many of even the most secular reviews are not choking on their words when they have to give it some praise.

Take a chance on a movie night once more. It will be worth it! Just, when the movie is over, the popcorn tub is empty, and the last slurp of pop is gone; maybe as you make your quick stop at the restroom before you leave… take a look in the mirror and reflect on (pun intended) the simple question… Who are you?