BLESSED are the CRACKED

Huh?

What in the world does that mean? Why is it a title to a ‘Ministry Minute’ post?

The line was quipped by a master comedian of the last century, Groucho Marx. He has become a kind of philosopher in residence when it comes to the voices in my head. Okay, I know, Mr. Editor, a couple of more quips like that about myself and the Red Flag cops will be after me and my benevolent voices! So, “blessed are the cracked… for they shall let in light!” Allow me to let in a little light from the wisdom of Groucho Marx!

Personal file

I have a walking stick with a handle which is a silver head of a black lab, resembling my dog Gunner. Gunner is my own black lab but with shepherd and chow mix. He was a service dog, working with me at local hospitals including Akron Children’s.  On the stick is an inscription with Gunner’s name and ‘Comrade’ then a quote. “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” You guessed it, Groucho Marx.

I’m not as devout a follower of Groucho as I am, say, The Three Stooges. They are a class of philosophy and lunacy all their own. Still, Groucho is a bit of a conundrum. Cynical mirth on the outside but, scratch the surface and the thoughts of someone much deeper emerges.

Long before Charles Dederich, a self-help guru from California, said in 1978, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’, Groucho Marx understood it much more deeply. Allow me to introduce, Julius, aka Groucho, the leader of his brothers in a comedy team. He was born in 1890 and died in 1977. A master comedian, he never cursed in any performance which speaks to his character. Groucho became famous in radio and later, the 1950’s, began the televised ‘You Bet Your Life’ quiz show. So, consider now, Groucho’s philosophy on living a happy life:

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it will be. Yesterday is dead.  Tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today and I am going to be happy in it.”

What if most of us would latch on to that sentiment, particularly those Christians among us who feel compelled by the weight of their calling to go about as if dragging Marley’s and Scrooge’s chains combined? But, then again, we live in an era of not needing to take responsibility for anything. Why should we take responsibility for our own mood? Those who throw rocks at cops or blow up buildings to voice their angst have seldom felt compelled to take responsibility for their actions. Society is rampant with those not accepting responsibility for anything. Their poor health after a 40-year 3-pack-a-day smoking habit is the fault of the doctor who doesn’t have a pill for that. The drug addict turned thief, once caught, regales us through the media about how life has cheated him. Society is to blame for all his trouble.

“I …have the power to make me happy…I choose…” A Christian with the joy of the Holy Spirit can rejoice regardless of circumstances. It is not that they walk around with a silly, ‘I’m in love with life and I want you to have a daisy in your lapel’ kind of irrational rot. They have, though, an inner peace, a joy that comes not from circumstances but in spite of them.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You make me so angry!”? That is an incredible amount of power for anyone to give someone else, the power to create your mood. More accurately, it could be said: “I dislike your actions so much, I am choosing to be angry!” Of course, we don’t speak in such a way, but it is more accurate. Why would you want to let anyone else choose your mood? If you put that on ‘auto-pilot’ and walk down the street, you’d be schizophrenic after two blocks!

I am going to choose to walk daily in the joy of the Holy Spirit and trust in Christ for what comes. Groucho is an interesting fellow; but, when it comes to directing my life, I’ll go with the Holy  Spirit.  Still, there is room for considering the philosophy of Groucho and his wisdom. For example, it was he who made it clear, “A black cat crossing your path… is going somewhere!”

Groucho understood the brevity of life and the problems of health care even back in the mid-twentieth century. He said, “Growing older is easy. You just have to live long enough!” And that brought him to the problems of medical care. “A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running!”

Of course, like many in show business of his day, marriage was not a generous endeavor for him. Married three times for 22, 6 and 15 years respectively, Groucho said: “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury!” And on the topic of divorce, his wisdom came through his cynical wit. “Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse!”

 Here though is the quote of his which spurred my thoughts in writing this today.  

“The first thing that I can record concerning myself is that I was born. These are wonderful words. This life to which time nor eternity can bring diminution. This everlasting, living soul began. My mind loses itself in these depths.”

Not much is written about the Marx family’s faith or Groucho’s own walk with God, but this quote betrays a depth of understanding that perhaps he did know our Creator God. That, of course, is between him and God.  Let’s consider his quote…

Groucho was awed by the concept of a person being born and more so, born with an eternal soul. He calls it an everlasting, living soul and such shows an understanding of the depth of the miracle, which is man, which is creation. Few sadly take the time to consider how incredible, how amazing the birth of a human being is and that it involves the beginning of a living soul that will never die. No where else in all of creation is there such an event. Humans alone can mirror the Creator God by having an eternal soul. Groucho understood.

No doubt, it seems that Groucho was a little cracked and thankfully so because he has allowed a little light to shine on his understanding of an eternal soul. Perhaps if we could capture some of Groucho’s awe over our eternal soul and the miracle of our birth, we might stop to appreciate each day of our lives a bit more and the Creator who gives each to us!

courtesy quotefancy.com

And Then There Were Three

Are you old enough to remember an old television ‘soap opera’ that began in 1965 … “Days of Our Lives”? I understand it is still running today, obviously different actors but I wouldn’t doubt the story line is the same! The opening segment showed an hourglass, and the narrators mellow voice came in saying, “Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” If our mother missed a few days of it, no worries, the situations were dragged out for so long, you could keep up even after a month sabbatical! I remember that my mother would do her ironing in a room where the tv was visible from where she stood. For those of you who do not know what ‘ironing’ is, Google it. You’ll find that Meriam Webster defines it as:  “the action or process of smoothing or pressing with or as if with a heated iron.” But I digress.

Like sand through the hourglass… Jack Nicholson playing in The Bucket List describes life as ‘like smoke through a keyhole” and the psalmist wrote in Psalm 90:6, “In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.” He goes on to write, “We finish our years like a sigh. 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Moses wrote Psalm 90 speaking toward man’s frailty. Solomon, a king who wrote many psalms, and wrote Lamentations echoed the despair of Moses often saying that life is vanity and striving after success in life is all vanity for another man will come and receive all of the bounty from your work. WOW, a total downward ride at the beginning of this paper. I wouldn’t blame you if you quit reading right now. But I suggest you keep reading for there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train! Maybe.

What spurs the thoughts of sand through the hourglass, smoke through a keyhole and grass that grows up and then is cut and thrown to the fire? This past weekend and, in fact, the entire last few months have brought into very sharp focus the brevity of life and my own mortality. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.

It is interesting that before everything that has taken place in the first quarter of 2021, for Christmas 2020 my daughter Suzanne got me a “Bucket List” book you fill out the list and then describe how it was fulfilled. Now, with the stark realities of life bearing down on me a bit, that list is all the more important. A top priority on it is for my oldest grandson Aaron and I to get to Colorado to see the Air Force Academy and simply just be together. That is a priority more so now than when we first talked of it last fall.

Notice what Moses wrote, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”  Now, Moses has been wandering in the desert for 40 years because of a stubborn bunch of people, a million or so, I believe and all they did was complain. I can understand why Moses would be a bit sullen! Still, God’s word is inspired writing. Moses wrote what God wanted him to write. As far as the 70 or 80 years, Moses lived to 120 and he started the wandering when he was 80! No wonder he was sighing when he came to the end of his time and after all the wandering in the desert, he did not get to enter the Promised Land. He died before they went in! But what about us? What is our attitude? More importantly, what is my attitude?

I haven’t hit the 70 mark just yet. Six more years plus a few months. With the lung disease with which I have been diagnosed, I can still make 70, good Lord willing, but it might not be a race where I’m coming in full speed, pedal to the metal at the finish line. It may be more a tortoise kind of finish, but we shall see. Still, I don’t see me ‘ending my days with a sigh…’ I don’t see that the best of my days are trouble and sorrow. Quite the opposite!

I am, among men, most blessed. I have a loving wife of 40 plus years, five wonderful kids and their spouses plus 12 amazing grandchildren all who love me far in excess of what I deserve. I have a nice home that keeps me warm in the winter, dry during the rain and pleasantly cool in the heat of summer. I am retired from a career which I deeply loved, and I believe was successful at it. I can get up and go when and where I want, most of the time, my surgeries past and, hopefully even future, have not prevented that. I have time to fish and ride my Harley and I have a new amateur radio transceiver for my hobby time. I can walk out my back door and see my horses or walk to the pond to fish. There is food in the pantry, fridge, and freezer – plenty to go around and some for those in need. I could count blessings on, and on, but you will think me bragging so I’ll stop there.

The admonition that Moses gives which I try to hang on to is: “Teach us to number our days so that we may gain wisdom.” Two events recently and a phone call I just completed even as I write this remind me of my own mortality and the importance of this admonition to number our days. First was my eldest brother’s death in late November. This past weekend my remaining two brothers and I headed for West Virginia to the mountainside where we roamed as kids. There we planted a rose bush for our brother in a small cemetery on the side of the mountain and placed his and his wife’s ashes there, completing a committal service for him. Now there are but three of us. The ‘fab four’ we jokingly labeled a silly photo we took several years ago at a family get-together are now not four but three. That is a stark reminder that life is not a forever event, at least not the physical life in these mortal bodies. Every soul ever born lives forever. The question remains for each, where does it spend that eternity? For the Christ-follower, the end is sure. A new body and our souls will continue for eternity in the presence of our God whether in a celestial realm or walking the new earth that God will make (Revelation chapter 21). Those who reject Christ will spend an eternity separated from their physical body but in physical torment for all of eternity. It is wise to know our end and to, as the old knight in the ‘Holy Grail’ movie with Harrison Ford admonished him, “choose wisely.”

The second event of these past several weeks, as I mentioned a bit ago, is the diagnosis of a lung disease. The initial prognosis is not a good one but, that is, as I say, “a God thing.” If you want to follow along on the voyage of the adventures with a terminal illness – life is a terminal illness! – but check out VOYAGE at www.rossriggs.com On the Welcome menu you will find the links to the current and past postings. Getting a diagnosis out of the blue when you really don’t think anything is going on other than aging and being out-of-shape is a real kick in the pants! It will help you re-focus what is going on in your life!

The phone call I just completed from a dear friend who is not able to travel. He received word just a few days ago of his mother’s death, fairly suddenly from a pneumonia complication. Unable to get to her bedside before her death or even attend her funeral, he grieves in solitude. Reminded of his last visit with her over a year ago, he longs for a time to see her again. Thankfully, both have Christ and know their hope is certain.

So, now there are three and, if the doctors are right, in a decade, maybe  less than a decade, there will be two. Thank God for the hope of heaven. Without such a hope there is no hope. Keep up that ever stretching, reach for all that God has for you. Try not to get caught up in the negative and worry about whether you will end your years with a ‘sigh’. I probably will end my with “Whew!”

God bless!

A Little Woodworking

There is only the truth of God’s word. It is timeless and it covers every possible contingency.

There are times when I listen to a speech or sermon; even read an article, and I find parts of the message which are inconsistent appear clear to me. Inconsistencies within an article on the components of a spiritually filled life, such as trust in God for all things has been troubling me. The article was all about trust and how we can completely, totally rely on God, the magnificent Creator. Yet, I look around at our society with the folks, those who claim a Christian faith, so terrified about being without a mask, searching for places to get their vaccine and even churches still doing only parking lot services and I am deeply concerned. I was beside myself! (Not literally, that would have been a violation of the six foot rule!)

I thought, who are we trusting? Is it God who created our bodies with our amazing immunity and a protection system of skin and noses with membranes and cells designed to stop infection or were we trusting some politician who was told something by someone, not a believer in Christ? We must not be trusting God because now we wear man-made masks not designed to prevent infection. Instead, these masks are more likely to hold onto germs and nasty things in the air so we can breathe them directly into our own lungs? It is not possible to believe what was being taught and rely on masks which are proven to do more harm than good. That was where I came down on the question. How would God respond to such a lack of faith? I began to chew on the spiritual questions here. Realizing that at least more than once in my life I have been wrong about something, I decided I needed to think and pray this through.

When it comes to the issues with COVID, I know all the data, the 99.5 plus percent that survive COVID, the numbers of people who are affected even worse by the flu, those mostly at risk being over 70 years of age, same as the flu. I was pretty certain I was on the correct side of the issue. We trust God, toss the masks, and get our churches open and running!

Then, Matthew 7:3-5 hit me like a wooden spike right through the eyes.  

Years ago, my doctoral dissertation was titled, “In Times of Crisis:  A Plan for Creating Contingency Management Teams in Missionary Sending Churches and Agencies.” Based on scriptural truth including the work of Nehemiah in rebuilding the temple with workmen and armed protectors working side by side, the entire concept is that God gives us the tools and ability to help ourselves while at the same time being completely in charge of all events in our lives. Our natural fears which prevent us from stepping in front of a train are part of God’s survival system for us. With the violence in our world and because of my experience as a police officer, now retired, I carry a firearm every day, everywhere. It provides me the capability of intervening on behalf of those at risk of serious harm. There are people within certain church circles who would say (and have said directly to me) that my contingency planning and other preparations are hypocritical. They say, God is in charge of all things so any preparation on our part is a sign of not trusting in Him. One mission agency leader staunchly opposed my arguments for preparation, and made his opinion quite clear.  (Anyone who says Baptists don’t ‘ex-communicate’ don’t know how some organizations work!)

It was time for me to really get down into the desert and wrestle this one out. I already have severe hip pain so, here we go! Where is the line between using the tools God has given us to prepare and protect ourselves and others and ‘letting go and let God’?

I still maintain the truth worked out within my dissertation is correct. God is in charge of all things. The day we are to die is known to Him before we are born, as is every day of our life. From before time began He knew this of us. Nothing is outside His control. He also gives us the ability to protect ourselves and others. If this weren’t so, we would have no need of police. Jesus taught in some instances to go prepared for whatever might come and other times He instructed His disciples to go and allow God to provide completely for them. I believe God has given us gifted physicians and surgeons, researchers, and care-givers. God still determines our length of days, but these gifted persons help us preserve our quality of life, if not our quantity. The planning by Nehemiah was with God’s favor and the use of armed men guarding the workers was prudent because of the risk. Could God have totally protected them? Of course. Most often, particularly in today’s economy, He chooses to work through humans, often Christians. Could the guards have also been a ‘Linus VanPelt security blanket’ to ease the minds of those under the threats and with God’s approval? I believe the answer to that is also, ‘yes’.

So, what about the masks and opening services? I passionately believe they should be open and, if anyone feels the need to wear a mask, whether because of age or illness, they should do so without any awkward stares from folks who suddenly judge themselves as ‘more spiritual’ because they are ‘simply trusting God.’ Still, my time woodworking (or perhaps in the woodshed) was not finished. I still had some wrestling God wanted me to do.

There is an old story of a young farmer trying to get his mule to move. Pulling and tugging on the reins, screaming, and cussing at the mule were all to no avail. An old farmer stood watching with interest. He told the young farmer the only way to get the mule to move was to talk softly, lovingly, encouragingly to the mule. The young farmer scoffed and, handing the old farmer the reins said, ‘Go right ahead!’ The old farmer smiled, picked up a 2×4 and smacked the mule right across the head. The young farmer was shocked! “I thought you said to talk kindly and softly to him?” The old farmer replied, “You do, but first you have to get his attention!” Sometimes, I can be a mule in need of a 2×4. (More woodworking!)

As if it was important to test my thesis, before I finished writing this short article, I had to see the doctor to determine why I was having such extreme episodes of shortness of breath. The doctor’s visit turned into a CAT scan which led to appointments with a pulmonologist and in-home oxygen. As I write this I am waiting for a biopsy of my lung tissue to be scheduled. I’m told it’s not expected to be a cancer. It isn’t COVID. Could it be the remnants of an old Covid infection? Possibly. Still, though, there are a lot of variants that don’t fit that. I’m also told that if I get COVID now, the flu, or a similar infection; it could be life-threatening. Do I make sure I wear a mask now every time I go out? Which side of the faith fence does that fall on?

After much consideration of this new question, I can say to you I am 100 percent comfortable not wearing a mask anywhere. I am not afraid that I will get an infection and I totally trust God to do whatever He wants to do. However…

What about the oxygen? That becomes a common-sense method to help with quality of life, not quantity for me, at least.

There is yet another consideration. If my family, those I care for more than any, ask me to wear a mask and do other things to prevent the risk of any infection, what would I do? If the doctor, who is a born-again believer tells me to prevent infection of any kind  I should mask up, what do I do? If I wear it to keep them comfortable and because I respect their wishes, but I know God knows my heart and He knows I trust Him, is it Okay? What if it impairs my Christian witness for others who do not know the back story, they just see me, “Mr. No-Mask” suddenly wearing one. Is my testimony hurt?

Sometimes a question doesn’t have an immediately clear answer. Sometimes, maybe there is more than one good option. That is where we can trust God’s word. You can be certain, there is only one truth. Regardless of what the Oregon school board believes, 2+2 still only equals 4. There is only the truth of God’s word. It is timeless and it covers every possible contingency. The truth is that God is in control. He will always do what is best and will bring glory and honor to Himself. If I can trust God with my every breath, I can trust Him to make certain my testimony is not damaged while I take the prudent course of action and do as I am asked by family and instructed by my physician. If I say that God has placed physicians in our lives to help us with our quality of life and then I refuse to follow their admonitions, I am not honoring God. I will do as I am told.

According to God’s word, every individual is responsible to God for his or her own actions, for the condition of their heart. That said, no one can dictate to you on an issue such as whether you are trusting God either by wearing a mask or by not wearing a mask. That is between you and God. He knows your heart and you can always ask Him to strengthen your faith. I am certain I will do that as I go through whatever lay ahead. I believe our churches need to open up and trust God and not allow politicians to push us by decrees that are not laws and are not passed in an open session of our legislatures (state or federal) to make laws, by votes of elected representatives. That, honestly, has always been my biggest sticking point regarding ‘mask decrees’.

If the governor decreed all Christians to wear a yellow crucifix sewn to our outer garment, would we do it just because he said so? Just wondering. If it is under the threat of death, would we? I am not judging any past groups of peoples. The Jews persecuted by the Nazi 3rd Reich showed incredible fortitude and no one can walk in their shoes today. But we, as a church, better decide now, before it happens, where do we draw our line in the sand? The time is coming when we will either hold that line or acquiesce. Prepare now to stand strong when it comes, not if it comes.

My time woodworking has been beneficial to me. I hope maybe it might help you think through some things for yourself. I’m not as ‘spiritual’ as I was before. Now, I am just thankful for each breath and I’ll keep on, one breath at a time.

En route pour la Bastille

Our pompous politician pontificating on the penetration of the police palisades protecting the parliamentary proceedings was anything but profound.

On January 6, 2021 something incredible happened on the streets of Washington D.C. I have witnessed over six decades of life in America including all kinds of demonstrations and riots on the Mall in D.C., particularly during the challenging 60’s. What I saw, Wednesday, is still a bit hard to believe.

What isn’t unexpected is the haughty, self-righteous indignation by Democrat politicians  who lionized the rioters of 2020’s summer of discontent who killed, kidnapped, held entire communities hostage while burning private businesses and public property, toppling historical landmarks all in the name of Black power, to coin a phrase from the 60’s.

Like the ancient god for which January takes its name, the Democrats, from their second face, castigate Wednesday’s demonstrators as un-American, insurrectionists to be sent to the stocks or perhaps drawn and quartered if some would have their way. The D.C. demonstrators’ zealous exercise of their First Amendment rights eventually carried them to inside the Capital building. (It should be noted that a video released today (January 8th) shows Capital police opening a fire door to allow demonstrators inside the building, so it was not by force. They did not bust down a door or break a window but merely walked inside as police stood by.)[i]  

I’m not here to argue the validity or the criminality of what was done. I want to merely point out some grievous double-standards and one very amazing lack of any understanding of history by a high-level U.S. politician. I wish I could give you his name. His comment came in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday debacle and after reading it, initially, I dismissed it as blatant ignorance. Oh, that I would have kept that news snippet for I cannot seem to find it now. Here, though, is the crux of what he said. Again, this is a national level politician who happens to be a Democrat. (I don’t believe Democrats have a corner on the ignorance of history market, probably many Republicans are just as clueless.) This one happened to be a Democrat. Please, if any reader happens to come across the quote, I’d be indebted for having it sent to me.

Our pompous politician pontificating on the penetration of the police palisades protecting the parliamentary proceedings was anything but profound. He declared their actions were un-American. Claiming that America was always a place of peaceful transfer of power, he attempted to belittle the actions of those who sincerely  believed in their cause by saying ‘we are not a bunch of French revolutionaries.’ Allow me to say with all the educated wisdom I can muster, “Huh?!” To be compared with those who dared storm the Bastille on the 14th of July in 1789 is

  1. A magnificent and certain compliment of the highest regard
  2. Exactly to the point of what the demonstrators themselves believed

Allow me to attempt to educate our ill-advised Congressman.

Storming of the Bastille iii

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 in Paris was the beginning of the French Revolution. In power was King Louis the XVI, a man whose crimes against his own people were heinous, innumerable and beyond any standard of humanity. “The success of the revolutionaries gave commoners across France the courage to rise up and fight against the nobles who had ruled them for so long.”[ii] According to historians, the final straw was that the commoners, or the ‘Third Estate’ had demanded the king give them more say in their own governance. Those high in power had forgotten that their role was to represent and not dictate, to protect and not disenfranchise. Finally, the people who truly were the nation of France had taken all they could bear. Their response was, ‘No More!’ Sound familiar?

This particular politico apparently believes that Americans are not like those people who took a stand for their own liberty and fought against injustice. He thinks Americans will kowtow to the whims of the Deep State. He is wrong.

America, throughout its time has amazed the world at our ability to have a peaceful transition of power. That peace has always been undergirded by our faith and trust in our elections and our belief that our votes mean something. We could make the changes we sought at the ballot box. These last few years have taken away any trust in our elections for many Americans. Without that trust, a peaceful transition of power is not possible.


[i] https://twitter.com/gatewaypundit/status/1347615270504955904?s=25&fbclid=IwAR3Qkkhqh_5UFzBaY48KDA9-sTzHljNlwgajoUdozZRzyW6TSvjBp1YTwuc

[ii] https://www.ducksters.com/history/french-revolution

(iii) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Anonymous_-_Prise_de_la_Bastille.jpg

50 Years of ‘CQ, and Standing By…’

“…it gets into your blood and there’s nothing you can do about it but live it.”

The National NC57 was built as a ‘high-end’ receiver just after WWII.

In the late 1960’s, a twelve-year-old boy was regularly visiting his uncle and staying (on non-school nights) sometimes into the early morning hours. Luckily for him, his uncle lived just across the street! Of course, I was that young boy and my uncle, was Vernon Clarke. He was a ‘ham’ radio operator whose callsign was W8TJS or topless jazz singer! My fascination in the hobby was with the phone-patch traffic Vern would run for U.S. Navy ships at sea allowing sailors to talk to their loved-ones by phone connected through Vern’s radio. He ran phone-patch traffic for scientific expedition stations in Antarctica and for missionaries all over the world. It wasn’t so much that I chose Amateur Radio as a hobby as ham radio chose me. Vern used to say that it gets into your blood and there is nothing you can do about it but live it.

Back in my day… (I’m allowed to say that now, I get ‘senior discounts’ at Denny’s!) Back in my day, to get a ‘Novice’ license from the FCC to operate a ham radio, you first had to pass a sending and receiving Morse Code at a rate of 5 words per minute. I would tune my receiver to code sending stations and try to copy what they sent. I had a Radio Shack practice key that would allow me to tap out code and I’d hear it on its built in speaker. It wasn’t attached to a transmitter so only I (and most everyone else in my house, none of whom cared to listen) could hear my code sending. My father, though never into ham radio had been a radioman aboard the PC1261 in WWII, and could copy code and type it onto an old manual typewriter at a speed of 60 wpm. My attempts at 5 wpm were like nails on a chalkboard to him but he never complained!

“Straight Key” used for basic CW (continuous wave) Morse Code

In addition to the 5 wpm code test, a written test on radio basic electronics, FCC rules and federal laws related to radio operation. Thankfully, the Novice test could be given by a ham radio operator with a minimum of an Advanced grade license which Vern had. I sat at his radio and he gave me the code test. Once I passed it, he ordered the written exam. I sat at his kitchen counter where I had sat more times than I can remember for soup or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, so it was comfortable, and I was as at ease as I could possibly have been. After what seemed like an interminable 6 weeks, I received my Novice license in the mail. I was now officially a ‘ham’ with a callsign of WN8KMP. Vern proudly loaned me a Heathkit HW01 crystal controlled (rock-bound) transmitter. Pictured here are some typical crystals. Each was good for one frequency. If there wasn’t someone available on the specific frequencies matching your crystals, you were out of luck. You could not tune until you found someone. Hence the term rock bound.  I would pound out in code, “CQ, CQ CQ” which is ham radio code for ‘is there anyone out there who wants to talk?’ It is followed by your callsign and then you ‘standby’ or wait to see if anyone answers.

The Novice license was good for just two years and was not renewable. This was designed to push you on to a higher grade license which included Technician, General, Advanced and Extra. Not all of those grades exist today but I still hold my General class license I finally received just before my Novice ticket expired. The code test for General Class was 13 wpm which after two years wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but test jitters having to take the code exam at a federal building in Cleveland, Columbus or Detroit was a bit unnerving. Hence two failed attempts, but the third time was a charm! That was an adventure all its own for another day.

I began enjoying DXing which means reaching out to people in faraway places and often times we would ‘Rag Chew’ which was slang for just talking about our hobby, our families, and what it is like to live where we do. Still, on voice, a ham will call, “CQ, CQ, CQ” when looking to meet a new contact.

When I got my General class license and became WB8KMP, I dropped the ‘N’ and picked up a ‘B’.  I bought a used Heathkit HW 101 which did CW and SSB (voice) on multiple bands and with a VFO or variable frequency oscillator. That meant, basically, I was no longer rock bound! I could go anywhere in the ham bands my license would permit! The HW 101 I bought was three years old when I got it in 1973. I eventually upgraded to the Heathkit SB104 which I still have, and it still works.

The world has changed drastically in my 50 year ride as a ham particularly in electronics! The things a small transceiver can do that will fit in the palm of a hand go far beyond anything the large transmitter-receiver sets of the 60’s! Hams now communicate by satellite and by SSTV and computer links. For me, though, I still love DXing and Rag Chewing! I have radios on bands that use repeaters to rebroadcast signals and are used a great deal in local emergency communications. The world of Amateur Radio is as expansive as the inventive minds of hams can make it. I’m pleased to still be hamming it up after 50 years, but I certainly cannot believe that it got here this quickly!

A QSL Card – a card used to confirm or QSL a contact – exchanged between operating stations

Even now, long after my wonderful uncle became a ‘silent-key’, I am still scanning the frequencies and every now and again, someone just might here, ‘This is WB8KMP calling CQ and standing by…”

In ‘ham speak’ I will say 73’s for now, which is so-long or see you later! Back in the day you could also say 88’s which was ‘hugs and kisses’ if you were speaking with a female ham or referring to a ham operator’s ‘XYL’ – another term probably not politically correct today. You see an unmarried lady in Morse Code abbreviations or cw slang which was used in voice communications, too; was a ‘YL’ or young lady. A married lady was, by someone’s logic, an ‘XYL’ – sell that to Cosmopolitan today!

Best 73’s and I hope to talk with you later on down the log.

He Will Give His Angels Charge Over You

Just today I received the following email from Abigail. I  suppose she knows that from the Bible, Abigail came to mean servant and actually was an early English slang name for a servant. This wonderful Abigail is a servant of Christ who owns a great little company called Heavenly Divine Company. I encourage you to not just visit their site but become a customer, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s here e-mail:

Abigail’s email has spurred me to share two instances when I believe there is no other explanation than angelic intervention which saved my life and the lives of some others. You may choose to believe what I am about to share, or not. I was present in each these and I know for myself, the veracity of what I write.

The first incident came on a freezing winter night, with icy roads and a bitter wind, but a full moon which made visibility incredibly clear against the white snow. I was working night shift as a police officer, sometime in the mid-1980’s, when I observed a vehicle blow through a red light at high speed. I attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The vehicle sped south toward the city limits and I was in pursuit. The road conditions made it treacherous. We approached the crest of a hill that I knew to be steep on the other side and have an intersection with a state route immediately at the bottom. As I watched the fleeing vehicle crest that hill, I slowed down and advised the other responding car by radio to be careful of the hill. When I got to the top of the hill, no vehicle in sight and I was right on its tail. No car overturned, no crash, no taillights, nothing. Calling off the pursuit I continued across the highway, south, and turned on my spotlight to check the couple of access roads that went into a wooded area on the west side of the road. The only place the car could be hiding. I went back and forth two or three times across the area, again, nothing. I could clearly see each road, no car.

A week later I received word through an informant that the vehicle I had chased had a large drug shipment in it for delivery. The driver was heavily armed. According to the informant, the car had pulled into one of those lanes, backed in. The way he described my actions driving back and forth, it had to be true that I was seen from the very lanes which I checked but saw nothing. I was then told the driver had a high-powered rifle with a scope and my head was lined up in his sights. The driver had determined that if I spotted him and started to pull into where he was parked, I was dead. The total distance between me and where the car would have been was less than 50 yards. You tell me. Why I did not see the car and go toward it?

A second event happened on the opposite side of the world almost two decades later. The town, Tuzla, Bosnia, again winter and this time high atop one of the mountains upon which this section of Tuzla sits. I had travelled up the narrow winding road in a large blue van belonging to the missionary, Brad Collins, who ran a hockey ministry in Sarajevo and in Tuzla. My wife, Karin, and I were there in our role in missionary care in support of Brad. Along with a Bosnian pastor from Tuzla, we had gone to the very pinnacle of this mountaintop where there was a small neighborhood of shacks housing squatting Roma’s (gypsy’s we would call them, a term offensive to this tribal group of people. They are not, as the name might suggest actually Romanian but  originating “ in the Punjab region of northern India as a nomadic people and entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries C.E. They were called “Gypsies” because Europeans mistakenly believed they came from Egypt. This minority is made up of distinct groups called “tribes” or “nations.””[i]

We visited with friends in one of these small homes and when we took our leave we found that due to the narrowness of the road, the size of the van and slippery pavement, turning to go back the way we had come was not an option. We proceeded the only way possible down the road in the dark of night. The freezing rain made it nearly impossible to see on the dark mountainside. I was in the front passenger seat and suddenly I heard myself exclaim to Brad to ‘STOP!’ I had no idea why, but I had a ‘bad feeling’. I got out and started walking ahead of us and soon found that had we continued another hundred yards or so we would have gone off the side of a cliff. The road had given way. No barriers. No markers. No lights. No road. Just a steep, several hundred foot, drop. We tried to back up the slight incline we were on. The van spun every which way and no matter how we tried to push or plan, we were going nowhere. On the hillsides around us were a few houses, all dark. Well past the bedtime of most of these folks, I suppose.

Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina

In utter desperation, and I mean desperation, as I slowly walked along the driver’s side of the van in the road, balancing myself against the van, I simply said, “Lord, we need help now.”

I came around the back of the van and there stood four or five men who had not been there seconds before. Every house around us was still dark. The men pushed the van back to a place where it could be turned at a flat spot on the side of the road. With the vehicle turned, we could go back to town from the way we had originally come. As soon as the van was ready to reboard, I turned to thank the men profusely. They were not there. They were not walking away. They were not just behind a bush (if there was one). They were gone. You may think I’m rowing my boat with only one oar, but I know what I saw, and I know angels walk among us.

Just thought I’d share that with you this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. You can rest assured that what the Bible says is true and God’s angels have been given charge over you.

God bless.


[i]
encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/roma

Who’s Bringing the Coal?

The Faith of a Child

My brother Rodney, eleven years my senior, has had a wonderful distinction for the last twenty years or so. In part because of his age, but mostly due to his striking resemblence to one who has gone by the names of St. Nicolaus,  Pere Noel, Shèngdànlǎorén, Grandpa Frost, Kris Kringle, and, of course, Santa Claus, children everywhere he goes see him as Father Christmas. Even in the summer, children asked him if he was Santa on vacation. To all of my children and grandchildren, Rod is very affectionately known as Uncle HoHo.

It was not that any of my children or grand one’s believed Rod to be Santa… the knew it! They never hesitated to tell friends their uncle was the one and the only, absolutely true Santa Claus.

As warm and touching as that simple fact can be, it causes some issues down the road. It was that place in the road where my daughter hit a very large, lump in the throat kind of, chuckhole just yesterday. You see, Uncle HoHo is soon to shuffle of his mortal coil and when such news reached the ears of my grandson, who, at eight years old, has the logical mind of a master engineer; aware of concepts far beyond his years while yet keeping about him his own childlike faith, he despaired.

After considering the consequences of the passing of his dear great-uncle, he queried his mother, catching her more than a little off guard.

 “How will Christmas come with no one to bring the small children their presents? Even the naughhty children, who will deliver them their coal?”

Some form of this question has likely been considered across the centuries and there is no way to know what a long ago mother might have said to her inquisitive child. Different movies and stories have adopted some reasonable, and some not-so-reasonable, solutions. One such effort was the movie: The Santa Clause. Tim Allen’s character had to not just take on the job of Santa but become Santa including beard, belly and baked cookies. It was a recipe for comedy! Thank goodness there are always wise elves nearby to assist the novice maker of merry.

As long as there are children with hearts full of love and wonder, whose minds are not shackled by the weight of this world, there will be Santa and the Christmas of the Norseland, images of a red coat and white fur, gifts to children in all cultures and traditions. His name will be different depending on the GPS coordinates in the dashboard of the sleigh. Santa will always know the hearts of the children and, if any child ever does deserve a lump of coal on such a festive day, I’m sure Santa will deliver it, though I suspect it would be a first!

When it comes to the true meaning of Christmas, nothing will ever stop it from coming. Our Heavenly Father has seen to that from the dawn of time when He planned the first nativity to bring the Good News to all people. “For unto you, is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

That message, the message of Christmas will forever be remembered and celebrated throughout eternity yet to come. For those who take time in these days to remember the Christ-child, Christmas will always be a celebration of hope, joy and peace. Of those promises, my grandson need not fret for God, Himself, has made it to be so.

In the spirit of Christmas and to honor the devotion Rod had to sharing the joy of Santa and Christmas with children and adults everywhere, I am asking you to make a tax deductible donation to Legacy of Honor, a 501c3 to assist veterans, first responders and their families with any need they might have. You can make your donation on-line at: http://www.honorthelegacy.org Thank you and may God bless you this year with a very Merry Christmas and a love-filled New Year!

GOLDEN SILENCE

REFLECTIONS at a BEDSIDE WHEN NIGHT COMES

Golden Silence

It seems to happen between two people who have grown close. Not necessarily intimately, like husband and wife, although they are primary examples of such communication. It can happen between siblings, often twins, but any siblings close enough in heart. It happens to some cops. Long-time patrol partners who have depended upon one another for their very lives. Cops who have spent countless hours together sharing every possible human emotion from exhilarating laughter to darkest fear. This communication is, in its own way, an extra-sense. Not meaning, one sense more than you need, as in ‘extra’ but extra or outside of the normal senses. Another term could be a supernatural sense. This communication is golden.

Many agree that mothers have a supernatural sense – something that tells them ahead of an incident something is afoot. This sense always involves those who are close in heart.

Veteran cops develop what’s called, cop-sense. This is an ability to know that trouble is near. There is no immediate reasoning for the feeling the cop gets, but the hair stands up on the back of the neck and your ‘spider senses’ begin to tingle. It is much easier for me to share times when it has happened than to try to explain how.

So that brings us to a seventh or eighth sense, depending on how you explain other unexplainable communications between humans and the unseen world. The Bible speaks a good bit about the goings on-line a dimension we as humans cannot perceive. Why not some mystical, though not evil, goings on through the mist, the veil that seems to linger right before us close enough to touch. Touch it we cannot; even though it seems touchable. Yet it is just surreal enough to be able to laugh off when goaded by those who scoff at such things.

For those readers senior enough to recall him, Rod Serling had a name for it. “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.”

There are a plethora of explanations among the followers of JK Rowling as to why Muggles cannot see the magical, mystical beings and things that live in parallel dimensions with their world. From the disguising acts by some mystical creatures to the bureaucratic actions of the Ministry of Magic to  cover-up such knowledge, the explanations abound. Yet one explanation better matches our non-fantasy world and our inability to clearly understand what goes on beyond us. Why do some seem to comprehend such communication and others do not? “… the implication is that they are actually paying more attention to the world around them. Possibly because through magic they are more connected to it.” Putting away the fantastic realm of Rowling, let’s return to a real world in which inexplicable communication truly exists.

Perhaps  that which we dub a new sense is not a new sense at all. It is the attentive and focused minds of those who seem to understand it.

A mother senses danger for her child because she is attuned to know it. Couples grasp their partner’s thoughts because, out of love, or shared time together, they have come to focus upon it and then anticipate it. A cop on the beat has a premonition of trouble. It is not so much they have mystically perceived it, but they have travelled a similar route before, and experience has opened their minds to sense it.

That brings us back to what I have called, the Golden Silence. No, it is not the first few moments as you sit back in your easy chair just after the grandchildren have left with their parents. This is a silence so rare; it is golden. It isn’t really a silence, though, at all.

It is a golden time filled with communication, feeling, and understanding. There is in it compassion and love, sadness, and grief. There can be joy and intense happiness all encapsulated in this golden silence. Its rarity is its greatest treasure for if it were frequent, it would become common. Golden silence is anything but common.

I experienced golden silence just tonight. It was what has brought pen to paper for me to share the thought with you. Okay, more like cursor to electronic page then pen to paper.

It came between my oldest brother and I. Eleven years apart in age, we were closer than twins at times. Our bonds were forged over a chess board in a small kitchen on Sunday afternoons. Forged during countless hours in a patrol car together, one a cop the other a young brother eager to become like his senior. It was forged  sharing the pains in life and the ravages of heartbreak and anger, of loss and love. Forged in recent years across a nursing home room which, too, was full of heartbreak and love. Sealed by memories shared and family ties which remain strong, this closeness brought us to this night. The phone call from the nurses’ station at the nursing home suggesting I come, though the hour late. There was cause for serious concern and it was time to by-pass the rules and bring two human beings who love each other dearly into touching distance, regardless of bureaucrats’ edicts.

I could easily mis-quote Dr. Seuss here. “I sat there with Rodney. We sat there we two. And we thought how we wished there were something we could do.” But there really wasn’t any misgivings about opportunities missed. There was just silence. Golden silence when we both knew exactly what the other was thinking and there was no need to utter a single word. To try to speak it would be to ruin it. The communication was simple. It was direct. It was silent. It was golden. It was love shared.

Many agree that mothers have a supernatural sense – something that tells them ahead of an incident something is afoot. This sense always involves those who are close in heart.

Veteran cops develop what’s called, cop-sense. This is an ability to know that trouble is near. There is no immediate reasoning for the feeling the cop gets, but the hair stands up on the back of the neck and your ‘spider senses’ begin to tingle. It is much easier for me to share times when it has happened than to try to explain how.

So that brings us to a seventh or eighth sense, depending on how you explain other unexplainable communications between humans and the unseen world. The Bible speaks a good bit about the goings on in a dimension we as humans cannot perceive. Why not some mystical, though not evil, goings on through the mist, the veil that seems to linger right before us close enough to touch? Touch it we cannot; even though it seems touchable. Yet it is just surreal enough to be able to laugh off when goaded by those who scoff at such things.

For those readers senior enough to recall him, Rod Serling had a name for it.  “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.”

There are a plethora of explanations among the followers of JK Rowling as to why Muggles cannot see the magical, mystical beings and things that live in parallel dimensions with their world. From the disguising acts by some mystical creatures to the bureaucratic actions of the Ministry of Magic to  cover-up such knowledge, the explanations abound. Yet one explanation better matches our non-fantasy world and our inability to clearly understand what goes on beyond us. Why do some seem to comprehend such communication and others do not? “… the implication is that they are actually paying more attention to the world around them. Possibly because through magic they are more connected to it.” Putting away the fantastic realm of Rowling, let’s return to a real world in which inexplicable communication truly exists.

Perhaps  that which we dub a new sense is not a new sense at all. It is the attentive and focused minds of those who seem to understand it.

A mother senses danger for her child because she is attuned to know it. Couples grasp their partner’s thoughts because, out of love, or shared time together, they have come to focus upon it and then anticipate it. A cop on the beat has a premonition of trouble. It is not so much they have mystically perceived it, but they have travelled a similar route before, and experience has opened their minds to sense it.

That brings us back to what I have called, the Golden Silence. No, it is not the first few moments as you sit back in your easy chair just after the grandchildren have left with their parents. This is a silence so rare; it is golden. It isn’t really a silence, though, at all.

It is a golden time filled with communication, feeling, and understanding. There is in it compassion and love, sadness, and grief. There can be joy and intense happiness all encapsulated in this golden silence. Its rarity is its greatest treasure for if it were frequent, it would become common. Golden silence is anything but common.

I experienced golden silence just tonight. It was what has brought pen to paper for me to share the thought with you. Okay, more like cursor to electronic page then pen to paper.

It came between my oldest brother and I. Eleven years apart in age, we were closer than twins at times. Our bonds were forged over a chess board in a small kitchen on Sunday afternoons. Forged during countless hours in a patrol car together, one a cop the other a young brother eager to become like his senior. It was forged  sharing the pains in life and the ravages of heartbreak and anger, of loss and love. Forged in recent years across a nursing home room which, too, was full of heartbreak and love. Sealed by memories shared and family ties which remain strong, this closeness brought us to this night. The phone call from the nurses’ station at the nursing home suggesting I come, though the hour late. There was cause for serious concern and it was time to by-pass the rules and bring two human beings who love each other dearly into touching distance, regardless of bureaucrats’ edicts.

I could easily mis-quote Dr. Seuss here. “I sat there with Rodney. We sat there we two. And we thought how we wished there were something we could do.” But there really wasn’t any misgivings about opportunities missed. There was just silence. Golden silence when we both knew exactly what the other was thinking and there was no need to utter a single word. To try to speak it would be to ruin it. The communication was simple. It was direct. It was silent. It was golden. It was love shared.

DEATH WATCH

God bless the men and women in law enforcement, our first responders, our military. They deserve better than we have given them. America, it is time to put up or shut up.

No greater love has anyone than he lays down his life for his friend… John 15:13

Can there be any sadder thought than to realize how men and women, dedicated to serving in an extremely dangerous role for people they do not even know, not only are hurt and maimed, but they also die? They leave behind families, wives, husbands, children to mourn them and miss them for a lifetime. Thank God, others stand up to take their place.

The year 2020 has been horrific for many reasons, perhaps at the top of the list is not just the sky-rocketing numbers of police officer deaths, it is the unconscionable disgrace of those in political office, specifically the Democratic Party, to not rale in angst against those who would violate the very core of our civil society. This, however, is not intended to be a political statement. Politics is NOT the source of the problem, it is we, the people.

Here are the issues: In 2019, police agencies suffered 48 felonious deaths in 19 states and in Puerto Rico which was a drop of 8 over 2018. That, in its way, was good news. Still it was 8 over just four years earlier in 2015 as well as 2019.

But here is the hard part – In 2020 on November 10th with still 51 days to go in the year, the total number of officers killed is 146, 8 percent higher than all of 2019. Fifty officers killed by firearms: 13 percent higher than all of 2019.

If the trend continues, at least 32 more officers will die by before New Year’s Eve. Eight by firearms and another twenty-four will die by other causes.

In 2019 19 states and Puerto Rico…

In 2020, Officers died in 35 states 2 territories plus 4 federal agents were killed, 2 tribal officers and 1 in the U.S. military.

Don’t let our men and women who stand on that thin blue line stand alone. Support them amongst all the political garbage being thrown at them. Stand for them every single day with all your energy and know that it is not just that they earned it, they more than deserve it. The deserve the support of every true American. What is happening in law enforcement, the hurt, the hate, the depression and officers, good officers, leaving for any work other than that which they once loved is a symptom of something much deeper.

Personally, I am sick of people degrading our country, and I don’t mean people from other lands. I mean Americans who bad-mouth everything, it seems, that stands for right, for justice, for decency. It is time we took back America from the left-wingers who want to socialize the woke and who want to close shops and desecrate families in the name of what is, at the very best, limited real truth about a virus from which 99.9 percent of people have survived. They would lock us in our homes while demanding we relinquish our unalienable rights to worship together, to live our lives free from tyranny and oppression while demanding we give up our constitutionally protected firearms. Would they even stoop to criminally interfere with each American’s right to be heard at the ballot box, in the public square? These same people claim that violent carnage in the streets are freedom of speech not crimes. They coddle the criminals and victimize the poor and under-educated with welfare designed to rob them of their right, their ability to pursue happiness.

We are Americans. Our police, our first responders and people deserve better than what political whore-mongers are giving us. We have forgotten that WE are the PEOPLE. It doesn’t say at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, ‘We the sheep…’ Antifa and the two or three women who are raking in millions being the actual core of BLM are working to subvert everything about our law enforcement. It is time to say, ‘We have had enough! We are not going to be written off any longer! The ‘silent majority’ must find its voice or America is finished!

God bless the men and women in law enforcement, our first responders, our military. They deserve better than we have given them. America, it is time to put up or shut up.

The following is a short anecdote I picked up from the site I credited at the end and the photos are from that same site and another. Please visit those sites and, if you are so inspired, patronize the businesses there listed. But listen closely to the words, though written, as they reach out to you. Thank you to @ammoandgrace for sharing it.

“Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner when my officer came downstairs, almost ready to leave for work. He handed me his badge with a mourning band pulled over it and asked, “can you help me with this?” I pinned it on his uniform with steady hands, gave him a kiss, said a prayer, and sent him out into the night. To do the very same job that killed an officer the evening prior. As the garage door shut and I watched his patrol car drive away, I felt my heart shatter into a thousand tiny pieces. I thought of the dozens (of) officers we’ve lost in the line of duty this year alone and the thousands of officers we’ve lost before that. I thought about their families left behind, and the holes they now have in their lives where their loved ones used to be. I thought about the LEOW just like me who kissed her officer goodbye two days ago and never got to kiss him again. I thought about our broken world and the hurt and hatred around every corner. I felt a literal pain in my chest. But at the same time as I felt my heart shattering, I also felt it swell. I am PROUD of my husband for choosing to dedicate his life to serving and protecting others. I am humbled by his servant heart. I am awed by his steadiness and certainty. I am forever indebted to him and the thousands of other first responders all-across our country who make the choice to keep showing up for their communities, regardless of the price and sacrifice. Last night, my heart broke for our blue family, and I know it will break again. But today, my heart overflows, knowing that my officer and thousands of others are answering their calls to serve, no matter how high the cost.” – @ammoandgrace

CREDITS

https://www.thinbluelineusa.com/  A Wife’s Heart

https://www.ebay.com/  Tattered Blue

https://pin.it/2DaXGuK

HEAVEN’s EXPATRIATES

It has been a distinct pleasure to get to know a great many missionaries over my life. Most of them lived in countries very foreign to their homeland and customs, still they wrapped themselves in the new culture and loved the people among whom they carried out their daily lives. They are called by the government, expatriates, a moniker they wear with distinction. The literal definition is ‘a person who lives outside their native country’ and one can easily witness the double-life of these ministers of the Gospel. I mean that in the best sense.

Missionary expats will simultaneously cheer with depth of conviction for their adopted country and for their homeland when watching the Olympics. Theirs is a heartfelt love of their new country and still a deep, abiding, love and commitment for their own.

Christians are expatriates in an important way. Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 2,

But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV)

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul also writes, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20 ESV)

Our home country is heaven. Unfortunately, many Christians see heaven as a place they will go to someday. It is like a planned visit to go visit relatives somewhere which they anticipate with a kind of bewildered expectation, an uncertainty of what it will truly be like. Such a mindset is understandable. There are lots of incredible descriptions about heaven and the beings that live there. When we think like that, not only are we missing the point, but we are also missing one of the greatest blessings about being a Christian! Hang with me here.

You and I are both, if we are saved by God’s grace, already in heaven! Yep! We are right there, sitting on the front porch, having a great time enjoying the view!

You are now thinking, he’s lost his marbles… well, I have but not the way you’re thinking. When I turned 60, I was given a glass bowl full of 60 beautiful blue marbles. Three plus years and some number of grandchildren later, two of the marbles are missing. So, it is true. I have lost my marbles. Still, we are already in heaven and the Bible says so!

In the quotes I shared, Paul writes we are citizens of heaven. Yeah, that we know, and we’ll go there someday… No, Paul also writes, “He (God) has raised us up with Him (Christ) and seated us with Him in the heavenly places…”

Where, according to the Bible is Christ right now, waiting to return to earth for what is known as the Rapture? Go ahead, Google it, I’ll wait.

Okay, here goes. The writer of Hebrews puts Christ seated with God. “…we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places…” (Hebrews 8:1)

Jesus, himself, said, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 ESV) The same statement, in the same context, is repeated in Mark 14:62 and Luke 22:69. Paul shares it again in Colossians 3:1 and the writer of Hebrews again in 12:2. Remember the Ephesians verses? Seated us with Him in the heavenly places.

Important note here… hang with me again, this is brief. According to the ancient Greek language, the words translated raised up and seated are a verb form that means already completed. It’s a done deal, not something to happen someday. It was done the second you asked Christ to forgive you and accepted Him for who He is, your citizenship changed.

Please hear me correctly. I am about as a patriotic American as a Christian can be. I was honored to serve in the U.S. Air Force and proudly claim my status as a veteran. I’m with Lee Greenwood, I’d stand up next to you and defend her still today. But my true citizenship is in heaven. I’m a heaven expatriate, living, for now, in America.

Lee Greenwood with military quartet in an impromptu hallway concert

This is particularly crucial for Christians to understand during this tumultuous time surrounding the elections and politics in general in the U.S.  

Yes, we as citizens of the U.S. and as Christians have a duty to stand for what is right and fair in the here and now. We can be vocal, and we can write letters or editorials and do everything asked of a good and true citizen.

But… you KNEW there was a but in here somewhere, right? What we do NOT have to do is STRESS about it! None of this came as a surprise to God.

I pray that He will help us determine what is right so we can find where there was failure and hold accountable those who are responsible for any criminal act in trying to manipulate the elections. I believe that we, as a nation, will get to the bottom of it and determine, as best as possible who our president is to be long before January’s deadline! We can be passionate about righting the wrongs and we can do so AND keep our Christian witness!

 But I am an expat of heaven and all of this is temporary, even for our grandchildren’s children. Let us keep our focus on what we can change and our rest in the assurance that God is still God, no matter what the outcome is.