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!

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

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.

THE BIRTH of a LEGACY

The Birth of a Legacy

LEGACY – Defined by one on-line dictionary as:

[ˈleɡəsē]

noun

legacies

(plural noun)

  1. an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Most of us can relate to legacy in a context other than money. We think of speeches we have heard about great people leaving a legacy of honor, a heritage to those who knew them which inspired them to become a better person. Woe to us if the only legacy we might ever know is a financial one. Sure, a financial windfall is great; but the treasure found when someone has poured themselves into your life and provided you tools to become even more than you are already, that is the most valuable legacy.

What is a Living Legacy?

Dan Fogelberg wrote in ‘The Leader of the Band” how the singer had become “just a living legacy to the leader of the band”. What the Leader had created then was not only a student musician who was gifted a legacy to that student; but the Leader’s investment in the student would pay dividends as the student, as a living legacy would invest in the lives of others creating an endowment of sorts, paying ahead. The number of people blessed by such philanthropy of the heart grows exponentially. Fogelberg said in an interview, “If I could have written only one song in my life, it would have been Leader of the Band. What that meant to my father and me, there is no way to quantify that or even explain it.”[i]

Such is the case with the new 501c3, Legacy of Honor (LoH) created by Daniel Riggs and operating out of Louisville, Ohio. Driven by a desire to reach out to people he knew that are veterans, first responders and their families who are hurting, struggling to get through another day, and feel unable to reach out. One, a great ‘battle-buddy’ to Daniel, took his own life as the stress to succeed in a high-profile military assignment became more than he could bear.

Legacy of Honor is created to serve people at all stages of life whether active duty military, veterans, currently working as first responders or retired and for their families.

What is it that Legacy of Honor can do to help?

The possibilities are endless, but some examples are mentioned here. For a wife, who cares for her children and is the home-care provider for her disabled first responder, it might be an afternoon of staying with the first responder while the wife goes out for a spa day with her friends! It might be clearing fall leaves from gutters or building a wheelchair ramp. Light construction projects or many types of work that might have been started but never completed. Driving someone to their doctor appointment, waiting for a veteran or public safety responder when in therapy or needing tests done. Taking them out for a simple meal to share in companionship. The list can go on if the imagination is in operation!

For Daniel, his grandfather’s and father’s military service which preceded his own is a Legacy of Honor. His heart’s desire now is to live out his Christian faith by creating this 501c3 designed to pay forward the gracious gifts of his legacy to those to whom all Americans owe a debt of gratitude.

What can you do to help Legacy of Honor?

First, is to bring to our attention the needs of family or neighbors so contact can be made. This opens the door for much needed conversation to address those needs and help create a plan to best fulfill the need. Please communicate with us through our email.

Second, and probably the most pressing need of LoH, is financial support from individuals, community businesses, and philanthropic agencies who see our vision and want to help further that vison. Please help financially with this 501c3 mission. Any financial support can be made know through our email.

Third, are volunteers who have special skills needed to help complete projects, volunteers to be available to help with needs that have been brought forth, and volunteers to help with labor to complete projects.  Sometimes is just needing a driver. Everyone who has a desire to help can aide in many areas of need.  Open your hearts and help!

Lastly, prayers are needed for our organization to be successful. We know that God is in the driver’s seat and we are just His warriors to help fulfil those directives. Please pray for us, and the mission of our organization.

Thank you in advance for all that you can do to help. 

Mission Statement:

Legacy of Honor’s mission is to reach out to veterans, first responders and their families to serve those who have served us.

Legacy of Honor can be contacted through driggs@honorthelegacy.org. or by mail at Legacy of Honor 229 E. Main Street Suite C Louisville, Ohio 44641


[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDByv7HoAyg

When the First is Best it Makes Better the Rest

The title, a bit cryptic, is more than just to pique your interest in reading this article! It lays a foundation for a belief system for today’s world that holds the design for how one should respond to the challenges of the day. King Solomon wrote there is nothing new under the sun. What I am about to describe is not new, in fact it is millennia old. As old as man in the Garden of Eden.

The concept came to me through a conversation over sandwiches and soup on the most typical of summer days. No blinding light from the heavens or whispering voice in a whirlwind, but a simple statement by a pastor friend of mine. When the discussion came to the current disruptions of private lives with COVID-19, political warfare, riots in the streets, concern over China trade, border security and a devastating force from an explosion in Beirut; my friend said, to the effect, when I consider all of this, I must be a pastor first. Everything else, as far as his response to those issues, comes through the filter of his God-given calling FIRST.

What would be the result if every born-again believer in Christ responded to all the events in their lives as a Christ-follower FIRST? Would that change the way in which the Christian sees the world? Would it change the way the world sees Christians?

‘Wait just one doggone minute!’ you say, ‘What about the believer’s responsibilities to their spouses, their families, their work?’ Are you ready? Here cometh the epiphany!

When the first is best, it makes better the rest! Of course, it’s simple! How do you think I was able to get it?  

If my priorities are such that my response to every part of my life is defined by the primary one, then every other priority in my life will be made better, enhanced, lifted to the place it should rightfully hold. By the same token, parts of my life which I assumed to be priorities may be re-defined and no longer classified as a priority. Even in being reclassified as less important, those will benefit, I will benefit and others in my circles will benefit when those things take their right place in my life.

Reader, you look puzzled, a little confused, perhaps even tsemisht! Maybe an example or two will help.

My marriage. If my primary, or first, priority is living my life as a Christ-follower, then the priority of my marriage will benefit. I will honor my wife more nobly, love her more deeply and cherish her most appropriately.

On the opposite side of the spectrum could be my prioritizing of continuously tending to the news alerts of the day and worrying, commenting on, or even being consumed with such issues as politics, COVID or world crises. When I view all those things through a biblical grid or, more simply, as a Christ-follower first viewpoint, then each of those will be reduced to the level of proper importance and not paramount importance in my life. An ulcer or two might even begin to heal!

Let’s go a step further. Just recently word has come down about a court injunction in California banning worship in a local church due to COVID concerns. The court is allowing the ‘church’ to conduct meals for people, training, all kinds of activities, just NO worship! As I consider this issue as a Christ-follower first, I may consider becoming involved, communicating opinion, and offering monetary support for legal fees because the priority I give such an issue is high even through the view of Christian first. I would ask myself, ‘If I were the pastor or in the congregation, (all are included in the injunction), would I risk being arrested and jailed to defy an injustice?’ Where is my line, based on the Christian first principle?

I recently wrote an article about the patriots who descended on Gettysburg this past July to protect the monuments and sacred ground from being destroyed by malcontents bent on demolishing America’s history. When I reconsider my response based on the Christ-follower first principle, I still come down on the side of being willing to stand side-by-side with these patriots who sought only to protect, not hurt, or destroy.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This quote is very pertinent in this day of continual incursions on our individual liberties under the guise of safety from a virus. Even if many in government are well-meaning and believe what they profess will save lives, this is America and individual freedoms align with individual responsibilities. Choose to mask or not to mask, that is the question only the individual should be required to ask of themselves. If you own a private business and want to cater only to mask wearers, that is your option, not the governments’.

To send your child to school or not is the decision of the parent. The government has the obligation to provide the teaching in a safe environment but that does not include masking kindergarten children and hiding behind plexiglass. Those who choose to teach openly should have children in their classrooms sent willingly by parents who agree. For those who choose not to take part in an open education, there are home-schooling options. As a Christ-follower, I can make the welfare of the children a priority and I don’t have to drink the COVID Kool-Aid to do so.

By prioritizing our lives based on our relationship with Christ, we free ourselves from the worry of endless newscasts of detriment and destruction. We remember God is in control and we can say like Habakkuk, “I will look to see what God says.”