CLOCKS

Yesterday I had opportunities to notice clocks, three of them, as a matter of fact. The first one was directly in my line of sight. As I lay on the gurney in the back of the Canton FD ambulance, one Paramedic taking an EKG and the other starting an IV, both working quietly, with just an occasional short question. I was calmer than I expected I might be. I kept my eyes closed most of the time because of the pain. Every time I would open them, I saw the clock, mounted just above the rear doors, a black background with white numerals and hands, probably luminescent.  I watched the clock for a short time and was reminded of the verse I always whisper in prayer whenever I wind my pocket watch: “Lord teach (me) to number my days… that I may gain wisdom” Psalm 90:12

Some time later, I looked up from the hardest, narrowest table upon which I have ever tried to get comfortable. Now, as I am waiting on a heart catheterization and I look over, on the wall just above me, in eyesight for the doctor running the test were two clocks. The first was just like the one in the ambulance, perhaps a bit bigger. A regular clock, that tells the time. The second clock was a clock that I supposed measured off the hours as it ran beginning with a 1just to the right of the top position and ended with a 60 at the top. My guess is that it is to time the exact length of time the procedure is taking, or something like that. Again, my mind went to the verse in Psalm 90. But this time, another thought came with it.

It was not a fearful thought at all. I was not worried about the procedure, though not looking forward to it. The embarrassment I had already undergone by the two nurses who were so professionally trying to get things ready and keep me at ease at the same time, did a great job; but some things are just embarrassing.  So it wasn’t that kind of discomfort either. My chest pain had subsided with the three nitroglycerin pills, four baby aspirin, a nitro patch and four units of morphine; but WOW! did I have a headache and the two by four I was laying on wasn’t helping my back any! Karin was keeping her cold hands on my forehead to ease the headache until the procedure began. The thought that came to me was just that, a thought, nothing more.

Allow me to share it with you. (If you don’t want me to share it, this would be a good place to stop reading!)

If I would have died in that ambulance or if I died in the next few minutes on this slab of wood they call a procedure table; the second after I die, that second hand will move again and it will keep going. The minute hands and eventually the hour hand will all continue to move. Now, I also know that the second after I die, I will be with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in heaven. In the couple of seconds it will take for the folks standing there to realize what has happened, I am gone. But those clocks will continue to tick away the minutes, the hours, days, months, years… until one day when God says, (quoting His Son) “It is Finished” and time will end. I know that will be awhile from now for God’s creation, there is the Tribulation and the Millennial Reign on Earth that must happen first. But, it will happen. The more important point is that it will happen for every one of us, long before the end of the Millennial Reign. It could have happened for me yesterday, before even my daughter or the squad got there. But this time it didn’t. Hopefully, I will get to see me great-grandchildren be born, but I don’t know that and neither do you.

One of these days the watch on your wrist or the clock on your mantel will keep ticking away the minutes and you’ll be gone. I was yesterday, and am today, completely ready for that to happen. I know where I will be in that second. Not because of any good I have done. I deserve hell, no doubt about that. But I am assured of heaven because of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Clocks… tick, tock, tick, tock… “Lord teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain wisdom.”

A Matter of Perspective

How do we know when God is speaking to us…Is it in the blazing glory of a gorgeous sunrise or in the tear on the cheek of a little child?

How do we know when God is speaking to us? Is it a still small voice, a whisper or a whirlwind? Is it in the blazing glory of a gorgeous sunrise or in the tear on the cheek of a little child? When we face bitter disappointment in life – can we sense God’s encouragement or is He seemingly as cold as those who have turned away from us? Plenty of examples come to us from Scripture and almost as many examples are in everyday life right around us, through which God speaks to us. Sometimes it might be a burning bush and other times, it’s a small coin jar. Recently I was back in Georgia, my son was injured in training to be an Army Ranger and we came together to try to sort through what might have to happen next. There was, as you can imagine much frustration and disappointment mixed with the pain of a dislocated collar bone. With little to do but wait and pray that the scar tissue would help the bone re-secure itself to avoid a very extensive surgery, we commiserated about the exasperation of the whole deal and then came the pizza. I think I was much more vocal about the seeming unfairness of the injury than even my son and, like I mentioned, sometimes it is the little things through which God speaks the loudest. My son’s name is Daniel and as I stood waiting to pay for our pizza, just as the lovely young lady handed me my change, I noticed the change jar sitting there and on it the face of the most precious little baby boy. This little baby is facing a major surgery for a congenital heart defect and it does not sound like his chances for a full life are very good. And, perhaps you guessed it, the little baby boy’s name… Daniel. As I dropped all my change into the jar I breathed a little prayer asking God to help little Daniel and to forgive me.

Learn more about children and heart birth defects at
ACH

‘Tis the Season

As the season of holidays are upon us, more quickly with each passing year it seems, I thought I might send my greeting to all of you sooner rather than later this year. I know that many of us were absolutely  overwhelmed with the elections this year and that whether it went the way you had hoped it would or not; most of us were just so very tired of not having any positive real hope for the near future. It was as if a curtain of negativity had been pulled across our daily life. Where were we to turn for some kind of hope that was real and not political?

For about four hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, God’s prophets were silent and even as the Maccabees family stood strong against those who sought to annihilate the Jews, they longed to hear from God. They believed strongly in the coming Messiah and they longed for the time that He would come. God’s Word says that “But in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman… ” (Galatians 4:4)

The Messiah came to give the real, the true, the perfect hope for mankind. Without Him, there is no hope. Life will end in physical death and without Christ, will come spiritual death and an eternal separation from God in unending torment. Not a very ‘Christmas’ kind of message is it? That is because it isn’t the Christmas message. The Christmas message is that the hope of Christ brings eternal life, a new world created after the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

The hope of Christmas is what allows us to come to the Thanksgiving table truly thankful for the wondrous gift of God. The Christmas Gift is wrapped in the beautiful trappings of Resurrection morning. It is the Resurrection that fulfills the hope and allows us to celebrate throughout the holiday season. May your holiday season be bright, full of the joy of Christ and the hope of the future!

Politicians will come and go. Some of them not soon enough. We can rest in the knowledge that God is still on the throne and will forever reign. May your Thanksgiving be a time of wonderful reflection on the bountiful gifts of God, your Christmas be warm and reflective of the joys of Christ’s love.

From the farthest field…

RIGGS MINISTRY MINUTE    FROM FORT BENNING GEORGIA

    CENTER FOR MANEUVERABILITY EXCELLENCE

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D.Min.         www.docriggs.com         19 October 2012

It came as perhaps an epiphany might come. The sun bright, the sky a clear blue and the road dusty; all of these set the stage for what would be a vision as clear as the sky itself. Standing along the dusty road that would lead the distant travelers into their final gathering place, the observers along the road were searching the horizon, straining for that first glimpse of their loved one. The parachutes drifted lazily to earth and then the travelers gathered their baggage, their chute, their gear, and their weapons of war and began that final run in. As they ran, the burdens of their baggage laid upon their shoulders wore them down so their steps could barely clear the gravel in the roadway. They had to make it those last weary steps so they could lay their burdens down. The dust from the roadway swirled up behind them as they ran, but, it was their focus on that final stop and the faces of the observers eager to see the ones for whom they waited, that caught the learner’s attention. The learner saw that it was the desire of the observers for their long-awaited loved ones that seemed to give the tired travelers enough energy and will to cross the last several yards. When the travelers saw their loved ones cheering them on, their steps quickened and became sharper, their gait was steadier and their faces brighter; suddenly the long past run from that remote horizon had faded into a distant memory.

This was the scene played out through the day as the soldiers finished the last of their parachute jumps to earn their ‘Airborne’ wings. They landed strongly and ran into the gathering place with family waiting. As the learner watched, one after another of the soldiers crossed the ‘finish line’ to the cheers of their family and friends. It became clear to the learner that perhaps; just perhaps, this was a picture of what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that ‘We run this race in front of a great cloud of witnesses.’

Coming in

A Clash of Cultures

A small metal sign… drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry   

www.docriggs.com  

 

Most of us might be surprised at the vast number of sub-cultures within our own culture. Some would consider the point so off-handedly that, even if these subcultures exist, all that is necessary is to be aware of them, nothing more. We certainly do not need another genre for which we must be politically correct. Already the current lists have made it to the far edges of ad-nauseum. Why belabor yet another category that seeks to be recognized, romanticized, eulogized, and deified?

This, however, is a culture that has been with us since the beginning of our great country, indeed throughout the history of civilization. Yet, the American version of this culture is one that does not seek recognition. Most of the time, this culture prefers to be unnoticed. A simple tip of the hat in recognition of their sacrifice is enough because there is little our supra-culture can do. Perhaps the only way to benefit this culture is to keep the virtue of our American culture at its very best.

Regrettably, I have been as little mindful of this sub-culture as most others, at least until recently. Recent events have driven home to me their existence. It was not in some grandiose presentation that I was pricked at my conscience, nor was it at some hall of heritage that I was alerted to their presence. It was, of all things, a small sign in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had never seen such a sign before and unless any American has a chance to go shopping at a PX or BX (post or base exchange) on a military installation, you will probably never see one yourself. A small metal sign that drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

The sign simply read: “Reserved Parking Gold Star Families” and reading it I was struck with such a sense of astonishment. I was astounded that I had never given so much as a passing thought to the thousands of families that carry on in day to day life, after the ceremonies, after the condolences, after the cards and visits have stopped. The ‘Gold Star’ families, those who have lost someone in combat, keep on with life, with shopping at the PX, with bills and car repairs and every day with a hole in their heart where a loved one, a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine lives now as a memory.

Praise God for Gold Star Families and may we be reminded of them every day. When we are, may we ask God to bless them as they carry on, living a life Reserved for Gold Star Families.

(For more information about the history behind the Gold Star, follow the link to Gold Star Mothers)

Our family proudly displays a ‘Blue Star’ emblem in our front window and a similar decal on my wife’s car. Praise God that it is now a Blue Star and if God should ordain that it ever be Gold, may we honor the work of these proud families with our own.

A Story of Josephs’ Fathers: from despair to hope

Riggs Ministry Minute ~ When there’s only a minute for ministry

Rev. Ross L. Riggs                      www.docriggs.com            6 September 2012

Their love was the unstoppable, over-the-top kind of love that only a father can have for a son. It was a love that sent one father into mourning for more than two dozen years. It was a love that sent the other father on a quest across a hostile foreign country until there was no money left in his pockets. The quest brought him face to face with robbers. He survived a knifing as well as more dangers than can be described here. This father nearly starving stayed alive only because of the hospitality of poor indigenous farmers and laborers and the grace of God. The first father eventually moved to another country to be with his recovered son.

The first father had eleven other sons, one younger than Joseph and a comfort to the old man as he continued to mourn the loss of Joseph. He had been told by his other sons that Joseph was killed by a lion when in fact they had conspired to kidnap Joseph and sell him into slavery into another country. There he was a slave until false accusations put Joseph in prison where, we are told, the Lord was with him. The Lord did not get Joseph out of jail right away, in fact it was several years, but still it was part of God’s plan for him. God had shown Joseph, years before, that He would use Joseph in a mighty and powerful way to protect his nation. That must have seem unlikely from the bottom of the well into which he was thrown before being sold or from the jail cell after the false accusations, particularly when God did nothing to get him out of the jail for several years.

Then, there is the other Joseph. He was less than six months old when, just like the first Joseph, he was stolen away from his father. This father had no other sons to console him. He knew that it was Joseph’s mother who had taken him, in a foreign country, to a barrio deep in the heart of that country which is normally hostile to persons of Joseph’s father’s background. Joseph’s father is an American and Joseph’s mother is Colombian. There was, at the time Joseph was first taken, a desperate sense of urgency in Joseph’s father because he knew that his young son was very sick. Trips to what passes as doctors in Colombia had done nothing to improve the tiny child’s health. When Joseph’s mother refused to allow his father to bring Joseph back to the states for medical care, she also refused to return with Joseph at all.  

Our first Joseph’s father remained at home in deep depression, believing his son to be dead, and wanting to die himself. (His name was Jacob.) A famine had come to the land and the only place where there was food was in a nearby country. Jacob sent his oldest sons to the government of this country seeking food. It was there that the brothers saw Joseph after so very many years. God had used him to make sure that this country, Egypt, had enough food to both survive and make food available to others. Joseph, upon seeing his brothers, finally began to see why God had allowed him to be kidnapped, sold, falsely accused, imprisoned then forgotten – not by God but by his acquaintances – and then finally elevated to a position lower only than the Pharaoh. He was in charge of the planning before the famine to grow and keep enough grain. The nation of Egypt would not only survive, but would be able to sell grain to surrounding countries. He was right where God wanted him to be and he became the protector of his nation, the nation of Israel. Joseph’s story is in the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

It took many years for the first Joseph to learn why God had allowed all of the suffering. Our second Joseph, just now four years old, has no idea what has happened to him. He has yet to learn about his father’s dramatic rescue attempts, braving the climate and the hostile terrain of Colombia on foot, walking the breadth of the country to gain support. Joseph’s father, Jim Allen, was refused the help of the American Embassy personnel in Colombia. It was, Jim reported, the most destitute of Colombians who shared with him their only meal or gave him a place to rest. His story is one of faith and perseverance in the face of daunting odds. Jim Allen knows that God is keenly aware that it will be God who carries Joseph through this trial. It is to God that Jim turned when things seemed darkest.

You can follow Jim Allen’s quest to get to see his son. Jim has documented his story thus far in the on-line book, The Forgotten Child. It is available at a minimal cost that is used only to defray a trip to Colombia to try to negotiate a visit with his son.  Jim also has a website and FACEBOOK to which you can go to find out how to support the Get Joseph Home project.

Right now Jim, who once owned a thriving electrical contracting business in North Carolina has spent every cent toward retrieving his son, has now lost his home and is need of work and a place to stay preferably in the area of Burlington, NC. Jim nearly won the 2012 primary election to the U.S. House of Representatives where he plans to go to bat for the over 100,000 parents of abducted children, taken by another parent illegally to overseas countries. (Some agencies place this figure closer to 150,000). Jim will be seeking office again to continue to take this battle, along with many others, back to the floor of Congress on behalf of the multitude thousands of parents who are ‘Left Behind.

If you can help, contact Jim at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/help-bring-home-joseph-martin-allen/239275962775577 

God had a plan for the first Joseph before he was ever born. God has a plan for Joseph Allen too. He is aware of Joseph’s location and his condition and He will see His plans fulfilled for Joseph – of that Jim is sure. Please continue to pray for Joseph, Jim and Joseph’s mother that God’s will is to be done in their lives.

Jim will be a guest of radio host W. Edward Griffith on the program of the International Counter Terrorism Officers’ Association along with Detective Mike Riker, President of the ICTOA on Wednesday, September 19th at 7pm Pacific time (10pm EST). You can listen to the program at www.blogtalkradio.com/ictoaradio

Global Security Consulting Investigations will continue to update Jim’s story at: www.globalsecurityconsulting.us and at www.security-consulting.us as well as this blog at www.docriggs.com

RESOURCES  Additional resources that can help you learn more about abducted children and parents left behind are:

www.globalmissing.com They have information to help for those taken in the CONUS (Continental United States) and globally, just follow the links inside the website.

http://www.pollyklaas.org

Polly Klaas Foundation is a national nonprofit that helps find missing children and prevents them from going missing in the first place. The Foundation accomplishes its goals by promoting public policies, educating the public, and providing families, law enforcement and communities with the ongoing support and expertise needed to protect our children.

www.StopFamilyAbductionsNow.org

www.ncmec.org The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

We ask that God will continue to bless and guard Joseph and to bless and encourage his father, Jim Allen. We also ask that god will encourage the hearts of all the parents, world-wide.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children to come to me and do not forbid them for such is the kingdom of heaven’ and He laid His hands on them and blessed them.” Matthew 19:14-15

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck; and he was drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

Jesus also understood the nature of some government officials. He gave an example of a widow who felt she was not getting the attention of the local judge that she so desperately needed. In Luke 18:1-8 we learn that the government official did not care about men who might have authority over him. He also had no regard for God.  The widow asked for justice over her adversary and he ignored her until finally he relented, “Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenger her; lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Jesus said, “…shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you He will avenge them speedily…”

To Lamaze Survivors ~ the fathers

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min.      Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry http://www.docriggs.com

                “Breathe… teeth together, hiss like a snake in short bursts…. Ok, now blow through it… puff out the cheeks, push the air, get past the pain, focus, focus…” If you, Dad, were a Lamaze coach for your lovely wife, the mother of your children, then you said those things in that first sentence. I know you did because I did too, so many years ago. In the Lamaze classes, we dads were subjected  to talks, exercises and videos that no dad-to-be should go through. It’s almost medieval! I still suffer some form of PTSD every time someone says the word “wink.”

Okay, dads let me ask you this. If you’re like me, it’s now about thirty years later, ‘Are you facing some kind of serious, perhaps daily physical pain?’ For me, it’s my back and today is one of those days. If you are like me and you have some kind of pain, like I do, I would imagine that you will agree that the pain we have, as bad as it is, still could not equal that of childbirth. Am I right? Stick with me on this. Now, imagine yourself in one of your worst pain days. (I love the hospital or doctor’s 10 scale: ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, how would you rate your pain?’ THIRTY-FIVE!) Here you are on a ‘35’ kind of day and here comes your loving wife. She gets right down in your face and holds up a pencil, inches away from your nose, which now, without your bifocals, it looks like a telephone pole! A blurry telephone pole, but a telephone pole none-the-less. And now, your well-meaning wife says, while holding this telephone pole up inches from the tip of your nose, “Focus… breathe through it…. Hiss like a snake… (Imitating the hissing noise)…. Okay, blow… puff your cheeks…”

You probably have never, ever hit your wife in anger in all your years of marriage. That is about to end! Am I right?

What were we thinking all of those years ago with the Lamaze thing? By our third child, we had gotten well beyond the trendy Lamaze and now, the hue and cry from the ‘labor and pre-delivery room’ (Sounds like something you’d find on a loading dock, doesn’t it?) is much more in line with our own thinking when the painful days are upon us… GIVE ME DRUGS!

My youngest daughter just gave birth to her first baby. The appropriate application of the right amount of the correct drug at just the right time made for a wonderful (okay, bearable) experience of childbirth. There are times, when the pain level is up there, that we need to do what the doctor has prescribed, take what he or she has ordered and quit beating ourselves up for when those days happen. We did not choose the painful path, we can only react or respond to those days when they occur. My prayer is that when I am in the grip of pain, I will have the same composure, the patience and the grace for my family when they try to help as my dear wife had for me during those early Lamaze days. I am quite surprised that I have not gone through the last thirty years with a #2 pencil impaled in my forehead. I love you, honey.

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