Thursday, February 22, 2018


Chapter 1

Eddie Martin was laying awake in his ruffled queen-sized bed staring off into never-never land.  Sheets were pitched this way and that.  Pillows were at the bottom and sides of his resting spot.  But for Eddie, it had not been a night of bliss.  He had tossed and turned, put pillows over his head and under his rump.  But sleep did not come peacefully.

"Whatever", said Martin disgusted with the situation.  Eddie, a thin 5 foot 11 inch, sandy haired dude was deep in thought.  He'd graduated from Johnston High School in the Spring of 2010 after joining the Iowa National Guard while a senior in school.  Not because he felt pushed by anyone in doing so, but he'd felt directed to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Charlie, who enlisted roughly a year earlier.  Eddie loved Charlie.  He idolized him in so many ways and treasured the ground he walked on.  But he was scared or maybe conflicted.  He wasn't sure which.  At 18, what do you know for sure?  So he signed up.

As Eddie looked out the windows at the big blue summer sky above he was trying to decide how this day would unfold. It was drill weekend at Camp Dodge and Martin was supposed to report for duty.  Martin, though, had other ideas. 

"Eddie", time to get up and head to drill" said his dad, Rod, from the first floor living room.  Silence.  "Eddie", he repeated.  Again no reply.  Eddie was hoping the notions of his dad would go away.  But not so.  Seconds later, Mr. Martin entered the bedroom and stared at his middle son.  He sensed there was trouble and the looks of the situation spelled it out.  Eddie was laying cross wise across the bed in his underwear and it was quite apparent he wasn't planning on leaving the house anytime soon.  "Dude", said elder Martin.  "You need to get up and head to drill".  Confidently, Eddie responded, "not going Dad." 

"And why not?", said Mr. Martin.  "I'm just not going.  I don't feel all that great, anyway", said Eddie.  Rod took a deep breath and slowly let it out. This wasn't good but his thoughts suggested there was much more to it than lack of desire or illness.

"Okay", said Rod.  "We've told you before, you have free will but if you don't make the right decision, you'll have to accept the you need to call the base and tell them you're sick", he added.  But those words weren't acknowledged.  Already Eddie had made up his mind.  He had no intention of telling anyone, anything.  Whether it was the body language or the glazed look, Martin's dad held his tongue which was a surprise considering the spike he was feeling with his blood pressure.  Just then, older brother  Charlie sauntered into the bedroom.  Charlie, 19, had joined the Iowa National Guard a little more than a year ago and was set to deploy along with roughly 3,000 other Iowa National Guardsmen to Afghanistan in October.  Charlie would be among the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division comprising soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska and another 100 from other states.   It was to be this groups  largest deployment since World War II. "What's going on", said Charlie. "Your brother thinks he's going to skip drill this weekend and not tell anyone".  Charlie stopped in his tracks.  Immediately disgust swept over his face.  "Bro, not a good idea.  Things don't work like that", fired Charlie.   Eddie equaled Charlie's disgust with an attitude of his own.  "I don't care.  I don't care what they do to me, I'm not going", said Eddie.  Charlie and Rod looked at each other certain they weren't going to change any decision Eddie had made.  "Alright then", said Mr. Martin. "Just be aware that whatever you do will affect Charlie.  Your last name is the same and everyone who's anyone knows that you're brothers."

Mr. Martin and the 6' 2" barrel-chested Charlie retreated to the living room.  Their conversation was in agreement.  What Eddie was doing was stupid and selfish.  As they continued their discussion, Mrs. Martin entered the room.  Hope's female senses quickly kicked in.  "Eddie's not going to drill", offered Charlie.  "And his idiotic idea is going to impact the both of us." 

Just then, the ring of Eddie's cellphone brought everyone to attention.  From the exchange taking place it was apparent his drill sergeant was wanting to know where Eddie was.  The Sgt. was known as a no-nonsense type of guy. Had very little if any compassion and was a distinct double for Jim Taylor, the Green Bay Packer fullback of the '60's.  Square jaw, the look of a bulldog and the presence of Rocky Balboa.  Crap was not in his makeup.  He dished out a butt load of attitude and for obvious reasons got none back.  The talk lasted about three minutes.  Then the cursing started, littered with a multitude of four-letter words.  And the throwing of pillows, tennis shoes and anything else he could get his mitts on.  "I told them I was sick", Eddie yelled.  "And in addition to that, I told them my recruiter lied to me about my ADD not being an issue with the miitary.  I told the sergeant I wanted out", he continued. "He asked me if my folks were home...and I said yeah, why?"  "Then he said you'd better round everybody up and be at the base in the next half an hour.  Or else", he said defiantly.  Little did Eddie know, crew cut man had been updating the major during their dialogue regarding the reason for Martin's absence.  The military wheels were now in motion.  A half an hour from now, the talk was to begin.       

Back in the Martin's living room, Hope and Rod shared glances.  The deep brow on Rod's forehead was showing more clarity and Hope's nervous twitch of her eyebrow started up.  As Eddie hit the bottom of the landing in his military gear there was a much less confident person than a short time ago.  Like in a little swarm, the three hit the two-stall garage and fired up the Martin's black 2009 Yukon.  Inside the house, Charlie was explaining the morning ruckus to the youngest Martin, Dan.  A burly high school junior, Dan was seeing military life all too personal.  Probably wasn't his cup of tea.  The garage door creaked as it began its downward run.  As the truck backed down the drive, mom and dad were in agreement.  They hoped their middle son hadn't shot himself in the foot. Eddie had indeed dug himself a big hole.  He just didn't know the depth of his decision yet. He was about to find out. 

Chapter 2

As the Martin's headed down the street from the two-story end of their cul-de-sac home there were definitely changes taking place.  The sky which a little over an hour ago was a deep rich blue now looked more ominous by the minute.  A storm was on the horizon in more ways than one.  Hope  Martin, a woman in her fifties with mid-length blonde hair swept behind her ears who could have easily passed for someone half her age, piped up.  "Guys, I don't like the looks of this", she offered.  "The sky's getting so dark and the clouds are moving fast."  As Hope turned to her husband she observed someone lost in thoughts, yet a person she admired for his persistence in enduring many different trials in his 60 year life.  Although a tad bit overweight, Rod handled his 5 foot 10 inch frame with ease. His brownish-black hair showed a few signs of gray and his face was adorned with a thick full beard. "Rod. Rod", said Hope.  Rod was completely lost in his own thoughts. The radio might have had something to do with it.  Blaring through the dashboard was a song from Skillet, entitled "Hero".  The lyrics no doubt were making their impact.

"It's just another war.  Just another family torn.  Falling from my faith today. Just a step from the edge.  Just another day in the world we live."

Far, far away Rod was hearing his name being called again, "Rod."  "Rod."  "Did you hear what I said?" echoed his wife.  "Can you turn down the radio so we can pray?"  Being the spiritual person Mrs. Martin was, she turned to prayer each and every time she knew her own power was not enough for a situation.  Rod turned down the sound and looked in the rearview mirror at his middle son.  The reflection mirrored a young man that looked as though he was headed to the electric chair.  It was obvious, Eddie's choice of trying to skip out on drill was not a good one.  As Hope began her prayer you could see some relief come to the Eddie.  "And we also ask you Father God for a compassionate man for Eddie and us to meet with.  Please provide a man that can see all sides of a situation and provide a proper direction for us all."  As she ended her words, the Yukon arrived at the south gate to the post and a huge hulk of a solider stepped up to the Martin's window and asked for identifications.  "Can I help you folks?", said the gate man. Somewhat sheepishly, Rod's words came out, "we're here to see Major Fritz Jenkins."  As the guard took account of the three individuals in the vehicle, he no doubt wondered what a family would be seeing Major Jenkins about.  But that wasn't his issue.  Safety was.  "Okay, you can go on through, first building on your left after the circle."

Entering Camp Dodge was a step into military history.  When Charlie had joined the Guard his family had googled Wikipedia to educate themselves on the base.  "Original construction of the post began in 1907, to provide a place for the National Guard units to train. In 1917, the installation was handed over to national authorities and greatly expanded to become a regional training center for forces to participate in the First World War. Along with the numerous National Guard units located at Camp Dodge, the post is also home to the Sustainment Training Center (formerly the National Maintenance Training Center), Joint Forces Headquarters, Iowa's Emergency Operations Center, a MEPS installation, and the State Police academy. The camp is the home of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, a member of the Army Museum System".  Formerly the town of Herold was surrounded by the Camp. But in 1990 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers purchased the town and it is now known to reside in Johnston.  Many soldiers had come here over the years.  Each with a story unto themselves.

The sleek truck came to a quick and complete halt in front of Building 1285.  And then it hit.  Buckets of rain poured down from the skies. The kind of moisture that beats right into your brain.  Along with that the northwest winds began to howl in dog like fashion.  More than 30 miles an hour.  The Martin's made a mad dash up the sidewalk and into the new red and cream brick structure.  Shaking off the droplets from their clothes, Hope, Rod and Eddie began their slow walk to Major Jenkins office.  Entering the room, the Major, a man about 6'2" and perfectly proportioned, who no doubt had been anxiously awaiting his visitors, stood up and greeted the three.  "Hi', I'm Major Fritz Jenkins, what seems to be the story here?"

Everyone's eyes went to Eddie and the nervous appearance fully apparent on his face.  The big bulge in his adam's apple said even more.  This wasn't going to be an easy story to tell.  But he was clearly on center stage.  And the curtain was up.  Action!   

Friday, January 26, 2018


Today, I shook off the dust from my laptop and stared at the screen.  Looking back at me was "My Father's Voice" blog site.  It took me a couple of minutes to remember all the functions of posting a story but it came back to me fairly quickly.  It had been a long time since I'd written anything for MFV.  The last post was dated 9/25/15.  Almost 28 months ago.  YIKES.  The title was "One Minute With God, What Would You Ask?  For some reason after publishing the article, I stopped writing.  I didn't quit.  I simply stopped writing on this site.

Over the course of the last several years I've written over a hundred hockey articles on the Chicago Blackhawks.  I was keeping my writing skills well sharpened.  It was a lot of fun but not nearly as rewarding as what my first blogging adventure had been.  Then last summer I had several people encourage me in writing a book on everything our family had gone through with our son Kristopher's deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.

My initial reaction was NO WAY.  Writing a book was always something I thought was far to laborious...but days later I looked at my blog and realized in essence, I had already written a book  except in a much different form.  I got to thinking, if I used the stories I reported on,  I could tie things into a nice neat little package with some additional story telling.  So, I was off and running.  Now, months later,  I am  roughly 75% done with the project.  I can see the end in site.  I can't tell you how excited I will be when the day comes that I close the computer lid and say, DONE.   In the coming weeks, I will post snippets from the book to give a little glimpse into "Hope is a Weapon".  That's the name in big bold letters one day at the movie theatre.  It was like the title was written for me.   How did this journey begin, you ask?  Below you can read a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register a short time before our son deployed.  That's where it all began..... 

 A tear drop hit my pillow last night as I lay awake …..followed moments later by a second and a third.  The last one was a long, streaming one, which I think had a more profound significance than the others.    Certainly this was the one that forced me to choke back a real melt down.

It has been two and a half months since I had really let my emotions come forth.  It was tough saying goodbye to my oldest son, Kristopher, that day at the Boone campus.  He along with some 100 other National Guardsman boarded 4 busses and headed off to Camp Shelby in Mississippi.  It was a day unlike any other I had known.  Families being stretched to the greatest of emotional lengths.  Some said goodbye to husbands, others to wives,  son and daughters.   There were young spouses no doubt left with the responsibility of trying to  explain what was going on and why mommy or daddy was leaving on a bus with a whole lot of other people.  Another young lady,  looking to give birth within a month or so, tried to hold back tears.  She wasn’t doing a very good job, but who was I to talk.  Yet, looking around me, I could only think of how each of our lives would become different.  Yes, our tears were real that day……..

Last night though, my tears were different.  They were bigger and they came out of nowhere.   And they were  much different than the ones back on July 30th.   And they are different again today as I try to put my feelings down with words that don’t do justice.  Justice for me, my family and all the other men and women and their friends and families who are experiencing their loved one deploying to Afghanistan.  Today, when my son leaves, and in the following weeks more than 3,000 Iowa Guardsman will be leaving our safe shores to DEPLOY.  Not train, but deploy.

 What does deploy mean? I had to look it up to make sure.  Google had a short definition which stated, “to move into a position of readiness or availability.”   Okay…that makes sense.  Yet, I feel there is one important word that was  left out.  REAL.  There will be Real bullets and a Real enemy for REAL.  And it’s all for Real life and real death in a region that I‘m still trying to get my mind wrapped around.  Is Afghanistan all that important?   Are we fighting on level terms?  Those questions alone are enough to make a person tear up.  

So as you can see,  my tears have been different.  They were a “safe” tear when I knew my son was here in our country preparing for his duty.   Now, it’s the furthest thing from that.  Safe tears have been replaced by scared tears, followed by proud tears followed by scared tears.

It goes without saying, that I have come to a greater appreciation for our military and our country through this whole deployment process.   Men and women have taken to their responsibility and  are making all Iowans proud.  I won’t kid you, it’s going to be a long 9 months.   What do my future tears hold in store for me?  Will it be for someone who has a solider wounded?  Or will it be for one killed in action?  I can’t even think of going there.

It has been said that tears are good for the soul.  It’s our reaction to an experience.  It has an awful lot to do with living, I think.   If you’ve seldom let your emotions or experiences taken you there, then today, think about those whose lives will be challenged from every angle possible.   An old sixties song, “96 Tears” sure comes to mind right now.  “Cry, cry, cry…96 tears, tears for the warm hearted, 96 tears.”  How many tears do I have left?  I don’t really know, but  I do know this.   The shortest and sweetest verse in the Bible is…. ‘‘Jesus wept.”   Puts it all in perspective, don’t you think?

Friday, September 25, 2015


Okay, let's talk in hypotheticals.  I'm going to provide you with an opportunity to spend one minute with God.  No more, no less.  And in that minute, you can ask him anything you want.  And he, in his infinite wisdom, will answer you.  What might you come up with? 

Think about it.  In all that's around us.  In everything that makes up this crazy, mixed-up world, there out to be something that lurks deep inside of you. 

As I've matured in my Christian walk, I continue to ask questions and look for answers, but there is one, perhaps more glaring than anything else,  that I'd say, "God, help me with this.....what is truth?"

A question we all need to learn how to handle.........
Jack Nicholson, in the movie, "A Few Good Men", offered the question many of us struggle with.  "The truth?  You can't handle the truth."  Jack makes a good point.  Most of us can't handle the truth.  Or so, we think we can't.  But.... 

Winston Churchill once stated, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”
Can anyone really know “the truth”? Or is truth subject to human interpretation?   Many today think truth is relative to the circumstances—that what is true for one situation is not necessarily true for others.  This means that truth for one person is not necessarily the same for everyone!  If this is correct, how can we know with certainty what to believe and how we should live?  Almost 2,000 years ago, a Roman governor asked a wrongly accused prisoner who stood before him, “What is truth?”  The Roman’s name was Pontius Pilate.  The prisoner was Jesus of Nazareth (John 18:37-38).

Jesus did not respond to Pilate’s question during this encounter.  At least we do not have a record of it if He did.  Apparently, Pilate walked away from the question that day and simply washed his hands of the ordeal.  At least he thought he did.  Christ did answer the question elsewhere.  The same writer, John, records it in a prayer of Jesus to His Father.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus offered a heartfelt prayer to His Father on behalf of His disciples—not only those of that day, but also those who would follow Him in the future.  Within the context of that prayer, He said, “Sanctify [set apart] them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17, emphasis added throughout).

Here, Christ is saying one should be able to examine the pages of God’s Word—the Holy Bible—to learn the truth on any subject of major importance or significance. The Bible contains the answers to questions about why we were born, our purpose in life, whether God exists and the potential of mankind—to name only a few of the subjects covered within this Book.

The Psalmist wrote similarly: “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Interestingly, the word “truth” can be found more than 200 times in Scripture. 

Many people believe that science can reveal truth.  But Kathy Sykes, a British physicist and professor at the University of Bristol, explains, “Science is not about truth, but is about trying to get closer to the truth. This is important, because, too often, people look to scientists as having the ‘truth.’ What we have is wrapped in uncertainties, caveats and simplifications.”  Then there is absolute truth.

There are those who do not believe in absolute truth. defines the word absolute as “free from imperfection; complete; perfect.” The word truth is defined as “the true or actual state of a matter …; conformity with fact or reality …; a verified or indisputable fact.”

Knowing the truth is wonderful, but it is not enough!  God expects us to act on the truth as He helps us learn it.  More important than knowing the truth is living the truth—walking in truth. Wisdom, knowledge, understanding and truth are all attributes of God.  You can know the truth if you diligently and prayerfully seek for it.

“Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge [truth] of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:3-6). This is the absolute truth.

I'd like to thank Harold Rhodes of Life, Hope and Truth for many of these thoughts and messages.  But, if the truth be known, those aren't necessarily his thoughts...but God's thoughts.  And that's the truth too.  So help me God.

Now, back to the hypothetical question.  What would you ask God?  It might be a good time to ponder that thought, because my hypothetical, might just become reality for you some day.  I hope you'll be ready.      



Friday, September 18, 2015


The movie, "War Room" has hit home with a multitude of Christians.   And well it should.  It might be one of the best Christian movies, ever.  But will its message be long lasting?  That might be a bigger question to ask.   Here is the general subject matter: "With great jobs, a beautiful daughter and a dream house, the Jordans seem to have it all. Appearances can be deceiving, however, as husband Tony flirts with temptation and wife Elizabeth  becomes increasingly bitter, crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage.  Their lives take an unexpected turn for the better when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara."
Prayer a Powerful Weapon that Changes Everything

A long lasting message?  That will be the task facing every Christian.  We've all gone to conferences or heard sermons that have challenged us.  In fact, they've even caused us to want to change.  But then in typical fashion, the world we live in, challenges their thinking and days, weeks or months later, the message is forgotten.  The battle and ultimately the "war" will come in the form of a word I blogged about several months ago.   Here is my offering......

If the title of this post concerning lukewarmness doesn't evoke some emotion, than I'm not sure what might.  Because the subject were going to talk about isn't to be taken lightly and it shouldn't be dismissed.  If you are lukewarm in your faith, you've got issues.  Frankly, an atheist and agnostic at least have a commitment in their thinking.  And as you're about to find out,  most Christians have a lot of soul searching to do. 

Let's see what Revelations 3 15-16 has to say about being lukewarm:
 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.        16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Is that God's anger we're utter disdain for the lukewarm mind.  I think so.   In some interpretations, the "spit you out" is closer to the word "puke".  That most likely says it all.

Where are you at on the thermometer?

One of my favorite Christian radio hosts is Adrian Rogers.   For over fifty years, Rogers consistently presented the Good News of Jesus Christ with strong conviction, compassion and integrity.  He led Southern Baptist churches in the deep South and challenged his congregation each and every time he spoke.  He was a three-term President of the Southern Baptists.  When he spoke, people not only listened, they were moved to act.  Rogers died in 2005 yet his sermons are heard daily on hundreds of radio stations across the world.  His sermons are as accurate today as they were then....the message is unchanged.  Rogers has some in-your-face thoughts regarding the lukewarm Christian. 

 "Lukewarmness is that state of being a little too cold to be hot and a little too hot to be cold; no fire, zeal or enthusiasm for the things of God.  Believers who yawn in the face of God".   If.....the greatest commandment there is, is, "love the Lord with all your Heart", then the greatest sin, is, not, "loving the Lord with all of your Heart". 

So, what does lukewarm look like...

Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so.  After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? 

Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. 

Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. 

Lukewarm people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. 

Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.

Perhaps you see yourself in the descriptions above. Perhaps they challenge you.  Perhaps it's time for some say, Perhaps.

At what temperature are we lukewarm?  All we know is lukewarm is cooler than hot.  Everyone has different thermostats.  What you think is hot might be cold to God.  If at one time you are on fire for God and have begun to cool off, at what point does that cooling become lukewarm?  There is not really a gauge between hot, cold, and lukewarm.  Have you ever wondered about the thermostat wars that go on between you and your wife? Why did God make men and women in this way?  Why is it that my wife is cold when it's 90°?  Why is it that am not cool until it's below 70?  At bedtime she's got a pile of blankets, and as men we are throwing the blankets off of us.  The point is this, we don't really have an accurate way to measure hot and cold.  Everyone has a different gauge.  God says when you hit his lukewarm point he is spewing you out of his mouth.  It means that you are distasteful, intolerable, and rejected by God.  What does that mean to you?  God says if you keep letting this cooling process continue in your life, you will reach a point when God is done.  You need to let those words bother you.  Can you look at your life in the light of this text and say I'm not on fire.  Can you live with that and continue to live your life like everything's okay.

So how does a person keep lukewarmess in check?  Try this...."Reading the Bible should not be a philosophical pursuit or an exercise in academia. The purpose of God's word is to show who God is and show us who we really are, to align ourselves to the God we will face on Judgment Day. James 1:22 - '.. be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.'

Some of the most deceived people on the planet sit in churches every Sunday profoundly deceived because thinking that because they hear the word, that makes them right with God.  It is astonishing how many Christians are not doers of the word.

Or you could try this....Serve, Give, Lead someone to the Lord, Find a Mission Field and Love.

A recent study by the Barna Group showed that among ten activities studied of Christians, that Americans are most likely to pray.  More than four out of every five Americans (83%) said they had prayed in the last week.  This was followed by attending a church service (43%) and reading the Bible outside of church worship services (41%).  Notably, just one-quarter of adults possess an active faith, meaning they engage in all three of these activities (pray, attend church, and read the Bible in a typical week).

Slightly less than one-quarter of adults had volunteered free time to help a church (22%) or some other type of non-profit (23%) in the last week.  About one-fifth of all adults had attended Sunday school (20%), while a similar proportion had participated in a small group for Bible study, prayer and Christian fellowship (19%). The survey showed that half of all adults (50%) said they had donated money to a congregation in the past year.

If my quick look is accurate, I see only one category where the numbers are over 50%...that being the fact the 83% of Americans said they prayed last week.  And to draw some attention to that, I quote Adrian Rogers, "if you remain in your are most likely a sitting duck".

There's and old expression that goes something like this, "Lord Love a Duck".  Now the question is, are you a sitting duck a lame duck or just a duck?  Just because it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, doesn't mean it's a duck....could be blended into, just because it looks like a Christian and walks like a Christian, doesn't mean it's a Christian.  You're the one that determines that.



Monday, June 8, 2015


There's a pretty common catch-phrase these days when people discuss change.  It goes something like. "well, that's the new normal".  In some respects, that statement works.  But in others, it's a cop out.....avoiding what is truth and what's a lie. 

This is not normal, new or otherwise.......
The world has become a much more scary place than the Roaring Twenties, or even the Fabulous Fifties ……instead we migrated to Terrifying Two-Thousands.  We have reached a place in our society where we live with drive by shootings instead of rival fist fights.  We no longer walk away from a job, angry at our employer; but rather we whip out a Uzi and shoot them.  We no longer simply divorce a spouse, we hire a hit man to eliminate them.  Our worst nightmares have become the reality in which we live.

 When I was at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa over the Memorial Day Weekend, I saw veterans  who have lived through so much.  They battled some of the greatest wars ever fought, and came home heroes.  They fought for our freedom, defending the Nation that once was “Under God.”

Today, I am not sure what we are ” under”.  It's my belief that the day the President proclaimed that we were ” no longer a Christian nation…”, we were doomed.  Back in the 20s, Islam may have existed, but it was not the faith of our Founding Fathers.  Back in the 30’s, I am sure no one could define “Muslim”. I don’t think there was ever a “school massacre in the 50’s.  Even in the 60’s and 70’s, the psychedelic generations, no one knew what a ” terrorist attack”, was all about………. In the 80’s, we did not fear for our lives every time we stepped out of our front door.  We didn’t worry about being beheaded or catching a disease that has no cure…..

Author Jessi Steele offered these thoughts on the "new normal", "I remember starting the school day with the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.  I attended Sunday School and memorized the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and Psalm 23.  I was taught to say ” please, thank you, no ma’am and no sir.”  I bowed my head and said “grace” before every meal.  Before I went to bed, I knelt on my knees and prayed… ”  Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I die, before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, amen”.

Now, the Ten Commandments are no longer allowed in Government buildings because they are “offensive and violate the freedom of religion”. Whose religion??????  Not mine.  Children can not stand and say the Lord’s Prayer because ” it violates the rights of others”.  Whose rights?  Not mine. We live in world that is now more worried about the rights of others that we no longer have rights. We worry about violating other’s freedoms to the point where we have no freedom.  We are no longer a ” Nation Under God”. We replaced our Fearless attitude with that of being fearful….. 

Need anything more be said .....
I'm afraid what we've lost is our perspective.  I'm not going to suggest some direction for you to follow no more than you should me.  Because no matter if we have differences of opinion, it doesn't really matter what we think is right or wrong, but what God's word says.  It's not going to be new-normal, or what is the accepted beliefs of the day.  It will be consistent.  The same today and tomorrow, just like it was yesterday.   

There are signs all around us.  Gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and the transgendered are now, not only to be tolerated, but accepted.  What will be next?  Sex with your mother, or father, perhaps your daughter or son.  Will predators of our little ones go unpunished because it's "new normal"  Or will sex with animals become commonplace.  As repulsive as some of that is, that's what we've become.  An overaccepted, unaccountable world.   

At the End of the Age, we shall see a very different type of individual.  "But wicked men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and leading astray others and being deceived and led astray themselves". 

And the Bible says this of what man becomes...."Lovers of self, self-centered"; greedy beyond belief; "abusive, blasphemous, scoffers, disobedient to parents, unholy, ungrateful, and profane"  "Without natural affection, callous, inhuman, relentless, loose morally, uncontrolled, fierce, haters of good."   "Treacherous, betrayers, rash and inflated with self-conceit; lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements rather than lovers of God."

Say what you will.  There is a normal in our lives, but only if we remain focused on God and not the world.  Try as we might to excuse someone's behavior, God will be the final arbriter.   If you know what I mean, you'll see it, hear it, speak it and feel it.  That's what normal is....


P.S. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Monday, May 25, 2015


The words are a little over two years old now.  But for many, they are as fresh and as repulsive as the days they were spoken. They came during the U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing on May 8, 2013 spoken by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?", offered Clinton when pressed by Republican Senator Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) to explain how it was that over the course of weeks, the Obama Administration stood by an absurd story claiming that four Americans were murdered in Libya due to spontaneous protest gone bad.

The names should be of importance to us all.  They include: U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens  and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.  Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.  Several hours later, a second assault targeted a different compound about one mile away, killing two CIA contractors,  Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty.

As we are in the midst of the Memorial Day Weekend, the Clinton message should be one memory that is hard to release.  And why would that be?  Because for all practical purposes, this holiday, this celebration, is about people who have made/make a difference.  Each and every day of their lives.  The other reason, Clinton has a desire to be Commander-in-Chief of those that serve. 

You can be the Difference, that's the point
To gain a better understanding, here is the truth concerning our soldiers, those difference makers, the ones Clinton was so quick to dismiss as collateral damage. 

"First, a Soldier is a Soldier for life.

It takes a profound strength to wear this nation’s uniform. Though one day they remove this uniform, no amount of time, nor strife can sever the golden thread uniting these veterans in a unique and everlasting bond.

Once a Soldier, a Soldier for Life.

This uniform has changed many times in the last 237 years. What hasn’t changed has been the determination and spiritual strength of the men and women willing to serve this nation.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, almost three million American men and women have answered our nation's call to arms – to serve their nation and do their job. Now, after 11 years of war, more that 1.3 million service men and women who deployed overseas have returned to our communities. But still, more than 720,000 veterans of all generations remain unemployed.

Those figures don't show much reward for our difference makers.   Ah, but at this point, what difference does it make, right Hillary?

A Difference Maker at work and in a little one's life
So when did the idea of honoring or servicemen and women begin? The holiday got started on May 30, 1868, when Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Twenty years later, the name was changed to Memorial Day. On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971. Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May.

Bill Cowan, a retired Marine, Fox News military analyst and founding member of the Intelligence Support Activity might have said it best when asked what Memorial Day meant to him:

"Like all veterans, my memories are filled this Memorial Day with endless instances of pride at being able to serve this great country of ours – pride at being an American and even more pride at having been able to wear the uniform.
Of my many memories, over 60 years’ worth, none is more striking than that of a dusty afternoon in 2008 in a bombed out building in Sadr City, Baghdad.  It wasn’t about my own service.  It was about someone else’s.

I was accompanying my friend Aaron Tippin, a country music legend, as he visited and entertained troops during the Thanksgiving season.  It was an annual event for him during the war and I was often fortunate enough to accompany him.  On this particular afternoon, at one of many stops, we were at a Forward Operating Base with a battalion of the storied 82nd Airborne Division.

The scene was literally out of a Hollywood movie – a bombed out building in the midst of a crowded commercial neighborhood.  The inside of the building was dark and dusty, with shards of light darting through the holes in the outer walls.  In the quietness of the rotunda, some troops were coming in from patrols while others were preparing to go out.  Others still gathered around a small stage which had been set up for Aaron to perform, eager to listen to songs which many of them were quite familiar with.

We were an anomaly in the midst of a chaotic, dangerous war.  The building, reminiscent to me of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, was home to the battalion while they worked and fought in one of the toughest areas of Iraq at the time – Sadr City: home to the Shiite militias.

We learned shortly after arriving that only a few days previously one of the battalion’s squads had been ambushed on a nearby street.  Three soldiers were killed in the initial fight and others were gravely wounded. The engagement had raged briefly while a reaction team was sent to provide support.  Even the local lraqi police unit, with whom the battalion had been working and training, rushed to help.  Over in just minutes, the battle had taken its toll on the battalion.  Here at Thanksgiving, they were still bearing the grief of loss.

As Aaron finished singing, the battalion commander asked if we could stay long enough to see one of his soldiers re-enlist in the Army.  The Command Sergeant Major brought the young man forward and introduced him.  He was a kid-faced Specialist, and in the hazy light I could see that he was dark skinned, possibly a Native American.

To my amazement, he was a member of the squad that had been in the costly battle just days earlier.  He had seen war at its very worst, lost fellow brothers in combat, his Army time was up and he could go home in time for Christmas, and here he was asking to stay in and extend his commitment to the Army – and to America.

We stood there quietly, watching the young man swear the oath of office and commit to four more years in the Army, surrounded as he was by his friends and comrades.  At that moment, forever seared in my memory, I realized I was witnessing America at its absolute best – selfless dedication and undaunted courage in the name of America.

All of us who have served have pride at having had the opportunity to do so.  And I was proud to be there and witness a moment which reminded me in such glaring terms of the greatness of our country and the men and women who serve.  I am indeed proud to be an American".

As we are in the midst of the Memorial Day Weekend, this should be one memory that is hard to release.  And why would that be?  Because for all practical purposes, this holiday, this celebration, is about people who have made/make a difference.  Each and every day of their lives. 

At this point.....this is the difference that can be made.  People.  One's committed to something more than their pocketbook or ego.  Make a memory this Memorial Day weekend and thank someone for their service.  See if that doesn't make a difference.....for you and for them.  And while you're at it, say a prayer for Hillary.  Perhaps she'll get the point.



Meantime watch over others, as well as yourselves, and give them such help as their various needs require.  For instance, Some, that are wavering in judgment, staggered by others' or by their own evil reasoning, endeavour more deeply to convince of the whole truth as it is in Jesus. Some snatch, with a swift and strong hand, out of the fire of sin and temptation.  On others show compassion in a milder and gentler way; though still with a jealous fear, lest yourselves be infected with the disease you endeavour to cure.  See, therefore, that while you love the sinners, ye retain the utmost abhorrence of their sins, and of any the least degree of, or approach to, them.-Jude 1:22


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I heard someone say the other day, that a young friend of theirs had passed away.....way before their time.  Which caused me to pause and ponder.  Just why would a person say that?   Was it that they felt the person had so much more to offer and it seemed such a tragedy to have lost that opportunity?  And of course, it beckons the who's time frame did they leave?  Ours or Gods?

Time....before yours, just in the nick of or running out of

Stop and think of some of the people you believe left this earth with a lot left to accomplish.  I'll offer a couple of names and you do the same.  Let's see, how about Jim Morrison, 27-year old leader singer of the Doors, who died of an alleged heroin overdose.  Or Walter Payton. the iconic running back of the Chicago Bears, who at the age of 45, died of a rare liver disease.  Along movie lines, let's mention Philip Seymour Hoffman, the splendid 46-year old who died of a drug overdose.....and of course Robin Williams, who committed suicide at the age of 63.  Even though Williams was older, he seemed far from the of the end of his career.  Somehow there was a disconnect between Williams and the love his audiences had for him.  If....he only knew how much he was loved.

In recent months, Lauren Hill comes to mind.  The 19-year old college basketball player who touched the lives of people in the world of sports and beyond.  Hill was diagnosed with DIPG, a deadly form of brain cancer, after she committed to play college basketball at Mount St. Joseph.  She ended up scoring in her college debut and would go on to score 10 points in four games that she played. Eventually the disease would make her too weak to play, but she was named an honorary captain for the program around the same time that she was admitted to hospice care.

DIPG may have taken Lauren’s health, but it never killed her spirit. She rasied more than $1 million for DIPG research by launching campaigns like Layup 4 Lauren Challenge, which capitalized on the virality of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Here's a list of some other notables who passed away with much accomplished and much more anticipated:

Jimi Hendrix-27
Princess Di-36
John Kennedy-46
Martin Luther King-39
John Lennon-40
Elvis Presley-42
Marilyn Monroe-36
Thurman Munson-32
Lou Gehrig-37
Buddy Holly-22
Richie Valens-17
James Dean-24

That is a pretty impressive list.  Some made their marks and others were on their way....much like,
Skye McCole Bartusiak who died in her sleep at the age of 21, in July 2014.  Her death was ultimately ruled an overdose.  She died due to the combined effects of hydrocodone and difluoroethane with carisoprodol.  The child star was known for her role as Mel Gibson's daughter in "The Patriot".

Skye after her "Patriot" performance

As I was preparing to write about your time and my time, this came my way.   Although something tells me it was in his time---When Robin Ventura took over as Chicago White Sox manager prior to the start of the 2012 season, one of his first official actions had very little to do with baseball.  It also stood out as one of the most important ones of his now four-year tenure.

Ventura journeyed from California to Chicago to take an on-stage part in Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol on Dec. 21, 2011, joined by then 9-year-old Emily Beazley, who had recently been diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  The Chicago native had a wish to someday be a star, but on that particular night, Emily was happy to make a cameo with a character featuring her same name, while Ventura played Mr. Ventura.

"Today, she said she might get founded, those are her words," said her emotional mother, Nadia, of her daughter's acting opportunity in '11 provided by Goodman Theatre and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Emily never had the chance to win an Academy Award, an Emmy or a Tony.  At the age of 12, she sadly lost her battle with cancer on Monday. But she inspired too many to count during her valiant battle against this insidious disease.

A tough little kid.....Emily Beazley

"She was a tough kid going through something unimaginable," said Ventura, speaking prior to Tuesday's contest against the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field. "Her attitude, being upbeat the way she was through it all, you learn things.  You get a perspective on what is important."

A special tribute was paid to Emily in the White Sox game notes, with condolences wished to her friends and family.  Emily was at U.S. Cellular Field with her family on Mother's Day, throwing out one of the ceremonial first pitches to Ventura.  She received numerous honors from her Mount Greenwood community prior to her passing, as well as receiving a special phone call from Taylor Swift.

"Her and the family and everything the community did for her was incredible," said Ventura, a parent to four children with his wife, Stephanie. "She jammed a lot in in 12 years, especially the last three to four.  Your heart breaks.  It's incredibly sad."

But as sad as it is we have to reflect on timing.  If we say someone passed before their time....was it really? 
God will work things out in your life if you trust in him. It is possible that you may have to go through certain trials and wait for his answers ... 'And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.' Romans 8:28
God has plans for your life. He knows everything about you. He made you. He loves you, as the following selection of verses from Psalm 139 confirms:

  O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
As we so often hear when someone passes....."cherish this time.  Appreciate what you have".  Know many of us, won't be let in when our time is up or for that fact, if it's right around the corner.  It will be in his time, not ours.....and not one second sooner.