Monday, April 27, 2015

LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY REMINDER OF POST-VIETNAM ERA

In the late 1960's and early 1970's our nation adopted a disregarded for the importance of those that put their lives. What once was a proud country, was replaced with an attitude of disgust.  Disgust for those who were protecting their lives, their country and their futures....our military.  There is story after story of Vietnam veterans who came home to be dishonored with words and actions.  One would have to ask, from all accounts of what happened in Florida last weekend.....have we returned to those ways?    

University of Florida and Emory University fraternity members visiting Panama City, Florida last  weekend allegedly harassed wounded veterans in ways reminiscent of Vietnam War-era protests.

“They actually spit on me and my service dog as well. That’s just so disrespectful,” veteran Nicholas Connole  told a local NBC affiliate Thursday.

Mr. Connole and other veterans were in town for its biannual Warrior Beach Retreat.   Suspected fraternity members were also said to have poured beer on veterans and urinated on the American flag.

They’re a total disgrace for our military,” said Linda Cope, founder of Warrior Beach Retreat, the station reported. “They were urinating on the American flag. They were throwing things off of the balconies.”

The retreat was founded in September 2009, about three years after Cope’s son, Sgt. Joshua Cope, lost both legs in an explosion in Iraq,  according to Warrior Beach Retreat website.

"We focus on the caregiver and strengthening marriages,” Cope said. “That’s our vision.”
The event brought together combat wounded veterans and included a parade on April 16 where between 8,000 and 10,000 people lined the streets. 


A weekend of patriotism led to a display of hatred
Zeta Beta Tau fraternity members from the University of Florida and Emory University were staying at the Lake Town Wharf Resort when the alleged incidents occurred.

Dave Kratzer — a retired U.S. Army major general, combat veteran and standing UF vice president of student affairs —  wrote in a press release.  “I am personally offended and disappointed by the behavior that has been described to me. This is not representative of our students or of the university.” 

Three ZBT members have since been expelled from the UF chapter, according to a statement from Laurence Bolotin, executive director of the fraternity at large. Bolotin says the fraternity has contacted Warrior Beach Retreat and hopes to “work together in the future to support our nation’s brave veterans.”  

The University of Florida suspended its Zeta Beta Tau chapter on April 24th on an interim basis pending an investigation.   

So what has brought about the return to post-Vietnam attitudes?   Perhaps something like this....   

A university in southern Georgia canceled classes on Friday before a rally that drew about 1,000 demonstrators angry that an American flag was stepped on during a recent protest on campus.
Valdosta State University officials said no classes would be held and about 100 law enforcement officers were on campus during the event to ensure the safety of students and staff.  The university, located about 15 miles from the Florida border, has drawn national attention after a cell phone video of an altercation at the April 17 rally was posted on the Internet.

"This is a home for free speech," said William McKinney, the university's president, at a news conference after the event, noting his pride that it had taken place peacefully. "This is what America is about, what it should be about."

Focal point in the protest was the arrest of a woman named Michelle Manhart, an Air Force veteran living in the area.  Manhart took a flag from protesters to protect it.  Manhart refused to return the flag, even after being ordered to do so by police.  She was eventually detained by officers and has been banned from the campus, according to local media reports.

Flag defenders had been critical of the school president's response that freedom of speech must be upheld even if it includes disrespect to the flag.  Critics launched their own protest movement called "Flags over VSU."

"We will not waiver in standing up for our nation, our flag and our soldiers",  they retorted.

It would appear antics like the two mentioned offer a complete lack of accountability....from both students and educators.  So, what, comes of it?  Most likely, little if anything...but we can only hope. 

Let's begin with some suspensions at the university.....not of the fraternity, but the students themselves.  And for Mr. McKinley, the Valdosta State University President.....it's time for you to move on.   

Perhaps I'm a little short-sighted with behavior of this kind.  However, if you've had a son in the armed services, or served yourself......if you had a family member risk their life for our right to freedom, then you'll understand my next few words.  If you don't like this country, then try somewhere else.  See where that gets you....

YGG,

John  

1 Timothy 6 3-5

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.   He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.

Friday, April 17, 2015

HEY CHRISTIAN, HOW'S THAT LUKEWARMNESS GOING?

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 reading...an 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 changes.......you 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 lukewarmness....you 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 or a duck?  Just because it looks like a duck and walks like 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.  


YGG,

John    





 

Friday, April 10, 2015

ENGLAND'S CAMERON OFFERS A DIFFERENT CHRISTIAN TUNE THAN OBAMA

England's Prime Minister David Cameron struck a chord and in many respects he might have put together an entire progression when he offered some words of advise to the people of Great Britain in his Easter address.  His focus was the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world.

"Easter is a time for Christians to celebrate the ultimate triumph of life over death in the resurrection of Jesus," Cameron said. "And for all of us it's a time to reflect on the part that Christianity plays in our national life."

Cameron said the Church is "not just a collection of beautiful old buildings," but a "living, active force doing great works right across our country."

Now let's compare that with what's at work in the United States.  This is from Craig Masters of the Northern Colorado Gazette:

"Barack Obama’s education in Muslim schools seems to have been as distorted in favor of Islam as it was against Christianity. When he decided to tell Christian Americans to get off their “high horse” and understand that what the ISIS fighters are doing to Christians today is really no different than what Christians did to Muslims during the Crusades, he was clearly telling America his sympathy lies with the ISIS fighters.  But his version of history is the lie of Islam, not the truth of Freedom.

Obama himself finally blew the smoke away from the mirrors he had so successfully hidden behind for so long. Although the disgraced network news readers have ignored or excused the President’s anti-Christian speech, his own press secretary has defended it by saying that the words Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast were carefully chosen.

Will this exposure allow just a few more Americans to see “their” leader is a traitor who – up until his “Christians on their high horse” speech – has diverted their attention while attacking America’s economy and undermining our freedoms, future and independence. An attack directed against us from inside our own protected walls of the White House.

How much more obvious can it become that the Obama presidency has been nothing short of an all out attack on The United States, Christianity, the Constitution, and Freedom.  Islam demands no freedom. Sheria Law has no provisions for equality of women, no punishment for throwing homosexuals from rooftops or beheading children of infidels and the missionaries who dare to challenge the words of Muhammad". 

Mr. Masters has made some very strong comments, but it does cause a person to reflect on their accuracy.  If....you take a long, hard look, it would be more than difficult to argue otherwise. 

Is there much in common with Obama and Cameron? 
Let's get back to Prime Minister Cameron and some of the other words of encouragement and  wisdom he shared.  Cameron praised Christians for feeding the homeless, helping people conquer addictions and comforting those who are suffering.

"I know from the most difficult times in my own life that the kindness of the church can be a huge comfort", Cameron said.  "Christians don't just talk loving their neighbor; they live it out in faith schools, in prisons, in community groups.  And it's for all these reasons that we should feel proud to say this is a Christian country".  "Yes, we're a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none, but we're still a Christian country."  Cameron went on to denounce the ongoing persecution of Christians in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, saying there is "a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world."

"It is truly shocking that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured, even killed because of their faith, from Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea", Cameron said. "Across the Middle East Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village, many of them forced to renounce their faith, or brutally murdered".

"To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who are practicing their faith or sheltering others, we must say, 'We stand with you".

There is stark difference between the two leaders, for sure.  And ultimately it leads one to wonder what the future is of both of their countries.  For those in the United States, I offer this:

"Why isn’t America in bible prophecy?  In all likelihood, some of us will not know the answer in this life, but in hindsight, it will most likely be plain and obvious to the people of the Tribulation.

The need to see America in bible prophecy stems from a common mistake in the study of bible prophecy – trying to fit bible prophecy into the current headlines, rather than reading current headlines in the context of bible prophecy.
 
We can see the many signs of the end times, knowing the hour is late and His coming is near.
 
And with America still holding a position of strength and power in the world, it’s difficult to reconcile our belief that the end is near with the Bible’s silence regarding America’s role.
 
Nevertheless, we can be confident that bible prophecy will come to pass with 100% accuracy, and the United States will not be a significant player in end time events".
 
If those thoughts get you fired up, remember some words said a long, long time ago, "because the Bible tells me so".  We can debate all we want as to the why and where fors, but somewhere, sometime, the wheels came off the track.     
 
YGG,
 
John 


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

REVENGE, ABANDONMENT AND BETRAYAL

If you've heard a loud sigh lately, it's most likely coming from me.  Unless that is, you've reached the same point in all the politics being played out in the world these days.  It's gotten down right stupid and it's led one person to put a spot on assessment of what it means.   There are times where we need to share things with others.  Not use it and put your own spin on it....just share it.  Today, this is the time. The words are from Jan Markell, Founder, President and Host of Understanding the Times

Did you ever expect to see those three words linked to the U.S.-Israel relationship?  (Revenge, Abandonment and Betrayal)  Have we fallen down a hole and we now are in an "Alice-in-Wonderland" world? America embraces her enemies and lifts sanctions on Iran. She will likely place sanctions on Israel. It is an upside down world. Is the Mad Hatter in charge?

Things aren't falling apart--they're falling in place.

The entire world is in the process of abandoning Israel which the Bible foretells in Zechariah 12:3. It is ultimately fulfilled in the Tribulation but the process begins much sooner.

Falling Apart or Falling in Place?
  Here's what some are saying.
  
Pamela Geller, President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative  and Stop Islamization of America says, "The White House actions against Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu are a 'jihad against the Jews.'"

She refers to the story broken by Israel National News that the Obama administration declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document with details of Israel's nuclear assets, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race.
Geller states that Israel has shared its nuclear secrets with America for decades. They just never imagined someone in the White House would stoop so low as to reveal them to the world.
Joel Rosenberg says, "There is mounting evidence that Obama is preparing to 'divorce Israel.' Once it would have been preposterous even to ask such a question. Today, it feels like it's a matter of 'when', not 'if' Mr. Obama will formally abandon American support for the Jewish State. And the situation is rapidly going from bad to worse."


Rosenberg cites some headlines:

1.  U.S. Could Abandon Israel at the U.N. (CNN)
2.  Washington Threatens to Abandon Israel at the U.N. (Times of London)
3.  Israel-White House Relations at All-Time Low (Breaking Israel News)
4.  Iran Deal Worse Than Israel Feared (Times of Israel)

Rosenberg states, "For an American President, or Congress, or the American people, to turn against Israel and the Jewish people would be more than bad policy or unfortunate politics. According to Bible prophecy, such moves would pose an existential threat to the future of the United States."
  
Israeli commentator Caroline Glick writes, "the administration's animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama's twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning U.S. policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US's strategic alliance with Israel.

"Over the past six years, we have seen how Obama has consistently, but gradually, taken steps to advance these two goals. Toward Iran, he has demonstrated an unflappable determination to accommodate the terrorism supporting, nuclear proliferating, human rights repressing and empire building mullahs."

White House correspondent Bill Koenig, my frequent conference and radio guest writes in his e-newsletter, Koenig's Eye-View from the White House: "The more President Obama's actions affect or jeopardize Israel's security, the stronger the response will be from the God of Israel as evidenced in Scripture. This will have enormous implications for the United States."

Koenig writes, "The Obama administration keeps speaking about its unprecedented security cooperation with Israel, but what good is that if Iran gets nuclear weapons? What good is it if Iran deploys missiles in Syria and Lebanon, or Hamas takes over the Palestinian Authority, entrenches itself in the mountains of Judea and Samaria and brings in arms from Iran and Turkey? What good is it if Iran takes control of Yemen and the Red Sea?"

(Find info on subscribing to Koenig's e-newsletter here. It's well worth the nominal cost.)

Journalist Bill Wilson writes, "The U.S. government is trying to literally 'cut' Israel in half with its proposal of a Palestinian state. All that burden themselves with this issue may find themselves 'cut into pieces.'" 

The White House has also suggested Israel shrink her borders to PRE-1967 borders. Call them suicide borders. They are not defensible. 
Bill Koenig states, "This is the White House that continues to leak information that puts Israel's security at risk, while speaking of its close co-operation with Israel. This is the White House that pressured the Pentagon to leak potential Israeli military actions against Iran to the press in 2012, 2013, and 2014. This is the White House that leaks news about Israeli air strikes inside Syria."
  
Koenig provides a complete timeline of Obama's anti-Israel hatred in his newsletter. He quotes Breitbart News suggesting President Obama finally called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his re-election -- but the "congratulations" was actually a lecture directed at forcing Netanyahu to surrender to the terrorist Palestinian regime. 

Joel Rosenberg summarizes that we are watching Barack Obama:

  Negotiate an incredibly dangerous nuclear deal with Iran
  Refuse to share the precise details of this deal with Israel, America's most    faithful and trusted ally
  Treat the Israeli Prime Minister nearly as persona non grata
  Threaten revenge because Netanyahu won re-election
  Threaten to abandon Israel @ U.N. and allow anti-Israel resolutions to pass
  And now declassifies details of Israel's top secret nuclear program  

Rosenberg concludes, "This is the most dangerous moment in the 67-year history of the U.S.-Israel relationship. What do the next two years hold? I cannot say for sure. I'm praying for the President and his top advisers to back off, turn from this dangerous path, and find common ground with Israel, despite policy and personality differences."

Iran is about to become a nuclear power player with the blessing of America and a few other blind-as-bats nations. That means many nations in the region will  have to pursue this goal as well. If you ever wondered what end-time references to fire, vapors of smoke, and the resulting strange signs in the heavens mean, I think it is obvious. At the time of the very end, nuclear war will be raging -- for sure in the Mideast. Maybe it will happen before the Rapture. The timing of all such events is uncertain. The Bible references appear to be Tribulation-based.

Things are coming together. They are falling in place. Even if it seems they are falling apart, they really are not. Nations must have "distress with perplexity." (Luke 21:25.)  Can you think of a single nation that is not plagued with some kind of perplexity or plague? A dilemma for which the leaders have no solutions. 
  
Neither kings, generals, mullahs, ayatollahs, presidents, Fuhrers, or pharaohs can obliterate Israel. But the evil they perpetrate on God's covenant land can boomerang back on them and their empires.   
  
We have been warned. Scripture is clear. Mess with Israel and there are consequences.

"And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jan.  We'll be watching......

Several weeks ago I shared with you my thoughts on the end times.  Causes some more thoughts to ponder, doesn't it?

YGG,

John

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TIMES A COMIN........

Nobody can say with any degree of certainty when Jesus is coming again, because He said clearly that even the angels in heaven do not know that day (see Mark 13:32). No man knows that day, and the Son of God, when He was on the earth, did not know either. This knowledge, the Lord Jesus said, was strictly reserved for the Father.

We can see certain signs, or clues (see Matthew 24:3, Luke 21:7), that His coming is approaching. Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, revolutions, widespread famine, disease, and earthquakes in many different places (see Matthew 24:6-7, Luke 21:10-11). There would be an increase of lawlessness and anarchy. The apostle Paul said, "That day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God" (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).  Along with the "man of sin" will come what is called an apostasy, or a falling away. Many of the believing people will grow cold in their faith (see Matthew 24:12). There will be persecution of Christians and a time of general trouble.  I think all these things are happening with increasing frequency.


Sodom and Gomorrah .  Where is the Voice calling you?

In recent days, I've been further impressed about the coming of Jesus.  And why wouldn't anyone  with any sense of God's word not feel the same way.  Times are a comin.....

Look around you.  My gosh, there is such a divison in our country and in our world.  The difference between right and wrong, truth and outright lies are so drastic.  Why's this so hard to see?

And in these times, it's now politically correct to suppress the truth and let our flesh take over.  Let freedom ring....but freedom of what and for what? 

Let me take you back a few years to 1996.  I want you to read the prayer given by Reverend Joe Wright to the opening session of the Kansas Senate:

Heavenly Father,

We come before You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance.  We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good", but that's exactly what we have done.  We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.  We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; We have  worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.  We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted, the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of  expression;  We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.  Search us, O God, and know our hearts today, try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.  Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state of Kansas.  Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your Will.  I ask in the name of your Son, The Living Savior, Jesus Christ.

The response ro his speech was immediate.  A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.  In six weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright was pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.  Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on "The Rest of the Story" on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he ever aired.

It seems prayer upsets people.  It was true then and it sure is today some nineteen years later.

If you think longer and harder about Rev. Wright's eloquent words, it's hard to comprehend this didn't signal a change in our lives, our political system and in our faith.  It could have been a turning point for sure.  But it wasn't.  And given where we are today... that's sad.  Yet hardly unexpected. 

So what's this mean?  Frankly, it's all up to you.  Not your wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father, pastor or anyone else of prominence in your life.  This is your decision.  You can sit on the fence and think time is on your side....because you're not ready to be "all in". 

Do me a small favor and shuttle back up to the picture and take a gander.  And then ask yourself.  What am I going to do?  Because the Times a Comin.......that I'm certain of.

YGG,

John  

Monday, February 16, 2015

"90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN"...

We've all been asked to go somewhere or do something against our better judgment, right?  And the reason we gave was, because.  Because you just didn't want to do it.  And when that happens, how often are we proved wrong?  I'd suspect, most of the time.  At least in my cases it is.....the stubborn one that I am.

This past Sunday was a prime example.  My wife, Joanne, mentioned to me about a speaker who was in the Des Moines area talking about his time in heaven.  "I think we should go hear him", she said.  "He's got a real interesting story".  Well, since I didn't have a real good excuse, at least one that would stand up when it comes to a husband-wife relationship, I sheepishly agreed.  Not with any great excitement, mind you.  But I agreed. 

Sunday morning we shot down the interstate to Norwalk,  a small town south of Des Moines.  As we entered the  high school  parking lot most of my intuitions were met.  There were three cars in the lot and we were 5 minutes away from the beginning of the engagement.  "How about we go", I offered.  "No, I think we should stay and support Mr. Piper, even if others don't", was her reply.

As we entered the building it was apparent we weren't at the right door.  We were greeted by a young lady who said to follow the hallways down to the auditorium where over 500 people were anxiously awaiting words on a journey many were curious of....."90 Minutes in Heaven".  Clearly I ate my words....at least those I could muster up.  And what I heard in the next 90 minutes was nothing short of a miracle.

Remnants of the Ford Escort on the Texas Highway Bridge
 
Here is the story of Don Piper;s day that changed his life forever as told to a CBN reporter and relayed through their company website:

"Don Piper was relieved when the pastor's conference he had been attending finished a little early that Wednesday in January, 1989.  Being associate pastor and having just been appointed minister of education at a Houston area church, Don was a busy man. The early start home would provide him much needed time to mentally organize his hectic schedule.

"I was thinking about that night and also that I was going to be preaching that next Sunday morning in three services," Don remembers.

Little did Don know he would be late for the service that night--not just by minutes or hours, but by months--and before he got home, he would take a detour he would never forget.

Within minutes of leaving the retreat center, Don drove onto a bridge spanning a lake. It was a fairly long bridge and there was water on both sides of the elevated highway.

Recalling the scene, Don says, "I approached the end of the bridge, and before I reached the end, a tractor-trailer truck owned by the Texas Dept. of Corrections crossed the center stripe and hit my car head on."

Not only did the truck hit Don's car, it ran over the passenger side of the small Ford Escort, completely crushing the vehicle and killing Don Piper. Instantly, Don began an amazing journey.
"When I was killed, I was instantly transported to heaven's gate," he says. "It was an instantaneous thing."  Don found himself standing in front of a divine portal, surrounded by familiar faces. 

"I didn't see a single person that I did not know," he says. "They were relatives, they were friends that died in high school, they were teachers--they were people I had seen and known all my life who had gone to glory. They were smiling; they were embracing me; they were welcoming me' they were in the process of taking me through the gate of heaven." Looking over the heads of his friends, Don saw a looming pearl gate.

While Don stood at the gates of heaven, pastor Dick Onerecker of Kline, Texas, stood on a Texas highway by Don's lifeless body.  He had also attended the pastor's conference.  He came upon the accident moments after it happened.  The EMS personnel had told him that Don was dead.

"It was as though I was compelled to stop and to pray for him.  The Lord had just impressed on me very emphatically, very urgently that I was to pray for him," says Dick.  "I walked over by the door. There was great physical damage on the outside.  I laid my hands on him and began to pray for him."
As soon as Don's journey to Heaven began, it ended. Don found himself back in his crushed vehicle, staring up at a tarp that had been thrown over him by medical attendants.

Says Don, "The first conscious memory was 'What a Friend we have in Jesus.' I was singing. I was thinking to myself, Why am I singing this song? I'm in the dark, and I knew it was about noon time when the accident happened. I'm in the dark, I'm singing, and I'm holding a hand. I'm thinking to myself, What on earth is happening?"  Dick had begun singing hymns to Don.

What's  left out of those words is the facts that Piper broke nearly every bone in his body and his left arm and right leg were severed in the accident.  Why didn't he bleed out, you ask?  Simply, because his heart had stopped beating.  Now, back on earth and with his heart showing life, the rush began to save Don.  Over the course of the next 6 and 1/2 hours he was taken to three different hospitals before finally reaching the best care center in Texas, TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.  During the next thirteen months and some 300 surgeries, Potter fought for his life and questioned his God.   

The 13-month home of the Don Piper with family at his bedside
One can certainly realize Piper had many unanswered questions while laying flat on his back....about his future, his family's financial situation and most importantly, why was he turned around at Heaven's gate.

"I like to say that I came back by popular demand," he says. "People prayed me back from the gates of heaven. People prayed me back from death's door. I'm here because people asked God for me to be here.". 

You can find out more about Piper's story. Some sixteen years after the crash, he began selling a book, "90 Minutes in Heaven".  It has sold over 6 million copies and it's still as popular as ever.  A movie depicting his life will be released soon

Here are several takeaways I had from the morning.  Prayer Changed Everything.  Piper said that in addition to Onerecker's prayers at the accident scene, his church put out a prayer request for his well-being that went around the globe.  Little did his church know, Piper was dead at the time.  "Just recently", Piper mentioned, "a gentleman came up to me after a lecture and told me he prayed for me that day while in Taipei, Taiwan.  Imagine someone telling you that some twenty plus years later." 

In addition, Piper encouraged his audience to look for a miracle in their lives...."because you're going to need one to live this life".  "Take your test and make it a testimony and your mess and make it a message", he added.

And lastly....next time, I need to surrender and see where God is at Work.  Not on my terms or my schedule.

And to think of what I would have missed if I had stayed home.

YGG,

John        

     

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MORE TO THE DOGGONE STORY

Several years ago I provided you some facts about Hawkeye, the black Labrador friend of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson laying on the floor near the coffin of his owner.  It was a picture worth more than money and fame could ever offer.  It was the "ultimate gift" one friend gives another, regardless if one of those happened to be four-legged.



Lisa Pembelton, Tumilson's sister, shot the photograph which moved around the entire world.  Petty Officer Tumilson and 29 other Seals and Afghani Nationals were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down on August 11, 2011.

The bond between Hawkeye and his faithful buddy, Jon, was one of great affection and love.  So much so, that in the summer of 2013, Tumilson and Hawkeye were bronzed in a statue with the two of them running through the prairies of the Rockford Fossil and Prairie Park.  "Thank you to the board for allowing us such a beautiful place for Jon and Hawkeye to run forever", said Tumilson's brother-in-law Scott McMeekan.  The statue was made by Jeff Adams of In Bronze in Mt. Morris, Illinois.

"I can't tell you what an honor it was to be entrusted with the image of Jon", said Adams.  He said he spent six to eight months trying to "breath life" into a man he never knew.  The Tumilson family sent photos and measurements such as shoe size and Adams read Navy SEAL books, but it was the stories of Tumilson that inspired him.  "Here on this extraordinary hilltop we dedicate this statue to the memory and intensity Jon brought to life", Adams said.

There have been several questions concerning the real-life Hawkeye's whereabouts since the funeral in 2011.  Here is what we know:    

"Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's longtime friend Scott Nichols and his family are Hawkeye's new owners, confirmed Carol Darby, a public affairs officer from Fort Bragg supporting the Tumilson family.  "Scott is Hawkeye's new owner and that is according to Jon's wishes," Darby told ABCNews.com. "He's very happy. He's with a family that he has known for a long time and that has loved him for a long time." The Nichols family cared for Hawkeye when Tumilson was away on duty. Darby said that Hawkeye has gained a human family and a dog family, including two or three other Labradors owned by the Nichols. 


Kathy (left) mother of Jon hugs a family member at dedication for son Jon
Yesterday I received some news that was totally unexpected.  Kathy Tumilson, Jon's mother passed away from cancer.....the one who was a rock within the family....the lady who took three total strangers (myself, and two members of Project 52, Bill Clark and Dustin Blythe) throughout her house showing us artifacts of Jon's life when we planted a tree in his honor.....a pillar in the Rockford community for sure, who shared with me stories of Hawkeye that few knew.  It's with her passing that I wanted to share some "other" sides of the Hawkeye story.

As I mentioned earlier, Hawkeye moved to Texas.  And he has lived a good life....albeit a guarded one.  Not too long after arriving in the south, his new owners took him into the vet to have some work done.  Apparently there were some individuals who caught wind of the celebrity in town and wished the dog to be theirs. They pranked the veterinarians office with words that the owners had something come up and they wouldn't be able to pick up Hawkeye....and they would be doing the errand for them.  Sensing something was fishy, the vet's office called Hawkeye's new family and made an inquiry into the truth.  As Kathy would relate to me, "when the Nichols found this out, they were furious".  Imagine someone trying to steal a dog that wasn't yours and had so much sentimental value". 

Kathy also relayed other calls and letters and emails she received after Hawkeye became world famous.  "One caller said he was a disabled vet and he was entitled to Hawkeye", she said.  "Others were down right demanding they should be the new rightful owners".   For Kathy and the Nichols family it was hard to fathom that people were so callous in their thinking.   For some time, it caused the Nichols to be extra special cautious in their dealings and who came around their home.  Time has healed some of those thoughts and concerns, but not all of them.   And they might not ever leave.

As I reflect today on Kathy's passing, knowing the Tumilson family, helping plant a tree in the family's back yard and having an insight into the keen canine known as Hawkeye....I am somewhat downtrodden in knowing Mrs. Tumilson is gone.  But, as my wife Joanne offered, "she's with her son now in Heaven.  How bad can that be?  And in time...Hawkeye will join them". 

And that, as they say, will be the rest of the story

YGG,

John