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.

Monday, May 4, 2015


It's an image forever etched in the minds of those who saw it.  And that was 45 years  To say the least, it was shocking.  It went viral before the word viral was cool to say.  One only has to mention the words, Kent State and the mind knows where to go.  Some called it the Kent State Shootings.....others are more direct calling it the Kent State Massacre.  Whatever name you want to say, today marks its remembrance.  

At the feet of Jeffrey Miller, a 14-year old runaway, Mary Ann Vecchio asks WHY
Let's go back to that May 4th, 1970 day for some sort of explanation.

"Kent State occurred in the US city of Kent, Ohio and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard.  The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting the Cambodian Campaign, which President Richard Nixon announced during a television address on April 30.  Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected public opinion—at an already socially contentious time—over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War".

Kent State became a word eliciting a quick response....for and against.  The "young" used it as a rallying cry against the government.  The establishment offered "they got what they had coming to them".  Newspaper headlines were sensationalized.  Much of it wrong. 

The headline was erroneous in so many ways. 
The shootings killed four students and wounded nine.  None were bums as the "Georgia Straight" suggested. Two of the four students killed, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller, had participated in the protest, and the other two, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, had been walking from one class to the next at the time of their deaths.  Schroeder was also a member of the campus ROTC
battalion.  Of those wounded, none was closer than 71 feet (22 m) to the guardsmen.  Of those killed, the nearest (Miller) was 225 feet (69 m) away, and their average distance from the guardsmen was 345 feet (105 m).   All of the students were in good standing at the University. 

Miller's death received much of the attention. The camera of Kent State photojournalism student John Filo captured a fourteen-year-old runaway, Mary Ann Vecchio,  screaming over the body of Miller, who had been shot in the mouth.  The photograph, which won a Pulitzer Prize,  became the most enduring images of Kent State, and one of the most enduring images of the anti-Vietnam War movement. 

Vecchio was visiting the campus to see the protest after befriending  Sandra Scheuer, who was killed and Alan Canfora. who was wounded.  Many wondered why a 14-year old girl would be in such a volatile situation.  Others, like Florida Governor Claude Kirk, called her a "dissident Communist" , others called her a "slut and whore".  Lost among all the dialogue from that day, is her cry of "why".  Can you imagine a 14-year old dealing with that? 

''I've been miserable since Kent State,'' she said years after the shootings.  ''Not for any political reasons, but after all the publicity I've received, I feel the police unnecessarily harassed me.''

Vecchio moved around a lot after the shootings before settling in Las Vegas.  She is currently employed as a respiratory therapist.
One unidentified person that day offered, "suddenly, they (the guardsmen) turned around, got on their knees, as if they were ordered to, they did it all together, aimed. And personally, I was standing there saying, they're not going to shoot, they can't do that. If they are going to shoot, it's going to be blank".

The site of the standoff at Kent State 
Another observer said, "the shots were definitely coming my way, because when a bullet passes your head, it makes a crack.  I hit the ground behind the curve, looking over. I saw a student hit.  He stumbled and fell, to where he was running towards the car.  Another student tried to pull him behind the car, bullets were coming through the windows of the car.

As this student fell behind the car, I saw another student go down, next to the curb, on the far side of the automobile, maybe 25 or 30 yards from where I was lying.  It was maybe 25, 30, 35 seconds of sporadic firing.

The firing stopped. I lay there maybe 10 or 15 seconds.  I got up, I saw four or five students lying around the lot.  By this time, it was like mass hysteria.  Students were crying, they were screaming for ambulances.  I heard some girl screaming, "They didn't have blanks, they didn't have blanks, no, they didn't". 

Nick Saban, the head football coach at Alabama was a freshman at the university in 1970.  He reflected on that tragic day to USA Today......
"I'd never seen anybody shot before," Saban told the newspaper. "Even though I didn't see them shot, I saw them after they were shot. It's a horrible thing. "There's not a May 4 that goes by that I don't think about it -- really think about it.  Forty years (now 45 )seems like a long time.  But it doesn't seem that long to me."
Over the years the courts became involved with a series of decisions, reversals and then a final outcome.  When all was said and done, the plaintiffs received $675,000 each and words from the defendants they regretted what happened. 

Could there be a reason for Kent State in the eyes of the National Guard?  Some of the Guardsmen on Blanket Hill, fearful and anxious from prior events, may have believed in their own minds that their lives were in danger.  A former Ohio National Guardsman who shot and wounded a Kent State University student says the general in charge of the troops did not have control of the situation that day. 

"If that general had had his head out of his - - -, he never would have put us in that situation," Larry Shafer, the former Guardsman. "The Kent State shootings could have been prevented with proper leadership. There was never any real need for the National Guard to be in Kent in May 1970."  Hindsight by university, guard and the public suggests another method could have resolved the confrontation.  The Kent State incident forced the National Guard to re-examine its methods of crowd control. The only equipment the guardsmen had to disperse demonstrators that day were M1 Garand rifles loaded with .30-06 FMJ ammunition, 12 Ga. pump shotguns, bayonets, and  CS gas grenades.

On a personal note, I vividly recall May 4th, 1970 and the days thereafter.  As a student at Mankato State College in Mankato, Minnesota,  I remember the TV footage of the killings.  I can easily look back at the days of protesting on campus and blocking roadways in the Mankato area.  At the time, I wasn't in tune with all that was going on.  I knew I was angry and disillushioned with so much of what was going on in our country.  And I felt like I had to do something.  Much like a number of students did in Kent, Ohio that May day.

Crosby, Stills and Nash released a song shortly after the shootings called "Ohio".  It reflects much of the tone of the time. 

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

45 years ago today.  Hardly seems possible.  And I mean that on so many levels.



Monday, April 27, 2015


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'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....



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.