Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Captain of a Large Ship Is Better Qualified to Run the Ship If...

“She has much to offer but she is not ready to take on this assignment. This is too much too soon.” --- In reference to Sarah Palin in words spoken by a conservative Episcopal leader as reported by Mark Pinsky in article titled, “Evangelicals’ Palin Problem” in The United Methodist Reporter, October 24, 2008

Now for the full title of this piece:
The Captain of a Large Ship Is Better Qualified to Run the Ship If He Has Been Captain of a Couple of Other Ships Before, Rather Than Getting a Guy Out of the Boiler Room To Run It!

Interesting that this thing of being “qualified” to be president, in the event of something happening to the president while she is vice president, is the reason why Sarah Palin is being shot down again and again in the mass media, religious and secular.

Is that a smoke screen to hide the fact that it is her faith that is the real reason why she has been under siege constantly? The recent issue of Newsweek had an article by a couple of its crew which efficiently chopped Sarah into mincemeat over the issue of her faith.

Anyway, about that thing of having “experience” – it seems not to have dawned upon millions of people that Sarah Palin is more experienced in the area of an executive position than any other candidate. B.O. piddled around the Illinois legislature for a while – his most notorious legacy there was to stonewall attempts to protect unborn children in the late stages of pregnancy. And if, on a rare occasion, some should survive an abortion attempt, B.O.’s position is to not lift a hand to treat them – just let them die unattended – that guy is all heart, is he not? He is now a rookie U.S. senator with very limited experience in D.C. McCain and Biden have rattled around in the U.S. Senate for a number of years, but executive experience? Zippo – just playing politics in the Congress.

Sarah has been a mayor of a city and now governor of a state – did you note that? It means she hasn’t been messing around in a legislative den somewhere dreaming up legislation to make a name for herself – she sits in an executive’s chair!

But she has much more going for her – a personal acquaintance with God through Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, which means she would seek guidance in fulfilling her responsibilities and is persuaded that this Lord she knows will give direction in the making of decisions and taking action. Few are the politicians who approach their responsibility in such a manner. We’re supposed to leave God at church, didn’t you know? Have you not heard of this damnable doctrine called, “separation of church and state?”

Little wonder much of those people in the mass media whose vision is so limited that they cannot see to the end of their noses and whose brains are so shrunk that a navy bean is huge by comparison, have done everything they possibly can to destroy Sarah Palin! She marches to the beat of a very different Drummer Whom they know absolutely nothing about.

Yes, indeed -- the captain of a large ship is better qualified to run the ship if he has been captain of a couple of other ships before, rather than getting a guy out of the boiler room to run it!

Ahoy! Captain Sarah – you can run it better than the guys in the boiler room – you’ve had EXPERIENCE!

Biographical details are available at Wikipedia - see Sarah Palin -- note executive experience! Use return feature on browser to come back here.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him... Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.... You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.... We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. --- 1 John 3:1, 13; 4:4-6; 5:19

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election 2008 – God’s Intentional Will or Permissive Will? Which?

They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul. --- Psalm 106:13-15

At least some (those among the devoted followers of Jesus Christ) have been praying about election 2008 and who shall be our elected leader for the next four years.

What about God’s will in this process? It comes down to this – either God will express His intentional will by intervention or His permissive will by simply letting the nation get what it deserves!

This experience of getting what you think you want and resulting in receiving what you deserve is powerfully exhibited by the ancient Israelites in their wilderness wandering on the way to Canaan, land of promise. Because they were badly confused at one point as to what they desired and what was really best for them in midst of murmuring and complaining, we are informed that God gave them the desire of their hearts BUT sent leanness into their souls!

The primary issue which has the greatest impact on our republic’s future destiny is not the economy, conflict of war, the environment, energy resources or national security – these are all minor compared to the primary issue of the value of human life from the time of conception in the human womb.

Major party candidates in election 2008 are sharply divided on this issue of the value of human life. Two terms indicate where they stand – “pro-life” and “pro-abortion!” The “pro-abortion” candidates and their party will do everything possible to avoid a label which identifies them as supporting abortion on demand and the fact that over one million unborn children a year are mutilated and murdered before birth! It is the stated intent of B.O. and Joe that this policy will continue.

Since polls presently indicate a significant lead on the part of the “pro-abortion” candidates, God may just permit those candidates to take over the leadership of this nation beginning the 3rd week of January 2009. But if that should happen by God’s permissive will, we can be definitely assured of some other things taking place during the next four years of the new administration.

1. As the calamities upon this republic increase in intensity, the time will come when the cry will go out that we need to seek God and pray for help. But the response will come back in words very similar to those spoken centuries ago to a people who found themselves in a crisis and called upon God:

"As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, saying to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave birth to me.' For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me," says the LORD. --- Jeremiah 2:26-29

2. Following the above experience, the few who have remained true in their devotion and service to Jesus Christ under very trying circumstances may be told in words similar to what Jeremiah was told back in about the 6th Century BC:

"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.”… "Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.”…..Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence." --- Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11, 12

3. And then, the worst of all possible scenarios taking place – when those who govern and those in positions of spiritual leadership discover too late that God is indeed a God of wrath and judgment just as a small number labeled as “extreme right-wing religious fanatics” had so claimed. Note once more the “formula” as to how a culture reaches this devastating climax in its historical journey:

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. --- 2 Chronicles 36:11-21

Be fully aware that no modern “Pied Piper” with his charm, charisma, clever rhetoric and manipulative ways will enable us to escape such a fate because at this point in time God’s intentional will is to bring judgment due to failure to fully repent and comply with His standards of holy living and relationships!

It has been noted that those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. But what has been cited above will be written off by the vast majority as absolutely meaningless and has no bearing on a republic known as the United States whatsoever or does it? We shall soon see, shall we not?

I rest my case!

And He said to me: "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house." --- Ezekiel 3:4-9

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big John Controversy Continues in PA's 12th District!

In tough economic times, John Murtha has been fighting for us. He has one of the strongest records in Congress on job creation and retention, and his work has resulted in nearly 20,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in economic development for Western Pennslyvania --- statement from campaign literature sent to residents of the 12th Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on October 28, 2008 by Murtha for Congress Committee

Local news is saturated with political ads, including an overdose of John Murtha's bid to continue to hold his seat in the U.S. Congress. Letters to the editor of our local paper are bound to keep the editor moving at high speed in order to keep up -- all of us in the 12th District have determined by this time for which candidate we will cast our votes. Not one to stay out of the fray -- especially this one -- I sent an email message to the editor and staff of our local paper and a copy of that to our local TV station, WJAC TV in Johnstown. So here it is -- in case you are confused as to which candidate will get my vote, let me know -- I don't mind telling you on this one! By the way, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat has endorsed Murtha for reelection -- for a lot of us who are residents in the 12th District, that did not come as an earth-shaking surprise!

Robin, Chip and Staff Members at the Tribune-Democrat:

The fact that John Murtha has stirred up bitter controversy in recent months is legitimate cause for questioning his reelection as congressional representative from the 12th District.

Two things involved here -- his growing arrogance over recent years and the very nature of what has sparked the controversies.

His careless and unfounded allegations about certain Marines being cold-blooded killers of innocent people and his references to constituents in his district and beyond as being "racists" and "rednecks" are more recent examples of that arrogance on display. He is a disgrace to the uniform he once wore, and I am not the only ex-Marine who feels that way.

He competes for the title of "#1 Porker" in the U.S. Congress and at last report is the most likely title holder in that department! Of course this is why he is so popular in one sense -- money talks and it provides guaranteed job security in Congress when you have a lot of power and clout -- Big John knows this very well.

But that leads to another question -- what will he and his fellow co-conspirator "porkers" do when the money is gone? They are doing absolutely nothing to reign in the mounting national debt. The "clock" I have on my blog at is moving toward 10 1/2 trillion dollars -- the few people with common sense (and that certainly doesn't include politicians) quickly conclude that this cannot continue much longer before disaster of unprecedented proportions strikes this republic!

Yes, John Murtha will likely be elected in spite of his arrogance, irresponsible statements made and irresponsible action on his part to further contribute to the mounting national debt.

John could walk in Central Park, step in doggy doo-doo, wipe it off with a paper towel and then wipe it across the faces of his constituents and they would still reelect him -- strange, strange world, is it not? Well, all of his constituents except for at least one. I have never voted for John Murtha from the time he first sought to fill the seat of his deceased predecessor back in the mid 70's until now and I never will.

Still contending at, blogging at and warning at

Clayton D. Harriger, Pastor, Gipsy Christian Church at
Former Sgt. United States Marine Corps
Non-affiliated registered voter in Cambria County
and Guest Editor at the Tribune-Democrat in September 2008 -- an underserved privilege for which I am very grateful.

Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. --- Psalm 2:1-4

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Mosquito Does Not Rationalize, Resist Or Retaliate!

“All these people were at the same table at the same time to talk about the same issue and that was to eradicate malaria….The United Methodist Church is a very important player on the world scene to eradicate malaria…” --- statements by Bishop Thomas Bickerton in article, “Nets Success Points United Methodists to New Goal” – October 10, 2008 issue of InterLink.

The Western PA Conference October 10th issue of InterLink had much space given to the subject of “Nothing But Nets” campaign. This is the effort to provide treated mosquito netting in parts of Africa where malaria takes a heavy toll yearly in human lives – an estimated 2.7 million per year.

Bishop Thomas Bickerton has been very deeply involved in promoting the campaign and has traveled extensively in promoting the cause outside the boundaries of the Western PA Annual Conference. Response has been most positive and huge sums of money have come in for the purchase of the nets. Comments from time to time mention this effort to “eradicate a killer” – never any hesitation to speak out and to state the need to totally eliminate malaria by getting rid of the mosquitoes which spread the disease.

This is not to raise any objection to the Nothing But Nets campaign – in fact, Jean and I have financially supported the effort through the W PA Conference. But there is a legitimate question to be raised and perhaps an explanation as to why Bishop Bickerton and the other UMC bishops are not concerned about another extremely critical issue which results in the very heavy loss of life each year here in the United States.

No statements have been made drawing attention to this issue and no campaign has been launched in an attempt to reduce the number of lives lost as in the case of malaria victims in Africa.

I refer to the fact that Bishop Bickerton and his fellow bishops have been tongue tied on the moral abomination of about 100,000 unborn children being brutally mutilated and murdered each month of the year in the United States!

And why is that? May I suggest the following as partial explanation:

A mosquito is an easy “killer” to attack for the following reasons:

  • A mosquito will not rationalize in regard to what it does in spreading a disease that wipes out huge numbers of people every year. On the other hand, there are any number of people (including politicians and church people) who will rationalize until your head nearly spins off your shoulders as to why thousands of unborn children should have their lives terminated each week before they are born and have a chance to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. It is obvious that some leaders do not want to contend with that spirit of rationalization!

  • A mosquito will not resist efforts to curb its deadly work. We can ship millions of nets and employ other methods to halt the spread of malaria and you’ll not run into any resistance from the carrier of malaria. But once you begin to speak out and support efforts to control the widespread killing of unborn children, you run into intense resistance. Well organized and powerful people will stand in the way of any attempt to control the “shedding of innocent blood.” It appears that among United Methodist leadership there is no desire to run the risk of stirring up resistance in an honest effort to put the brakes on a massacre which is now close to 50 million victims since January of 1973!

  • A mosquito will not retaliate when its domain comes under attack and a large scale effort is launched to “eradicate malaria” – to use the words of a United Methodist leader. But once you protest publicly and support efforts to curb the extermination of unborn children, you become the villain – the bad guy who is to be labeled in the most negative terms possible. The paint brush used by those who vehemently support the ongoing destruction of unborn children is applied liberally to those who have adopted God’s view of human life, beginning with His identity and stated purpose for an individual while still in the womb of his/her mother. The labels are by no means flattering – we are fire-breathing radical fanatics, etc. There are leaders who simply do not want to be on the receiving end of such retaliation.

While the destruction of unborn children is a tragedy beyond human comprehension, a tragedy greater than this exists – the blindness on the part of church leaders and failure to see that Almighty God is going to respond to the U.S.A. brand of “Holocaust.” It will be far from a sunny afternoon experience at a Sunday School picnic!

Any hope that the United Methodist Church and its leadership will aggressively seek to end (eradicate?) mass killing of another kind taking place here in the United States? Highly unlikely -- whatever comments made will be in the form of "rationalization" as to why certain unborn children should live and others should die! See previous post about the spirit of Nazism in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

And for more on this issue see A Quick Look at the United States' Massacre Tally! -- warning - you'll see a picture of a "victim" and this one looks a bit worse than a victim of malaria! Use return feature on your browser to return here.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. --- Galatians 6:7-9

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Spirit of Nazism Is Still Alive and Well in the U.S.A!

"Well the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." --- statement by Barack Obama in a speech to Planned Parenthood

Yes – it is likely that many will come forth with howls of loud and boisterous protest, and I will be the renegade for suggesting such a thing, but stop for a minute or two -- and for this one time, think it through in sober fashion.

For what were the Nazis of WW II notoriety most famous? Was it not that they held to a philosophy which determined that certain persons were worthy to live and certain others were not worthy of that privilege and these persons should be exterminated? And did they not demonstrate this philosophy in the most heinous fashion by intentionally killing at least 14 million persons of all ages, 6 million of which were Jewish by racial identity? And is it not true that we in the United States claim that such actions on the part of those Nazis under the leadership of Adolph Hitler were morally wrong and to be soundly condemned? Trials and subsequent executions at the conclusion of WW II are evidence that justice was carried out, in spite of claims on the part of the war criminals that they were innocent and simply “following orders.”

Now, about the claim of the spirit of Nazism being alive and well in a republic identified as the United States of America – before you shout, “How dare you…!” – just think for a bit before you open your mouth once more – is it not true that we have made a distinction in our nation that certain persons should live, BUT others should die and are not considered worthy of having the privilege to live for whatever reasons may be conjured up in unregenerate minds?

You say, “How is that?” Each week thousands of unborn children are “condemned” and “sentenced” to death – they are deemed not worthy to live – and so, they are brutally mutilated and murdered in their “mothers'” (term used loosely!) wombs with the “executioner” being paid big bucks for doing so!

You can see some graphic images of what the Nazis did in their extermination program in WW II at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and they are most gut-wrenching to view! I know because I have been there twice. But who in these United States can point the finger to those people and say “What you did was morally wrong and criminal in nature!” – is this not being more than a tad hypocritical by pointing the finger at the Nazi when he shot a Jewish infant with his 9 mm Luger pistol and then declaring that such an act is morally wrong and a very violent criminal act?

Now we are in an election and on November 4th will attempt to select the person who will be our president for the next 4 years. Both of those candidates have taken a position on unborn children in the United States. The positions are different – in fact, quite radically different such as the difference between bright daylight and intense darkness.

One candidate exhibits the spirit of Nazism quite clearly, although the mass media that are attempting to elect him even before November 4th are very silent about this. In an address to Planned Parenthood B.O. went on record as to his intention to support legislation which will even overturn many state laws now in place which protect unborn babies, especially in late term pregnancies!

But don’t take my word for it – see it for yourself at LIFENEWS.COM -- use return feature on your browser to come back here.

As tragic as that is – a leader who advocates in aggressive fashion his support of the destruction of over a million unborn children a year in this republic, the greater tragedy is the failure of many church leaders to protest the slaughter – mainline denominations are especially guilty of being silent, and United Methodist bishops in particular!

In case you haven’t checked the numbers lately, take a look at A Quick Look at the United States’ Massacre Tally -- use reverse feature on your browser to come back here or click on link at bottom of that area which will bring you back.

Our greatest failure – and this is true on the part of those of us who profess to be Christian in our faith – is to realize it is but a matter of time before the mighty Creator of this universe makes His personal response to this abomination of destroying unborn children that we have so readily accepted throughout our cultue. The spirit of Nazism is alive and well in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" – BUT the day is coming when it won’t be!

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. --- Galatians 6:7, 8

But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. --- Chronicles 36:16

Friday, October 17, 2008

Big John Has Gone and Done It Again!

Murtha remark debated…Rep apologizes; reaction mixed --- Johnstown Tribune-Democrat front page headline – October 17, 2008

Big John Murtha, infamous congressman from south central Pennsylvania, just can’t control that mouth of his under just about any circumstance – it seems to be a major problem of getting the brain and mouth in sync at the same time. Perhaps that is a unique disease that is prevalent in the nation’s Capitol!

Some time back he went on public record lashing out at certain Marines, accusing them of killing innocent women and children and labeled them as “cold blooded killers.” At this point in time 7 of the 8 have been exonerated of all charges leveled against them. The case of the 8th Marine is on hold for the time being. Big John did not go out of his way in making apology for his loose cannon mouth in this matter.

Now that same mouth recently fired off a barrage again which involves us who reside in his district and beyond in western Pennsylvania. We are now “racists” and by implication, will show our prejudices by voting against Barack Obama on election day in November.

As an aside, I admit I will be voting against B. O. on election day, but not because his skin color is much darker than mine – but mainly due to the undisputed fact that he is dedicated to perpetuating the ongoing practice of mutilating and murdering thousands of unborn children each week of the year in a nation that makes the hypocritical claim that every person should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! He has opposed efforts to preserve even the lives of those few late term infants who miraculously survive an abortion attempt – just let them lie there until they die is B. O.’s approach to these circumstances.

Big John attempted some kind of “apology” but as reported by the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, the reaction to what he said is mixed. WJAC-TV, the local television station, conducted a poll on this issue and that was “mixed” with a number of persons indicating they were not offended by what he said.

John Murtha holds a position in the Johnstown and Cambria County area which can be compared to that of deity – in fact, God is probably at best second in position and perhaps quite a few rungs lower than John on the ladder of prestige.

He has brought millions of dollars into his district from the coffers of the U. S Treasury Department. He is at the top of the list when it comes to earmarks and tapping into tax dollars for whatever reason which will somehow benefit the district which he represents. This will help guarantee that his job is rather secure. Since his election to the U. S. Congress in the mid 70’s there have been opponents who have tried to unseat him, but to no avail.

Murtha is at a place where he can do about anything he wants, say anything he wants, even if it is a bold-faced lie, and still hold his position without any serious challenge..

Dyed-in-the-wool Democratic loyalty in the Johnstown and Cambria County area is such that if the Devil himself were running on the Democratic ticket and the people knew for real that it was the Devil running on the ticket, they would vote for him anyway – if the Devil is a Democrat running for office, it’s OK and it’s right! But then, there are some Republicans that are of about the same mind when it comes to blind loyalty as well – if the Devil ran on the Republican ticket, he would get their vote without question.

But as I have said previously on my web site and blog, there is reason to be excited and hopeful – the day is coming when all politicians and government leaders all over the world will be out of a job – no desperate speculation, but fact! The evidence? Take a look at Good News! A Day Coming in Which All Politicians Will Be Removed from Office! -- use reverse feature on your web browser to return to this place.

Oh yes, a parting question – John Murtha is up for reelection in November – anybody want to guess what I will do when I see his name on the ballot – will he get the “X” or will it be somebody else?

And do not assume that because I said I would vote against B. O. that I will be voting for John McCain -- there will be other names on the ballot for the office of president -- you ARE aware of that, are you not? None of us is obligated to select one of two major party nominees in a presidential election!

This was written by a non-affiliated registered voter living in Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, ' 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.'" --- Psalm 2:1-9

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Going Out in a Blaze of Glory!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. --- 2 Timothy 4:7, 8

These days in south central Pennsylvania have been a blaze of striking color everywhere we look – yellow, orange, red and the blending of these colors. Some of our trees are still in stubborn fashion hanging on to the traditional green color of spring and summer. A fully loaded maple in our front yard (as pictured above) is a mix of yellow, orange and a bit of green here and there.

Our weather has been quite mild and today is a cloudy day which makes the colors even more brilliant in the absence of direct sunlight. As I sat on my front porch in my comfortable La-Z-Boy rocker that I got at a yard sale for $5.00, I observed the leaves exhibiting their one last hurrah.

As they left the trees to which they had been attached since spring they headed for the ground. But the descent was not a dead stone-like drop straight down. The motion was varied – a twirl in a circle, a spin, a topsy-turvy tumble, or a smooth aircraft type of glide which may carry the leaf many feet from the tree to which it had been attached for a few months.

Is that not a bit of what life is like? The leaves experienced many conditions during their brief lifetime of a few months – blazing hot sun, high winds, drenching rain and vicious thunderstorms and sometimes the days of calm and quiet – but they hung on and now it’s time to go out in a blaze of glory!

A Christian is the only person on the face of this planet who goes through a wide variety of experiences – the storms of life and the times of quiet calm with the assurance that future glory is ahead as promised by the Lord Jesus Christ in His eternal Word.

Comparisons to natural situations do have their limitations – for the leaves, that last glorious colorful flight ends on the ground with the leaf drying up and eventually crumbling into lifeless pieces. But with the Christian, the exit from this life on earth means an entrance to a status of glory and honor.

No person could state it any better than the apostle Paul when he said, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” And we who have chosen to follow Jesus are included in that sweeping declaration!

Having lived for a little over three quarters of a century and having served as a pastor for nearly 50 years of that time, those leaves I have been watching have a way of reminding me that glory, by the grace and mercy of my Lord, lies straight ahead! It is my responsibility to keep hanging on and to continue to fulfill the calling that Jesus Christ has extended to me to preach and teach His Word!

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. --- Colossians 3:1-4

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We Did It! OR Did We?

Manic Monday – Dow roars back, gains 936 points --- newspaper headline on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What a change in countenances – last week the corners of the mouths of those people on the floor of the stock exchange were drooping so low a passer-by could have tripped over them. Yesterday there were grins a couple of miles wide and a thumbs up gesture indicating we “bit the bullet” and we’re out of the woods of financial chaos – happy days are here again! Or are they?

Keep in mind – the vast majority of “movers and shakers” in the human race are unregenerate in heart and mind, including those who snap fingers and things happen in the world of finance in every nook and cranny of this planet.

Consequently the focus is on self and the motivating force is greed – a high standard of ethics and honesty in business dealings is not a part of these peoples’ value systems. Financial scandals which we occasionally hear about are only the tip of the iceberg.

And so, as financial calamity began to set in and the tales of woe began to pour forth through news outlets there was a mad scramble to apply the tourniquet and stop the financial hemorrhaging somehow. We heard from the president and other powerful people that action would be taken in addition to the already 700 billion dollar bailout approved by the U.S. Congress.

Influential people in other nations rallied and made decisions related to dealing with the financial crisis. It seems they are fearful as to what the “domino effect” would be in their countries should what happened to the United States spill over beyond the Atlantic and Pacific oceans!

Monday, October 13, 2008, saw a mighty surge in markets everywhere. The result – a spirit which said, if framed in words, “We did it!”

Ready for a challenge? The reality is this – God is giving the human race all the rope it wants with the day coming in which it will hang itself – the only way total annihilation will be prevented is direct intervention by Jesus Christ Himself!

While it seems that the “crisis” has been resolved and the “happy days” are here again, it is but a delusion at the very best – the human race will continue to intensify the conditions which existed during the times of Noah before the judgment of the flood and Lot when he lived in the city of Sodom. The only exception is a minority group of persons who follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord – persons who are fully persuaded that doing His will and fulfilling His call upon their lives is the most important thing to be considered on a daily basis.

But for this small group – life will be increasingly difficult as they are the targets of scorn and rejection. In some parts of the world it is far beyond that – bitter and violent persecution resulting in beatings, torture, imprisonment, and even loss of life! Jesus warned of such things taking place by saying,

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” --- John 15:18-21


"Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” --- Matthew 24:4-13

So, don’t get caught up in all the euphoria now sweeping the financial markets around the world and the nations in which they are located – remember, the money “god” is scheduled for judgment in the future along with many others. Make sure you have your faith centered in the true and living God Who visited this planet 2 millennia ago in human form – His name is Jesus!

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Making of High Quality Apple Butter!

Quote – "When are you going to be making any more of that good apple butter?" (or, "Do you have any more of that good apple butter for sale?") --- summary of inquiries about the annual October apple butter festival in Gipsy PA

I was, and still am, a United Methodist pastor holding ordained elder status in the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. I retired after 37 years of active ministry in 1996. Over those years I was pastor of some churches which conducted fund raising events from time to time. In the latter years these usually consisted of dinners and/or bazaar type activities. These were simple to put together and did not require a long period of time, work and preparation.

Three years after retirement I received a phone call from a member of the Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) located in Gipsy, Pennsylvania. The people were trying to find a pastor and my name had been passed on to them. I agreed to meet with them to discuss the possibility of working with them as their pastor on a part-time basis. The church is about 27 miles from where our home in the Belsano PA area is located.

In that meeting we reached an agreement with a rather simple “contract” – they can tell me to hit the road any time they want to, and I can walk out the door and never return any time I want to! Annual reporting is also quite simple -- one sheet of paper containing a few numbers given by my church treasurer and some other numbers which I put on it and in about 5 minutes it is on the way to our regional office!

So for nearly 9 years we have been in a ministry involving Gipsy Christian Church. We have been blessed during these years and have seen the church move forward a bit. Some information related to this is given at the church web site, address of which is given below.

One of the activities each fall in October is the making of apple butter the old fashioned way in copper kettles. It is the most ambitious project in which I have ever become involved. It amounts to about 2 weeks or more of preparation until we finally get to the day of our festival, which this year will be on Saturday, October 11, 2008 at our church hall (Gipsy Christian Church Hall) in the village of Gipsy.

We begin with plans outlined by the ladies’ Loyal Berean Class. We travel to Boyer Orchards in south central PA to purchase 42 bushels of a variety of apples, most of which are Macintosh and Cortland. Then these are washed and cut up. We cook them down in turkey cookers and run them through what is known as “squeezos” which extracts seeds and skin, leaving only sauce. Lots of time involved here, but the best is yet to be! At about 4:30 am the fires are started under the kettles which are filled with the sauce and the stirring begins. This is a process that goes on for about 11 or 12 hours with non-stop stirring -- there is always somebody at a kettle moving the paddle back and forth and occasionally in a circular pattern also. Four pennies are in the bottom of each kettle -- these are moved about over the bottom of the kettle by the paddle so that no sticking or scorching of the apple butter will take place. As excess water is boiled off and the sauce thickens, eventually sugar and cinnamon are added. After checking taste and consistency of the now formed apple butter the next stage is canning. The hot apple butter is poured into cans and lids tightened, which will seal upon cooling. It works a bit like an assembly line with each person having a job to do, starting with the filling of each container. Last year we had over 600 jars, consisting of quarts, pints and half-pints. So far this year we have made 7 kettles of apple butter and will be making a partial kettle for demonstration purposes on the day of our festival, October 11th.

It is not that this time consuming project is necessary because the people have to keep the church going with funds received from the festival. Most of the people practice tithing their incomes and the church tithes its income to mission outreach. And from time to time additional support for missions is given beyond the standard tithe taken from the monthly offerings received.

The main benefit is the privilege of working together and the fellowship which results in the congregation truly becoming “family” – the common faith in Jesus Christ which the people share makes this a wonderful experience each year and one to which they look forward with excitement – and perhaps, a little hesitation due to the knowledge of being quite exhausted when the sun finally sets on the day of the festival! But there is a unity of spirit in the venture as the people give liberally of time, abilities and resources. And when the time comes for the sharing of burdens, there is an exhibition of love and concern as the people pray intensely for one another. Likewise, there is much praise given as together we remember how gracious our God has been to all of us.

And then, as time rolls over the coming months, the subject of conversation will again turn to discussion of setting the date and making the plans for the next festival – AND telling people who ask, “Yes, we plan to have some of that good apple butter at our next festival!”

Details of this year’s festival and information related to the church are found at Gipsy Christian Church -- we invite you to stop by if you should be in the area – and be sure to get a jar of apple butter which cannot be duplicated by anything you get in a grocery store anywhere! Oh, yes -- you cannot leave without indulging in some of the delicious food that will be offered and that crowned with a home made apple dumpling or a piece of home made apple pie! Is your mouth watering yet?

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing; Life forevermore. --- Psalm 133:1-3

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hold On -- The Last Word Has Yet to Be Spoken on That Monster Bailout Bill!

House to revisit bailout after Senate passes plan -- Senators add ‘sweeteners’ to the proposal, aiming to secure House’s vote –--- Auto sales fall; 1 in 5 dealers may close
--- a couple of headlines on the Internet, October 2, 2008

The scrambling continues in that place known as Washington DC as the U.S. Congress attempts to get that gigantic bailout bill passed and on to the president’s desk for signature. One headline said, “Senators add ‘sweetners’ to the proposal, aiming to secure House’s vote.” It has been noted that this stuff has increased the amount to much more than the original 700 billion dollar figure!

Yea, sure – isn’t it rather common knowledge that a lot of politicians have connections with the wealthy, including CEO’s and that generous contributions have always been a staple in their holding on to their coveted positions in DC? Plus you have that crowd known as lobbyists who put on the pressure when it comes to voting on things that have to do with money, and a guarantee that those who have tons of the stuff will be sure to hold on to it and get much more of it!

Nauseating details in recent days of what CEO’s of failed financial institutions were given by way of salaries, perks and those notorious “golden parachutes.” As reported by one person, they literally walked away with millions. It all translates into a thing called greed and giving the average American citizen an obscene gesture while they grab all they can as quickly as they can.

But we’ve got to hang on, folks, and realize that the last chapter has yet to be written – no, the U.S. Congress won’t write it, nor will the president, no matter how many bills he signs which will allow the guilty parties to get off with very little if anything by way of penalty.

What would be a very good thing which would send a clear message to those others in top level management who are doing about the same thing but so far have not seen their company/institution go belly up, is to take all the assets and property owned by those who were in the upper levels of management of the failed institutions. Let those funds be applied to the debts incurred by the loss due to financial failure.

Then let those upper level “managers” be given an annual income of the average family of four in this country and an average home such a family lives in provided for them. Further, let them pay what an average family of four would pay by way of obtaining insurance and health benefits. Give them a car such as one the average family of four would have.

Actually no jail time would be necessary – the more effective and fitting punishment would be for these people and their families who have been driven by greed for years to have to experience the struggles of an average family of four or more on a limited income in this republic. No longer having that mansion and domestic servants and whatever else by way of “homes” and “vacation get-aways,” driving luxury automobiles, sending the kids to those prestigious “ivy-league” universities and getting those special favors from politicians that the rest of us will never get, would be punishment enough!

And, yes, I already know – there will not really be any kind of true justice done regarding those who exhibited such irresponsible leadership, caused financial ruin, and still hold on to their fortunes – or as mentioned earlier, that these white collar people literally “walked away with millions!”

But there is good news in the midst of the bad news on this bailout and the criminals who got away with everything just short of 1st degree murder.

Jesus Christ will write the last chapter and have the last word – it’s simply a matter of time! And while within the ranks of those who profess to be “Christian” there are those who deny that He will do much of anything and that He isn’t coming back to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, there is a small minority that is fully persuaded that He will set this world right side up – He will control and rule it totally and will judge every human being personally – yes indeed, each one of us will give an account to Him as to what we have done with our lives and the material goods entrusted to our care! It's all spelled out in God's special revelation to us, if you'd care to look it up -- and then decide, does God mean what He says or does He not?

For those driven by their greed and lusts and who caused such financial chaos in countless ways, God has especially singled them out for condemnation:

The righteous also shall see and fear, And shall laugh at him, saying, "Here is the man who did not make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness." --- Psalm 52:6, 7

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death..... He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage. --- Proverbs 11:4, 28

As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; it will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool. --- Jeremiah 17:11

Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." --- Mark 10:23-25

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. --- James 5:1-5

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. --- 1 Timothy 6:17

The above are but a few of God's statements about money and those who become enslaved by it, having made it their "god" and consequently have brought severe condemnation upon themselves in the process. It remains, that very few people can handle wealth and power in a responsible fashion for the betterment of not only their own lives but the lives of large numbers of people who are impacted by decisions which such persons make on a daily basis.

There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches. --- Proverbs 13:7