Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

God Keeps Telling Me: ‘Trust Me’ (Especially When Things Aren’t Going The Way You Think They Should)

February 13, 2014

When God tries to get your attention, He has a way of making Himself heard.

I have recently gone through a few experiences in which God has beamed it into my brain that He is trustworthy and that I need to turn over my circumstances – and even harder yet my expectations – to Him.

And what can I say?  Sometimes I’m something of a slow learner.

I related my story involving my ruptured biceps tendon and the surgery that I (finally!) had to reattach it.  And how God inserted Himself into the story at certain key moments before finally, gloriously coming through beyond anything I had been hoping for.  I say that last because I had heard the attending surgeon tell me that it was too late to do the surgery and that the way I damaged my tendon – the MRI indicated that it had been torn strand by strand by strand – made the outcome questionable at best from the outset.  He had compared my tendon to spaghetti that had been left out too long.  And on top of that, over time a tendon will shorten and contract and slip down the arm making it difficult if not impossible for a surgeon to find as he literally slices his way down the arm looking for the ruptured end.

In my mind, if this tendon could even BE reattached, I had already counted it a miracle.

And so, imagine my joy and surprise when I woke up from surgery to hear the surgeon tell me that he couldn’t explain it, had never heard about it happening before, but somehow my tendon had become caught or hung-up on the bone.  And as a result of that “coincidence” my tendon had NOT shortened and they did NOT have to slice down my arm to find it.  It was right where it was supposed to be, such that the minimum three-inch incision they told me I’d have is half that long and the two-hour surgery that was scheduled took 45 minutes.  And surprised a surgeon.  And somehow, that tendon that the attending surgeon said was probably inoperable was in good shape.

In my write-up, I pointed out my belief that if we could just know how things would turn out in the end, we wouldn’t mind going through the “adventure” of a difficult process.  But instead of trusting that everything will work out, we become fearful.  And get bogged down in complaining about every unpleasant new development.

Well, I had another such experience with God last night.  And I didn’t even have to go through surgery this time to receive my lesson.  Which you have to agree is an improvement.

As a result of the reattachment surgery, riding a heavy cruiser motorcycle is a bad idea.  I’m not supposed to be lifting anything for a while, and pushing and pulling on those handlebars is a definite no-no for a while.  When I asked the surgeon how long before I could ride my bike again, he said, “I can’t tell you.  I’ve never been asked that question before.”  He’ll get back to me on that one.

So I dusted off my old car that I have kept as a stand-by and got it running again.

“It” is a giant Pontiac 4-door luxury car from the early 1970s with a giant 455 cubic inch engine that is blissfully unaware whether it is going uphill or downhill.

I’m a motorcycle guy through and through.  So I like to have a nice bike – and a car for when “a nice bike” won’t due (such as when I need to bring home lumber or something that my saddlebags just won’t handle).  The last time I drove the car I’d taken my dog to the vet for her shots.  And for the record it’s getting close to time to get her shots again.

Well, anyway, the fuel gauge float got stuck in the gas tank, and when I put gas in, it started working again – but we don’t really know how reliable it is yet.  And you know how fuel gauges are in general: no two are alike.  So I really didn’t know my fuel situation.  I knew I was low on gas, but based on my looking over how much I’d put in the tank versus how many miles the odometer recorded, I figured I should have had enough to get around for a little while.

Or not.

I went to my gym last night, and was among the last people to leave when it closed at 10 p.m.  The janitor admired my car for several minutes – it’s a “cherry” with only 62,000 total/original miles – and we chatted about the old car and old cars in general for a little while.

When I started her up, she seemed fine.  But when I put her in gear, she kind of hesitated in a way that told me something wasn’t right.  But I didn’t connect the dots.

It turned out that I was so low on gas that even had I driven straight to the closest gas station, I would have run empty.  And it’s probably for the best, as I would have run out of gas on the main drag at night.  But as it was, instead of trying to make the gas station, oblivious me turned the other way to go home.

The car sputtered and stalled as I was in the left lane of a two-lane road.  I started her up again and she had JUST enough gas to make it to the curb before dying for good.

Continuing in “oblivious” mode, I tried to crank her over a couple of times.  No dice.  Fortunately I ended up RIGHT under a nice bright street light.  Which in my bankrupt city is actually sort of a miracle in and of itself.

Now I realize I’m in a little bit of trouble.  Because all I had was my driver’s license.  No phone.  No money.

I need gas, but I’ve got no way to call and no way to pay for it.

What else could I do but get out the gas can and start walking toward the closest gas station?  I was hoping I could persuade the gas station to keep my I.D. in exchange for a couple of gallons until I could come back with money.

But as it turned out I ran into ONE guy.  And I recognized him from my gym.  I didn’t know him, but what the heck: I asked him if he had five dollars I could borrow until Friday.

I got the sense that this guy was dirt poor, and that five dollars was a significant sum of money.  But he looked at me – holding my gas can and probably wearing an extra-pathetic look on my face – and he handed me a five dollar bill.

Thank God.  That’s one hurdle leaped over.

It was probably a mile walk to the gas station.  Which meant a mile walk back.  I looked at the receipt for my gas and noticed it was quarter to eleven as I started back.

It occurred to me that I might need to prime the carburetor.  So I was on the lookout for some kind of container that would hold gasoline as opposed to typical plastic that would have dissolved had I poured gas into it.  I didn’t find anything on the way, but as I was walking I noticed one of those little alcohol bottles that they serve on airplanes.  I picked it up.  It was glass.

Thank God.  Another hurdle crossed.  Maybe pathetically crawled over, but cleared.

Putting gas in my tank is never a joyful experience.  Because some brilliant engineer had decided that it would be really smart to put the gas filler tube behind the license plate underneath the rear bumper.  Even when you’re using the fuel hose at the gas station, gassing up is akin to a giraffe trying to drink water from a lake.  It is just AWKWARD.

Was the tube on my gas can long enough to reach into the filler tube?  Don’t be silly.  Of COURSE it wasn’t.

I rummaged through the trunk, saying my prayers.  I found a funnel that was JUST BARELY long enough to allow me to pour the gas into the tank’s filler tube.

It was particularly awkward as I had one functioning arm.  Remember, I just had surgery a little over a week ago and I was told in no uncertain terms DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID.  In fact, just don’t do anything with that arm for a while.

But I got the gas in.

Another hurdle less than gracefully leaped over.

I saved a little bit of gas at the end to put in my glass container that had been tossed by some wino who had unknowingly served as an agent of divine provision.  I was really hoping I wouldn’t need it.  If I had to prime that carb, it meant lifting my hood.  And the hood on that car weighs, well, probably more than your whole CAR does.  The thing is metal and it is massive.

I tried repeatedly to start the car, trying to let it turn over long enough to let the mechanical fuel pump do it’s job but not so long that I flood it.

It was a precarious balance.  And I erred on the side of flooding.

One of my problems at this point was the fact that – in addition to not having a phone or money – I didn’t have a watch.  I had no idea how to gauge how long between trying to turn the car over and how long was long enough to wait before trying to turn it over again.

Anyway.  I couldn’t get it started.  I realized I would have to prime the carburetor.

It is at this point in the story where I might relate that I have a rather badly torn rotator cuff in the arm that I DIDN’T have surgery on.  I was supposed to have surgery on that arm first, but Mr. Biceps Tendon decided to declare independence and that meant having surgery on that arm instead.  Anyway, suffice it to say it was something of a challenge to get that hood open.

Another hurdle.  Clearing them more and more feebly, but getting over them.

Well, there was a couple of ounces of gas.  I tried to use as little as possible in that giant 4-barrel, with the thought that I might have to try this trick a couple of times.

And sure enough, the first time it didn’t catch, the second time it almost started, the third time it started but immediately died.

And I was down to less than an ounce of gas.  One last attempt.

Now, don’t think that I hadn’t already been praying.  But I was down to one last prayer here.

I should probably tell you at this point that situations like this don’t tend to bring out the best in me.  In fact, if I had to have my life broadcast on a big screen for all my friends and family to see, this type of situation would have been like second from the very bottom on my list of “please don’t let anyone see that” moments.  If I’m not shouting or screaming in frustration, well, I’m whining in a high-pitched voice that would be beyond embarrassing if it were coming out of the mouth of a little girl, let alone a grown man.

But I never did that last night.  I took the steps I needed to take, and just kept praying and hoping for the best.

So here I was, down to my last half ounce of gas and my last attempt to start the car before walking three miles home through the desert in the dark.  And I said to the Lord, “If you want me to walk home, I will walk home.  If you want that car to start, it will start.  It is up to You, Lord.  You are in control here.  And I will be more joyful if I’m driving home, but if I have to walk home, I will be open to whatever you have for me as I walk home.”

And I turned the key for the last time.

And the engine roared to life as if it had never been hibernating for the past hour while I tried desperately to start it.

I replaced the air box lid and shut the giant hood and climbed back into the car and drove home.

And the thing that occurred to me was how JOYFUL I was.

God had delivered me.  Oh, He had taught me a lesson in patience.  He had taught me a lesson in trusting Him beyond my circumstances.  But here I was driving home.

I realized something: let’s say the “ideal” happened and I’d made it home to begin with.  I would have got home two hours earlier, true.  But I wouldn’t have been able to experience the joy of that engine coming to life after all the seemingly futile effort and all the seemingly crushed hope.

I realized it’s worth going through a hard time just to watch God come through for you.  Because I was JOYFUL that I was driving home in the dark rather than walking on my very bad knees.

I know as I write this that an atheist would compare my prayers and my thanking God for the car starting to my rubbing a rabbit’s foot and attributing my success to my lucky charm.

I also know that if you’re inclined to see God, you can find Him EVERYWHERE.  And if you’re not, you won’t find Him anywhere.

And I know that I wouldn’t trade my joy that some how, in some way, the Creator of the entire universe was looking down upon me, and teaching me, and caring for me, and ultimately delivering me, for ANYTHING.

And so I say what I said last night as I was driving home, thinking about how a guy with no money and no phone and a two bad arms and two bad knees managed to make it home: thank you, Lord.

God is trying to tell me that I need to trust Him regardless of my circumstances and just count on Him in spite of anything that happens.  And I had this thought: I considered the child whose parents never made time for him, for whom even negative attention is better than no attention at all.  And I thank my God for giving me His attention – even if it DOES come down to a long walk home in the dark.

Hopefully, the next time I go through a trial – and I WILL go through another trial – I will remember how this one turned out.

Ultimately, I’m gong to be with my Lord Jesus in heaven.  What on earth should I be complaining about when I’ve got that kind of eternal future in store for me???

 

 

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Discoveries In Prayer And Trusting In The Lord

January 9, 2014

I had jury service this week.

I don’t like jury service.  I NEVER like jury service.  I groan when I see the summons.  And I groan again when I call and find out that I’m confirmed to appear at the courthouse on whatever day during the week.  Oh, I’m prepared to do my duty.  The public has an obligation to serve on juries if they want a decent judicial system, right?  But maybe I would be prepared to throw myself on a grenade to save others, also.  I just wouldn’t want to.  The bottom line is I am willing to serve and I am even more willing that someone ELSE serve rather than me.

And so, being somebody who prayers often, when I am sitting in that jury assembly room and the clerk starts reading off names of people who have to get up and report to the court room to begin the jury selection process, I say a fervent prayer of “please, Lord, please don’t let my name be on that darn list.”

Now, understand.  I believe that God can do ANYTHING.  But I also believe that He has His own will and His own plans and they don’t necessarily jive with my agenda.

Anyway, I’m sitting near a woman whose name was called.  And as she’s getting up and collecting her things to report to the court room, she says, “I’m glad my name was called.  It’s better to get called right away.  Otherwise you just sit here all day.”

So we’ve got a very different take: she’s glad that the thing I didn’t want to happen happened.

And who knows?  Maybe she’s right!  Maybe it IS better to just get called and report and get it over with in terms of getting on with your life and your schedule.

The woman who spoke was older.  She’d gone through the system more than a few times, I’m sure.  Just as I have.  I’m thinking, “If they call me onto a jury, I could be there for two or three days just getting through the Voir Dire (jury selection) process.  Even if I’m ultimately excused without having to serve on that eventual jury.  She’s thinking, “The sooner they call you the sooner it will all be over with.”

And there have been plenty of times when BOTH of us have been right, haven’t there???

The clerk in the jury assembly room gets on the microphone again and announces that the other court room will be reporting their need soon and to stand by for twenty minutes.  And I realize I have no idea whatsoever what to pray for.  Do I pray that my name be called or do I pray that my name NOT be called?  All I know is that I’ve got appointments and a lot of things to do that won’t get any better if I miss several days of my life.  I mean, Holy moly: we’re just starting the New Year and I’M ALREADY BEHIND!!!

So what do I pray for?  I have no idea.  But fortunately, when it comes to praying, I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ANY IDEA.  Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”  Even, I’m quite sure, the wordless groans of a helpless man awaiting his fate during jury duty.

“Lord,” I pray, “I have no idea WHAT to pray for.  I just surrender it to You.  You are God and You are in control.  I just want to be able to go home, and I have no idea how to make that happen.  I put my trust in You and in Your plan for my day.”

When the clerk comes back on the microphone, she announces that the other court has reported it does not need anybody.  And we are excused.

It’s 10:20AM.  And I have that child when the final school bell rings feeling.

Now, here’s the thing: maybe God would have wanted me to serve on a jury: maybe there was a case that He wanted to help decide.  Maybe my future wife will be one of the other jurors.  Maybe a lot of things I can’t possibly know about in advance but God does know about because He’s God and that’s what He does.

But as I’m racing out of the court-house to get to my motorcycle, I realize that maybe He just wanted me to come to that right place where I was actually desperate enough and unsure enough to turn things over to Him.

There’s a good theory that Israel spent forty years doing laps around the mountain in the wilderness during the Exodus because it just took them that long to finally come to the “Thy will be done” stage.

Dang, how often do we think we KNOW what is best for us???  How often are we completely certain that this needs to happen JUST THIS WAY and THAT most definitely must NOT happen???

I mean, it’s one point to come to that moment where you don’t even know what to do or what you want and finally turn it over to God.  But think of all the times you just flat-out KNOW what is best.

And do we?  Or are we like that woman who said she was happy her name was called when had her name NOT been called she would have been going home in just twenty minutes?  [And realize I’m not picking on that woman, because I realized her pet theory was every bit as sound as mine and it could have been me sitting in that jury room all day and finally getting called into a jury at ten minutes to five o’clock and having to show up again the next day while SHE went home early].

Life is a highway, as the song says.  But on this highway, we’re frequently driving around blindfolded and there are potholes and other cars all around us.  And we often don’t know where to get on and where to get off.  We’ve just got our inclinations and our guesses and our best judgment that often have us zigging when we sure should have zagged.

This is where the beautiful proverb of Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” becomes so real.  When we finally realize, “I don’t know.  but God DOES.”  And put that realization into effect throughout our lives.

I’m not there yet.  But I want to be.

There are two ways we can fail to trust the Lord.  One I’ve already discussed; we THINK we know what’s best for us and anything other than that means God let us down.  When of course maybe that’s not true at all because maybe you didn’t have a clue what was best for you.

But there’s another one: are we willing to be shaped and changed and transformed from what we are into something else?

I found and called in a stolen car several weeks ago that was set on fire and abandoned in the desert.  The police had somebody come and tow what was left of the car away.  Left behind was a lot of small pieces of melted aluminum.

I’ve picked up quite a few of those pieces.  For some reason I find them fascinating.

Each of those pieces of aluminum had of course once been some part for the car (the engine block, the transmission, etc.).  Now it’s just a blob of one of the lighter metals.  But you look at a piece and you realize that of course it could be melted down again and become something else.

That’s how we are, too.

Malachi 3:3-4 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

It’s a picture of God sitting over each one of us, refining us, melting away the dross and leaving behind the most beautiful and valuable part of us.

As I’m sitting there in that jury assembly room not being happy about what may happen next, God may have other plans for me.  I may have to do things that I don’t want to have to do and I may as a result literally become something different than what I am and contrary to my own plans and purposes.  So that God can use me for His better plan and purpose.

Do I trust God to do that?  Do I trust God to melt me down and change me into something else?

Often times, it’s just a matter of our letting go and letting God be God.  We go through hard, even bitter times.  Maybe years pass by, maybe decades.  And we finally come to that point where we are willing to be shaped and forged into what God intended for us.  And we’re finally ready to move on to the next, far better and far more meaningful, phase of our lives.

As we’ve had the imposition of gay marriage and the Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson blow-up, I’ve written a few pieces on homosexuality.  I want to be crystal clear: the Bible says repeatedly that homosexuality is a sin and it never says anything other than that homosexuality is a sin.  I’ve met homosexuals who realize that what they are feeling and doing is wrong.  I know what that’s like, because I’ve got my own entrenched sinful behaviors and attitudes and I don’t like them but don’t know how to live blamelessly, either.  And I truly feel compassion for these men because while we’re struggling with different things, we’re all struggling to overcome what we don’t want to be and do and become something we know is better.

But let me focus on the liberal, militant homosexual activist who says, “What I’m doing is NOT wrong!  I am NOT going to change.  I demand that I be able to continue to be EXACTLY what I am and keep doing EXACTLY what I’m doing.”  And of course that attitude and the behavior that flows from that attitude is the essence of what St. Paul describes in Romans chapter one.

But now let’s take this discussion away from militant homosexual rebellion and focus on ourselves: how many of us are defiantly holding on to attitudes and feelings and beliefs and behaviors and activities that we KNOW are not right before God?

Most of us need some refining.  Many of us need some serious melting down.

But God has ordained the universe such that we have to be willing to let Him work His ways and His wonders in us.  He gave us free will and He respects the free will He gave us as part of our being created in the Imago Dei (in His image).  And ultimately, we each of us have to come to that point in that circumstance where we need to realize, to recognize, that we are not where we need to be inside and that we need to be refined and transformed into something different.

Sometimes that process if unpleasant, even painful.  I’ve got to go through a surgery to re-attach a ruptured tendon.  I don’t look forward to it.  I don’t look forward to the whole day.  I don’t look forward to the recovery and the pain I will be in and the difficult rehabilitation it will take to successfully put me back together again.  But I am willing to go through it because I am looking to the (better) end result.  That said, I know a very pretty young woman who has a broken clavicle that literally comes loose but won’t have the surgery to get fixed up because she fears the process too much.  There are a lot of better things she would be able to do if she just went through the pain and had the surgery, but fear paralyzes her.

We’re often like that young woman.  We don’t want to change and we certainly don’t want to BE changed.  We desperately cling to who we are even though who we are is broken.

We have to acknowledge that something isn’t right in us.  We have to acknowledge that we’re broken.  And we have to be willing to trust God and allow Him to refine us and even melt us down and reshape us into what HE wants us to be.

Dr. Phil (a different Phil from Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson) used to say to dysfunctional people living dysfunctionally, “How’s that working out for you?”  If nothing else, let your failures guide you to God’s way.  Stop banging your head against a wall of your own choosing and let God shape you to be something different and better.

That’s my prayer for me.  And I hope it’s your prayer for you.

Will The ACLU And Liberals Come After Louisville For The Crime Of Praying When Kevin Ware Lay On The Court With His Shattered Leg?

April 4, 2013

Many of you saw the crime being committed on national television.

The crime happened during the NCAA basketball tournament game between Louisville and Duke.  A player named Kevin Ware, Jr. sustained a gruesome compound fracture of his tibia.  The bone was sticking six inches out of his leg.

That’s when the crime occurred:

The past 24 hours, Ware said, were mostly a blur. When he suffered the injury in the first half of the Duke game, planting awkwardly on his right leg as it snapped like a toothpick, he thought he had just sprained his ankle.

Then he saw the look of horror in Cardinals coach Rick Pitino’s eyes. Then he looked at his leg and saw the chunk of bone that had punctured his skin. Then he immediately went into shock. Ware Sr., watching from New York, said he thought he was going to have a heart attack in his home.

Ware Jr. remembered Louisville forward Luke Hancock coming over and comforting him. He remembered Hancock saying a prayer, a powerful moment in a suddenly silent arena.

“And that made me just go into Kevin mode,” Ware said. “I just told Luke, ‘I’m good. Just win this game.’ I just kept repeating that. I got louder and louder and Russ was there and I’m pulling their jerseys, trying to get in their face like, ‘Ya’ll got to win this game.’ When they took me off the court, I heard so many cheers, and I’m like ‘When I’m out of surgery, there’s gonna be some good news.”

How could that villain Luke Hancock do such an evil thing.  He prayed!  At a college activity!  Surely state funds were involved somehow!

If you didn’t already think Luke Hancock was evil enough for praying, this ought to cinch it for you: he’s white.  And therefore a bigoted, intolerant racist by definition.

Who shall right this incredible evil?

Who will save America from God and the religious intolerance of people who see suffering and pray for those in need?  Who will stop these white people from intolerantly inflicting their religion on others?

In God damn America, a country in which public schools are literally criminalizing the word “Easter,” that is where we are clearly heading.  And one morning we’ll wake up and be there.

But not yet.  We still have a little more time before the Antichrist comes.

I congratulate Kevin Ware for his testimony of how powerfully a teammate’s prayer affected him and encouraged him.  And I congratulate Luke Hancock for being a man of prayer at a moment when prayer was desperately needed.

God bless those who bless the Lord when the forces of fascist intolerance are going stronger and stronger and stronger in their rabid determination to criminalize Christianity.

Liberals Put ‘God’ Back In Platform Over Boos. As A Pure Rhetorical Tactic Only, Obviously

September 8, 2012

Ah, the toxic, rabid, toxic Democrat Party has found its voice, I see.

Cardinal Dolan prayed.  What more do Democrats need to pour their hate on him?

You’ll have to excuse the language.  What can I say?  I’m quoting Democrats, and they are only capable of speaking Cockroach:

Liberals cuss out Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Posted at 12:56 am on September 7, 2012 by Twitchy Staff

I just gotta say it: Fuck you, Dolan. No, seriously. Fuck you.

As Twitchy reported earlier, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s closing benediction was the DNC speech of the night.

Despite being unable able to watch Dolan’s prayer on most networks, liberals didn’t waste any time making clear their displeasure:

Glad I’m not watching Cardinal Dolan, because fuck that guy.

@SheCallsMeLarry Was very disappointed in the change of platform yesterday by the dems, not to mention how it was changed. Just disgusting.

 
 

@anothermarc Same here. And pardon my French, but what the FUCK was Timothy Dolan doing there?!

Fuck you, Dolan, you pedophile-nurturing dickweasel

@JoeMyGod: And FUCK Tim Dolan right in the motherfucking ear.” Yeah, @fakedansavage I agree. And what you said, Joe. Ugh.

Amen, sister! RT @KailiJoy: I just gotta say it: Fuck you, Dolan. No, seriously. Fuck you.

Go fuck yourself Timothy Dolan—
Jason Bradford (@Iasthai1283) September 07, 2012

The fuck is this? Why does the end in a prayer? Ugh, and it had to be Tim Dolan.

And FUCK Tim Dolan right in the motherfucking ear.

Dolan just slammed gays and others. Fuck him.

I grew up Catholic, converted to Buddhism, and still love Jesus, Mary, and religion in general. But Dolan can fuck off.—
Joshua Eaton (@joshua_eaton) September 07, 2012

What the FUCK is Timothy Dolan doing there? I was so inspired – then I wanted to vomit. Thank god it turned off :D
ティアラ (@dozing_reverse) September 07, 2012

Keep it classy, people.

Good luck with that “classy” thing when the left is involved.

I loved this headline:

Democratic Theology Explained: There Is A God and They Hate Him

And how.

Jesus said, “You will deny Me three times.”  He spake as a prophet when it came to the DNC in their THIRD vote to put God back into the party platform after deliberately purging it:

For the record, here is the prayer that had all the demons inside the Democrat Party (that’s “Demonic Bureaucrat”) crawling inside their skins:

With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:

Let us Pray.

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.

We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.

We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.

And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.

And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.

For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”

So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen!

I know, I know.  It’s hard to believe that nice people like these have murdered over 54 million innocent little babies.

The Democrat Party is the party of genuine evil.  It will be Democrats who worship the coming beast and take his mark on their hands or on their foreheads before they burn in hell.

If You Think Founding Fathers Didn’t Want This Country To Be A Christian One, Put This In Your Pipe And Smoke It

August 13, 2012

I’m a big fan of David Barton because David Barton is a big fan of Jesus Christ and a big fan of the United States of America as viewed through the lens of our founding fathers.

Versus Barack Hussein Obama and his mockery of the Bible (write about Obama’s butchery of these passages here):

Secular Humanist Left So ‘Tolerant’ They Want To Purge Anyone Who Isn’t Just Like Them

January 24, 2011

“You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than speaking what is right” — Psalm 52:3

What can one even say except, “Welcome to ‘God damn America,’ Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama style”???

Wounded Marine, 1st Lieutenant Clebe McClary, ‘Too Evangelical’ For Air Force Academy PRAYER Luncheon

On 01.22.11 by Sad Hill

lieutenant clebe mcclary wounded marine general mike gould lt gen mike c. gould afa air force academy sad hill news

Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary

Next, they’ll be trying to snuff out officers who are too straight, or too white…

(Gazette) A religious rights group is calling for the removal of the Air Force Academy’s top officer after a flap over a speaker planned for a February prayer luncheon at the school.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation says the academy’s choice of retired Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary shows that superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould remains tilted toward evangelical Christianity and tolerates an environment where proselytizing is accepted.

lieutenant general mike gould lt gen mike c. gould afa air force academy sad hill news

Lt. Gen. Mike Gould

“We’re done,” said academy graduate Mikey Weinstein, the foundation’s founder and a frequent foe of religious practices at the school. “Gould needs to go.”

An academy spokesman, Lt. Col. John Bryan, defended the choice of McClary and said the planned prayer gathering is optional and inclusive of a broad spectrum of religious views.

“Nobody is being forced or coerced to go to this luncheon,” Bryan said.

McClary is a wounded Vietnam veteran who overcame his disabilities and now says he’s in the “Lord’s Army.”

Bryan said he’s heard McClary speak and came away with inspiration for overcoming obstacles rather than religious philosophy.

“He’s a nationally recognized motivational speaker,” Bryan said.

McLary’s website lists testimonials from celebrities including The Rev. Billy Graham and former Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves.

The academy first sought retired Army general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell to speak at the luncheon, but when he couldn’t make it due to schedule conflicts, McClary was picked to keynote the annual event. He’ll be paid $2,500 and airfare reimbursement.

Weinstein points to McClary’s website for evidence that the speaker is too evangelical for the academy.

“To him, USMC will always mean a U. S. Marine for Christ,” McClary’s website says.

“Such statements are not only antithetical to the clear mission of the United States Air Force Academy, they are totally anathema to the purportedly globally inclusive purpose of this National Prayer Luncheon,” Weinstein wrote in a letter to Gould and Defense Department officials.

Several groups, including the Colorado branch of the American Civil Liberties Union have written Gould in support of Weinsten’s effort.

Weinstein has battled the academy in recent months over the school’s failure to include him in a conference on the school’s religious tolerance practices and the academy’s initial failure to release results of a survey that showed concerns about prosyletizing there.

Gould hasn’t responded to Weinstein’s latest letter.

PLEASE let the United States Air Force Academy Public Affairs know what’s on your mind. Tell ‘em Sad Hill sent ya…:

Mailing Address
HQ USAFA/PA
2304 Cadet Drive Suite 3100
U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840-5016

Phone: 719.333.7731
Fax: 719.333.4094

Community Relations: pa.comrel@usafa.af.mil
Media Relations: media.pam@usafa.af.mil

Team Napolitano labels returning veterans as ‘lone wolf extremists’: HERE

McClary’s Biography: HERE

Rev. Franklin Graham banned from National Day of Prayer: HERE

Week-Kneed Christians: HERE

Hat tip: Dad/Mom

The “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” is for anything but the military, or religion, or freedom.  It is for atheism.  It is for imposing IT’S religious ideology of secular humanism and specifically excluding anything Christian.

Let’s get this straight: atheism IS a religion.  The courts have ruled that atheism is a religion, and in point of fact atheism has all the same worldview components that any religion has.  There are many religions on the planet, and some (like most forms of Buddhism) don’t believe in God, while others (like Hinduism) don’t believe in a personal God.  So the fact that atheists don’t believe in God, and the fact that they believe very differently from Christians, hardly disqualifies atheism from being a religion.  It is one religious view among many.  The same thing goes for secular humanism, which basically is the same worldview as atheism, only with a more positive myth about human nature.

So as much as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation might erupt into a frenzy at the very thought of Christian proselytizing, these hypocrites are all too willing to engage in massive proselytizing of their own.  They impose their atheistic worldview in the name of “religious tolerance” or “religious neutrality” all the time.  When in fact it is anything but, being a small extremist minority worldview, and when in fact it has the most gruesome history of ANY worldview in the form of state atheism, i.e. communism.

This was a voluntary and optional prayer gathering.  No one was forced to go.  But the fascist Military Religious Freedom Foundation is frothing at the mouth that men and women who want to pray to Jesus Christ should be able to pray to Jesus Christ.  They want to force people to not be allowed to pray as they will and to whom they will.  These atheists want to force others to be like them.

Want to argue with me?  Try out another story going on at the same time.  A homosexual activist (and homosexual activists are almost universally atheist and are universally liberal) attended a Christian event and specifically sought out a Christian psychologist who specifically told him she only used “a Christian biblical framework.”  The homosexual activist told her that was exactly what he wanted.  Then he proceeded to literally wear a wire so he could record her praying for him.  And now he is spearheading an effort to destroy her and have her credentials revoked.  It wasn’t about a Christian counselor trying to brainwash a poor unsuspecting homosexual with her religious bigotry; it is about an amoral homosexual activism movement trying to shut down and destroy anyone who doesn’t share their particular form of extreme bigotry.

You say, well, that particular example happened in England; it could never happen here.  Think again, because if anything it gets even more Orwellian on this side of the ocean.

People like these, wherever they’re from, love to claim that the American founding fathers – who produced the greatest, most powerful and most enduring democracy in human history – were a bunch of atheists; the only problem is that nothing can be further from the truth.  The fact of the matter is that our founding fathers were overwhelmingly Christian; and the one or two who weren’t (such as Benjamin Franklin) readily acknowledged that the Christian religion was a good thing rather than a bad one.

Consider this:

The phrase “Founding Fathers” is a proper noun. It refers to a specific group of men, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were other important players not in attendance, like Jefferson, whose thinking deeply influenced the shaping of our nation. These 55 Founding Fathers, though, made up the core.

The denominational affiliations of these men were a matter of public record. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists–Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin–this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith [see John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, 1987, p. 43].

This is a revealing tally. It shows that the members of the Constitutional Convention, the most influential group of men shaping the political foundations of our nation, were almost all Christians, 51 of 55–a full 93%. Indeed, 70% were Calvinists (the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the Dutch Reformed), considered by some to be the most extreme and dogmatic form of Christianity.

What do you call people who deliberately distort American history in order to advance an agenda that said American history clearly reviles?  I hope you don’t call such a suppression of truth “American.”

This blatant un-American attempt to deny and suppress religious freedom occurred at a place of learning, at a university.  So let us see what the founding fathers thought about the cornerstone of learning in an ordinance that they passed in 1787:

Northwest Ordinance (1787), Article III:

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged…

106 of the first 108 universities established in the United States were explicitly founded for the very purpose of proselytizing the Christian faith.  The intent to proselytize the Christian gospel is literally engraved on the cornerstones of every single one of our greatest universities.  It was not our American founding fathers, but profoundly un-American fascists who tried to sever the historic connection between America and the religious faith that made her great.

What makes the Northwest Ordinance even more interesting and relevant is that it was passed at the very same time the Constitution was being written and ratified.  Which is to say that only a fool would argue that the very same men who passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 would turn around and denounce the very same idea in the Constitution at the very same time.

Especially when our founding fathers are all over the historical record making such statements as this:

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams

Especially when these same determined men had just fought a terrible war over this statement:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence

And yet, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (see Psalm 14:1-3).  Fools abound.  And the defining characteristic of fools is that they aren’t particularly interested in reality.

The most dogmatic statement about religion of all came from the mouth of the father of our country and our democracy during his Farewell Address:

“Of all the habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” — George Washington

The bottom line is that the greatest of all Americans would have called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation precisely what they are: “traitorous wretches” who are trying to tear down the indispensable supports undergirding the foundation of America and American democracy.

It is time to wake up and fight for your country.  History is replete with examples of majorities who had their country seized from under their feet by small determined minorities of vile usurpers.  As one example, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party never won more than 37% of the vote; yet he and his Party and its loathsome ideology came to dominate Germany.  And yes, Adolf Hitler was a big government socialist atheist.

Get off your butts and FIGHT for your country, Americans.  FIGHT for the vision of America handed down to us by our founders that made this country the greatest in the history of the world.  If you keep sitting on your butts thinking that others will do all the fighting for you, you will wake up one day and wonder what the hell happened.

‘You Better Not Be Praying Over There, Grandma,’ Big Brother Obama Says

May 11, 2010

God damn America.  God damn AmericaGod damn AmericaGod damn AmericaGOD DAMN AMERICA:

Via Publius Forum:

Big Brother says elderly visitors to federally funded meals at a Georgia senior citizen’s center aren’t allowed to pray to that absurd, dangerous Christian God of theirs. Obama’s Big Brother government contends that since it has paid for their meals the government has the right to slam its iron boot heel down on the necks of those seasoned citizens that dare to engage in such an apostasy toward the state.  Seem absurd? Well it is but that is what happens when the feds roll into town and begin to hand out money. They feel the right to dictate what everyone is allowed or not allowed to do and in the case of Port Wentworth’s Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah that is to tell these old folks that they are not allowed to pray before a meal.

There are federal “guidelines” to observe, after all and the federal government’s rules say none of that ridiculous Christian stuff will go on if the feds supply even a penny of funding. Old folks that want to pray are banned from doing so and if they don’t like it, why they can go hungry because the new Uncle Sam is a crusader against religion.

Well, at least one religion, anyway.

You see, while Obama’s federal government is ever ready to get tough with Georgia’s elderly and to put a stop to all that praying nonsense, it is also the same government that at federal expense is installing ritual footbaths in airports and universities to mollify Muslims. Not only that but the same federal government sees no reason to stop bombers from easily boarding planes so that they can make an escape to a foreign nation after a failed attempt to kill untold hundreds of Americans. But damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead to prevent those dangerous old folks in the middle of Georgia from daring to pray to that subversive Christian God!

The nerve of those elderly Americans daring to observe their Christian cultural heritage, a heritage that helped build this country. It’s an outrage, don’t you think? So, it’s freedom from religion as far as Obama’s government is concerned. I mean these old folks are probably as dangerous to the state as can be! Thank Gaia that Obama is quashing their subversive activities.

Praise be it to the state, thanks be to The One, and pass the potatoes. The Obammessiah shall provide all our wants. But, remind me… has he walked on water yet?

How did it come to this?

It wasn’t always this way.  Look how we got our start toward greatness from the most desperate of beginnings:

What is this painting about?

The picture you see here was painted to recall that winter of 1777-78, at the lowest, most hopeless and discouraging time in our revolutionary war. For the struggling Americans had been defeated by the mighty British army in battle after battle, and were fast losing all hope. It was at such a time that General Washington humbly beseeched his God for the strength and the resolution to endure…  The Prayer at Valley Forge” was painted to serve the cause of liberty, to remind Americans of the deep spiritual roots of our beloved country, to recall a place of cold, and pain and sacrifice, to pay tribute to the tall and lonely man who alone held the struggling nation together, General Washington, driven to his knees there in the bitter snows of Valley Forge.

And now the president of God damn America won’t even allow senior citizens to thank their God for their meal.

I wrote an article the night Obama took the election.  I wouldn’t change a word of it: “Obama Wins!  God Damn America!

Obama said he’d transform America.  And he has.  Now it’s a country where American high school boys can’t wear the colors of the American flag in a public high school even as hundreds of Latinos wear the colors of the Mexican flag all around them.  Now it’s a country where senior citizens can’t pray in the name of Jesus while public money is used to erect Muslim footbaths.  Now it’s a country that seeks a “regime change” in Israel, a country that seeks to strip nuclear weapons from Israel, even as Obama praised the “robust debate” that led to the sham Ahmadinejad victory and meekly allows Iran to develop nuclear weapons.  Now it’s a country in which Barack Obama pisses away $862 billion dollars and only 6% of the American people think it did any good.  Now it’s a country in which an increase in unemployment to 9.9% and an increase in the broader U-6 Unemployment rate is “very encouraging.”

God damn America is a place where wrong is right, and right is wrong.

It certainly isn’t a place where a defeated and desperate general – driven to his knees in the midst of a losing war against an empire so powerful that the sun never set on it – would be able to pray a prayer that would rock the world.  That’s not the kind of “change” that would be tolerated today.

Coca Cola, Typical Pluralistic (Except for Christianity) Company

August 20, 2008

Bob McCarty came across this:

The crescent moon and star — yes, the same symbol featured on the flags of so many Muslim countries — is an internationally-recognized symbol of the Islamic faith in much the same way as the cross represents Christianity and the star of David Judaism. When I learned the symbol of the Islamic faith will appear on Coca-Cola packaging during Ramadan 2008, I found myself wondering whether or not the Atlanta-based soft drink maker will soon include the Christian cross and Jewish star of David in future holiday packaging designs targeting people of those faiths.

Here’s what the new cans look like:

Coca Cola – ever the profit-seeking enterprise – puts cute polar bears on their cans to “celebrate” Christmas. Jews don’t even receive the token snub that Christians get for their Hannukah.

In the name of pluralism and multiculturalism we are downright hostile to our own religious traditions even as we eagerly celebrate others.

Coca Cola and companies that now shun “Merry Christmas” greetings in favor of the neutral “Happy Holidays” pursued this reverse discrimination tactic only after years of lawsuits and judicial-activist government rulings.

World Net daily had an article titled “‘Five pillars of Islam’ taught in public school” that begins:

Another school has been “teaching” Islam by having students study and learn Muslim prayers and dress as Muslims, and a lawyer who argued a previous dispute over this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court said such methodologies wouldn’t “last 10 seconds” if it were Christianity being taught.

Educational Issues has an article titled, “Muslim Prayer in Public Schools: Are Public Schools Accommodating Islam Over Christianity?” And the answer is clearly, “YES.”

The ACLU, so vigilant of any “intrusion” of Christianity into public life, make it a point to look the other way when Islam is thrust upon us even when public funding is used to do the thrusting.

It is frankly amazing how liberals and secular humanists are so unrelentingly hostile toward Christianity in the name of “multiculturalism” and “separation of church and state” even as they embrace religions such as Islam in the name of the very same things!

As government creates a “gulag-like” mentality about expressing Christianity in public, corporations like Coca Cola follow the trend and go where the most money – and the least controversy – is.

And we continue to surrender everything that made this nation – and the Christian religious tradition that both formed and informed it – great.

Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect on the Big Picture

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day and Christmas have one thing in common: both holidays celebrate giving. Christmas celebrates God’s gift of salvation in the birth of Christ; and Memorial Day celebrates the gift of freedom by men who secured it with their lives and their blood.

Neither divine grace nor political freedom is “free.” Both have been provided for us at great cost.

And whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, I hope you took time to contemplate the image of the rows of crosses marking the graves of our fallen warriors. We owe such men – as well as the warriors who survived the battle – a debt that we can never repay.

There is a saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I’m sure there have been some atheists in some foxholes at one time or another, but the real point of this bit of folk wisdom is that one tends to pay attention to the Big Picture when one’s life is on the line. When you know you could be blown to bits at any moment, the question as to whether there is a heaven and a hell suddenly becomes more than simple abstract speculation.

To that end, let me talk about the faith that drives men to acts of greatness. I’m not talking about faith in God (although that helps a LOT); I’m talking about faith in a better world, and faith that one’s personal sacrifices can help create that better world.

Faith gets ridiculed in today’s cynical society (e.g. “faith vs. religion,” where the latter is meaningful and the former trivial). And the faith of religious people is all too often dismissed as some kind of enabler for weak minds (e.g. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”; “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…”) to continue living their simpleminded, idiotic lives.

But it occurs to me that faith is as essential to our democracy as it is to the our religion.

And it occurs to me that the life of faith is not an easy one.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Cynics and skeptics think of faith as belief in things that don’t exist, but this is by no means true.

Rather, it is confidence in principles, ideas, and truths that are there even if we can’t see them immediately before us.

Our forefathers, who established what would become the greatest nation in the history of the world were religious Pilgrims, seeking to build their vision in a strange land. The first years were difficult; so many died that the captain pleaded with them to abandon their quest and return to England. But their faith in what they believed was their divinely appointed destiny gave them the courage and the motivation to endure hardship and death.

Our founding fathers, in choosing to devote “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to separate from the injustices of subjugation without representation chose to risk everything for their belief in a better world. The system of government they envisioned had never been tried in the history of the world, but they fought the greatest superpower of the world at the time in order to give a democratic republic a chance. We can imagine them enduring the sufferings of Valley Forge, in which men’s frostbitten feat bled as they stumbled across the snow. They were fighting for a better world, a world they had never seen.

We can think of the faith of our ancestors who faced death on an unprecedented scale in the Civil War. It was the faith of men such as Abraham Lincoln who persevered the cries of shock and outrage, and continued to fight for the better world that he envisioned. There are no better words than the words of Lincoln himself, in what is regarded as the greatest speech ever given:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in
a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated
it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will
little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth.

We can think about the faith of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. We can think about the Marines who landed on beaches such as Iwo Jima to fight horrendous, bloody engagements against fanatic opposition. Fascism, Communism, and totalitarianism had consumed the world like a plague, and gained the upper hand. Nazi fascism and Imperial Japanese totalitarianism had seized most of the world in their bloody claws, and men of faith had to pry those claws away by force, finger by finger.

What was on the mind of the soldier who stumbled over the bodies of his fallen brothers while machine gun fire raked across the sand in front of him? What sustained him? What was it that kept such men moving forward, when “forward” seemed to lead only to violent death?

It was faith, hope, and love.

One rabbi, who survived the horrors of the death camp at Auswitzch summed up his experiences by saying, “It was as though a world existed in which all of the Ten Commandments had been reversed: Thou shalt kill, thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal, and so forth. Mankind has never seen such a hell.”

Against such evil stood ordinary men who were motivated to acts of greatness by faith, hope, and love. They died by the millions, but they fought on because they had faith that their sacrifices would not be in vain. And in enduring through faith in a better world that – even when the world before their eyes was nearly consumed by evil – they prevailed over that evil.

And I would add to that list the men and women who are wearing the American flag on their shoulders as they fight to secure liberty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been magnificent. I have been so proud of them. Through danger and in spite of every kind of opposition, they have fought men who would impose their will by means of force and terror, and they have prevailed.

On this Memorial Day, we stop to honor those who have fallen in the struggle to provide a better world for succeeding generations. We stop to consider the faith that such men must have had to endure incredible deprivation, danger, and terrible death. And we reflect on the content of their faith: what Lincoln called “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

We know that the vision of such a world has been under attack throughout history, by men who have harbored a darker, more terrible vision of the world. And we know that apart from our warriors, and the faith that sustains them, we will not be able to prevail in the continuous struggle against evil.

Please say a prayer for our warriors, who have placed themselves in harm’s way just as our warriors who came before them. Pray for their safety. Pray for the success of their mission. And pray for their faith, which gives them the courage that sustains them.

And let us honor every one of our veterans – both the living and the dead – who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.

Pope Benedict: The anti-Maher, anti-Wright Christian leader

April 20, 2008

I was so pleased that Fox News gave the Pope’s celebration at St. Joseph’s Seminary full coverage. I am not Catholic, but I would have gladly kissed that ring today.

I think about Bill Maher’s recent comments against Pope Benedict (see my article, “Bill Maher vs. Pope Benedict: and the winner is…). I think about the remarks of Trinity United Church of Christ’s (and Barack Obama’s) paster, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In contrast to such bitter men, it was so inspiring to see a wise, gracious Christian giant demonstrate the true virtues of the Christian faith.

My home page is set to MSNBC. It really shouldn’t be, but I’m too lazy to change it. I am glad that their forecast (something like, “Pope Benedict is visiting America, but nobody cares”) was so completely dead-wrong.

The Pope, addressing an audience of mainly young people, was able to draw on his own experiences as a youth in Germany under the “monsters” of Nazi fascism. He said, “My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew — infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion — before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.”

The Pope praised God for the strength of Democratic governments who finally stood up and removed the evil that marred his youth even as it marred the world, and called upon continued resolve to stand up for freedom. “Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just,” he said. He urged the young people and the future priests in the seminary to faithfully carry on their Christian works while enjoying the liberties that they were blessed to have.

“The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds!”

“The German-born pope lamented that what he called “the joy of faith” was often choked by cynicism, greed and violence. Yet he drew an analogy to show how faith can overcome distractions and trials. ‘The spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise to God.'”

These words were as beautiful as they were inspiring:

“The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope — Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.”

Pope Benedict did not turn a blind eye to the darkness that constantly threatens to eclipse the world. Rather he defines it, and describes the path to attaining victory over it:

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation — especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands — your hands — reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness — that which affects the mind — often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place — or better said its absence — an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfillment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope — Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.

At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.

Some more marvelous words that reveal the genuine transformational power of the Christian faith, as well as an incredible source of power to do good in the world:

“In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension — what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world — saints and sinners alike — open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.”

I hear and read these great, wise, potent words, and then I compare them to the cynicism of Bill Maher and the bitterness and divisive racism of Jeremiah Wright. The gulf is astronomical. Such a beautiful description of such a beautiful worldview. Contrary to the sickness that has come out of the mouths of Maher and Wright, the first German Pope is the anti-Hitler, the anti-Wright. The light he offered to the young people at Yonkers contrasts dramatically with the darkness we have heard from others.

Daniela Rizzo brought her husband and their infant son from Connecticut. “You can feel the energy,” Rizzo said. “You can feel the faith.”

I felt it too.

Welcome to America, Pope Benedict. May your visit be as happy as the joy you are bringing to millions.

A full transcript of the Pope’s remarks at St. Joseph’s is available at

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/19/nyregion/19popeyouth.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ei=5088&en=2a1a37f9f94e066d&ex=1366344000&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss