Tag Archives: values

WHAT’S YOUR TOTAL?

We are the persons that the sum of our decisions has made us—for good or for bad. For some folks, that isn’t so bad. However, for a few people that isn’t such a good thing. What do I mean?

Years ago, the late Jerry Falwell and I were on a plane from Lynchburg (VA) to New York City. Before reclining his seat and sleeping, Falwell made this statement: “Dale, it’s more important to learn how to make decisions right than it is right decisions.” While Jerry slept, I scratched my head, wondering what in the world he meant!

The moment our decent began, Jerry sat upright, reached for his electric razor, and began buzzing away the five o’clock shadow. Immediately I asked him to explain exactly what he meant by his statement.

Basically, he explained, life is a series of decisions. Since none of us can or will make them all correctly, it behooves us to learn how to correct them—make them “right”—as we journey along life’s road … which brings me back to my hypothesis—we have become the people that the sum of our decisions has made us.

Unlike inanimate objects, humans have choices, and in some senses, more than ever. Have you shopped in the breakfast cereal aisle?!?! Things don’t make choices—people do! The computer on which I am typing is a wonderful piece of technology, but the person who is typing decides whether it is used for “good” or “bad.”

The same is true for the use of everything, although some people never seem to understand this concept, sadly. Across America several millions of gun owners collect thousands of guns, never harming anyone, while a few thousand people choose to misuse an inanimate weapon to maim or kill. Unwise people focus blame on the weapon rather than on the person who chose unwisely.

But, before we get to the end, let’s start at the beginning, which already presents a problem—we’re all bad! As Rush Limbaugh says, “Don’t doubt me on this!”

There is none good, no not one … For all have sinned and come short … (Rom 3:10, 23)

Just don’t focus so much on the beginning that you forget that the ending doesn’t have to look the same as the beginning. You have choices. You can make decisions that can change a bad beginning into a wonderful ending!

For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom 10:13)

The greatest “good” decision that an individual can make is to admit that he/she is “bad,” and trust the one and only “good guy” (Jesus Christ) at His word: Whosoever cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)

BTW, do you pray? Have you ever asked God to do for you that which you cannot do for yourself—give you everlasting life? If not, would you make the choice to do so right now? Tomorrow may be too late … but right now never is!

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. (Isa 55:6 NLT)

For those who have made the decision to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you do understand that a lifetime of decisions is still yours to make, right? You will not make them all correctly, so why not ask for God’s help each day to guide you in making wise decisions as well as the wisdom to correct the bad ones along life’s trail?

USING MEMORIES ON FATHERS DAY 2017

Perhaps it’s a natural component to the process of aging, but I find myself reflecting and reminiscing more these days. However, I know that I’m not alone in this. A casual review of Facebook also verifies that we humans have the innate propensity of remembering the past … or at least glimpses of it.

One of the first things I see each morning from Facebook is “On this day …” or “You have memories …” For most of us it is a picture of something special that happened, a place we visited, or a person that we enjoyed meeting. Sometimes the memories are painful perhaps, like the death of a loved one or some personal tragedy.

Memory is an interesting phenomenon to me … perhaps because mine isn’t always very good (if it ever was)! For example, I can recall events of fifty years ago while forgetting where I put my truck keys or left my sunglasses just five minutes ago! I’ll remember the details of a story of something from decades ago, but forget that I told you the same story a few weeks ago.
However, approaching Father’s Day, I’m thankful for many excellent memories from childhood, especially of my father—Ralph Henry Peterson. Perhaps this is because I’m quickly approaching the age of my father when he died.

Ralph, Hazel, & Dale

Since all dads either have died or will die at some point future, that isn’t what’s on my mind today, but rather how are we living the lives that we have today? Reflecting on that is one of the greatest advantages of memories—especially when they are memories of a father who exemplified great character qualities, Ralph Peterson did.

Do you doubt me on this? Ask his friends, former employers or employees, neighbors, or relatives! Everyone who ever knew dad for any length of time beyond a casual passing could tell you. He was quiet, thoughtful, courteous, wise, and gentle … well, usually gentle. (There are plenty of memories from childhood when he wasn’t very gentle with me. Dad thought that Dr. Spock was a crock, so memories of waiting in my bedroom for dad to come home from work, the sound of his lunch box hitting the kitchen counter, and his belt coming out of the belt loops are still vivid to me!) But I digress …

No …, the digression is a vital part of what I’m saying. What Dr. Spock thought of “spanking” ill-behaved children didn’t matter to dad, since it was dad’s responsibility to raise me, not Spock’s. Dad chose to believe God’s Book over Spock’s and therefore it was dad who took a time out—to spank his three children when he deemed it necessary.

Further, neither today nor on any of those days when it was me receiving a spanking (we actually called them “whippings” back then), did I blame dad or doubt that he was doing what he deemed best in love for me. (I still think he should have loved my younger brother Dennis much more. 😊) But I digress … again …

Approaching this Father’s Day, reminiscing about my own father, while sitting in the Virginia Beach (VA) home of my oldest daughter Charity, her husband Brandon, and their two children Brynn and Cole, I find myself wondering, “What kind of dad was I … really?”

However, the sad thing about this line of thinking—most of that answer is already in my life’s review mirror and cannot be changed. I can only hope that it was sufficient in the past, and that I can use the mistakes of the past to become a better dad and Papa Pete going forward.

BTW, do you pray? If so, wouldn’t now be a wonderful time to thank God for your dad? Even with whatever deficits he may have had, you owe your very life to a man somewhere in this world, whether he’s in a church, a prison, or a graveyard! If you were raised by a godly father, you especially should be thankful, and endeavor to live out the godly characteristics that he modeled.

For those whose fathers were absent or less-than-favorable, do not waste that pain! Make a mental list of the deficits and turn that into a positive list of goals and objectives for yourself, and become the kind of man, woman, parent, or grandparent that you wished to have growing up. Turn your tragedy into a triumph!

Got to run! It isn’t a gate agent calling me today … it’s two grandkids who want Chick-fil-A! Bye!

Dale on Coronado (CA)

There Is Hope

For more years than I can remember, I’ve spoken somewhere on weekends surrounding America’s patriotic holidays.  Sunday, 03 July 2016 will be no exception, but will be one of those rare occasions when I will speak at the church that Debbie and I call “home”—North Auburn Hills Baptist Church.

Approaching America’s 240th birthday, reflecting on the current election cycle, and considering the condition of our country, I must confess grave concern for the country that has been my home base for 66 years and counting.  So as not to discourage you, let me quickly disclaim that I believe there is hope!

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah opens one of the Bible’s most horrific chapters with a ray of hope this way—Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  However, he then proceeds to describe the dark days in which America … er, Israel, was living.

Skipping from the opening verse, we find a summary description of America today—a parallel—that should arrest the attention of thinking citizens, sober our thoughts, and lead us to petition the God of Isaiah 59:1, as described in Isaiah 7:14!  Consider just four common characteristics between Israel of some 700 years before Christ and America today—highlighted in four critical words.

Justice

(Isa 59:14a HCSB)  Justice is turned back …  In the vernacular, we would say that justice has been turned on its head, upside down, everything is backwards.  America’s victims of crime watch a never-ending stream of criminals going free, restitution never paid.  Be strong and of good courage, my friend, for God the Righteous judge rules over all the earth.  Remember verse one—He hears and He can save!

Righteousness

(Isa 59:14b HCSB) … righteousness stands far off …  In a practical sense, righteousness is simply “morally good.”  A deep study is not necessary, when a casual glance at television, a movie screen, or newspaper reveals daily that America increasingly is anything but morally good, choosing rather to trust in vanity. Take hope my friend!  There’s still hope in verse one—only one call away!

Truth

(Isa 59:14c HCSB) … truth has stumbled in the street … (“fallen” in the KJV).  The meaning is the same—truth doesn’t matter in our culture today!  History is being rewritten.  Truth is being hidden, while falsehood is being paraded as though it was the truth, in order to accomplish someone’s agenda.

The truth is, God’s agenda will be accomplished in the end.  By the closing chapter of this world’s history, all liars (those who refused to live truthfully) will find the burning truth forever in the horrific abode of the father of lies, yet eternally separated from the truth, the way, and the life!  That is not something in which one should glory, but rather with broken heart, fear and trembling, choose to be a living sacrifice, that others might hear the truth while there is time!

However, if you are reading these words, be encouraged!  As long as we have breath, we have hope—and it still stands back in verse one!

Honesty

(Isa 59:14d HCSB) … and honesty (or equity) cannot enter …  At the end of the day, honesty is a proper dealing with the three aforementioned qualities—truth, righteousness, and justice.  You see, it is possible for one to know truth, but be dishonest and unjust, thus missing the boat on righteousness as well. That’s why in our courts of law, a witness swears an oath—hand on the Bible—to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The purpose is to bring about justice, making something that was wrong right again.

That’s also why sinful man needs the hope back in verse one, a hope ultimately found in God alone.  All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, but He is near and willing to give to us His own righteousness.  Justice for our sin was served some 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ willingly made an in-full payment for us.  His death was not about His own sin, but rather your sin and mine—which brings us back to the hope in verse one!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in asking God to draw America back to Him, that we as a nation might become a country of justice, righteousness, truth, and honesty once again?  Or perhaps you feel like God is far, far away.  Not so, my friend—He is only one prayer away!  Call on Him today while He is near!

Finally, in spite of all the woes of our world and country, my fellow Americans, let’s celebrate the freedom that we enjoy and for which much of the world longs!  Happy 240th Birthday, America!

(2 Chron 7:14 HCSB)  (If) my people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Veterans Day Thoughts

Normally on Veterans Day I reminisce and blog, often using the occasion to highlight family members who are veterans. I am extremely, and justifiably proud of my oldest son USMC Capt Justin Peterson, a Marine whose life was cut short in the sands of Iraq, my youngest son USMC Sgt Joshua Peterson, who was also deployed in Iraq at the time his brother was killed, and my oldest son-in-law USN Lt Brandon Geddes, who is still active and stationed in Norfolk.

However, today I want to highlight a rather quiet, unassuming veteran who calls San Diego home.  Two years ago, while in Chula Vista presenting the patriotic program A SALUTE TO AMERICA!, I was privileged to meet and spend almost an hour with Joe Hutchins at the real estate office owned by Joe and his wife Pat.

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Joe spent most of his first career in the United States Navy as a SEAL.  We sat on a sofa in the reception area of Hutchins Realty on Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach, as Joe, a retired Air Force friend of Joe’s, and I talked.  I turned to this quiet tower of strength and said, “Joe, you know what’s different about your generation and today’s generation?”  Not sure where I was going with that question, he simply said, “Go on.”

“You have deeply buried stories of years of special ops—stories which have never been uttered, and probably never will be.  Today, guys go on a couple of missions and then write a book about it!”  Joe smiled, his USAF brother-in-arms chuckled, and I was satisfied that Joe’s smile was speaking volumes.

While I’ve seen many of Hollywood’s action movies and read several books each year written from the arena of combat experience, somehow—even unintentionally—they tend to glamourize the blood, sweat, tears, agony, and pain.  Conversely, many civilians seem to make every combat veteran a “victim” who suffers from PTSD.

Off all the possibilities that Veterans Day can bring to America, perhaps the one that should capture the imagination is this—let’s allow this annual day of remembrance remind us of the price that is being paid by approximately 1% of our nation’s citizens—men and women who are heroes merely because they stepped forward and serve or have served the other 99%.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not spend some quiet time alone sometime during this Veterans Day, contemplating our veterans, especially the ones you know personally, and pray for them, thanking God for these men and women of courage, honor, and commitment, and asking God to minister His goodness to them as they provide our nation safety and freedom?

And Justin, Joshua, and Brandon—thank you for your service to our nation, and for making your father very proud of you!

1385421_10151889694186558_1258647658_n JOSHUA PETERSON 2014 994817_10151705932916558_412695339_n

dale

After listening to the State of the Union speech last night, I am more concerned than ever for my country.  There are numerous ways in which America is in serious trouble, but for this essay, I will limit my concern to primarily one item—gun control–which doesn’t seem very spiritual, I know.

The Second Amendment of America’s Bill of Rights is the controlling factor for the citizens of the United States of America regarding this general issue.  As an English minor in college, I understand words and phrases fairly well, including the phrase, “ … shall not be infringed.”  Our Founding Fathers understood the need for the citizenry to be protected from central and state governments running amok.

2013-01-09_17-34-22_545 SIG SAUER 1911

Over the last forty years or so, I have tracked—first out of curiosity, but now out of concern—the federal government’s infringement on the Second Amendment.  Beginning with the first-ever gun restrictions imposed by the federal government (an unconstitutional action on the part of those who are sworn to uphold that constitution, I might add) with the 1927 Mailing of Firearms Act, a dangerous and growing trend began.

In 1934, the Pied Piper of the Democratic Party, Franklin D. Roosevelt, signed into law (an unconstitutional infringement) the National Firearms Act, soon followed in 1938 with another infringement—the Federal Firearms Act.  After a thirty-year reprieve, Thomas J. Dodd sponsored The Gun Control Act of 1968 which was soon signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, who boasted “Today we begin to disarm the criminal and the careless and the insane.”

Twenty years later, The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act, sponsored by Representative William Hughes, and The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, sponsored by Representative Mario Biaggi, further expanded the infringement.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, sponsored by Chuck Shumer came next, followed a year later by The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, originally sponsored by your colleague Senator Diane Feinstein.  And now, not only do I hear my president championing yet additional infringements but see the Senators who represent Michiganders applauding that infringement.

Let me draw attention to a few facts.  First, it is interesting to note that each of these infringements has been perpetrated by either a Democratic Representative or Senator.  Second fact—each of these “laws” in some way infringes upon the Second Amendment.  Third, for all the “good intentions” of protecting law enforcement and citizens, and reducing crime, these laws have been nothing but ineffective, and statistics bear this out.

However, if Congressional “leaders” don’t read the bills on which they are voting, they probably don’t bother to read the FBI statistics or Constitution either!  Finally, the dishonesty of our federal executive and legislative branches of government—borne out by Congress’s dismal approval ratings—has  reached an all-time high, meaning the character level has reached an all-time low!

If I am appalled that men and women who are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States are failing to do so, I am equally appalled that citizens anywhere continue to return those same individuals to office—with one caveat.  I also understand that voters who are government dependent will almost always vote for those “leaders” (and I use the term loosely) who will keep their “benefits” coming in order to ensure their own re-election.

Contrary to what President Obama repeatedly stated last night with his “They deserve a vote” statements, no citizen of these United States deserves a vote that is in violation of our Constitution.  America’s elected officials at all levels desperately need to refresh their commitment to the Constitution, forget the deal-making and political correctness, go against the mainstream of liberalism, and take seriously the hard-working, honest, tax-paying citizens of Michigan for a change.  Please—urge your own representatives and senators to stand against any further infringement on our Bill of Rights, in particular (for purposes of this writing), our Second Amendment.

BTW, do you pray?  Perhaps now would be an excellent time to pray for those in authority at all levels of government.  If not now, how bad will America have to get before we do pray?

 

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving this year has been replete with the traditional (at least a traditional meal of turkey, dressing, corn, potatoes, and rolls) and with the new.  Thanksgiving 2012 is consisting of a visit in the home of my oldest daughter Charity Geddes on the base of the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, which brings a special meaning to this important event.

Debbie and I didn’t want Charity and our granddaughter Brynn to be alone, so we drove to Norfolk from Detroit, hoping to be a blessing, but as so often happens in life, the greater blessing seems to come back to us.

Earlier this afternoon as I sat on the front porch facing the sun and the courtyard, listening to children playing, military wives chatting as they monitored their children, my thoughts turned to what is represented by the scene I was witnessing—things for which I’m thankful today … and every day.

Family—I’m thankful for my family.  We’re a scattered bunch these days—literally from sea to shining sea.  Charity, her husband Brandon who is currently deployed in the Middle East aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN69), an aircraft carrier, and their daughter Brynn can see the Atlantic from their quarters.

Second son Jordan lives in Seattle, where he is clerking for one of the judges on the Ninth Circuit Court, so there’s the geographical extreme amongst the family.  Four hours from here in Holly Springs (NC) my youngest son Joshua and his wife Amber make their home.  “Daddy’s girl” Joy, my youngest, and her family live northwest of Detroit in Fenton (MI), (almost 30 minutes west of Clarkston, where I am based), while step-daughter Dawn lives in Dallas.

Literally, we hail from the north, south, east, and west!  As different and scattered as each of us may be, we’re family—and we’re thankful for many things, but especially for each other.

Military family—I’m thankful for the military families of our nation.  For the first time (to my recollection), we’re spending Thanksgiving on base.  The normal hustle and bustle of base life is missing today, but the laughter of children playing together continues for those families who remain.  I enjoyed overhearing the young lads playing—and it was easy to grasp that these were typical military kids, giving commands to each other (boys) … and the girls were … well … typical little girls!

Several of their dads, like my son-in-law Brandon, are deployed, leaving behind wives and children to make a go of life without Dad temporarily—a reality that escapes many civilians—but such is military life.  Everyone adjusts … again and again … since one of the few constants in this life is change.  For example, we were greeted by Charity with the news that The Ike will be coming home somewhat unexpectedly in December, rather than March, only to redeploy in February for another rotation.

As Debbie and I were soaking up the sunshine and listening to the children playing, my mind drifted back to some of the inequities in America today.  For example, Brandon, while deployed, has to pay for his “ward room” or mess fee as an officer!  Debbie commented, “It’s strange isn’t it—while he has to pay for his own food while serving his country, millions of people too lazy to work are being paid 4-5 times that amount every month for doing nothing?”  (But don’t get me started on that subject, since I believe that ‘if a man won’t work, neither let him eat!’)

America—I’m thankful for my country!  Although I’ve been privileged to work in many foreign countries through the years and though being American makes us no better than no one else in the entire world, there’s just no place like home.  I’m thankful for America!

Having just endured another (and most vicious) presidential election and campaign season with its negativity, we must not allow our faults to overshadow the greatness of America.  Inseparable from America’s greatness are the values that brought about such freedom and prosperity.  I know of few places where those values are best demonstrated than throughout America’s military family.

America’s values—I’m thankful for our foundational values!  From before the beginning of America, the driving force and hunger was religious freedom.  Although theologies varied, all religious freedom tended to inspire and produce an evolution toward equality, self-governance, and the rule of law, which was rooted in Nature’s Law.  While America today is trending toward forgetfulness of these biblical principles, I’m thankful for a vocational privilege to calling a people back to those values and to the God who gave them to humanity.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not take this opportunity to make a list of important things for which to be thankful—not in a generic, politically correct manner, but specifically to the God who has made all these things possible.  Further, make a passionate appeal for God to draw the hearts of Americans back to Himself, whether in salvation or in service.

The Apostle Paul used the phrase “neither were thankful” to describe people living in the last days.  Pray, too, that we will truly maintain an attitude of gratitude, especially on this day—Thanksgiving 2012.

To Tell the Truth

Having grown up on a dairy farm in East Tennessee, I recall our first television—black and white, three channels that came in “clear(ly),” along with a few others that could barely be seen or heard because of “snow” and static.  Life was grand simply because we had a television!

Last night Debbie and I returned home from Indianapolis and put away our travel gear, then settled in the family room.  There I twisted a small knob and the fireplace roared to life, grabbed the remote control, and pushed one button.  Several pieces of electronic equipment came to life, including the television hanging on the wall.

Watching the Cowboys and Falcons game, I was struck by the thoughts of how things have changed since childhood.  When it comes to the technological changes, I’m thankful for most, although I don’t know what most of those buttons even do or how to use all of them!

However, not all changes since my childhood have been good.  For example,  serious philosophical changes have taken place as well.  Most parents (in those days it was a father and mother) were in charge in our homes, and when children got confused, thinking they were the ones in charge, a paddle or switch or belt served as a reminder (and it wasn’t child abuse).

When those same children went to school, the teachers (whom parents seemed to know and respect) took the leadership role.  Some of us as students would think periodically that maybe we could be in charge, but a paddle in every classroom (or in the principal’s office, for sure—but that one was often a larger version of the classroom’s)—reminded us of who was truly in charge! (Standing in the corner was for sissies!)

Parenthetically, there seemed to be a strange link between parents and the school.  By the time I returned home, mom knew when I had been “disciplined”!  The problem was this—I received another spanking from mom upon arrival home, and again from dad when he came home from work.  (You would have thought I would have learned more quickly!)  <sigh>

But I digress … back to the old black and white television … There was an NBC show called “Truth or Consequences,” with another, originally a CBS production by Mark Goodman and Bill Todman, called “To Tell the Truth,” hosted by Bud Collyer.  Remember the days when our parents, teachers, and pastors taught us to always tell the truth?

Why?—because truth creates trust.  Like the old commercial for antifreeze, “If you can’t trust Prestone, who can you trust?!”  (I guess there must be another school with different kinds of teachers for politicians these days!  And surely they aren’t all members of Jeremiah Wright’s version of “truth!”)

This leads me, in a roundabout way, to my point.  After months of political advertisements ad nauseam, many Americans are left wondering if there is any truth-telling at all in American politics.  There is not one truth of Democrats and another truth for Republicans!  There is only truth.  When anyone takes a truth and spins it for their own purposes, it is no longer truth but a falsehood—a lie.  And when Americans have difficulty sorting through all the lies (someone said that a half-truth is a whole lie), the result is invariably distrust, which explains the horrible ratings for congress.

However, our nation must not succumb to the feelings of “What’s the use?” or to indifference or ambivalence.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!  Every citizen—especially every believer-citizen—should constantly search out the truth.  We must stand with those who are honest, who have proven themselves to be men and women of good character.

Yesterday, my friend Pastor Rick Cochran stressed to his congregation—both before and after I had presented SALUTE! (a one-hour patriotic show of live music, visualizations, and narration)—“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  That was yesterday.

Today, contemplating the current conditions of our country—educationally, ethically, financially, morally, politically, and spiritually—surely each of us yearns for improvements.  Improvement must begin in people.  America needs a revival of old-fashioned patriotism, parenting, and principle-centered thinking.

We must determine individually in our hearts to be people of good character, godly convictions, and great courage.  With that kind of revival, America could turn around beginning with tomorrow’s elections.  Without that kind of repentance and commitment, America will continue travelling a trail destructive to both individuals and nations.

Truth or consequences?  Well, to tell the truth, both truth and falsehood have consequences.  However, the long-term results of truth are always favorable, whereas the falsehood always leads to difficulty and disaster.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in asking God to work mightily in the hearts of Americans during this election process?  Truly, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Modern Hypocrisy

Although the statement was made several days ago by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the firestorm of controversy continues.  It is this “outrage” against Limbaugh and the inherent knee-jerk reactions, like advertisers quickly pulling their advertisement dollars from his syndicated talk show that really captures my attention. 

First, in principle, I agree with Rush Limbaugh that our insurance premiums should not be used to pay for contraception for promiscuous college students.  If I heard the sound bite of the testimony before a Congressional panel, a Georgetown University student would spend $3000 on contraception during the course of her three-year master’s degree program.  Uh—that’s $83.33 per month for contraception, folks!  Is anyone running the numbers on this shameful scam?  What kind of contraception would cost $83 per month?

Second, I believe that Rush Limbaugh was rude, coarse and insulting to this young woman.  Earlier today, he apologized.  Detractors have a hard time accepting the apology from him, as if they can climb into Limbaugh’s mind and heart to determine his true motives for the apology.  Was he motivated to apologize because he was losing advertising dollars?  I don’t know—and neither does anyone else.  It’s merely speculation that this may have been his motive.  Accept the apology and move on, people!

If consideration of motives is what Limbaugh detractors want, let’s put all the cards on the table.  Only a few months ago, there was a big brouhaha when Lowes tried to quietly put its advertising dollars somewhere besides the time slot of a television show about a Muslim family.  The “left” was incensed, raving about how unfair of Lowes to do that, and judging their motives for pulling the adverts. 

Now the “left” is up in arms because of a Limbaugh statement insulting a young woman from Georgetown University.  Let’s see—we don’t want to insult promiscuous young women who are all but demanding that someone else take responsibility for their decisions; we don’t want to insult those who embrace Islam; but … apparently it’s okay for the “left” to insult and mock whomever they choose, without impunity, as long as it is political conservatives or American Christians. 

Apparently it’s okay for millions of Christian Americans to be insulted and mocked by the likes of ABC television’s new sitcom, GCB, or by Bill Maher, whom I, as a conservative America Christian, surely find as disgusting as any of my liberal counter-parts might find Rush Limbaugh.   

Make no mistake—I think Rush was wrong in saying what he said about the promiscuous Georgetown University student, and how he said it.  He took ownership of the problem and apologized.  Now, will someone please hand a list of offenses to Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, etc. so that, in the spirit of fairness, they can begin apologizing for the hundreds of thousands of insults they have thrown at women and Christians over the years?! 

BTW, do you pray?  If so, by the tens of thousands, American believer-citizens should be dropping to our knees in brokenness before Almighty God, pleading with Him by name in humility, confessing our own sins and evil ways, that He might hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal this land. When I am bothered most by my own sin, I am least likely to point out the sins of others—the old “let him that is without sin cast the first stone!”

ONE LIFE TOUCHES MANY OTHERS

It isn’t the longevity of his life that has arrested my attention today, but rather the impact that his life has made on the lives of others.  After all, Justin was only 32 years and one day old when his life came to an abrupt halt in the sands of Anbar Province, Iraq.

Yesterday—September 30, 2011—would have been my oldest son’s 37th birthday.  Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.  It’s always a tough time, but out of the sadness always comes numerous thoughts and blessings.  This has been true today as I have been traveling through New England with my best friend of 40-plus years, Dave Brown. 

Perhaps the prevailing thoughts are related to the impact that Justin’s life made on others.  For example, he always had a way of bringing excitement to our family.  Earlier today I saw a picture, taken at my daughter Charity’s house, as Justin and I were tossing his second son (Jayden) back and forth from 6-8 feet distance.  What pleasant memories!

In fact, Brandon and Charity’s great room in Ann Arbor (MI) was the scene of a lot of laughter and excitement—like on my youngest daughter Joy’s fifteenth birthday, as a contest raged between Justin and Joy over blowing out the candles—all meaningless stuff to others, except to “the siblings,” whose lives have been marvelously impacted by a brother who loved them. 

Although there were times—more than I remember—when he drove his father to the brink of insanity, his life continues to impact me, and I would like to think, making me a better man for it.  From his first “big wheel” to his last vehicle—a Jeep—Justin could destroy anything!  In that Jeep, he and I spent the better part of three days and nights together, driving from Twenty-nine Palms (CA) to Clarkston (MI) just before he deployed to Iraq.   I’ll value that time for the rest of my life!

The last time that Justin and I were together was at the hospital in Commerce Township (MI), just minutes before his daughter Caitlin was born.  Although his wife Patty was in the labor and delivery suite, they graciously allowed me to stay with them until I had to catch my flight to Great Britain.  Neither my wife Debbie nor I will ever forget Justin walking us to the door, saying his goodbyes, then racing back for the birth just 40 minutes later! 

Why bother to pass along such personal stories?  Because you also have a life—and your life should also be touching the lives of those around you in a positive and inspiring way! 

As I write this, I am sitting in the family room of my best friend’s house.  Dave’s daughter Angie was just here, and represents another person—beyond family—whose life was touched by Justin’s.  When the two of them were small children, our families were next-door neighbors, but the influence of those days continues.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, perhaps this would be a great time to consider your own influence in the lives of other people, and ask God to help you make it count.  Never discount the positive influence that you can have in the lives of others.  After all, even a word appropriately spoken at the right time is as valuable as “apples of gold!”

 

Dale’s book, Leave A Well in the Valley, can be purchased in soft cover at www.dalepeterson.org or a Kindle version at www.amazon.com.  In the book, Dale shares from deep personal experiences how one can not only survive the tough times in life, but also turn those tragedies into triumphs. 

 

A DAY OF INFAMY

The day began much as any other weekday—get the family out the door to school, finish dressing for the day, and stop at the office.  This day would also include a drive to Taylor for a meeting with pastors from across Michigan.  Typically, my truck radio was tuned to Detroit’s WWJ-AM 950 all-news radio.  Although that Tuesday, September 11, 2001, may have begun routinely, it was about to change.

Even as I muttered about the rush hour traffic along I-96, unaware of the events transpiring in the skies over New York, governmental agencies were scrambling, trying to locate American Airlines Flight 11 on radar—to no avail—until it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At 8:48a, the first live pictures broke in New York City on WNYW-TV.  In horror, New Yorkers watched a live feed as more than 100 people, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jumped to their deaths.  But this is only the beginning of horrors. 

Before these details can be understood, American Airlines Flight 77 is hijacked at approximately 8:50a.  At 8:51a a flight controller at New York Center notices a problem on United Flight 175 from Boston to LA.  Attempts to establish contact are futile.

At 08:52 F-15s are scrambling from Otis Air National Guard Base.  By 08:56, the transponder for Flight 77 is turned off and primary radar contact is lost.  The aircraft travels undetected for 36 minutes due east toward Washington, D.C. 

At 08:58, United Airlines Flight 175 takes a heading toward New York City, where at 09:02 the plane and its passengers crash into the south face of the South Tower of the World Trade Center at a speed of 590 MPH. 

While early news coverage by at least three major networks is focusing on the first plane crash, millions of Americans see the impact of the second plane live.  Parts of the plane leave the building from two sides, falling to the ground up to six blocks away.

By 09:08, the FAA has banned all takeoffs nationwide.  At 09:26 the FAA bans all civilian aircraft regardless of destination—a national groundstop is in effect. 

But at 09:28, hijackers storm the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93, commandeering the flight.  Meanwhile, at 09:37 American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon.  All 64 crew and passengers onboard are killed, as are 125 Pentagon personnel. 

At 09:42, Ben Stiley of the FAA grounds all air traffic over the United States and diverts incoming international traffic to alternate destinations.  US airspace is shut down.  All aircraft in flight are ordered to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a few civilian heroes on Flight 93 begin a passenger revolt at 09:57, less than two minutes before the South Tower of the World Trade Center begins to collapse—56 minutes and 2 seconds after the impact of United Flight 175. 

At 10:03, United Airlines Flight 93 is crashed into the rural terrain of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. 

Back in Washington, D.C., the west side of the Pentagon collapses, followed by the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 10:28.  This collapse is also viewed on live television. 

In the span of less than two hours—before anyone could really grasp what was taking place—thousands of lives had been lost.  As country singer Alan Jackson asked in song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?  

As some of us watched in stunned horror, we could not help but recall (Psalm 9:17 KJV) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  Could there be a man or woman alive who witnessed these horrific scenes who was not wondering, “What is happening to America?”

Surely, such a series of tragedies should serve as a clarion wake-up call for Americans to soberly contemplate—“God, what do you want us to see, to understand, to learn from these attacks?”  Although man may have meant it for evil, is there some good that God can bring from this? 

            By the time President George W. Bush retired just before midnight ten years ago, he had penned into his journal these words:  “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today … “

Indeed, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his speech to Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked … “

            And today, September 11, 2011, we are commemorating a day of infamy.  Let us never shy away from the searing memories of that September day, lest we forget the price that was paid …

… by innocent people who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they were just doing their jobs  

… by the heroes who risked and gave their lives in an honorable attempt to save as many lives as they possibly could before they themselves paid the ultimate price

… by those brave men and women who risked their lives in service to their fellow-man, and who will live with the haunting memories and physical handicaps for the remainder of their natural lives

… by the thousands of nameless men and women around the globe who, in the first few hours of multiple tragedies were scrambling to make intelligent and fast decisions to avert further disaster

BTW, do you pray?  If so, join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for those Americans—both living and deceased—who performed beyond their natural abilities during this crisis which has changed and challenged America.   

Today, we should also consider that, sadly, our nation is in decline.  The warning signs are everywhere.  The caution flags are waving.  The child of God should not be shocked as we review events of the last decade, while using 2 Timothy 3 as a prophetic template for understanding. 

Those who know God and His Word must understand two critical things: 

First, these are the last days and the human picture will not be a pretty one, but rather a scene that declines from bad-to-worse.  Second, as believers, we are called upon to remain faithful, fervent, fearless, and fruitful.

Faithful does not mean a fatalistic outlook on life, and neither does it mean that we resign ourselves to thinking that our lives cannot or will not make a positive difference on the world in which we live.  Faithfulness means that we fearlessly set our sights toward the future, believing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us for His cause.  It mean that we throw ourselves into the battle for eternal souls throughout our world, since God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Therefore, we should determine on this occasion, that we will renew our commitment to God, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices in His service, that by all means available to us, we might save some. 

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not pray–right now– that kind of commitment prayer to God?   

            Finally, on this tenth anniversary of 9—11, we are not only commemorating a day of infamy, and considering a nation in decline, but we should also be calling our nation to repentance. 

At 7:24p, September 11, 2001, members of Congress joined together on the steps of the United States Capitol and sang, “God Bless America!”  While I firmly believe in that great song—made famous by vocalist Kate Smith– Congress should have been leading this nation in prayers of repentance, thereby giving God a viable reason to bless America.  They did not do so, and based on the track record of the last decade, they apparently have no intention of doing so. 

My question is this—even if Congress will not truly embrace the biblical principles and precepts that our founding fathers held dear, will you?  Will the people who claim to know God choose to live like we know Him?

            (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

While we may sing of God’s blessings on America, “obedience is better than sacrifice!”  How much pressure will it take to bring America to our knees in repentance?  We need leaders whose character runs deeper than the latest photo-op.  

Has a decade laden with disasters not captured our attention?  If the vicious attacks of 9-11 didn’t turn our nation to God, what will?  Hurricane Katrina wasn’t enough wake-up call?  When Irene came knocking recently, were we listening?  Do current crime statistics and news reports of violence not arrest our attention?  Will prolonged unemployment rates not help us to consider our ways?

God will not force us to make decisions to obey and follow Him, whether as individuals or as nations—but often throughout history, the bitter consequences of disobedience traditionally do one of two things:  lead us to repentance or to further harden our hearts in defiant resistance. 

A wise young leader of a nation once stated, (Joshua 24:15 GWT) But if you don’t want to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve … (but) … my family and I will still serve the LORD.” 

            My appeal to you is simple:  Make a fresh commitment to God today to become a man or woman if influence for Christ.  With Elijah of old, I say to you, (1 Kings 18:21 KJV) How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.   

It is insufficient for modern believers to drift along ambivalently or complacently in these closing moments of time, considering that the eternal destiny of millions of people is at stake.  We must be sober and vigilant, fearless, fervent, faithful, and fruitful.

 Let us pray and serve to that end.