My Friend Bob’s Post Riot Thoughts

I just received the following from my friend Bob Skiffington. Bob and I have been friends for well over 20 years and are in a men’s group together. When Bob speaks I listen. And, in this case I believe it is important to share his words. RMF

Confession, Grace, and Healing

Bob Skiffington

As somewhat of a dedicated people-pleaser, I am quite allergic to conflict. My strategy for dealing with conflict has been unwavering avoidance. Now, considering the volatile political atmosphere, that definitely seems to be the safest approach to take. But safe is not always right and maybe a hideout is not the best place to be right now, especially for followers of Christ.
In preparation for a small group Bible study on grace, I was formulating discussion questions for two chapters from a book by Max Lucado. One chapter dealt with the value and need for confession and the other chapter spoke of the sufficiency of God’s grace.  In a moment of revelation, I felt hope for our nation based on an application of these two foundational principles from God’s Word.  Instead of keeping these insights to myself, I decided to jump right into the fray, and share them with you.
The primary Bible verse came from John 1:7-9:

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Notice that this passage contains a series of “if/then” conditional statements. These are God’s promises. When looked at separately, I observed an application for a godly response to the troubles that are gripping our nation. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light – A relatively small number of people have dragged us into the dark.  Although we are all sinners, there are some particularly evil people on both the right and the left who have incited heinous violence and terror. And, like a vacuum, these few people have sucked a tremendous number of otherwise reasonable people into unquestioned support and unyielding justification for their point of view while, at the same time, completely dismissing and disregarding any possibility of there being a morsel of truth in an alternate view. They have convinced us that there are two groups – Us and Them. Friends we have known for years as kind and compassionate people appear now on social media speaking shockingly harsh, insensitive, and vulgar words to each
other.  It is true that we can be divided into two groups of people.  However, the groups are not Us vs. Them but The Humble vs. The Proud.  Humble people walk in the light and actively listen to what other people have to say, even if they don’t agree with them. There can be fellowship and dialogue between people with differing opinions.  We can start by identifying all of the things we can agree on.  There are many values that together we share and acts that we universally condemn.  But when people are hurting, and they are, we need to humbly listen to them.

If we say we have no sin –

At some level, people on both sides are equally guilty of sin by thoughts, words, actions
inactions.  One distinct caution sign indicating that you may be wrong is feeling
undeniably right.  There are so many cognitive biases of which we are completely
shape and distort our thinking. It is completely normal, though not right, to see the sins
others while being totally blind to those in our own lives.  Or, we might acknowledge
but consider them as insignificant in comparison to the sins of others. This is both the
the effect of the Us vs. Them division. A culture that accepts a philosophy affirming that
wrong done by one group is OK because the wrong done by the other group was worse
unsustainable and leads only to the downward spiral that we are now witnessing. Even
other side has a log in their eye, we still need to check our own eyes first. If we ask in
God will reveal the sin in our life.  If say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the
not in us.

If we confess our sin –

When we are truthful and acknowledge the sin in our lives, our godly response will be
confession (admitting our wrongs) and repentance (reversing our direction). These are
foundational building blocks to move forward to forgiveness and reconciliation. Truthfully, when we are talking about imperfect people rather than God, forgiveness and restoration may not automatically be offered to those who confess and repent and if/when they are given, it may be so only after an extremely long and difficult process for the giver. The hurts are great and the healing painful but, if there is to be hope for our nation, people must humble themselves, admit their failures, and move forward in a better direction.  God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from unrighteousness. And we can move forward. Some may prefer to hold on to their righteous anger and seek a measure of vengeance, sinking into deepening darkness, but I think most people really want things to get better. And there’s good news. God’s grace is sufficient to overcome our weaknesses and the people and powers that want to destroy us. If God is for us, who can be against us? From His fullness we have already received grace upon grace. God is willing and able to make ALL grace abound to you, so that having ALL sufficiency in ALL things at ALL times, you may abound in EVERY good work. Even the restoration of a crippled nation or a wounded soul.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”  Friends, that is the side I want to be on. A tree is known by its fruit.  As author Brant Hansen notes, when the tree is shaken, you can look and see what kind of fruit falls.  Is it anger, bitterness, and vengeance?  Or is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  Against such things there is no law.

As I write this, I wonder how it sounds to you. You may be ready to applaud the effort or condemn it. I hope I did not make any of this sound easy because I know it may well be the hardest thing that Americans will have done since the Civil War. We are fighting for liberty and justice for ALL.  Personally, I must confess that while trying to avoid conflict, I have not spoken up for the injustices I have witnessed and have not reached out to those around me who may be suffering injustice and pain in silence. I have been far too dismissive of people with differing opinions. Seeing the sins in my own life is why I wrote this. For these things and others, I ask for forgiveness. I still have a long way to go. But, with God’s help, I will do better.

Please let Mercy and Grace lead us through this.

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The Role of Narrative in National Conflict

Professor George Stanciu is  a super writer who excels in various subject areas.  Here is a wonderful example of his skill in defining history in terms of narrative.  I believe you’ll appreciate his approach in using story to define how we got to where we are as a country.  This article appeared at: The Imaginative Conservative   as:  How America Went to War Against Itself.  Dr. Stanciu is the Academic Dean Emeritus at Magdalen College of Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire.  RMF

How America Went to War Against Itself
By George Stanciu

George Stanciu

That Americans cannot reach consensus on gun control, immigration policy, and climate change are symptoms of societal collapse, not from physical causes, such as the mindless destruction of a vital resource or a colder climate, but rather the splitting of a people’s storytelling into two opposed morality plays. The stable standoff between these two stories is most likely an illusion of the moment, for nothing remains static or fixed in America.


The Grand Narrative of War

The citizens of a Nation-State are held together by storytelling, which is especially evident during wartime.[1] On February 23, 1942, the 110th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday, my parents and millions of other Americans huddled around their radios to hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt deliver a fireside chat on the progress of the war. The President invoked how General Washington and his Continental Army overcame “formidable odds and recurring defeats,” so that “Washington’s conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since—a model of moral stamina.” He told his fellow Americans that “the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land,” and consequently each of us must “gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself.” We would show Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo that we are not “a nation of weaklings.” Ultimately, we Americans are fighting for the “whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”[2]

Without the grand narrative setting the goal of the United States to “save the homes and ideals of free men from axis domination,”[3] and then after the war to bring freedom to “all nations and peoples,”[4]Americans would not have so readily accepted the necessities of world war—economic hardship, prolonged separation from loved ones, and the deaths of spouses, siblings, and sons in far away, foreign lands.

My parents, born in Transylvania into a peasant life founded on ancient tradition, the teaching of the Orthodox Church, and face-to-face communal relations, not the Nation-State, nevertheless heeded the directives of President Roosevelt. Their grocery store in rural Michigan joined the war effort by becoming a center for scrap drives, supplying free seeds and plants for victory gardens, and contributing to the packages assembled by neighborhood women for local boys who had enlisted in the service. Continue reading

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Civility, Goodwill, and Ellen DeGeneres

It is impossible to deny with a straight face that there is an abundance of  hateful rhetoric, hostility, and  ill will loose in our society.  In fact, the disagreeableness and “party Spirit” we observe on all sides is arguably the defining characteristic of today’s public discourse.  Here is  a sampling of the Biblical standard for our actions and attitude toward others.  We’re called to be tenderhearted and to:

“…be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

“…like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.  For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,  and let him turn away from evil and do what is good.  Let him seek peace and pursue it,  because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.”         (1 Peter 3:8-12)

“…as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.  Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-15)

I know how far I fall short of  the above  standards – but I’m honestly working on it day-by-day and asking God for His grace and the Holy Spirit’s power to move ever closer to the biblical standard.  And, God is good and faithful and brings into my life a continuing stream of reminders to help me improve.  One such reminder landed in my inbox yesterday.  It is a delightful article by Pastor Bob Russell.  The article  appeared first at: bob  as: Kudos To Ellen DeGeneres.  RMF

Kudos To Ellen DeGeneres

By Bob Russell

Bob Russell

Ellen DeGeneres’ world-view is much different than mine. I think she’s a talented entertainer and a likeable person, but I don’t agree with her lifestyle or political beliefs. However, I really appreciated the statement the popular comedian made last week explaining why she attended an NFL game with former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

The national television broadcast featured a shot of Ellen DeGeneres and President Bush laughing together. The fact that she had a good time with Mr. Bush bothered many of her fans. Some expressed anger that she would even be seen in public with a man who had been responsible for initiating the Iraq War and taking a pro-marriage, pro-life stand during his presidency. They equated her casual friendship with the Bush’s as equivalent to fraternizing with the enemy.

George W. Bush & Ellen DeGeneris

Last week on her syndicated talk show Ellen DeGeneres took considerable time to address the issue. “Some people were upset,” she admitted. “They thought, ‘Why is a gay, Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative, Republican president?’” Many angry people tweeted about the seemingly mismatched pair, DeGeneres said.

The tweet that impressed her the most, however, was a positive one: “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again,” she read. Her audience cheered for the positivity, and DeGeneres explained she’s friends with many people who don’t share the same beliefs. “We’re all different. And I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different,” she continued. Continue reading

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The Evil of Abortion

The following is a series of three articles written by my online friend, Pastor Billy Long. He wrote the articles due to the serious issue of abortion and in response to the law recently enacted in New York allowing babies to be aborted even during the 3rd trimester, which would be right up until the time of birth. This law also allows the killing of the child if the aborted baby is born alive. Our Governor here in Virginia, Ralph Northam, has also endorsed this practice. These sorts of practices will bring the judgment of God upon our nation. We need to speak up about these abominations and Billy’s articles provide ample basis and rationale for us to be vocal in our condemnation and protests against abortions of convenience.  We also need to be fervent in our prayers as we seek to save innocent lives and precious souls and to warn those who practice this wicked behavior to repent and seek God’s mercy and  forgiveness.  Finally, the articles might be useful in counseling any person considering having or participating in an abortion.  Pastor Long heads Billy Long Ministries and can be contacted and his blog is at:   RMF

Three Articles on Abortion

by Billy Long

Pastor Billy Long



Excavations of pre-Israelite Canaan uncovered a large number of jars containing the remains of children sacrificed to Baal. Other excavations discovered many jars containing the remains of infants who had been sacrificed to Baal during King Ahab’s time. These jars bring to mind the photos of garbage cans filled with baby parts at abortion clinics. I showed one of these pictures to a high school girl once. Her reply was, “That’s just propaganda.” She was not able to bring herself to face the fact she was looking at actual babies dismembered and thrown away. Her political position would not allow her to accept the fact that these babies went through torture and excruciating pain as they were being killed and taken from their mother’s wombs.

The religious rites of Baal worship were noted for their sexual and immoral indulgences and for child sacrifice. Our own culture with its rampant sexual promiscuity has produced over 60 million abortions. The sexual practices of Baal worship and the promiscuity of our own current culture show that unbridled sexual activity outside of marriage leads to the death of children, whether sacrificed in religious worship to a pagan god or dismembered inside a mother’s womb to the god of convenience. In either case, the remains of infants are left behind in jars and garbage bins. Continue reading

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Honor Flight to Glory

It has been my honor and privilege to volunteer as a greeter for two Honor Flights, each of which originated in Chicago and landed at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC.  It was thrilling.  A dear friend, Bob Skiffington, and I went together on each occasion and were deeply moved at getting to greet and speak with the arriving veterans for a few moments before they boarded their buses to visit the memorials in DC. The flights brought in vets from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.   An extra treat was getting to visit with my son, Thatcher, who was also there as a representative of the Fairfax County Police Department.  Thatcher is a “sworn” Auxiliary Police Officer.  There was a fabulous band which played the Star Spangled Banner and  a nice collection of other patriotic songs and marches.  The following is a neat account of  the event by Bob Russell.  The article  appeared first at:  as A Thrilling Honor Flight and the One That Is to Come.  RMF  

APO Thatcher Furgerson with Fairfax County Police Officers

Welcoming Band


The Thrilling Honor Flight and the One That Is to Come

by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Two weeks ago, my friend Andy Potts invited me to accompany him on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. The Honor Flights were originated in 2005 to express appreciation to World War II veterans for their sacrificial service to our country. Organizers have recently expanded their mission to include those who served in Korea and Vietnam. Andy, a Korean War veteran, asked me to accompany him since every vet on the trip is required to have a guardian.

Andy Potts and Bob Russell

When we arrived at Louisville’s Standiford Field at 6:00 a.m., there were dozens of volunteers mingling with the veterans, answering their questions, and thanking them for their service. One young woman was dressed like “Rosie the Riveter,” the iconic poster girl representing women in the workplace during World War II. A trio of women dressed as World War II WACs (Women’s Army Corps), complete with 1940’s hats, hairdos, and stockings, circulated among the men, many of whom were over 90 years of age and in wheelchairs. Continue reading

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A Physicist Looks at Life

I’m at once fascinated and confused by quantum mechanics. The following article by George Stanciu sheds much light on the subject for me and especially as it deals with the implications it has on no less an issue than the meaning of life. When I initially received the article I forwarded a copy to my Christian friend and PhD physicist John Kershenstein, and asked him if he had any thoughts on it as regards how God and/or the Holy Spirit play into quantum mechanics and  any implications  regarding spirituality, Christian faith, or free will. I’ve always admired John and appreciate his insights and the way he is able to bring more light to topics like this than I would have come to on my own.  Here is John’s reply:

I enjoyed the article. There’s a book I would recommend on this whole subject. Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum  by Lee Smolin. [I purchased it and am plowing my way through it. rmf]  I’m surprised that Stanciu didn’t reference it.  Essentially it says that either quantum mechanics is wrong or at least is incomplete. Smolin doesn’t give any answers but is hoping a more complete theory is being developed. Of the two schools that Stanciu alludes to,  Copenhagen Interpretation, and the non Copenhagen interpretation, Smolen is in the latter camp..
Looking for theological meaning in quantum mechanics is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go into. The more I think about it, especially when thinking about cosmology, my feeling is that God created the universe and it’s laws to leave the observer/student in absolute awe of his omnipotence  I think he made the universe, etc., knowable in such a way that the more we know it the more we realize that we don’t fully know it and the more there is to understand. (He also did this to give physicists job security.) Ultimately I think this is part of what heaven is all about. We will have eternity to keep learning more and more about God. And that learning will never have an end. That’s the Kershenstein interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Ever thoughtful and thorough John sent a follow-up note based on the “coincidental” appearance of Colossians 2 in his Church’s daily reading for  9/9/19, which includes the passage:
“…for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2,3
I think this sums it up. I wonder if Paul was a physicist in his spare time.  John

The article by Professor Stanciu appeared first at: The Imaginative Conservative as: Quantum Physics and Mind.  For those interested in learning more about the development and implications of quantum mechanics Dr. Stanciu’s article concludes with some wonderful references and links to applicable sources.  I’m super grateful that he gave me permission to repost his article here.  I have taken the liberty of adding a few photographs of scientists and physicists mentioned in the article.

PS – This article and the whole role of the observer/detector sort-of reminds of the question: If I make a statement and my wife isn’t there to hear it am I still wrong anyway?

Quantum Physics and Mind
By George Stanciu

George Stanciu

In 1989, the double-slit experiment revolutionized understanding of matter: The universe is not deterministic as promulgated by the worldview of Newtonian physics. Surprisingly, the meaning of quantum physics, a most arcane subject, remote from human experience, in light of these discoveries, raises the most profound question a person can ask “Who am I?”

Illustration from La Vraye Histoire du Bon Roy Alixandre (The Romance of Alexander in Old French prose) by Pseudo-Callisthenes, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

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Dealing with Devistating Thoughts

I doubt that there are any of us who have not  been hounded by bad thoughts at one time or another.  These are the kind of thoughts that continue to reappear in the theater of our minds and rerun constantly, performance after performance; nagging, negative notions,  ideas, and even temptations that refuse to leave us in peace.  Malissa McLaughlin addressed the issue brilliantly in her Truthful Grace blog.  The article appeared at:  as:  How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?  I so appreciate the skillful way that Ms. McLaughlin uses Scripture as a powerful tool to defeat the evil thoughts that plague us.  RMF

How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?

By Melissa McLaughlin

Photo by Frank K on

Melissa McLaughlin

We had just arrived home after visiting my parents for a home-cooked dinner. Mom packed us a hefty bag of leftovers, our very own “goodie bag”. My mom’s special recipe crispy chicken, homemade apple sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. Mmm, mmm, good! But the crowning touch was her chocolate cake. Oh my! There is no chocolate cake like my mom’s chocolate cake! Rich, moist, decadent chocolate cake topped with melted Hershey bar icing. A chocolate lover’s dream!

As I put away the leftovers, I placed the slices of chocolate cake in the cupboard for tomorrow. In order to avoid overindulging, I promised myself I would save this delightful and delectable treat for tomorrow night’s dessert.

(As a lover of chocolate anything I relate to this obsessive thought illustration. RMF)

No sooner had I set this reasonable and healthy boundary for myself, than thoughts of this chocolate cake bombarded my mind like a torrential hailstorm! Why should I wait? It would taste so good right now, even though I was already full from the meal we had just eaten. It is a homemade delicacy that I don’t often get to enjoy. Why wait? Why wait even one more second?

Like a walk in summer fields where nettles and prickers attach themselves to the very fibers of our clothing requiring concentrated effort to extract, so thoughts of the chocolate cake clung to my mind with a fierce and unyielding grip. What a war can take place in our thoughts!

I enjoyed that piece of cake the next day for dessert, savoring the flavor to the fullest, not despite having to wait, but because of having waited. Chocolate heaven!

In this case my thoughts were captivated by something good, my mom’s chocolate cake. But sometimes, our thoughts become hyper-focused on things that are not good. Continue reading

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Sexuality God’s Way

For years I’ve appreciated the work of Gary Thomas, the author of some great books on marriage including  Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?  I just came across an article by Mr. Thomas which I believe is right on target for what is needed in a thriving marriage.  According to the author: “This post is to unmask unhealthy relating in order to point you elsewhere toward a place of healing and redemption.”  With our society’s clearly unhealthy  obsession with sex it is wonderful to read some honest truth about the subject.

This article originally appeared  at:  as 6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality. Mr. Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 18 books, other than Sacred Marriage including:  Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and  Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Western Seminary. See Mr.Thomas’  latest book here.  RMF

6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality
Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas

What are the marks of a healthy sexual relationship?
It’s not inappropriate to ask what is most pleasurable or most exciting for married couples, but meaningful lovemaking is so much more than creating greater sexual arousal and climaxes. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to also ask “What are the markers of a wholesome sexual experience that is accomplishing God’s relational intent?”
In my view, “healthy” protects happy pleasure;  it doesn’t threaten it.
I write this post with a bit of pastoral concern: Lisa and I have met some wives (and the occasional husband) who felt tempted to compromise their faith and even their own sense of sanity because they realized after getting married that their spouse has some sexual hang-ups.

The Gary and Lisa Thomas family

At first, they thought the best thing to do was to “go along.” Going along never works; it just prolongs the inevitable crisis. Nursing an unhealthy inclination never makes things better; it just makes the way back a little longer and ultimately more difficult.
Seeking a healthy sexual relationship is a fair and good and wise and holy pursuit.
These six marks aren’t exhaustive; I’m sure there are many more, but here’s a short, non-scientific test to see how you and your spouse are doing in regards to sexual intimacy.

Healthy sex is relational

1 Christian sex is always relational sex.
Any sexual experience divorced from relational connecting isn’t healthy sex. Pornography, voyeurism, predatory touching, any form of paying for sex, exhibitionism, group sex, anonymous sex, or objectifying marital sex all have the same common denominator: sex divorced from relational connecting. Most forms of sexual deviancy include a separation between sex and emotional connection.
In a biblical view of sex, physical intimacy draws husband and wife ever closer together. After the intimacy is over they smile, hold on to a very pleasant shared memory, and their bond is deepened accordingly. Unhealthy sex further isolates an already damaged person. They “wake up” from the sexual experience, feel increased shame (making him/her a little less capable of authentic intimacy) and want to hide what just happened from everyone instead of remember it fondly with a special someone.
Healthy sex says to each (willing) participant: “You matter. You are desired. You are cherished. I am not having sex with a body but making love to you as my special 3-dimensional (body, mind mixed with emotions, and spirit) spouse. I affirm you and want to please you.”
Be wary of any form of sexual excitement or fulfillment that is separate from appropriate relational connection. If it’s not drawing husband and wife closer together, it’s not healthy. Continue reading

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An End to War? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Do you, like me, find it sad to read in Scripture that there will be wars and rumors of wars?   

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7 (ESV, English Standard Version)

“You will hear of wars nearby and revolutions on every side, with more rumors of wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for the breaking apart of the world’s systems is destined to happen. But it won’t yet be the end; it will still be unfolding.” Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7  (TPT, The Passion Translation)

The accuracy of that prophecy has certainly been validated to this date.  And every beauty pageant contestant knows that wishing for “world peace” is a real judge pleaser (along with ending world hunger).  

One of my favorite columnists, Dr. Clifford D. May, just weighed in on the enduring nature of war in the following article which appeared first as: Why endless wars can’t be ended at the:  The Washington Times.   I believe you’ll appreciate his analysis.  RMF

Why endless wars can’t be ended
There’s no chance America’s enemies will leave us in peace.
Clifford D. May
(Founder & President of Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

Clifford D. May

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato made that incisive observation a rather long time ago. Yet a surprising number of politicians, journalists and think tank denizens continue to affix bumper stickers to their Priuses (if they’re on the left) and SUVs (if they’re on the right) demanding an end to “endless wars.”

President Obama’s approach to national security was based on the comforting notion that the “the tide of war is receding.” He vowed “to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” and to “bring our troops home from Afghanistan.” The possibility of a linkage between these two battlegrounds didn’t occur to him.

His withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was followed by the rise of the Islamic State. Three years later he would reluctantly send U.S. troops back to Iraq.

He would go on to give the revolutionary Islamists next door in Iran – responsible for killing hundreds of Americans – billions of dollars in exchange for their promise to develop nuclear weapons more slowly. This was, for them, the deal of the century but that did not prompt them to revise their often-chanted goal of “Death to America!”

Mr. Obama also signaled to the Taliban that its patience and determination would pay off – just, please, not on his watch.

Given this background, President Trump now faces tough choices. While he, too, is eager to end endless wars, he also aims to “make America great again.” Can that be achieved with Obama 2.0 policies? Can that be achieved if self-proclaimed jihadis – Sunni or Shia, Persian, Arab or Afghan – have Americans on the run? Continue reading

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So, How dusty are you?

Stan Rodda is the Campus Pastor for New Life Christian Church‘s Linton Hall Campus.  More than that, he is a super neat guy who really gets Jesus’ commission for His followers to make disciples who make disciples and to serve as witnesses to others.  The following blog post focuses on this theme and how exactly we are to go about being disciples in action and not just in the way Christians often like to imagine themselves – but without anything of substance to back it up.  Stan’s blog post appeared first as:  4 Imperatives to Improving Obedience to Jesus at:  And, this is a link to a video of Stan’s message on disciple making.  Incidentally, if you’re interested in learning more about what it means to be a disciple covered in the dust of Jesus you might like: Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg.  RMF

4 Imperatives to Improving Obedience to Jesus

by Stan Rodda

In the western part of the state of North Carolina lies a gorgeous town called, Asheville. My family and I love this town and vacation there every year or two. Home to amazing music and gorgeous scenery, there’s so much to love about Asheville.

My family and I were in Asheville recently and stopped to visit an awesome spot called Moog Music. In 1964 Dr. Robert Moog introduced an entirely new kind of instrument with the modular synthesizer. We played with some of the equipment as a family and had a lot of fun making the craziest sounds and looping tracks to create whatever music we could. We had a great time.

We were only in the store for around 45 minutes. In that amount of time there is very little that we fully understand about synthesizers. I’ll speak for myself; I don’t understand how those crazy things work. It’s fascinating to me, truly. But to those who work at Moog Music with those synthesizers day in and day out, they understand every knob, button and dial at an intimate level. When one of these masters gets their hands on this machine, that synthesizer responds immediately and beautiful music is created.

50th Anniversary of the Moog Modular Synthesizer

If I could hope for one thing spiritually, it would be to experience Jesus at that level of intimacy. To be that responsive at the commands of Christ. That every twist of a dial in the hands of Jesus, transforms my life in brand new, unique ways. That the adventure of following Jesus never gets old because I am simply obedient to the One who was creative enough to design a universe. That’s what I want as a disciple of Jesus. And that’s the exact picture we get when Jesus says…

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 NIV] Continue reading

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