Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Time of Testing

The United States is going through a rough time right now. The terrorists in Iraq have vowed to cause as much death and destruction as they possibly can, hoping to influence our election on Tuesday. Their hope is that the current president, George Bush, will be defeated. They believe the other candidate, John Kerry, will withdraw all US troops from the Middle East, allowing them to conquer and control the area, much as they did before. There is good reason to believe this is so, from Kerry's own words, to the behavior of the Democratic Party as a whole over the last 30 years.

This is a time of testing, to determine whether we will be a nation of strength, or a nation of weakness.

Jesus, too, went through a time of testing. His ordeal is described in the words of the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:

1 ¶ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Jesus, hungry from his long fast, tired, hot, and thirsty, was weakened as a person, ripe for manipulation. Both his body and his spirit had been taxed to the fullest during his long fast. But Jesus remained steadfast in the face of Satan, and refused to be tempted. In the end, when he had forced Satan to leave, angels came and ministered to him. He had succeeded in resisting temptation, and was rewarded by God.

All men face a time of testing. All nations are subject to times of trials and troubles. Just as hot steel has to be tempered to remain strong, so do men, and nations. Trials and troubles are the means by which God tempers the steel of men's souls, and the strength of nations.

Abraham Lincoln was constantly troubled by the unimaginable horror of the battlefields of the Civil War. Time after time he prayed for guidance. Yet he remained strong, and the Union was reunited. In victory, he had planned to be magnanimous. His untimely death left his plans in the hands of his vice-president, Andrew Johnson. Johnson implemented as many of those plans as he could, but not being as strong as Lincoln, was frequently overridden by a Congress demanding retribution.

The Civil War was not only a test of our President, it was a test of our nation. It was a long and bloody affair that left more than a million men dead on the battlefield, and tens of thousands more maimed for life. The Reconstruction period that followed instilled a bitterness in the defeated states that still leaves many filled with hate. Would this last still be true if Lincoln had survived the assasination attempt, and remained president? Would it be true if Johnson had been as strong a leader as Lincoln? We can only guess.

Today we face a relentless, brutal, hate-filled enemy that wishes to destroy everything we stand for - as a nation, as a people. They wish to destroy our choice of worship, our choice of how we live, our choice of education, our choice of goals. They wish to impose upon us a totally uncompromising tyranny, in the name of what they consider 'the one true faith'. Regardless of the source or reason, their rule would still amount to tyranny.

Today they stand before us, tempting us: leave and we won't kill any more of your people. What they really mean is "leave and we'll leave you alone until we're strong enough to hit you again". Their God is not the God of love and salvation, but of hatred and war. Their God is not the God of truth, but of lies. As Luke recorded in Chapter 21, Vers 8:

And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Islam is not the religion of the One True God. Islam is the religion of Satan. As Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, we are tempted by Satan today with a false offer of peace. As a nation, as a people, we must remain strong. We must make good decisions, and we must resist the temptation of the easy way out. There will be much more fighting, many more deaths, no matter which way we choose, because that is the nature of our enemy. Only by standing strong against our enemies, against the power of darkness, can we succeed.

The Psalmist David captures the needs of the moment in this 27th Chapter:

1 ¶ The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

If we stand steadfast against our enemies, we shall be victorious. But we must once again return to the roots of what made our nation great in the first place - putting God into our lives, and into our hearts, that we will have the strength to stand against our foes. We are the light of the world, but only if we have the strength to stand fast in the face of tyranny. Standing fast requires leadership - the kind of leadership that has brought us through this far. We require a leader that will not only stand strong against our enemies, but who will remain humble in his heart, placing his hope and trust in God, just as David placed his hope in God to stand against all enemies. All it requires to succeed is the will to remain strong. Just as Jesus prevailed over Satan, we can prevail over the darkness of the tyranny facing us, through strength and resolve, and the faith we have in a Living God.


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