#HonorMemorialDay

For about 240 years, Americans have shed their blood for the cause of freedom.

From places like Lexington and Concord to Gettysburg to Appomattox Station, the blood of patriots has been shed on American soil, fighting for a young nation’s heart and soul.

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When the United States had established itself as a world power, our brave men and women were once again called upon, and shed their blood fighting against dictators and tyrants with
names like Mussolini, Hirohito, and Hitler.

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While American citizens enjoyed the safety and security of life at home in places like Wichita, Dallas, Boston, and Tacoma, American soldiers gave their lives in previously unheard of places with names like Chochiwon, Ia Drang, Haditha, and Kamdesh.

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On Memorial Day, we honor the sacrifice of these brave American heroes who saw the cause of freedom as something worth defending, worth their sacrifice. We remember those who gave the last ounce of devotion to the ideals and principles enshrined in documents
like The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

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Today… we remember.

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…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.
~ Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
from The Gettysburg Address

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Dear Mr. President…

LL ArmAt a recent Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit, President Obama criticized the Christian church at-large for focusing on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, saying the church needed to focus more on poverty and the poor. Saying “I think it would be powerful for our faith-based organizations to speak out on [poverty] in a more forceful fashion”, he went on to state that the liberal ideology of wealth-redistribution was essential in following Christ. (view source)

Recently, 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton stated that religious groups needed to change their religious beliefs regarding “reproductive rights” (ie: abortion). This came on the heels of comments she made comparing the Biblical belief that “homosexuality is a sin” to honor killings, widow burning (the Hindu practice of Sati), and female genital mutilation. (view source) This should come as no surprise, however, considering what Mrs. Clinton had to say about Margaret Sanger, founder of the American Birth Control League (which later changed its name to Planned Parenthood):

Now, I have to tell you that it was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award (Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award). I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision … And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.

Mrs. Clinton’s admiration for Ms. Sanger is reason to give any decent person pause, considering Ms. Sanger’s own words…

The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.

A woman’s duty: To look the whole world in the face with a go-to-hell look in the eyes… to speak and act in defiance of convention.

With that said…

Dear Mr. President,

CoffeeAs a 67-year-old pastor who has been standing by the Word of God for the majority of my life, I am growing increasingly weary of being told what to believe by politicians. I’m tired of left-wing pundits who know enough about the Bible to be dangerous and, whenever homosexuality is mentioned, spew out-of-context Scripture in an attempt to justify their leftist agenda.

Mr. President… I don’t base my belief system on political winds or public opinion. My belief system is based on the Bible – the Word of God. As a person of faith, I look to a source Who is higher than I am, Whose ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I look to the Author and Finisher of my faith for guidance, wisdom, and courage to stand on the convictions that have been instilled in me as a result of my faith. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 tells us…

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

Today, we are seeing this Scripture play out in real-time in front of our very eyes. Wrong has become right, and right has become “bigotry, discrimination, intolerance, and hate-mongering”. And when our courts not only violate Biblical standards, but the very Constitution upon which our nation was founded, by persecuting and prosecuting people based on their deeply-held convictions and “religious beliefs”, we are in a dark and dire time indeed.

Mr. President… as for your idea that faith based groups should ” speak out on [poverty] in a more forceful fashion”, maybe we would have more time to talk about poverty if we weren’t already out in the world trying to make a difference in the lives of the poor. I see churches and faith-based ministries, throughout my area and across our great nation, trying to make a difference in the lives of the poor and destitute in their communities and around the world — organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, the Salvation Army, and so many others who devote energy and resources to the poor and needy around the globe. I could name many churches in my area alone that minister to the poor. My church ministers to the poor and needy locally, as well as in places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and others. If you wish for a discussion, many of these groups might wish to discuss government rules and regulations that hinder them from operating and ministering more effectively.

I am all for reaching out to the poor, but so much of what we see in America with regard to welfare is subsidizing people who are simply lazy. If a person has a legitimate disability or handicap, that is one thing. However, handing out money to able-bodied individuals who are simply unwilling to work flies in the face of Biblical teaching, logic, and fiscal responsibility. In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says…

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

For “people of faith”, the Bible is not the “Book of the Month” — it is the Book of the Ages. The Bible is the standard by which we attempt to live — admittedly, often falling short. However, those of us who truly call ourselves “believers in Christ” aspire to live as He lived, to be true to His calling and teachings, and to hold Him up as the example by which we live. I, for one, have no interest in dragging God down to my level, and projecting upon Him my human flaws, failures, and misgivings. I have no interesting in creating a god in my own image, of my own creation. I aspire to be like Jesus… not the other way around. Every time in the Bible that the children of Israel sided with the “people of the land” and began to worship other gods, and brought deity down to their level, it didn’t end so well for them. God is loving and merciful. God is also holy and just. God is never-ending and never-changing.  The same Ten Commandments that commands us not to steal commands us not to kill (that goes for abortion as well). The same Book that calls adultery wrong calls homosexuality a sin…

Not my rules.

We are ALL sinners… the murderer, the liar, the homosexual, the adulterer, the rebellious, and so forth. However, we can all come to Jesus, but we must come to Him admitting our sins — in repentance — and with a decision to forsake our sins and turn to Him.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. ~ 1 John 1:9-10

Jesus didn’t hang on a cross so we’d be happy. He died a horrific and cruel death so we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him.

CrossI stand with Christian brothers and sisters throughout our land and say, regardless of what presidents, politicians, pundits, and Supreme Court justices decide, I will always fall on the side of the Bible, of following in Jesus’ steps, and will never stop in my attempt to lead others to a saving knowledge of Him, according to His Word, and on His terms. To do or believe anything less is to denigrate the Bible down to the level of just another fanciful tale, and to cheapen the sacrifice of Jesus to the worthless gesture of a crazy man.

Lessons from a Carpenter

Through the Looking Glass

A friend of mine once offered me an interesting perspective on making mistakes.

He told me how, having been raised by a father who was a jack-of-all-trades (and a master of most of them), he would try to build things and undertake projects, but never seemed to really achieve the quality of work his father did (among other things, his dad was quite a good carpenter). Although he enjoyed working with wood, try as he might, it was always a combination of fear and intimidation that kept him from being really good at it… fear of breaking something or having the end result be an embarrassment.

His father passed away while my friend was a teenager, and this strengthened his desire to learn more about carpentry, and make his father proud. However, try as he might, he still fell short of the mark.

That all changed when he met Glen.

Glen was a contractor that he became friends with, and ended up helping build houses. Although he was simply a “laborer”, he learned invaluable lessons simply by listening to Glen, and watching Glen and some of the other more experienced guys on the crew work. The more he worked along side these “masters”, the more he came to understand a few of important things…

#1. You have to have the right tools. Understanding the tools of your trade are essential to any occupation. As a carpenter, you’re not going to get very far if all you have is a tire pump, a pair of wire cutters, and a note pad. Understanding what tools you need, and how to properly use those instruments is critical in being successful at anything. The right tools in the hands of a master is a thing of beauty to behold.

#2. You have to possess a teachable spirit. Often times, important lessons can come from unlikely places or unlikable people. On the crew, one of the best carpenters was Albert… he was old, ornery, and (at times) obstinate. However, he had good reason: He had been a carpenter for over 50 years, and had probably forgotten more about woodworking than most of the younger guys on the crew knew. My friend told me that, if you took the time to see past the rough, disagreeable exterior, Albert was a goldmine of wisdom and knowledge on how to become a great carpenter.

#3. You have to be willing to take risks. No building has ever been built without breaking things, cutting things down to size, and beating things with hammers. My friend came to realize that, if he made a mistake cutting a board, it wasn’t the end of the world… just get another board and cut it right. If he accidentally knocked a hole in a sheetrock wall, it wasn’t a dealbreaker, just a minor setback… fix it and move on. As the saying goes, “You have to break eggs to make an omelet”. He learned from his mistakes, learned how to fix his mistakes, and went away with the knowledge of how to do it right the next time. The axiom is true… All failure is not final.

Regardless of your occupation or aspiration… learn. Get the right tools. Learn how to listen intently, not just to the voices of praise, but to the voices of constructive criticism as well. Be willing to take God-inspired risks, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes along the way — look at David, Peter, Moses, and Abraham — you’re in good company.

And as you go about your life experiences, know that you have the Carpenter from Nazareth in your corner, always near, listening for your calls and cries, and willing to guide the teachable and humble of heart. Take courage from Him, and go be a success.

Do You Possess the Heart of a Warrior?

Whether it is in the movies or real life, with all of the violence in the world today, there is a word we hear quite often…

Warrior.

Wallace SwordWhen we think of a warrior, it brings to mind images of a knight in shining armor, wielding a massive sword, and ready to take care of business. For some of us who remember the movies of the ’80’s and ’90’s, it may conjure images of Rambo or William Wallace in Braveheart. We want to think of a hero; someone of great strength and integrity, willing to face insurmountable odds for the betterment of humanity.

However, we often don’t take into account what it takes to become a warrior. We don’t often understand the pain and sacrifice that an individual goes through — the commitment that it takes to carry the mantle of a warrior. Today in America, most armed services have a six- to thirteen-week period of what they term basic training. During that time, the recruits have a leader called a drill instructor. Throughout this basic training, the young soldier or sailor begins to look and act differently. They are preparing for the possibility of warfare, and train accordingly. They prepare to take down the enemy with extreme prejudice (deadly force) — an enemy that will not hesitate to kill both soldier and innocent civilian if given the opportunity.

In spiritual warfare, a timid, untrained army is no match for hell’s terrorists! No, we must get into spiritual shape, pick up our armor, and go to the battlefront. The destiny of humanity hangs in the balance. David trained his four hundred soldiers with the truth we find in Psalm 18, which contains six basic charges every warrior needs to hear.

I. Get under authority — submission.

For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks. ~ Psalm 18:27

The soldier must begin the day knowing how to obey orders. From the moment of arrival in boot camp, nothing belongs to the recruit any longer. His hair is cut, his clothing is selected for him, and his schedule is determined by his leaders. For a season, freedom is lost and submission is taught. One of my high school buddies was always a rebel at heart. His dress was unconventional, as well as his attitude. Finally, he quit school to live free. His choice? He joined the Marines. I laughed when I saw him after boot camp… his long hair was now a crew cut, and he wore a crisp U.S Marine uniform instead of jeans. He had learned to live under orders.

It is essential to understand that putting the devil to flight requires submission to God. James 4:7 tells us, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 gives the Christian his or her marching orders…

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. Get on fire for the cause — passion.

For You will light my lamp. ~ Psalm 18:28

The second goal of boot camp is to inspire the recruit to have a passion for the cause of the nation. All things being equal, the one with the most passion for the fight will win. In our struggle against the enemy, we must be on fire to win the souls of men for God’s kingdom. One admirable thing about Islamic fundamentalists is their unbridled passion for their cause. They are willing to die in order to further their purposes. While their teaching is in error and their methods are horrific, they’re on fire for what they believe. All the weapons of a militia cannot stop such passion; it must be met by Christians who have a passion for Jesus Christ.

III. Be prepared for warfare — discipline.

The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. ~ Psalm 18:28

God will “enlighten” His soldiers. We have been given the right armor and the right instructions. Every church must become a spiritual armory, preparing its people for the struggle against the darkness.

IV. Believe you can win — vision.

For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God, I can leap over a wall. ~ Psalm 18:29

Here the recruit confesses his faith. By the power of God, He can overcome a troop. With the strength of God, he can leap over a wall. The enemy’s army and obstacles fall before the spiritual soldier who has faith.

V. Know your weapons — power.

As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect… He teaches my hands make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. ~ Psalm 18:30-32, 34

Notice first that God has a perfect battle plan. The word perfect means “absolutely complete”. We must fight according to His plan.

Secondly, Yahweh has given us a sharp, two-edged sword — His Word. We must wield this sword effectively if we are to live the Victor’s life.

Furthermore, God grants us a shield of protection: faith.

Also, Yahweh exercises our gifts so our hands will be strengthened to make war. We can use our “bronze bow” to judge the enemy. Spiritual archers can shoot down the principalities in the heavens.

VI. Go to the next level — excellence.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. ~ Psalm 18:33

Boot camp moves us to the next level of battle. We can conquer the mountains before us. Our feet must be strong so we can walk with a sure foot. The feet of deer ‘track,” which means the rear foot will always land where the front foot leaves. Our God allows us to walk in His footsteps, tracking hard after Him.

David’s manual, here in Psalm 18, molded the four hundred outcasts into a military machine that would take the kingdom. We too can go to the next level if we become informed and disciplined.

So what about it? Are you ready to become the warrior for the Kingdom that God has called you to be? Are you ready to know your enemy, understand the battle, equip yourself for the fight, and walk in victory? The battle lines are drawn. The Commander awaits.

Will you answer the call?

— Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 by Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma Media / Charisma House Book Group

Stone-Phillips

With Liberty and Justice for All.

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Freedom of speech is soon to be a thing of the past in America.

The recent incident in Garland, Texas where Muslims tried to murder a group of people drawing cartoons about Mohammed is blazing the trail for laws against so called hate speech. Even some conservatives are railing against Pamela Geller’s gathering in Garland.

As distasteful as what she did may seem to some..this is America.

KS77787As a believer in Christ, I obviously disagree with the majority of what Bill Maher has to say. However, I will defend his right to say it in America. People have the right to ridicule and criticize Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other religion or ideology they choose in America. The First Amendment was not adopted so we would all have the opportunity to agree, hold hands, and live in harmony. The First Amendment was meant to guarantee the right to worship as one believes, to have the right to have a dissenting and/or unpopular opinion, and to peacefully assemble and seek the help of the government without fear of retaliation or retribution. As believers in Jesus, we must remember that the same laws that give us the right to speak and worship freely also protect the rights of those who say offensive and abhorrent things in direct opposition to our faith. However, If we say some cannot speak freely no matter how abhorrent, it is just a matter of time before the government attempts to silence Christians. We are beginning to see it happen now. Yes… today our voice is free to speak out against gay marriage, immorality, and even poor government. However, that will soon be called hate speech as it is today in Canada and parts of Europe. Liberals and Islamic extremists believe only their opinions are protected. But while the voices of “intolerance in the name of tolerance” continue to force their agenda down the throats of the American people, we must be diligent in standing on our identity as Christians, and our rights as Americans. We must be wary of the schemes of the enemy to silence the Church through physical threats, legal intimidation, and popular opinion / mob rule mentality.

CoffeeFreedom of speech, like freedom of religion, protects the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some of my teachings are already unwelcome in certain venues. It is important that Muslims realize that the freedom that enables them to worship and speak in this country is because of our Judeo-Christian American heritage. Islamic nations restrict freedom of speech, religion, and women’s rights.

German theologian Martin Niemöller famously said…

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is America and we must guard freedom of expression for all.

Wake up America!

Pastor Ron

Creation: At The Intersection of Fact and Faith

The Glory of Creation

Hunting season will soon be upon us. Now, this is not turkey, pheasant, or deer season, the setting is not the great outdoors, and the weapon of choice is not a firearm or bow-and-arrow.

The setting is the American college campus.

The weapon of choice is the mind of the liberal professor.

The “prey” is the American freshmen college student.

Probably almost every Bible-believing pastor in our nation has experienced this scenario: A teen in the church graduates from high school. They’ve been active in the youth group, sang in the youth choir, and been visible multiple times over the years at the altar… for salvation, re-dedication, to pray for family and friends, etc. In the church since birth, they have grown up being told what to believe, the importance of a relationship with Christ, and the relevance of going to church, prayer, and daily devotions. Excited at the prospects of new experiences and entrance into adulthood, they say goodbye to mom and dad, and drive off into the sunset of new horizons, new adventures, and higher learning.

Then it happens.

The student sees the beginning of the rest of their life.

The liberal establishment sees fresh meat.

A naive mind that can be easily turned. A idealistic dreamer who just needs a little encouragement down the path of open-mindedness, coexistence, and a broadened world view.

These young, impressionable minds are met by well-read, well-rehearsed ideologues who see it as a challenge to destroy the faith of a young student who believes in God, but doesn’t know how to express why they believe what they believe; an ideologue who has been trained to take faith out of the equation, and rely entirely on the “science” of theories, speculation, and (often times) junk-research.

Paul said, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” So where does faith come into play? How can a well-meaning young student’s faith contend with the scientifically “proven” arguments of a liberal professor who wields the power of authority and the grade-pen over them?

Starting this Sunday, I hope to help you and your student.

On Sunday, May 10, I will be beginning a new series entitled The Glory of Creation. In this series, we will look at what the Bible has to say about the creation of the universe, help explain some of the “gaps” between the Bible and science, and help understand how science and the Bible are not at odds with each other, but taken together, actually support each other to the logical, honest, and “open” mind….

What was here before the Genesis account of creation?

How does the Christian make sense of scientific dating that puts artifacts at tens of thousands of years old?

What about the theories of evolution, the Big Bang, and alien civilizations?

What did the fall of Lucifer have to do with the earth’s destruction and subsequent restoration?

We are going to look at these things over the next few weeks, and I invite you to join us at Abba’s House for this exciting series, The Glory of Creation. I am dedicating this series to the young people in our lives who need to be able to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). It is my prayer that this series will allow your student to live at the intersection of scriptural faith and scientific fact, that it will strengthen their faith, and give them the tools they need to stand firmly on the Word of God in a world that is hostile to that faith.

If you are not in the Chattanooga area, I invite you to watch the service LIVE online at abbashouse.com/live

Tell you friends, share this blog post, and join us
(live or online) this Sunday at Abba’s House!

The Glory of Creation

The Big #Fail.

It’s the joke you told and no one laughed.

It’s the job you got fired from.

It’s the “great idea” that singed your eyebrows, sent your best friend to the hospital, or turned your dog green for 6 months.

It’s the “Hey… watch THIS!” moment that nearly landed you a Darwin Award.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

One has only to Google the word fail to find a host of cringe-worthy, heart-wrenching, and oftentimes humorous results that come from that particular search. Fails come in all shapes and sizes… from the personal unfortunate moment captured by your little sister and posted to Instagram, to the architectural mis-design that garnered the attention of the world (the Tacoma Narrows Bridge), to the truly tragic that resulted in untimely death or serious injury. But while losing a job, or failing as an inventor for the 500th time can take the proverbial wind out of your sails, just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure.

When faced with multiple failures trying to create the incandescent light bulb, Thomas Edison made this observation…

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

American founding father, statesman, and inventor Benjamin Franklin said…

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.

Billionaire and real-estate tycoon Donald Trump expressed it this way…

Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates stated…

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

All of these men experienced disappointment. These men all experienced some sort of failure. However, experiencing failure and being a failure are two entirely different things.

Failing does not make you a failure. After Peter famously told Jesus that, even if everyone else turned away from Him, he would not, but then proceeded to deny Jesus three times in His hour of need, most would have written Peter off as an abject failure and loser.

Jesus didn’t.

Upon His resurrection, Peter found redemption in Jesus’ words, “Peter, do you love Me?” No grovelling. No penance. No period of probation or trying to make it up to the Savior. Jesus understood Peter’s heart, understood His weakness, and showed Peter in no uncertain terms that even the most horrific failure is not always final. He gave Peter hope, and by giving Peter that hope at that time, Peter went on to become “The Rock” that Jesus depended on in the infancy of the early church.

So what is your fail? What is your moment from which you need to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, dust off, and re-affix your eyes on the Savior? It’s time to stop seeing yourself through the eyes of your embarrassment, and start seeing yourself through the eyes of the One Who looks at you, and sees nothing but potential.

Today, I leave you with a thought from President Theodore Roosevelt…

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Screenshot taken from 16MM Kodachrome motion picture film by Barney Elliott.. Via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TacomaNarrowsBridgeCollapse_in_color.jpg#/media/File:TacomaNarrowsBridgeCollapse_in_color.jpg

“Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse in color” by Barney Elliott; The Camera Shop