Tag Archive | Cold War

Bridging The Gap

Potsdam, Glienicker BrückeThe 2015 movie Bridge of Spies tells the true story of James Donovan, an American lawyer who was tasked with defending a Soviet spy during the height of the Cold War. After being given the unenviable assignment of unsuccessfully defending Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (real name: Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher) after his capture by U.S. authorities in 1957, the tenacious Mr. Donovan continued with appeals, eventually arguing his client’s case before the Supreme Court (which ruled against him in a 5-4 decision). Although his arguments did not sway the courts, he did manage to see one decision go in his favor…

The judge’s decision NOT to sentence Mr. Abel to death.

Instead of the obvious death sentence for his acts of espionage, Mr. Abel was instead sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

James DonovanFour years after his defeat in court, Mr. Donovan and Mr. Abel were once again reunited on the Glienicke Bridge when Abel was traded to the Soviets for downed American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. Not only that, but at about that same time at Checkpoint Charlie, American student Frederic Pryor, who had been held without charge by the East Germans, was being released as well.

In 1962, Mr. Donovan, who had also been involved in the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, was again tapped to help negotiate the release of 1,113 prisoners who had been captured in Cuba following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

In the end, James Donovan secured the release of of 9,703 men, women, and children who were being held in Cuba.

There was a chasm that stood between sinful men and God. Because of our sin, mankind was in need of a Redeemer. We were all lost, in the prison between Hopelessness and Despair.

But Jesus became our advocate. Jesus stepped in, not only to negotiate the release of the prisoners, but to BE the bridge that spans the chasm between God and man. In I John 2, John writes…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

And when Jesus “negotiated” our release, it wasn’t for a select few… it was for the whole of humanity. It was for any and all who would call upon His name to be saved.

So today, He stands at the end of the bridge leading to Freedom, and calls. All you have to do is start walking… walk to freedom and salvation across the bridge He has made for you.

If you would like more information about how to have a relationship with God, I invite you to click HERE.

The Sound of Socialism

austriaanschlussRecently at our church, our young people performed the great musical The Sound of Music. It is the classic story of the von Trapp family’s escape from Nazism in Austria after Germany usurped Austria into the German empire in 1938 — an event known as the Anschluss.

One of the by-products of doing this timeless musical was the opportunity to teach our children a little bit of history about World War II and the Nazi regime…

A history many in our nation have obviously forgotten.

Nuremberg 1The National Socialist German Worker’s Party (ie: the Nazi Party) rose to power following Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Nazis played upon the discontent of the people in attacking big business and capitalism, and used class-warfare as a tool to further its popularity by establishing a culture of entitlement and ideological superiority. Racism was also a key element in the spread of this toxic ideology, and resulted in the Holocaust… the death of six million Jews.

Socialist… Sound familiar?

For the first time in our nation’s history, we not only have candidates who are promoting socialist beliefs, but have an openly socialist candidate running for the highest office in the land.

Have we become so short-sighted that we won’t heed the hard-fought lessons we have learned in the last 80 years? Has our education system become such a cesspool of ideologues and history revisionists that our children are being brainwashed into believing that socialism is the answer to all of the problems that ail us as a nation? Oh sure… socialism has its appeal — after all, who doesn’t like FREE STUFF???

The problem is that nothing — N O T H I N G —  is free. Even “free” stuff is costing someone, somewhere.

Take education for example. One of the mantras we are hearing is for “free education/free college”. Well, if college becomes free, one would have to assume that all of those things it takes to keep the doors open — lights, heat, electricity, etc. — are all going to be free as well.

And how about those salaries? If we are going to offer free college, would it not be reasonable to assume that all of the college faculties will be doing their jobs gratis? That means janitors, security, administration, and yes… professors. So, all of these (mostly highly) trained and educated people are going to put in their 40+ hours per week with no paycheck to show for it? Sure, there are those states where some college is being offered for “free” (TN being one that offers 2 years of community college for “free”). However, “free” is still not free… it ultimately comes at the expense of the taxpayer.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.
~ Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

The Bible has a lot to say about work and a good work ethic. From Genesis to the writings of the apostles, hard work is considered admirable and Godly. Looks at what Solomon had to say in Proverbs…

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
~ Proverbs 14:23-24

 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
~ Proverbs 10:4-5

The Apostle Paul was pretty direct in his instructions to the Thessalonians…

 While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.” We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They are doing nothing except being busy in the lives of others. Our instruction to them is to stop bothering others, to start working and earn their own food. It is by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are urging them to do this.
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Yet in spite of these warnings, I hear candidates running on a platform that constantly blames the ills of the poor on the rich, and stirs up not just class warfare, but ties it to racial division as well. The idea that penalizing someone who has worked hard in order to subsidize the lazy completely takes away from the incentive to work hard and do well. Why would I want to work hard to be a success if someone is just going to take away my hard-earned income and give it to someone who has not worked for it? It is absurd to believe that when you rob from the rich it is going to somehow benefit the poor in the long term.

Hitler and Amin Al-Husseini

Berlin, 1941: Adolph Hitler meeting with Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

The further we run as a society from the teachings and statutes of the Bible, the further and faster we run toward our own destruction. Although seeming to tolerate Christianity initially, the Nazis moved rapidly to quell the voice of the Christian church, while at the same time forming an unholy alliance with Islam. Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary, once admitted, “National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable“. We are seeing the dark specters of this type of ideology taking hold in our nation, with Christians being put on trial for their beliefs and convictions, while Islam is given a pass and a warm embrace by those in the corridors of power.

In the end, however, it’s quite simple: One cannot forsake the teachings and statutes of the One who established human civilization without severe consequences.

“God has been very good to us. One of the reasons God has been
good to us is that we have done him honor. ~ Justice Antonin Scalia

Although we are a nation founded upon Christian principles, secularists in our society have been trying desperately to take America to the point that we are decidedly “post-Christian”. With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend, the political stakes for the soul of our nation have been raised to a perilous level. The wrong person being appointed to the Court would send us into an abyss of unconstitutional decisions and legislation from which we might never recover. For as Justice Scalia observed…

“That’s the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: ‘The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break.’
But you would have to be an idiot to believe that.
The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things… As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.”

We need a transformation in our country. What is happening societally and politically right now should be driving us to our knees in prayer. The consequences of going further down the rabbit-hole of unGodliness, secularization, and socialism should drive every person who loves this country, and what it stands for, to the ballot box. We have come so far from the horrors of the socialism and subsequent fascism of Nazi Germany, as well as the fear of “The Evil Empire” of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and the Cold War. I lived through it. I remember the rhetoric and threats. I remember climbing under our school desks during air-raid drills. I remember the nuclear saber-rattling. I remember the images that the words “nuclear holocaust” invoked.

I want more for my children and grandchildren.

You should too.

Hope for a “Lost” Generation

MLK Lives QuoteOne has only to watch the news for a few minutes to realize we, as a “civilized people”, are in great peril. As the world focuses on the threats facing our world on a broad scale (terrorism, radical Islam, North Korea, Russia, etc.), the unravelling of the fabric of our society on a local level flies “under the radar.” The seeming collusion of a left-wing media and liberal Hollywood have created the “talking points” of what is acceptable and politically correct, and what will not be tolerated.

While cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Memphis are besieged by violence, we are told that the greatest threat facing us is “climate change”.

While escalating terror attacks against our allies across the globe are marginalized by our leaders, accusations of racism and anti-police rhetoric are carelessly bandied about by those in authority – with deadly consequences.

While more and more over-reaching regulations are proposed in the name of “public safety,” common sense and “unpopular” laws have become the casualties of those who would try to fundamentally change the core Judeo-Christian values of our nation.

LL ArmThese actions do not take place without consequences — intentional or not. The underlying message being sent is that lives (black, white, or otherwise) don’t matter, that morality is subjective, and that, if one disagrees with certain laws, it is acceptable to ignore and/or violate those laws as long as “diversity” is the goal.

I – for one – have not given up on America. However, in order for us to see a brighter future, we must return to the faith of our past. The Church must draw a “line in the sand” and take a stand for truth and righteousness. It is time that we stop living cowed in the corner of society, and honestly, passionately, and intelligently speak life into this culture of decay and death. Here are a few common-sense ways we can start that conversation…

Stop mis-labeling the problem.

If a person goes into the hospital with all of the symptoms of appendicitis, referring to that person’s condition as an ear infection will do little to treat the problem, and could possibly cost them their life. When we fail to properly label what is wrong with society, we do nothing to cure its ills, and run the risk of doing irreparable damage to the conscience of our Nation. As believers, we stand on the unchangeable, living Word of God. In 1 Peter 3:14-16, the apostle Peter admonishes us…

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Calling “sin” by its proper name is not politically correct in our society, but is necessary in diagnosing what is ailing us.

Abortion is not a “woman’s choice”… it’s sin.
Homosexuality is not an “alternate lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Adultery is not an “open lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Pornography is not “adult entertainment”… it’s sin.
Political corruption is not “the price of doing business”… it’s sin.

It’s not my label, or your label… it’s God’s definition. He made the rules, and He set the standards. As believers in Christ, we must be honest and faithful to His Word. However, we must also be sure to go beyond just pointing out the problems; we must share the reason for our hope, and offer a solution… the love of Jesus that has the power to change hearts, heal minds, and save souls.

Parents: Anyone can be your child’s friend; only YOU can be your child’s parent.

We have a generation rising that has the potential for either great good or great harm. While I do see good and decent young people being raised up, I also see a lot who are reckless, thoughtless, and out-of-control. There was recently a case in Texas of a 16-year old young man who got drunk, got behind the wheel of a pickup truck, and killed four people (also injuring two others). During his trial, a witness was put on the stand who testified that the boy was the victim of affluenza — which could be defined as “being the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits or boundaries.” This tragic story can be repeated over and over again… parents who set no boundaries for children who grow into young people with no concern for right and wrong, and no regard for the consequences of their thoughtless and careless acts.

Family mealIn Proverbs 22:6, we read…

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

That’s pretty good advice from the person considered to be the wisest man who ever lived. Parents need to stop delegating God-given responsibility of raising their children to schools, recreation centers, and churches, and start being the voices of wisdom, protection, instruction, and discipline that God intended them to be.

Church: Start being salt and light again.

Over these past many decades, the Church has become known more for what we are against than what we are for. In the ’50’s and ’60’s, we took stands against things like technology, only to later discover it was neither good nor evil, but actually had great value in the spreading of the Gospel. While the Cold War raged in the ’70’s, and we seemed on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, the Church was more concerned about the length of men’s hair, the length of women’s skirts, the “Ju-ju beat” in contemporary Christian music, and a plethora of other things that did little to bring souls into the Kingdom, and even less to open up a dialogue with a world on the fast-track to Hell. One thing (of many) I respect about Rev. Billy Graham, and now his son Franklin, is that, when confronted with a question about a social issue, political controversy, or cultural hot-topic, he always steers the conversation back to the Cross of Christ, and mankind’s need for a Savior.

Jesus called us to be salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16…

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Do I think we should be like the world, and participate in sin for the sake of getting along and finding common ground? By no means. But we must be very careful in rightly-dividing the Word of God so as not to turn our personal preferences into God’s providence. We must let the world see the love of Christ in us, and be known for the God we love, Who changes lives, and not just be known for the petty and insignificant things we are against. Being a Christian will always put us at odds with a world that hates Him. However, the love of Christ in us — shown in practical ways — is what will silence the critics, bring healing and love to those who have lost all hope, and open the ears and hearts of the hungry, hurting, and desperate.

Remember that All Lives Matter.

All Lives MatterIn the wake of the tragic stories of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the mantra “Black Lives Matter” spread like wildfire. The fact is that ALL lives matter. But how can we say with any conviction that any lives matter when we have allowed the wholesale slaughter of the innocent in our nation? How can we be so hypocritical as to bemoan the tragic deaths of a handful of individuals when, from 1973 to January of 2014, estimates of the number of aborted children have topped 50 million? To put it into perspective, this would be the equivalent of wiping out the populations of the following states combined: Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.

We must stop sending these mixed messages. If all lives matter, then we must put an end to this hypocrisy by putting an end to the holocaust of abortion in our nation. Then, and only then, can we put a serious emphasis on the value of ALL lives, and begin to heal the racial and gender rifts that are tearing our nation apart.

 There was a popular show on television called “Lost“, in which the characters were survivors of a plane crash on a remote island. As the series progressed, however, the level of danger and peril grew, and the island was more than it appeared to be on the surface. As I look into our society, I see a generation that is lost in the deception of self-interest, unaware of an enemy that is operating below the surface, feeding the fires of an ideology and mindset that are putting us as a nation more and more at odds with a Holy God. It’s time for the Church to step up and be the voice of truth, compassion, and hope that our world is crying out for.Blessed

Keep Calm… and Focus.

We are living in a time of uncertainty. We are living in an age that, in spite of all of our toys and technology, we can’t answer the seemingly simple questions. We can transplant a human heart from one person into another, but we cannot cure the common cold. We have the technology to put people in space, but we’re still baffled by cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s. We talk about hope and change, yet we have a media that thrives on agenda-driven bad news and fear-mongering.

And for any of us who still watch the news, two stories have captivated the headlines for days now: The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, and the events unfolding in the Ukraine.

When Flight 370 went missing on March 8, most people assumed it was just another unfortunate plane crash. However, after days of searching without any sign of wreckage, our thoughts quickly turned to something more dastardly: terrorism. Upon the discovery that two passengers were (allegedly) on the plane with fake passports, as well as many questions surrounding the pilot, the idea that the plane had not, in fact, crashed began to surface. Was it possible that the plane had been hijacked for some nefarious purpose? Most of us still remember the feelings we felt in the pit of our stomach when 9-11 unfolded right before our eyes. Could this be the precursor to another 9-11?

And while all of the events surrounding Flight 370 were taking place, the world has been watching events unfold in the Ukraine as Russia announced the annexation of the Crimea into the Russian empire. While world leaders have denounced Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, and promised sanctions against the nation and it’s leadership, for the rest of us over the age of 30, we feel as though history is repeating itself, and are left wondering if we are seeing the genesis of another Cold War.

And all of it is having the same effect: Fear. We’re afraid of flying, afraid of traveling, and afraid for those who are. We’re in fear that history is coming full-circle, and that the days of school children hiding under desks, anti-Russian rhetoric, and threats of nuclear war are back on the table. So what are we supposed to do? How should we conduct ourselves during uncertain times?

Keep calmWell… to coin a phrase from a 1939 British motivational poster, we should “Keep Calm”.

Recently, my wife and I had the pleasure of a visit from my daughter and her kids. While they were staying with us, my (only) granddaughter wanted to go see a movie, so we went to see Catching Fire, from the popular Hunger Games series. There is a scene in the movie in which the evil President Snow is discussing with Plutarch Heavensbee (another “bad guy”) how to destroy Katniss Everdeen, the story’s heroine. Part of their conversation really caught my attention…

Plutarch Heavensbee: “Shut down the black markets take away what little they have, then double the amount of floggings and executions… put them on TV. Broadcast them live! Sow fear, more fear.”

President Snow: “It won’t work. Fear does not work as long as they have hope…”

That’s it. That’s the bottom line when it comes to dealing with fear…

Hope.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have a Hope. Our hope is in the fact that this world, although a temporary residence, is not our home. We can follow the instruction of the Apostle Paul by being…

“… Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~ Romans 12:12

There is a very short, yet very powerful scene in the movie 42. It is the first time that Jackie Robinson steps out onto the field in a Dodgers uniform. He hears the cheers of the crowd, but then the voices of hate hurling racial epithets at him cut through the cheers. Just as he is beginning to focus on those voices, he hears another sound… he turns his focus to a small section of African-Americans in the grandstand, cheering him on. A slight smile comes across his face, and the hate-filled cat-calls fade into the distance. The hateful cries were still there. What made the difference?

Focus.

We can choose to focus on the negatives. We can choose to focus on our past experiences and perceptions. We can listen to the panicked cries coming from the agenda-driven media-elite. We can choose to ignore the fact that, for every airplane that experiences tragedy, hundreds of thousands of flights take place without a hitch. We can barricade ourselves up in our homes with our TV remotes and smartphones, isolating ourselves from the world.

Or…

We can arm ourselves with Hope. We can put on the full armor of God. We can stand boldly in the face of adversity and, while the world falls apart around us, shine the light of Jesus on our signs that read “Hope Found Here”. We can reach out to those around us, and make a difference. Hope is life. Hope is real. Hope is contagious.

Hope is Jesus.

So, what’s it going to be? You have the rest of the day (and your life) before you… where is your focus going to be? How are you going to change the corner of the world that you are touching?

In the Hunger Games, they have a saying…

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”

With Jesus as your Hope… they are.

Pastor Ron