March 30, 2013 · 3:18 pm
Christians view Good Friday as a day of cruel suffering. Regardless of one’s religion, the death of an innocent man at the hands of Roman conquerors remains repugnant and repulsive. As the Roman Empire crumbled, the corpus of the crucified Jesus endured as a reminder of the hideousness that conquered people often endure.
Today, Good Friday hangs over Syria as an on-going symbol of how everyday citizens experience pain when the weapons of the government are aimed at them. We do well to weep for the Syrian people.
The March 24, 2013 edition of The New York Times ran a front-page story about Syrians being forced to live in ancient Roman caves to escape death by bombing and attacks. The United States estimates they are part of 4 million people who have been forced out of their homes. The caves appear to be the only escape for many. These damp, unlit caverns have been abandoned for centuries, but provide the only protection for many even though it is almost impossible to stay warm. In this cold, dark ancient shelter it is hard for those suffering deprivation not to blame the West for its lack of support in ending their struggle.
To make matters worse, doctors and surgeons have become targets of government attack. Six months ago, Syrians secret police captured Dr. M. Nour Maktabi in Aleppo. That was the last his family heard of him until they were summoned to collect his corpse. When the family last saw Dr. Maktabi, he weighted 200 pounds. His body covered with wounds now weighted less than a l00 pounds.
Medical personnel who help rebels (or are suspected of helping) simply disappear. To date, more than 100 doctors have been killed. In a country with an acute shortage of physicians, this carnage has forced everyone from medical students and nurses to car mechanics to perform minor surgery. Specialist are gone and machines like CT scanners are no longer working. Patients with chronic diseases like cancer or tuberculosis are virtually helpless.
France and Britain are pushing the European Union to lift an embargo on arms shipment to the rebels. However, other European nations continue to be skeptical about sending weapons into such a volatile region. The United States remains rightly concerned about arms falling into radical hands. However, this wall of resistance appears to be cracking. American CIA agents are now reported to be arming and assisting select rebel units that appear to be politically more stable.
These signs suggest the fall of Assad is in sight although the war drags on. However on this Good Friday, death hangs in the air. Pain and misery continue. These sufferings as well as the dying Jesus all arise out of the valley of death. As we rejoice in the approach of Easter Sunday, let us also pray for the Syrian people that they may be released from the underground caves so much like the tomb of Jesus. Let us continue to intercede for the medical community that their crucifixions will come to an end as well.
August 17, 2012 · 8:30 am
TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF OUR MOUTH
U.S. CONCERNS AND THE MIDDLE EAST
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Pictures of the Syrian Army’s air fleet always feature Russian Mi-25 Hinds. Russia has been supplying helicopters to Syria for years and continues to do so. Back in June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern to the Russians that they were shipping gun ships to the Assad regime in Syria.
Did her complain stop them? No.
Herein is a strange little story and a big contradiction.
The United States continues to develop and maintain lucrative contracts with Rosoboronexport, a Russian arms firm that has the main role in supplying the Assad government with the arms to repress the rebels fighting the central government. What make this story particularly interesting is that Rosoboronexport is not a private business. Far from it, the company is a state corporation. Since 2007, the organization has been the single state intermediary agency for arms shipments. The records of arms shipments made it clear that the port of Oktyabrsk in Southern Ukraine has been sending ship loads of armaments straight to Syria.
Get ready for an amazing and straight little twist in this tale. The US government is currently committed to a $375 million deal with Rosoboronexport for the purchase of 21 Mi-17 helicopters to be used by the Afghan Air Force. The latest transactions with the Russian company were made on November 3, 2011.
This particular contract didn’t go unnoticed. A letter from both Republican and democrat senators to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta demanded a cancellation of the contracts. Pentagon Under-Secretary James Miller rejected the senator’s letter, saying the helicopter acquisition was critical for the Afghan’s security.
Doing business with the country propping up Syria is critical? With millions of Americans out of work, we can’t built a comparable helicopter in America? Even if it is easier to train pilots on a Russian system, can this investment of American dollars be justified in today’s economy while we scream about Syrian atrocities created by this exact helicopter? Something’s definitely wrong with this picture.
By the way Rosoboronexport still sells weapons to Iran.
Back in 1982, Jack Lemon and Sissy Spacek made a movie entitled Missing, based on a true story. A conservative business man goes to South America looking for his missing son, a left-wing journalist. The America ambassador expresses concern but the country has been in a revolution and no one is sure about what is happening. The punch line is that the CIA pulled off the revolution and killed Lemon’s movie son. The boy had been in a morgue while the American government lied to Lemon. Costa-Gravas (the director) left the audience wrung out as they realize the duplicity of the American system.
Are we getting the flim-flam treatment from government leaders? Afraid so. And we wonder why Israel doesn’t trust America’s dealings with Iran? Straight talk doesn’t often come for Washington because the conversation has traveled such a convoluted path under the table.
Why don’t we have more leverage with Russia? Might hurt business.
Question: This blog surprise you? What are you going to do about the problem?
Filed under Faith, History, middle east, Near Death Experiences, Peace, Prayer, Stories, World
Tagged as America, Arab, Christianity, death, Devotion, Faith, iran, Iraq, Islam, Isreal, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Muslims, politics, suffering, Syria
October 14, 2011 · 1:52 pm
All the signs of Halloween are out.
Pumpkins, cobwebs, scary window decorations everywhere. Fake spiderwebs are in the trees, draped over front doors. Costumes are in every store, even the grocery store.
It’s become a major American event. But what does this holiday reflect? I believe it demonstrates our fear of the unknown. We created creatures of horror from the grave that only reflect our apprehension.
There is hope. We do not have to fear the unknown, the Christian message has a contrary message. The sting has been removed from death. We not longer have to be afraid. Leave all those fears in the ground where they belong, rejoice.
Filed under Crossing the Threshold of Eternity, Faith, Forgivness, halloween, Introductions, Meditation, Nature, Near Death Experiences, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Violence
Tagged as America, death, eternity, halloween, holiday
August 26, 2011 · 9:11 am
In many instances, people avoid the hospital or home once they learn that someone is on his or her deathbed, and they may go to great lengths to avoid a conversation or encounter with the dying person. Others develop assumptions that the terminally ill change and no longer need or want the relationships they have enjoyed all their lives. While it is true that death takes us to a different place, in our final lap around the track, everyone still needs warmth and caring. My intention is to offer you assurance that you extended hand will still be deeply appreciated by those preparing to leave this world.
Many, many people are unsure of how to talk with a person standing on the threshold of death. The thought of having a conversation with someone who has one foot over the line can feel foreboding or threatening. Consequently, people pretend that the person will not die or try to ignore the situation altogether. They look the other way and the dying pay the price of loneliness. I believe that we can change that picture. By the time you’ve finished this book, I hope you’ll no longer have such feelings. You’ll discover that we can easily talk to the dying and discover their feelings and perceptions.
Our job is to learn how to ask the right questions that will allow the dying to share their inner experiences. You might be surprised to discover what a person will tell you about how it feels to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I will explore how to appropriately ask those questions.
In order to find the courage to explore these issues, we must be able to think about our own deaths constructively and become comfortable with the idea of our own death. I hope that by the time you finish this book, you will have made peace with the fact of your own demise.
Most of all, I want to offer you a promise that has motivated Christians for centuries. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the Church has always proclaimed victory over death. This promise shows us that we do not have to be afraid. Each of us should not only be comfortable with our own demise, but we should also eagerly await this coming transition. Does this sound strange? It shouldn’t. The apostles wrote large chunks of the New Testament to explain how this promise can be ours. Their clues can help you find peace in this subject.
My hope is that this book will help you accomplish that purpose once and for all.
August 19, 2011 · 2:16 pm
Recently, I was talking with a hospice nurse about her experiences. She confirmed what I’ve found in my own experience. To the surprise of many people, it is not unusual in the final moments of life for the dying to begin talking with individuals that no one can see. Often these encounters are written off as hallucinations even though they are quite different from hallucinatory experiences.
I am convinced we must learn how to honor these moments and learn from them. Anyone out there have similar stories and experiences they can share? I’d love to hear them.
August 5, 2011 · 3:27 pm
Across the country a debate is raging over Rob Bell’s LOVE WINS.
Bell advocates universal salvation while being an evangelical, this is very controversial. Usually those two positions are mutually exclusive! Certainly, biblically oriented conservatives won’t be, and are not happy with his position.
What did my research reveal? (Sorry, Rob Bell.) The evidence of near-death experiences is not on your side. I found that a significant number of people had experiences on the dark side. Chapter Eight in CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY details these stories. Cardiologists Mauric Rawlings discovered that half the people he interviewed reported a frightening place they had descend to.
The evidence is challenging!
Filed under Crossing the Threshold of Eternity, Faith, Meditation, Near Death Experiences, Peace, Prayer, Rest, Uncategorized
Tagged as crossing over, death, heaven, hell, love wins, rob bell