The Breaking Point

There is an interesting story in I Kings about Solomon’s son Rehoboam.

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king.  The leaders of Israel summoned Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.

Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered but  Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors  and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

 So the king paid no attention to the people

When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded,

“Down with the dynasty of David!
    We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Back to your homes, O Israel!
    Look out for your own house, O David!”

So the people of Israel returned home.

Mr. Webster gives us three meanings for the term “Breaking Point”:  [1] The point at which a person gives way under stress, [2] The point at which a situation becomes critical and [3] The point at which something loses force or validity. All three are applicable to this text. Solomon had pushed the Israelites right up to the brink of rebellion. His massive building programs had been expensive and had created a huge tax burden for the common man. While Solomon lived in a luxurious palace and dined on caviar and fine wine, the Israelites were struggling to make ends meet. Solomon walked on floors and side walks overlaid with gold, the common people were walking on dirt. His extravagance might have impressed the Queen of Sheba but it had lost its luster with the Israelites; they were feed up.

Rehoboam was no spring chicken; he was 41 years old and I am sure that his father saw to it that the boy had the best education that money could buy but for some reason the boy was dumb. His first decision as king was a colossal blunder, one that his grandfather David would have prayed about but not Rehoboam. Not only did he not pray, he also rejected some very good counsel from men who had worked with his father and were aware of the state of the country. They understood that the wood was dry and the least spark would ignite a massive rebellion. Nevertheless, Rehoboam spurns their counsel and listened instead to a bunch of dump punks who did not know their back side from a hole in the ground. Rehoboam spoked harshly to the people and they didn’t like it. His rudeness and his harsh words was the match that ignited the rebellion. In an instant, the damage was done and it was irreparable. All the kings horses and all the kings men could not put the kingdom together again.

There are times when it is good for us to reach a breaking point. Nicodemus reached that point when he saw his peers celebrate the brutal execution of Jesus. Something in this proud Jew snapped and the man who came to Jesus by night to keep his peers from finding out suddenly becomes a man of courage who doesn’t care what the Jews or anyone else thinks. He is going to help Joseph take Jesus down from the cross in broad open daylight and he dares someone not to like it. Nicodemus had reached his breaking point.

For Nicodemus, reaching the breaking point to where he did not care what others thought was a good thing. I have noticed that young people are especially prone to live in fear of what others think, especially young women. I do think youth is a factor but I also think gender is a factor. Most women worry about what others think; most men don’t give a rip. Women get torn up about things that are funny to men. You do need to reach that point where you do not live in fear of what people think. It is a bondage that you need to be freed from. There is only one good fear and that is “Fear of God” and all the rest or terrorist. They will torment you day and night.

I started this article as a blog and then realized quickly that I could not say all I wanted to say on the subject in my daily blog. I see several truths in this story that are worthy of comment.

  1. People, anyone male or female, can be pushed only so far…everyone has a breaking point. Husbands and wives need to keep this in mind. A man came into my office many years ago and said, “Preacher, my wife told me at least a dozen times that she was going to leave me if I did not change my ways…she’s gone and she says “She aint coming back.” Guess what? She did not come back: he pushed her to her breaking point. He was a good provider and gave her a healthy allowance to run the house. She drove good cars and had no worries about money. She left it all simply because she reached a breaking point. In other words, Mona Lisa lost her smile.
  2. Never attempt to manipulate, control or force those who seem weaker than yourself to do what
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    you want them to do. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a brilliant man. As I read and muse over his works, I am awed. I do praise God for giving men that kind of intelligence. I have been listening on audio to Life Together which is a collection of his lectures on the church and I am amazed at his insight. Bonhoeffer says that it is the tendency of the natural man to judge another man immediately, to size him up so to speak, to look for his weakness. To strategize and seek a position of strength so that we might use this person to accomplish our purposes. Dallas Willard, the late professor of Philosophy at USC said something similar, “Growing up is largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit [true self] behind our face, eyes and language so that we can evade and manage others to achieve what we want and avoid what we fear.” [Divine Conspiracy, page 76] Bonhoeffer in Life Together points out this natural tendency to control others by referring to Luke 9:46… “Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.” Bonhoeffer gives the devil credit for planting the seed of discord in the minds of brethren [disciples] and we would be wise to give it some thought. If he put it in their mind, will he not do the same to us? Despising another or looking down on someone who you feel is inferior is a base and ignoble sin that is prevalent among us and is a sin that God convicts me of often. I guess there is a bit of a tyrant in all of us and we would take advantage of the weak if not for the grace of God.

  3. Weak or strong, you can only push a man so far. Vicktor Frankl, Austrian born Jew who was a
    Viktor Frankl

    Viktor Frankl

    neurologist and psychiatrist. He was a survivor of the holocaust [two different death camps] and is most noted for his book, Man’s Search For Meaning. Vicktor Frankl discovered by his own experience that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” He was one of the few that survived not one but two death camps. In this horrible environment, he saw men, weak and strong snap. He saw them reach a breaking point. The German guards were brutal, they were to be feared but Frankl noted that once a man reached that breaking point, the guards held no power over them. He said, “I saw one man after another give up. They simply refused to get out of bed. I saw the guards beat them with the butts of their rifles but they just lay there and they laid there for days until finally they died.”  This lead Frankl to the conclusion that has changed modern psychiatry and counseling, man cannot survive without hope, he must have a purpose for living. If you destroy a man’s hope, you will destroy the man himself. We must resist the temptation to control others. We must not ride a person until they reach a point of despair.

  4. The fourth and final thing that I wish to say about the subject is that you must learn to protect yourself from being manipulated or controlled by others or their opinions.  People marvel that I have not made a commitment to my eschatological views. People ask me if I am Pre, Post, or Historical Pre-Trib and I tell them, “I don’t know what I am other than a believer in Jesus.” I have my own theology and I am not the least bit intimidated by those who disagree. I think everyone has a right to be wrong. Bro. Inman use to say, “I am not Pre or Post, I am Pan, I believe it will all pan out.” Let me give you some advice, let the bible be your chief source for your theological views. Some of the things people are trying to persuade you to believe is Western and wishful thinking. I dare you to talk to the Eastern world about an age of persecution. They don’t know anything other than persecution. Don’t let anyone do your thinking. Do not be a dupe. Parrots get on my nerves. Think for yourself, speak for yourself, and don’t allow another human to control you, dupe you or break you to the point of despair. One of the first things a young pastor has to learn if he is to survive is that you cannot listen to all the criticism. You have to listen to some but there is a point where you close your ears. Let me share a couple of insights that have helped me.
  • Study and discern the spirit of the criticism. Constructive criticism will come from people who love you. They are actually trying to help you when they point out certain weaknesses. The tendency is to resent all criticism but this is a mistake. We all need constructive criticism. If the critic is malicious, do not listen. Their purpose is to hurt and destroy and if you allow it, they will destroy you. The devil wants to discourage you and he will used others to accomplish his goal. It is a subtle trap, don’t get caught in it. One of the things that did impress the Jewish religious leaders about Jesus was He didn’t care what people thought about Him…“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you speak and teach what is right and are not influenced by what others think. You teach the way of God truthfully. [Luke 20:21] Before you take any criticism to heart, determine its origin: is it coming from Satan to hurt or is it coming from God to help?
  • Do not over-estimate your strength: you can be broken, everyone can be broken. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah Denton

    Jeremiah Denton

    Denton was a POW in Viet Nam wrote a book about his experience as a POW, it is titled When Hell Was In Session [There is also a movie]. Denton was a Navy pilot who was shot down behind enemy lines. He was a tough guy and was determined not to be broken but he discovered that daily torture will break even the strongest. Acknowledge your weakness, your limitations; don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are invincible because you are not. REMEMBER this truth: God wants to break your will but not your spirit. The devil is attempting the opposite, he wants to strengthen your will and break your spirit.


Breaking points can be good or bad; it all depends. For Nicodemus, it was a good thing for the men in the concentration camps it was not good. Nicodemus breaking point lead him to a new freedom from fear and gave him the ability to serve Christ openly. For the POW’s in the death camps, their breaking point lead to total despair and the loss of all hope. You can see the difference, one is good and to be desired while the other is bad and must be avoided.

Mildred M. Stephenson

Mildred Morris Stephenson

Mildred Morris Stephenson

In Memory of Mildred M. Stephenson

{The Proverbs 31 Woman}

December 21, 1912–June 17, 2013

[Eulogy delivered at Mrs. Stephenson’s Celebration of Life Service, 11:00 am, June 19, 2013]

We have gathered here today to celebrate the life and legacy of Mildred M. Stephenson who celebrated her 100th birthday last December 21. We are also here to celebrate Jesus Christ the resurrection and the life and to celebrate Mrs. Stephenson’s [Nanny as she was known by family] promotion to the land that is fairer than day.

Mrs. Mildred was preceded in death by her husband Bill, her son Jimmie and great grand son Wesley. She was loved and will be missed by her daughter Janie S. Nolen and husband Charles and Daughter-in-law Betty S. Harpe. Mrs. Stephenson was dearly loved by her three grand children: Suzanne Stephenson, Jennifer Garner [Jeff], Fred Stephenson [Mary] and FOUR GREATS: Stratton Garner {Kayla}, Maggie Cunningham {Charlie}, Stedman Garner and Sarah Stephenson. We have one great-great on the way.

Mrs. Mildred requested a brief service, she said, “You preach your funeral by your life.” I’m not about to say she was wrong. But I don’t call this a funeral. I call it a celebration of life and never before does that word seem more fitting than today. The bible says to give honor to whom honor is due and Mildred Morris Stephenson is due some honor.

She left us her favorite scriptures but I have been thinking about one that is not on the list and I have altered it somewhat,  I have paraphrased and personalized. It comes from Proverbs 31, the last part of the chapter and I used the ERV to help me word my paraphrase. We can call it the JEV if you like, Jack’s everyday version.  I must say that I have never used this scripture in this particular way and I doubt that I will ever do it again.

Mildred Stephenson was a strong person, and people respected her. She looked to the future with confidence. She was truly a woman of faith. She spoke with wisdom and she taught others to be loving and kind by her own example. She took care of her household. She was never lazy. Her children say good things about her. Her grandchildren praise her. There are many good women but she was the best. Grace and beauty can fool you, but a woman who respects the LORD should be praised. {Proverbs 31:25-31, JEV}

  1. I Praise Mrs. Mildred for being FAITHFUL…for more than a decade she has attended our Senior Adult fellowship. Up until April she had only missed one. She was faithful to attend her church. She loved West Hartselle and Bro. Jack. She was faithful in reading the word of God [3 hours every day]
  2. I Praise Mrs. Mildred for being GENEROUS…Mildred Stephenson was a giver…she loved to give. I saw that same characteristic in Jimmie. She always sent us a check to help on our LOTTIE MOON Christmas offering. I know that these kids and grandkids have been blessed by her generosity.
  3. I Praise her for her enduring PATIENCE. In all the years that I’ve known this sweet woman and I have been with them in some tough times, I have never seen this woman agitated, upset or angry with anyone. This may be the most amazing thing about Mrs. Mildred.
  4. I Praise Her for being GRACIOUS. When you look up the word gracious, Mrs. Stephenson’s picture should be there: she epitomizes the gracious spirit. She had the gift of mercy and I don’t think she ever looked down on anyone. Of course a part of being gracious is to be grateful and Mrs. Mildred was grateful. I never heard her complain, did you? She even liked my apple pies.

I could say a lot more but I want to honor Mrs. Mildred’s request. Mrs. Mildred loved poetry and so I want to close with a couple of poems…one you have never heard and one that is very familiar.

Mildred Stephenson

She wore a smile upon her face,

 a walking billboard of God’s grace.

Her words were soft, her deeds were kind,

A more virtuous woman, you could not find.

She was never boisterous, never used force,

Never distracted but always holding a steady course.

She was not flashy or into sensation

But she was faithful to Christ and His congregation.

She was loyal to Christ her Savior and LORD,

If all were like her, we’d be in one accord.

She made her mark, there is no doubt or question.

Mildred M. Stephenson has left a deep impression.

The second poem, her favorite was written 3,000 years ago. Most popular poem ever written.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Mrs. Stephenson’s favorite scriptures were: Psalm 23, Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39, I Corinthians 2:9, John 14:1-4, Philippians 1:21 and Revelation 14:13. Her favorite hymns were He Touched Me, Sheltered in The Arms of God and the LORD’s Prayer.

Mrs. Mildred was an avid reader of the word of God. She was known to spend 4-5 hours per day reading her bible. She read the bible through every year since 1965, 48 years in a row. That is a record that I will not break because I did not begin doing it until my early 50’s. In the last few years, she read it through twice each year. Mrs. Mildred said, “I fall short of being the Christian I should be but the Bible is my guidebook and I pray God will forgive me the many times I have failed.” What about that folks! This woman had an incredible attitude. Her creed was “To do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This woman lived her creed in word and deed. She said her father always taught her…”If you don’t have something good to say about someone–don’t say anything.” I knew her for 35 years and I never heard her say a critical word about anyone, not even her husband   Bill. Folks, this fact alone, blows my mind.

Another favorite poem of Mrs. Mildred’s was THE ROAD HOME

When I come to the end of the road
and the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free!
Miss me a little–but not too long
And not with your head bowed low;
Remember the love that we share
Miss me–but let me go.
This is the journey we all must take
And each must go alone;
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home!
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrow in doing good deeds,
Miss me–but let me go.
Mrs. Mildred was raised in the Cedar Plains Christian Church. She moved her letter to West Hartselle Baptist Church on January 28, 1979. She served there for many years as their Librarian. When you look up faithful in the dictionary, Mrs. Mildred’s picture should be there, she was Simper Fi. I loved Mrs. Mildred and I love the last verse of her poem above. She lived that verse. She incarnated that verse. I know she faced many sorrows but the one that I shared happened on October 31, 1998, the night her only son Jimmie was killed in an automobile accident. It was a horrible night that we will not forget as long as we have memory. Mrs. Mildred hurt but she suffered graciously. I never heard her complain or feel sorry for herself. She carried her grief nobility and grace. Mrs. Mildred was truly the Proverbs 31 Woman.



In Memory of O.B. Owens…Jan. 14, 1938–June 14, 2013

O.B. "Coach" Owens

O.B. “Coach” Owens

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. ~Vince Lombardi
Winston Churchill said, “I cannot forecast what the Russians will do, the Russians are a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma. O.B. was a man of mystery, a riddle wrapped in an enigma. I knew him for more than a decade before I broke through that outer shell and began to see a bit of his heart. Note: I did say a bit.
            O.B. and I did not get off to a great start; probably more my fault than his. My first impression of him was that he was crass, rude, and a little too direct. I guess it’s ironic that people see me in that same light. OB and I had a minor confrontation in 1990. He gave me some advice that I did not appreciate at the time. I walked away from the conversation convinced in my mind that the man was wrong and I thought that I was right. A few years later, I came to realize that OB was right and that I had been wrong. Actually I was amazed, the words he had spoken to me were like prophecy. This revelation was so clear that I was compelled by conscience to go to OB and apologize. In retrospect, I think what had happened had bothered me a lot more than it did him. He knew he was right. When I apologized, he accepted the apology and after that we became friends. I don’t know exactly how it happened, it just happened.
            Little by little, I began to see the heart of the man. I am convinced beyond a doubt that OB had a heart of compassion but for some strange reason, I don’t think he wanted people to know. He loved and cared for people deeply. OB was old school…he believed in showing people you loved them, not telling them. I was raised by an old school father so I can relate. I have some old school tendencies myself. For whatever reason, OB was not one to share inner feelings.
            Not only was he compassionate, he was generous to a fault. We shared a lot of meals together and he paid for everyone. I tried…I would even insist but it was like water off a ducks back. He was going to pay or else. I did get to buy his supper a couple of years back. June and I saw he and Linda at the Western Sirloin in Moulton. We had finished and were paying and they had just finishing their meal. I told the cashier, I want to pay for that couples meal. She allowed me and June and I got the heck out of Dodge. I did not want to be there when he figured it out. Linda said that when he did, he said, “I’ll get him back”. The next THANKSGIVING we got a turkey and a ham. You could not out give O.B. and that is a very Christ-like quality.
            I’d like to tell you that we talked about matters of the heart and spiritual things but we didn’t. I let OB lead the conversation. We talked about what he wanted to talk about. He picked at me a little about my political views. I didn’t pick at him that much.  The strange thing about the friendship is that we never agreed on anything. What ever I said, he always disagreed. It became a sport to me. I would stand by him on the fence watching a high school football game and I would pick out a player and say something like this…Coach that number 41 is going to be a player, don’t you think? He’d say, “Hey, that dude is going nowhere. He is as good as he’ll ever get and that aint saying much, besides he has a bad attitude, know what I mean. He isn’t worth a plug nickel.” If I had said, “That kid is not worth a plug nickel, he would have said, “Hey, slick, that kid is a winner. He has heart. If I were picking a team, he’d be my first pick.
Those who didn’t know him well will be shocked at my third observation…
  1. OB was compassionate
  2. OB was generous
  3. OB was a Sage…he was a wise man
At first, I thought he was a smart alec but I learned that he knew what he was talking about. He had a deep insight into things and he had a gift of discernment that I don’t have. I thought he was too hard on certain people but he knew human nature and he did know a bad attitude when he saw one. It took some time for me to come around but I learned that OB was a Teacher, a mentor and I came to respect him as such. Believe it or not, for the most part, OB talked and I listened. That is how much respect I had for the man.
I do have one haunting regret. I tried to hook up with OB this past year to talk with him about some personal things. I stopped at the florist several times hoping I would catch him. I even went to the house he bought in Falkville, hoping to catch him there. I do wish now that I had tried harder. I will say this: OB’s departure has definitely changed my world and it has given me one more reason to long for the world I was created for. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha…it is good to have a God who will weep with us but it would be sad indeed if weeping with us was all that He could do. Jesus not only weeps with us, He has defeated death and the grave in our behalf and once we reach the other side, He will wipe all the tears from out eyes. That being the case, I will cling to the hope that my friendship with OB will be renewed and on a much higher level. I love you family and I long as I have memory, I will remember OB and cherish his friendship.
P.S. Huge crowd at the Celebration of Life Service.
O.B. was survived by his sweet wife Linda, one daughter Jonna, one precious and beautiful grandaughter Macy Beth Lee, two sister–Barbara Cherilla and Brenda Mutchler and several nieces and nephews.

Hanoi Jane At It Again

Jane Fonda, better known to my generation as “Hanoi Jane”, has now been chosen to play Nancy Reagan in Mrs. Reagan’s life story and to put icing on the cake, Hanoi Jane is promoting her new book about how it feels for her to be in her 70’s. Honoi Jane has no remorse about her treason during the Viet Nam era.
Hanoi Jane today
…Barbara Walters said:  Many died in Vietnam for our freedoms. I did not like Jane Fonda then and I don’t like her now. She can lead her present life the way she wants and perhaps SHE can forget the past, but we DO NOT have to stand by without comment and see her “honored” as a “Woman of the Century.”
Hanoi Jane
Think of the many who served in Viet Nam and of all the families that suffer from losing someone in that war. The parents of those who were killed in action are mostly gone but the spouses, sibling and relatives remain. Jane Fonda was and is a traitor and now OBAMA wants to honor her! She caused the death and suffering of many American service men: she does not need to be honored. Men like LT. C. Thomsen Wieland who spent 100 days in the Hanoi Hilton [Prison camp where our men were tortured].BARBARA WALTERS WRITES: Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.The first part of this is from an F-4E pilot. The pilot’s name is Jerry Driscoll, a River Rat.
In 1968, the former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison the ‘ Hanoi Hilton.’ Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJ’s, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American ‘Peace Activist’ the ‘lenient and humane treatment’ he’d received. He spat at Ms. Fonda and was then clubbed, and was dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward on to the camp Commandant ‘s feet, which sent that officer berserk.
Hanoi Jane in gunIn 1978, the Air Force Colonel still suffered from double vision (which permanently ended his flying career) from the Commandant’s frenzied application of a wooden baton.

From 1963-65, Col. Larry Carrigan was in the 47FW/DO (F-4Es). He spent 6 years in the ‘ Hanoi Hilton’…the first three of which his family only knew he was ‘missing in action’. His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. His group, too, got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a ‘peace delegation’ visit.

They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security Number on it, in the palm of his hand. When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man’s hand and asking little encouraging snippets like:

‘Aren’t you sorry you bombed babies?’ and ‘Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?’ Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their a sliver of paper. She took them all without missing a beat… At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper… Three men died from the subsequent beatings.
Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know of her actions that day. I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam , and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia; and one year in a ‘black box’ in Hanoi . My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Banme Thuot , South Vietnam , whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.)We were Jane Fonda’s ‘war criminals….’ When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi , I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received… and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as ‘humane and lenient.’ Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched with a large steel weight placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda soon after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV.  She never answered me.These first-hand experiences do not exemplify someone who should be honored as part of ‘100 Years of Great Women.’ Lest we forget….’100 Years of Great Women’ should never include a traitor whose hands are covered with the blood of so many patriots.

USAF 716 Maintenance Squadron,
Chief of Maintenance DSN: 875-6431 COMM: 883-6343

No One Practices What They Preach

If I practiced all that I preach, I would not preach much. My subject matter in the pulpit is the Word of the Living God. This Word is perfect but I the messenger am not. Am I to bring the word down to my level of practice or am I to preach the inspired and inerrant word of God. Jesus was the one and only preacher/teacher who had perfect integrity. I admit that Job and Joseph are closer than most but none of us are perfectly integrated. We all have a crack in the armour somewhere. We are never to allow what’s wrong with us to keep us from telling others about what is right with Jesus.

Some of you will not like my example but since I am convinced beyond a doubt that I am right, I am going to use it anyway. Paul was the most zealous Christian in the history of the church in my opinion but he was not perfect. I read Acts 21 this morning and every time I read this passage, the same questions come to mind. Why was he so determined to go to Jerusalem when none of his friends wanted him to go and no one in Jerusalem wanted him to come? Why did he hurry his mission work in Asia to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost? Did he not tell the Galatians that these Jewish feast days were fulfilled in Christ and that they no longer had merit. Is this the same Paul who calls Peter out at Antioch for trying to appease or placate a group of Jews from Jerusalem? In Acts 21 Paul is guilty of the same sin that he laid at Peter’s feet. The Holy Spirit speaking through Agabas the prophet warned Paul not to go. Everyone on his mission team begged him not to go. He was the team leader and very important to their mission effort. They needed Paul’s leadership. Jerusalem neither needed it or wanted it.

So instead of keeping his mission team in tact and spreading the gospel to the world, Paul pulls away to fulfill a personal goal of placating the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He is going to deliver to them in person an offering taken from the Gentile churches for the poor in Jerusalem. Anyone could deliver the offering. Jerusalem wanted the money and probably needed the money but it did not matter who made the delivery. Any person could do this simple task but Paul would not listen to reason. He insisted on doing it himself against the advice of everyone on his team. Who is right and who is wrong. His team was right and Paul was wrong. They were thinking of the team and the mission; Paul was thinking about placating the Jewish Church leaders.

The general rule of thumb is do not kiss up to people who don’t like you. We cannot make people like us. It is their choice to like or dislike who we are and we have no power to change the way they think. I am sure that Paul was hurt but going to Jerusalem made everything worse. I know he wanted to be loved, appreciated and accepted by James and the Elders at Jerusalem but it did not happen. They listened briefly to his mission report and then immediately changed the subject. They cut right to the chase and told Paul that he had a bad reputation among the Jews and that he needed to demonstrate his loyalty to their customs. They not only ask him to go to the temple and make a vow but they ask him to pay for five others. There would be no sin in Paul going to the Temple to worship Yahweh but to go as a Jew under the old covenant was idolatry. Paul was a Christian, not a Jew. He had preached to others to let go of the old and embrace the new and now he does the very thing that he has preached to others not to do. Jesus has fulfilled the law and all the Jewish feast days. There is no need for sacrifices, vows, and the celebration of feast days. You would think that the Paul we know would violently react to James and the Elders and say, “There is no way that I am going to the Temple as a practicing Jew; this violated everything I preach and stand for and I will not compromise my integrity.” That is what we wish he had said but that is not what he said.

What is the problem? We do not think of Paul as being weak or lacking in boldness, so what gives? This is 100% conjecture but I think Paul was hurt. I think he was a little man with a big chip on his shoulder. I believe that he desperately wanted to be considered one of the insiders. I think he wanted to be included in the fellowship of the Jerusalem Elders. He is like the guy in the movies that has a woman madly in love with him but he doesn’t want her, he wants the woman who will not give him the time of day. We always want what we cannot have for some strange reason. This avid desire to be accepted by the Jerusalem in crowd was Paul’s weakness. He wanted their acceptance so bad that it blinded him to reality. He did not accomplish one thing in Jerusalem. All he did was get arrested and his mission work was basically over.

Now for the rest of the story: not only does James and the Elders hang Paul up for failure, they leave him out to dry. Paul does nothing wrong yet he is arrested and accused. There is no record of James or anyone from the church coming to his defense. There is no record of prayer meeting such as they had for Peter when he was in jail in Jerusalem. What is going on here? Paul had the reputation as a trouble maker and stink stirrer and they just backed off and remained uninvolved. Can I prove that they were disloyal to the Apostle? Can you prove that they were not? If they tried to help, why didn’t Luke mention it.

I don’t think Paul was driven by vain glory. I don’t think he went to get credit for the offering. I do think he wanted to be loved, appreciated and accepted by the church in Jerusalem and I do think that his subconscious guilt caused him to have a kind of death wish. Paul had so much grief about his past sins that I think he wanted to be a martyr. I think he was well aware of the danger in going to Jerusalem but that did not matter to him. If he died there by the hands of the Jews and the Gentiles, he would glory in that death. Like Christ he was betrayed by his own people the Jews and turned over to the Gentiles.

Was it God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem? I don’t think so. The Holy Spirit said no and I don’t think there is a division in the Godhead. The thing that keeps this story from ending badly is Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. God took a bad situation and transformed it into something good. Paul got an all expense paid trip to Rome which was the center of the known world. Paul’s incarceration gave him an opportunity to witness to judges, kings, guards and soldiers. While in Rome a guard was handcuffed to him for a full shift. You know that every one of them got a full dose of the gospel. I sure you are thinking that if going to Jerusalem was a mistake, Paul would have mentioned it. How well do you know Paul? How many times have you read the N.T.? Paul was a type-A, heavenly driven personality: in his mind, he did not make mistakes, others did.  Did he ever apologize to Barnabus, Peter, John Mark or anyone else? It is easy to be too proud to admit that we made a mistake. Personally, I am not shocked that Paul never brings the subject up.

What are the morals of the story? [1] Don’t spend your life trying to please folks who don’t like you. Play to the audience of ONE, Jesus. Don’t worry about what folks think. What they think will have no weight in judgment. [2] We must stay focused on the mission which is to get the gospel to the world. We cannot afford to be distracted. [3] No servant of God is perfect: we all have our weak moments. I wish this was not true but it is true. David had his, Peter had his, I have had mine and Paul is no exception, he had moments of weakness also.  He was close to Jesus but he was not perfect. Twenty-five years ago, it put a ton of guilt on me when some self-righteous, fault-finding hypocrite would infer that I nor other preachers practice what we preach. Now I laugh in their face and tell them they are right. If gives me the opportunity to tell the what is right about my Savior. I am not going let what is wrong with me keep me from telling folks about what is right with Jesus.

God’s Law Verses Man’s

The day after the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I was reading Ezekiel 20. Ezekiel is a hard read for me and normally, I struggle to make sense of it. I am reading through the Moffatt translation and chapter 20 just happened to be next. As I read, I was appalled, it could be used as a present day commentary on the brutal school massacre. 

The setting of Ezekiel 20 is that of the Elders of Israel asking Ezekiel the Prophet/Priest to consult the LORD in their behalf. The LORD told Ezekiel, “I will not consult them.” The LORD had nothing to say to these rebels. He does give Ezekiel a sermon to preach to them. In this sermon, Ezekiel recounts Israel’s history.

  1. God reveals Himself to them while they are in Egypt.
  2. He saves them from bondage by His mighty power.
  3. He carries them into the wilderness [Sinai] to teach them His law because He does not except the law of Egypt that has been engrained into the minds of the Israelites.
  4. The Israelites rebell against God’s law: one specific law is mentioned four times. The law regarding the sabbath. They treated the LORD’s special day of rest as if it were not important.
  5. God gave them over to their own evil ways and laws.
  6. They get involved in the pagan practice of child sacrifice.
  7. God decrees that He will scatter them all over the world until they learn their lesson [not to worship idols and to respect HIM as the Eternal One]

The Moffatt caught my attention and then I read chapter 20 in the ERV. The basic message of the chapter is this: God’s Law=Life whereas Man’s Law=Death. Man by nature is a rebel and his rebellion against God’s revelation of His person, power and precepts brings about his demise. In other words: God loved Israel and wanted them to have a good life in a good land but they rebelled. The results of their rebellion is a depraved life in a foreign land. God gave them over to their evil ways.

I know that the general public is blaming God for the terrible thing that happened in Connecticut. After all, this happened on His watch. He could have prevented these precious little children from being murdered. What kind of a God does that make Him? Just as the Elders of Israel complained about God, so the American public is complaining about God. This has to be His fault–there can be no other explanation.

Let me aggravate your mind just a little. Would these horrible things be happening had we continued to teach the Ten Commandments in public schools? Why were people so anxious to get every mention of the bible out of the class room? Is it not true that we have attempted to replace God’s law with our own man-made version? Don’t misunderstand what I am saying: I am not saying, “Make all the world Baptist” and use the class room to do it. I am not even saying, “Make all the world Christian” and use the classroom to do it. I am saying that we should continue to teach God’s law in our schools. By taking His law out, we have opened the door for man’s laws and with his law comes death.

Let me give you the same example that Ezekiel used: man will always make laws that are contrary to God’s and these laws will lead to excess and to death. The Israelites rejected the holy law of God which respects human life and they accepted the law of their pagan neighbors which allowed child sacrifice. The Israelites were offering their children to Molech and Chemosh. They were sacrificing their sons and daughters in the fire and God was not pleased with them and scattered them all over the world. 

I want you to understand what I am saying: Roe vs. Wade in 1973 opened the door for the Adam Lanza’s. We have disregarded God’s law and replaced it with an evil man-made law that has reeked with death for four decades and then we wonder why this open violence on children is happening. I will tell you who is responsible for these murders, we, the American people. We who have shunned God’s law and replaced it with our own evil version. We did it to sate our lust but it is a poison apple and yesterday [December 14, 2012], we saw the bitter fruit of our rebellion and lust.

Obama and the libs are going to blame guns but we have had guns for more than three centuries and school shooting did not happen when I was a child. There were plenty of guns in the 1950’s so what is the problem: it is certainly not guns.

  1. First of all, we have accepted a certain amount of violence as OK. There are not many things more violent than an abortion but Obama and the libs are not only OK with abortion, they promote it. If we are going to blame someone, we have to point a finger at Roe vs. Wade, the not so supreme court and all the liberals who made it happen and keep it going.
  2. Next, I would cite lust and greed. These two are behind practically every vice. Abortion is a multi-billion dollar industry but so are the violent video games that children play for hours a day. Why doesn’t Obama and the libs go after VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES. When I was a kid, there were no video games. We did not even have a TV. When we did get a TV, there were no obscene cartoons and there was very little violence on TV. These kids today are raised on this stuff and I am convinced that it has affected their mind. It has desensitized them to reality. There are a world of places we can start in cleaning up this mess without taking guns away from good law abiding people.
  3. Liberals feel but they don’t think: destroying the 2nd amendment will be the final blow to the REPUBLIC. Washington must have some fear of the public. They are tyrannical enough as it is but if they get our guns, there is nothing to stop them from becoming dictators. Liberals are not good with facts and the fact is–THERE ARE EVIL, CRIMINALLY MINDED PEOPLE IN OUR WORLD AND IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. I was gone last night and my wife was home alone. With the recent murder in Winston County, she found some comfort in her 32. Are we going to disarm good people? We may as well put a sign in our yard that says–WELCOME THIEVES, COME ON IN, WE ARE UNARMED. Are you fool enough to believe that guns do not deter domestic crimes? I guarantee you, a thief and a murder thinks twice before they go into a home where there is a man or woman with a loaded gun. If I were a criminal, Dale Marbut and Ken Tapscott would be the last houses I would hit because if I hit them, it would be my last house. They would be calling Jeff Halbrooks or Anna Franklin or both.

So let us grieve with these hurting families. Let us lift them up in prayer. We should be shaken by what has happened but lets not go nuts and do something as stupid as Roe vs. Wade by taking away the right of Americans to own guns. Guns are not the problem. Liberals are a much greater threat than guns. Stupid laws are a much greater problem than guns. Abolish Roe Vs. Wade and get the TEN COMMANDMENTS back in school and see what happens. These ignorant liberals make me want to chew barbed wire. They sit around watching CNN and PMSNBC and play on their I-phones while we work our tail to the bone and pay taxes out the kazoo so they can draw their entitlements and attend all the animal rights protest or burn a candle in front of a prison where they are about to execute a serial killer. It burns my cookies: they defend the rights of cats, dogs, chickens, white mice, spotted owls, polar bears and murders but will not defend the right of an unborn baby. There may be one or two intelligent liberals but I have never met them. As a rule, they are pseudo-intellectuals. That means they think they are smart but they don’t have enough sense to pour urine out of a boot. When a man will fight for the right of a spotted owl but not for a baby, something is bad wrong. The liberals have rebelled against God and He has given them over to their own stupidity.

In Memory of Joe Eaton: May 18,1927–Sept. 18, 2012

Our good friend and mentor Joe Eaton took his departure from this sin cursed world on Tuesday, September 18, about 3:30 in the evening. We were very blessed to spend some time with Joe and his daughters that morning. We went back in the evening and he was gone. Joe fought a good fight, he finished his course and took his flight to glory.  Joe was born May 18, 1927, in Arkansas to Alton H. Eaton and Bonnie L. (Moore) Eaton. Joe was a member of Danville Baptist Church, a long time supporter and friend of the church and my family personally. He was a retired Lt. Commander, for the U.S. Navy. I met Joe in the Spring of 1979. He was a member of DBC when the Bailey family arrived in April. I did not get to know Joe quickly but over time he became a dear friend. Over the course of many years, Joe made more visits with me than any layman that I’ve had the privilege to work with. Joe had the heart of a lion. He was not afraid of anything or any situation. I’ve told a lot of people who I believed that Joe would follow me into a lion’s den. Joe was a preacher’s best friend. He always gave me the benefit of the doubt. Joe had a military background and he understood order and authority. You don’t run into a lot of Baptist who respect the pastor as an authority figure but Joe was different; he had great respect for the office.

Joe not only stood with me on tough issues; he was very generous with me and became a confident and a close friend. Back in the 80’s, he took it upon himself to teach me how to fish. Joe had a lot of patience and we had a lot of good times together. On one occasion, we got in a school of bass right before dark at Guntersville. I think we caught some 70 fish but Joe only kept the big ones. For an hour or so, we were getting a strike with almost every cast. My favorite story was the time we went stripe fishing up West Flint. Joe fixed my rod first. He gave me a black crank bat: I called in a black bomber but I don’t think that is the correct name. Joe told me where to cast and so I started catching fish immediately and Joe is still tieing on his lure. I have four or five fish before Joe makes a cast but I keep catching that they are not hitting Joe’s lure. He had a silver shad. After 30 minutes or so, he stops fishing and goes to looking through his tackle box. He does not have another black bomber. I said, “Joe do you want your lure back?” “No, no,” he said, “You keep it.” He finally found a bait that would work but I had caught 15-20 fish before he caught one. We had to stay all day so he could catch but I beat him like 38-28 or something. I said, “Joe, don’t worry about it, I’m not going to tell anyone.” “Yeah, right, you will not tell them until you see them.” Joe had me pegged.

Joe and I did not agree on everything but we agreed on most things. When it came to politics, we were blood brothers. Everyone knows that I do not have much appreciation for liberals. I don’t watch CNN, CBS, PSMBC or any of the lame stream media outlets. I watch very little FOX.  I don’t like to go into a business and see the TV set on CNN. My doctor always has his lobby TV on FOX and that says a lot about a man or a business. I will give my business to the folks who watch FOX but not even FOX is as conservative as I would like it to be. Joe would lock horns with you over politics. Joe was a history buff. He knew history and he was more knowledgable about former president than myself. I can go back to Ike but that is as far as I go. Joe had studies the lives of all the 20th century presidents. He and I agreed that Carter was the worse until Obama came along. Of course, Slick Willy has the “Most Immoral” president sewed up; no contest. When it comes to incompetence, I think Carter and Obama have Slick Willy beat.