Friday, July 17, 2009

Humor Break

Thanks to Otepoti for passing this along.
Stay with it till the end.

Patriot Guard Riders

Because of Eutychus comments regarding SPC Joshua R. Farris body retrieval at Austin-Bergstrom Airport yesterday, and my subsequent comments, I just wanted to mention the Patriot Guard Riders.

If any of you gentlemen or ladies would like to join us in honoring our servicemen and women, we would love to have you join us. It's one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life, but I am proud to honor our fallen heroes.

Lineage of the Patriot Guard Riders. (From the web site)

Several people have asked how the Patriot Guard Riders got started. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together. If anyone can give us more details, it would be greatly appreciated.

It all started back in early August of 2005 with the American Legion Riders chapter 136 from Kansas. They were appalled to hear that a fallen hero’s memory was being tarnished by misguided religious zealots who were protesting at funerals. They decided to do something about it. At the ALR 136 August meeting, Director: Chuck " Pappy " Barshney appointed members, Terry “Darkhorse” Houck, Cregg “Bronco 6” Hansen, Steve “McDaddy” McDonald, and Bill ”Wild Bill” Logan to form a committee to strategize and form a battle plan to combat Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

When they heard that the WBC was going to protest at the Funeral of Sgt. John Doles in Chelsea, Oklahoma, they established a Mission Statement, which included getting the families permission and contacting Law Enforcement and other Motorcycle Groups in Oklahoma. They agreed that their ultimate goal was to get veterans and motorcycle organizations involved in every state so that each state could handle the situation internally and not rely on other states to do the job. They were very successful in mustering riders to honor Sgt. Doles and limiting the intrusion by the WBC.

After the Chelsea Mission the Kansas American Legion Riders wanted all Motorcycle Groups/ Organizations to be recognized. On the 18th of October 2005 the Patriot Guard name was established and was announced on the 27th of October 2005 to the 100 + motorcyclists present at the Tonganoxie Mission to Honor Spc Lucas Frantz.

Following the missions in South Haven, KS and a later ride in Edmond, OK, Jeff “Twister” Brown, from Broken Arrow, OK, decided to do more than just ride. He saw a need to get a strong nation-wide communications and recruiting program in place. He contacted the original AL riders in Kansas and told them of his plans. They openly shared their experiences, suggestions, and encouragement. Within a matter of days, Brown had formed the Patriot Guard Riders and began a nation-wide campaign to garner support.

Similarly, after a mission ride in Greeley, CO, Hugh Knaus and Jason “Waldo” Wallin answered the call of the newly formed Patriot Guard Riders, becoming the national webmaster and communications director, respectively. Within a matter of days, a mission statement was refined and a website was built, rebuilt, and launched. A call immediately went out to individual riders and groups across the nation to join and ride with the PGR. State Captains were recruited to work more closely with the members in their area.

The growth has been phenomenal. Within a week their membership included many riders from associations like the VFW, American Legion, Rolling Thunder, ABATE, Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Intruder Alert, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, and almost five hundred individual riders. To the credit of Hugh and “Waldo”, the PGR website had received almost 566,000 hits in the first two weeks! Patriots from all over America and several foreign countries responded. Emails were pouring in from people wanting to support and join the newly formed PGR.

So, that’s a pretty concise picture of where we came from and where we are today. A great deal of credit goes to that small group of Kansas American Legion Riders, but none of this could have ever been accomplished without the patriot member who takes time out of their life to honor a fallen soldier and their family.

"Cans" of Success...

Believing that you can succeed at Christian growth and maturity takes no more effort than believing you cannot succeed. So why not believe that you can walk in faith and in the Spirit; that you can resist the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil; and that you can grow to maturity as a Christian.

-Why should I say I can't when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)?
-Why should I lack when I know that God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)?
-Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)?
-Why should I lack faith to fulfill my calling, knowing that God has allotted to me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)?
-Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32)?
-Why should I allow Satan supremacy over my life when He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)?
-Why should I accept defeat when the Bible says that God always leads me in triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14)?
-Why should I lack wisdom when Christ became wisdom to me from God and God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask Him for it (1 Corinthians 1:30; James 1:5)?
-Why should I be depressed when I can recall to mind God's lovingkindness, compassion and faithfulness, and have hope (Lamentations 3:21-23)?
-Why should I worry and fret when I can cast all my anxiety on Christ who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)?
-Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17)?
-Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says I am not condemned because I am in Christ (Romans 8:1)?
-Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)?
-Why should I feel accursed or that I am the victim of bad luck when the Bible says that Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:13, 14)?
-Why should I be discontented when I, like Paul, can learn to be content in all my circumstances (Philippians 4:11)?
-Why should I feel worthless when Christ became sin on my behalf that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)?
-Why should I have a persecution complex knowing that nobody can be against me when God is for me (Romans 8:31)?
-Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge through his indwelling Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:33; 2:12)?
-Why should I feel like a failure when I am a conqueror in all things through Christ (Romans 8:37)?
-Why should I let the pressures of life bother me when I can take courage knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its tribulations (John 16:33)?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming Home

Today I went to the airport to give a weather briefing to some pilots. This is part of my job as a weather forecaster with the Air Force. At many airports around the country the National Guard and civilian airport are often co-located and so it is here in Austin as well.

When I arrived I got to witness and be part of the welcome for a young man coming home from Afghanistan.

I got to see his family and a good number of Army aviators and soldiers waiting for him. There were even some police and firemen waiting to welcome him home.

I stood in line and watched the small chartered jet taxi down the runway and watched as two fire trucks from the airport sprayed a triumphal arch under which his plane slowly proceeded.

I watched as the hatch opened and soldiers moved forward and reached out their arms toward him and escorted him, slowly yet purposefully, toward his car and his family.

I watched as they gingerly helped him into the car and as they stood at attention and saluted while his luggage, some hanging clothes and his backpack, were placed in the trunk of another car that his family got in.

I watched and saluted as the flag draped coffin drove by
and I knew that there, but for the grace of God go I.
And we all knew that truth and this:
That this young man was coming home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

11 Christians Murdered in Weekend Attacks

We still have freedom of religion. Isn't it amazing how it can be so taken for granted by us.

Christian News Wire reports that seven Somali Christians were beheaded by suspected hard-line insurgents from the Al-Shabaab group. Although al-Shabaab has carried out similar severe punishments in regions under its control, these executions allegedly are the largest number done at the same time. Somalia is believed to have a 99.95% Islamic following. There are only a handful Somali Christians inside the country and they have been forced underground. Some Christians have taken refuge in neighboring countries. Somalia is ranked No. 5 on the most recent Open Doors World Watch List which ranks the top persecutors of Christians. The previous year Somalia was ranked No. 12.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Addition

Richard Foster, in his book, "Prayer-Finding the Heart's True Journey" (which we are studying here and in my Sunday School class) talks about an instance when a cat raised theological questions. In the chapter on the Prayer of Adoration, foster relates a story to illustrate how at times we "ignore the smell of Deity." While leading a worship service in a home, Foster had just encouraged everyone to "wait upon the Lord" in listening silence. The silence was interrupted by the home's cat scratching and meowing to gain entry. Rather than just let the cat in Foster prayed for divine intervention that did not come. Later as the group was sharing how distracting the cat was, one person in the group sat quietly until someone asked him what he was thinking. He replied, "Oh, I was just wondering what God was trying to say to us through the cat."

I have wondered the same thing lately and come to the conclusion that far from being a sign from God, our new cat was more diabolical than divine. I have come to this conclusion because every morning as I sit to begin my devotional, I find that I must move from my chair to shoo the cat from rooms that it is not allowed to be in. It goes something like this:
Noooo...(the cat nonchalantly moves down the hall) Cappy....No (she gets to the end of the hall and sits down) Cappy...Cappy No! (she sprints off one direction or the other out of my sight) and then off I go down the hall to herd the cat from one of the boy's rooms.

We keep the cat out of the bedrooms as yours truly has issues with cats, namely, breathing. Thus the cat is restricted to the tiled portions of the house to keep my allergies to a reasonable level.

Cappy is a new member of our household, obtained from a next door neighbor who decided to move out of state and decided that the two indoor cats would not make the trip. The cats were shown the door (literally) a few weeks prior to the move. There was rumor that homes had been obtained but these "fell through" at the last moment. Whatever the case the cats would soon be homeless. Ashley was the other cat, a cat with the most sour disposition I have ever known either cat or human to posses and a face to go with it. Pinched and scrunched her face looked as if she had run into a wall and mashed her face and it matched her personality perfectly. Still, it was unfortunate that Ashley was apparently a bit slow whilst crossing the road in front of her house and thus never had to face changing owners. It was, in some ways, a blessing but still sad, though her personality made it less than grievous.

Cappy- Cappy "the-perpetually-surprised-pussycat." So named because though a good cat she is, well, skittish would be an understatement. She has a continual wide -eyed expression on her face, a condition brought on by the introduction to her previous household years before, of Clumpy, the bulldog who hated cats. As a consequence of this, Cappy spent a great deal of her time above ground level hiding in cabinets and the like (a habit she has had to give up since moving in) and literally running for her life while on ground level. She is only now, after almost two months, coming to the realization that she can relax here. Her more sedentary life as added a noticable paunch. Still, vestiges of her previous life occasionally surface, most noticeably with her tail, which seems to poof out at the slightest start and at the most unexpected times. No other part of her body puffs up but her tail and with very little provocation will expand like a tiny furry umbrella. Once as my son kindly moved her from one of the bedrooms she hustled down the hall and rounded the corner, sliding on the tile floor. Out puffs her tail, to which my son remarked, "Its like a little drag chute to slow her down around the corners.

A peculiar cat, not overly found of canned chicken residue left-over from family meals or the kitty treats bought at the store, she does however have a fondness, perhaps one might say even an obsession, with strawberry yogurt. It is the only time she will venture into a lap, namely my wife's, to finish off the remains of her evening snack. After which she retreats into a corner to clean the tasty treat from the far corners of her face.

I have considered re-naming her "Crappy" and have been known to let the unflattering name escape my lips as I enter the laundry room where the kitty litter box resides and stifle my gag reflex. She is a small cat but apparently can carry (and unceremoniously drop) a rather hefty load. I mean, good gravy, it smells like my dad was in there! Of course, this condition is probably aggravated by the introduction of strawberry yogurt to her diet, but we can hope that it might be improved with the addition of the pro-biotics.

Last night, Cappy discovered the dormant Cuckoo clock hibernating since shortly after our return a little over a year ago from Germany whence it was purchased. It seems I never really could "get used to" the bloody thing cuckooing its fool head off at midnight and so its chains and associated pine cone weights hang listlessly beneath its blessedly silenced beak. It hung there unnoticed by the cat until last night when she finally discovered this new fangled "string" hanging on the wall. The first warning, I had that something was amiss was my son saying, in a low measured voice, "No, Cappy..." followed by the same phrase uttered now in a slightly more urgent tone. This was followed by chaos and panic. Cappy attacked the chain and promptly got her claw hung in a link. She tried to pull away and in so doing pulled the chain which started the weighted pine cones moving up the wall, buzzing as they went, causing Cappy the perpetually surprised pussycat, to scramble to get away and thus making the pine cones move faster and buzz louder. My son leaped from his chair and Cappy back pedaled away finally releasing the chain.
Her tail was 6 inches around.