My Musings

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Forty-three-Year Fugitive from Justice

I heard an interesting debate on the radio yesterday morning during my commute to work. It was about an elderly man who was arrested recently.

About fifty years ago, Willie Parker committed armed robbery. He was apprehended, tried, and summarily sentenced to 40 years in prison. Willie served just ten of those years when he decided to walk off of a work detail and escape. For years he evaded the law and was not found until this past week.

Authorities apprehended the 81-year-old Willie Parker, on charges of armed robbery that he committed fifty years ago. This man now has severe medical problems including diabetes, a heart problem, hepatitis, and a recent stroke. He has not to anyone's knowledge been a threat to society in any way since his escape and some even argue that he never actually shot anyone during his armed robbery.

His case has been sent before a judge to decide whether or not he should be sentenced to serve the rest of his time in prison. There are a lot of people crying out for his release. After all, why should tax-payer money go to fund the incarceration of someone who is very much not a threat to society in any way? His past forty-years and his health both attest to that fact. Wouldn't it be a waste of money for us to lock him back up? It would make a lot of sense to just let him go free.

Of course, if you don't send him back to prison, you will be sending a message to the rest of the criminals in America that it is alright to escape from prison as long as you can evade the police for a while. It would also mean that justice is dependent on the health of the criminal and the financial ramifications rather than being determined by the nature of the crime.

Should Willie Parker be locked up or sent home? You tell me.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Catching the Croatian Flu

I have been hearing a lot throughout the Christian blogosphere about people being sick with the flu or with really bad colds. Maybe when I began reading about these illnesses I should have stayed away from the computer so that I wouldn't catch whatever you guys have. I didn't, however, and now I am getting sick just like everyone else. I know I must have caught it from getting too close to the germs you guys put out on your blogs.

When your sick, you are supposed to stay home from school, work, and church so that you do not give your illness to those around you but none of you thought to stay home from blogging. Who cares if your faithful readers catch your germs? I'm especially talking to you Sis. Julie and Sis. Tori. I don't care if you are all the way in Georgia and Croatia, I think what I'm getting is because of you!

Of course, ninety-five percent of that first two paragraphs are a complete joke. The only thing serious about it is that I have been getting sick now for the past couple of days. The night before last, I actually went out on the couch to sleep so that I wouldn't keep tossing and turning and kicking my wife. I sweat really heavy all night that night which was another reason I didn't want to be in my nice bed. I hoped that maybe it ran its course that night but yesterday my throat started hurting and today I can barely talk...But I can still blog just fine!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Overhauled Conversation System

As many of you have probably already noticed, I have changed and updated the commenting system here at The Baptist Muse. You can now leave comments without having to leave the page. That means no more bouncing over into the blogger comment system every time you want to communicate over here. Simply select the comments link at the bottom of the post and watch as the comments box slides open beneath the post. You can even leave comments without ever leaving the main blog page. Go ahead and leave some comments and try it out.
I was even able to keep most of the comments that had already been posted from the old blogger system that I had been using. I say most and not all because a few of the comments did not survive the import process that I used to get them over. I tried importing them several times, but each time I lost about 15% of the comments that were on here. Oh well, I guess.

This also allows me to advertise the number of comments at the bottom of each email update that gets sent out! I am having a little trouble with this particular feature right now, but I estimate that I will have it working within the next day or two!

This comment system is so much cooler than the old one! I will definitely be needing some feedback on this because I am sure that their are some glitches that I have missed. Please let me know so that I can fix it right away. Thanks.

Also, let me throw in a funny story that I heard on Paul Harvey today while I was driving. Supposedly this is a true event that took place. A man walked into a post office and robbed it at gunpoint. He was able to get a good sum of money and then he escaped. The police had nothing to go on and the culprit got away scott free.

While he was there, however, he noticed that the receptionist at the counter was quite attractive and he actually developed an infatuation for her. He returned several days later with a bouquet of flowers to ask for her forgiveness and to invite her on a date. Stealthily she triggered the silent alarm. A few minutes later he was arrested and hauled off to jail. What a moron!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Peace, Justice, and the Islamic Way of Life

Sunday night I finished reading the amazing book entitled Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I was able to view and come to a greater understanding of the Islamic culture from a firsthand narrative. The book is an autobiography of a woman who endured some of the most horrific treatment that you might imagine all in the name of Islam. Skeptics have tried to argue that her situation was an isolated incident, but she contends that she watched the same maltreatments take place to every other girl around her as she grew up.

Although this book is non-fiction, it reads like a fictional storybook. Once I dove into the first chapter and began reading about her child-hood, I could not put the book down. The pages are filled with story after compelling story.

I challenge anybody to read this book and then describe to me how Islam can be described as a religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of peace. If anything, it is a religion of oppression of women. It is a religion of brutality, mutilation, honor killings (An honor killing is the title given to a murder committed by a father or brother because a lady did not live up to the honor of the family.), and worse. In fact, in a Muslim country, if a woman is raped, she is either killed or shamed for her 'crime.' The man who committed the rape, on the other hand, is allowed to go without any feeling of guilt or shame.

Societies like that of Saudi Arabia live to the very letter of the Koran and they provide very clear verses in which they are able to justify their treating of woman like dogs. In fact, I can't imagine that they would treat their dogs as poorly as they would treat their woman.

Within just the past few years, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been a powerful spokesperson for women's rights. She has lobbied in Holland for Islamic women within that nation to have the same rights as every other woman within Holland. The result of her cry against Islam was death threats and the murder of her close friend, Theo Van Gogh.

'How dare you claim that we are not a religion of peace, Infidel!' they cry out as they sawed his throat open with a butcher knife.

Theo Van Gogh was ruthlessly murdered in cold blood for his part in the production of a ten minute video entitled 'Submission.' The video displays the sad plight of women who are forced to live in an Islamic society. The video was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and is the typification of her personal experiences and of the experiences of people she knew.

The response to this situation has been absolutely appalling. Instead of blaming the crazed killer or the ideology that drove him to murder this man, the public sphere blames Theo because, after all, he was the one who provoked them by speaking out against their beliefs. What right did he have to speak out and say those things? Consider, for example, this response that I found posted below the video at Youtube.

"Theo deserved it - first crating *stuff* like that and then wondering why all Muslims are *complaining*. That "video" is a shame for all good Muslims in this world"
Van Gogh deserved to have his throat sawed open for speaking his beliefs? I am absolutely appalled that people can believe garbage like this. In fact, I think that the quote above is a grand display of ignorance and naivety. Yet, as rude and as insulting as I think it is, I would not make death threats against this person for expressing himself nor would I expect others to. Yet when statements are made against this 'religion of peace' they are responded to with the force of bullet shots and butcher knives. Ironic?!

If you read the book 'Infidel' by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you will be glad you did. Your eyes will be opened to a culture of oppression of cruelty. You will see Islam for what it truly is.

P.S. I challenge anyone to debate my claim that Islam is not a religion of peace! The truth demands that they are a religion of oppression, cruelty, and violence!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

New at The Baptist Muse - The Book Club

As many of you have probably already noticed, yesterday I launched The Baptist Muse Forum. I would like to invite you all to swing by and check it out. One of the key features within the forum is the section entitled "Book Club." I have set up a system where we as a community can select a book each month to read.

I'm am very excited about the book club and am looking forward to seeing who will join in with me in reading a book each month. I invite you all to jump in and read some of the books that will begin showing up in this forum.

According to the rules that I set up, we should spend the first three weeks in February selecting our book for March. Since, however, the month of February is almost over, I am going to select a book of interest to me (How self serving, right?) to get things started.

Of course, next week we will begin the selection process for April's book. I invite you all to get involved. I am not going to be the one selecting the books in the future. Everyone else is. I am going to have you all contribute a book idea and then we will all vote on them as a community to determine which one we are going to read. For more information about the selection process check out the rules over at the post entitled "Welcome to The Book Club."

I am trying to expand the genres that I read to include history, biographies, cultural studies, leadership, spiritual, and classic fiction (I prefer not to read any fiction that has been written within the past 100 years). I am most concerned with expanding my knowledge base and growing as a person while also trying to find books that are not boring but rather enjoyable and easy to read. I invite you all to join me on that journey.

By Duty Bound : Survival and Redemption in a Time of War

For the month of February I have selected a book entitled "By Duty Bound - Survival and Redemption in Vietnam" by Brig. Gen. Ezell Ware, Jr. When I read the back of the book, I became so captivated that I just knew it had to be the next book that I read. Allow me to share that with you and I think that you will begin to see what I mean.

"The inspiring true story of a black soldier who left the segregated South - only to land in a struggle for survival alongside a racist white captain in the jungles of Vietnam.

"Raised in Mississippi, Ezell Ware was determined to excel beyond the limits put upon him. Having grown up without running water, electricity, or sufficient food, he wasn't daunted by the hardships of military life - and became the top recruit in his marine training class. Eventually he earned a chance to join the Army's helicopter pilot program and ralize his dream of flying. it was a role that would change his life...and the life of an unlikely brother in valor at the height of the Vietnam War.

"Downed by enemy fire, Ware and his badly injured captain endured a three-week trek through hell, with one canteen and little defense against countless deadly forces. But when his captain revealed his membership in the KU Klux Klan, the situation took a turn that surprised them both - and set Ezell upon the road to becoming a general.

"A unique memoir of heroism and humanity, By Duty Bound captures a crucial chapter in American history - through the eyes of one of its most remarkable witnesses."

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Struggling Against The Angel of Death

As I continue to work at Arlington National Cemetery, I often hear amazing stories of love, valor, and heroism. It is no joke that Arlington National Cemetery truly is filled with thousands and thousands of real American heroes. If you are ever in the national capital area, I invite to take a walk through this garden of stones and contemplatively muse over the stories of honor and valor that rest within this place.

Early this week, in fact, I heard a story that really made me stand in awe at the determination of one such soldier who served in World War II. His widow shared with us an amazing story that I will never forget.

Late one night this lady was awakened in the middle of the night. Her husband was overseas fighting for our freedoms during the peak of World War II. She had heard no noise. The phone had not rang. There was nobody at the door. Yet something, she said, had awoken her and her heart was beating fast with worry for her husband.

She crawled out of bed and spend the next several hours praying for his safety. She was just consumed with worry and being a Christian lady, she continued to pray.

A short time later she received a communication from the army. Her husband had been severely wounded and was in critical condition. Again her heart raced.

A few days later she received some more details. Sometime during the night that she was awakened, her husband received some wounds that very well should have been fatal. His unit was pushed away from him and he was left for dead miles from friendly lines. For the next several hours he crawled dragging himself over ten miles to link back up with American forces. He had lost a lot of blood, was dehydrated, and was not able to walk. Yet something kept pushing him forward for over ten miles of excruciating pain and agony. He later told her that all he could think about was seeing her again.

He fully recovered and died over sixty years later in late January of 2008. We buried him at Arlington National Cemetery early this week.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

A Medical View of the Crucifixion (Part 2)

This is an amazing view of our Lord's love for us. If you are not moved by this account then something is wrong with you! Please take the time to read this through. I know that it is long, yet I guarantee that you will not regret that you read this. If you have not read the first part of this article, please take the time to do so (click here).

"The heavy beam of the cross is then tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail, begin it’s slow journey. The weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

"At Golgotha the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought -iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts and titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

"The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven in the arch of each. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through his feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

"As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles re paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one more short breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring glory to the life-giving oxygen.

"Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphixation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins, A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

"The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick , sluggish blood into the tissues- the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp is small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps “I thirst”.

"He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters his seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”.

"Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through pericardium and into the heart. Immediately there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Our Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in pericardium."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Medical View of the Crucifixion (Part 1)

Recently I was nosing through one of my old college textbooks and I came across this portrayal of the crucifixion in “The Crucifixion of Jesus” By C. Truman Davis . This is such a powerful testament to God's love toward us! Please take the time to read it and think about it. Spend time musing this article.

"The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering- the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group St. Luke, is the only on to mention this. He says, “And being in agony, He prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of loose blood, trickling down upon the ground.”

"Though very rare, the phenomenon of hemathidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under the great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

"After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by the High Priest. The palace guards then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.

"In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

"Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands are tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heave, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.

"At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper in the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.

"Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is bear death, the beating is finally stopped.

"The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is then pressed into his scalp.

"Again there is a copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body). After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into his scalp. Finally they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from his back. This had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and it’s removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain- almost as though He were again being whipped, and the wounds again begin to bleed."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Coffin Draped By The Flag

This poem is an amazing tribute to American soldiers. I was very moved and very honored when I came across this. I hope that it can be a great blessing to you just as it was for me.

It's the soldier,
not the reporter who has given us Freedom of the Press.

It's the soldier,
not the poet, who has given us Freedom of Speech.

It's the soldier,
not the campus organizer, who has given us the Freedom to Demonstrate.

It's the soldier,
not the lawyer, who has given us the Right to a Fair Trial.

It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves under the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Contest Results!

The winner of the Valentine's Day Contest and the recipient of a $25.00 gift certificate to the restaurant of their choice is...

Nikki from Life of a Soldier's Wife

Thank you for visiting and supporting the Baptist Muse. I will have your gift certificate shipped out to you as soon as I can get your mailing information. You can email your mailing information to me at Congratulations! Be sure to include which restaurant you prefer in the email. Leave a comment on here as soon as you send the email. Sometimes the email gets caught in my spam box and the comment will allow me to know what time period to look for the email in my spam box. Thank you for understanding.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hillary's First Night In The White House

In January 2009

Hillary Clinton gets elected President and is spending her first night in the White House. She has waited so long..........

The ghost of George Washington appears, and Hillary says, "How can I best serve my country?"

Washington says, "Never tell a lie."
"Ouch!" Says Hillary, "I don't know about that."

The next night, the ghost of Thomas Jefferson appears... Hillary says, "How can I best serve my country?" Jefferson says,

"Listen to the people."
"Ohhh! I really don't want to do that."

On the third night, the ghost of Abe Lincoln appears..
Hillary says, "How can I best serve my country?"
Lincoln says, .......

"Go to the theater."


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Childhood Memories:
A Night With The Monsters

As I have been reading through Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I have been overwhelmingly amazed at the immense horrors that she faced as a child growing up in the Middle East. Yet she doesn't dwell on the issues seeking pity. She uses them as an accellerant to propel the truth about Islam and the culture she was forced to be brought up in. Her response to her childhood and background is inspiring and although my childhood experiences don't quite compare to what this woman had to live through, I have decided to share some of them in an effort to do exactly what Ali has done. Promote the truth. The truth that I wish to promote with my childhood stories is a simple yet too often rejected one: God is good regardless of our troubled backgrounds or emotional scars.

When I was a child, I experienced some pretty crazy times while I lived with my father. He did a few things while raising me that normal people would consider less than orthodox.

One night around midnight, he staggered into my room reeking of alcohol and declared that he wanted to go for a ride. When my father said that he wanted to go for a ride, I knew exactly what he meant. He was ready to go cruising through the gravel country roads that stretch out for miles outside of our little town of Amboy, IL. When I say cruising, of course, I mean going about 90 mph, laughing like a drunken hyena, and blaring The Jimi Hendrix Band through his stereo system.

I remember nights that we had raced down the gravel roads so fast that that I was sure he was going to lose control. One night, he took me down a long straight patch of road that climbed up to the top of a hill. A patch of straight road was all he needed to max-out his little Chevy S-15 Pick-up truck. As we were approaching the peak of the hill, my dad was trying to push the speedometer up over 100. Then suddenly, he slammed on the brakes and we began to slide up and over the hill. The truck began twisting sideways and the tires through gravel into the air. Then as we hit the very peak of the hill, I saw what I thought was the end of my life. Just a short distance ahead the road turned a very sharp ninety degrees. If our truck decided to go straight, we were going to be embedded in the sides of some tall oak trees. The entire truck frame lurched toward the side as it slammed to a halt just a few feet from the edge of the point-of-no-return.

I always imagined us overturned in the ditch miles from the nearest house not to be found until we had been there for hours. He never seemed to want to 'go for a ride' when he was sober. Somehow God smiled on me because He never let that happen. After many rides like this, however, I had become conditioned to his drunken tours through the countryside. Sometimes I viewed them as a nuisance or a waste of time and other times I enjoyed the thrill.

This was the type of ride that my dad had in mind that night and I knew that it would only make matters worse if I begged or whined about not wanting to go so I just gave in and went along. The night started out with the usual speeding and using the emergency brake to do 'donuts.' For some reason that night my dad decided to terrorize me in another way. That certainly wasn't unusual. He was always looking for ways to do just that.

Just outside of Amboy, the little town we lived in, there was a large cemetery that had probably been around for the past 150 years. The alcohol must have impaired my dad's ability to read the signs stating that the cemetery closes at dusk. It probably stopped him from even seeing the signs. The night was dark as he drove far back into the cemetery. Finally, he came to a stop and turned off the lights. I was scared out of my mind.

"Get out." His words were slurred.

"No, dad."

"Get out!" He shouted throwing in a few curses and threats. I had no choice. I either had to do what he said or he was going to make me do what he said. I slid the seatbelt off and slowly pushed the door open. At that age, I was scared to death of monsters so I looked all around me as I put my feet on the ground.

As soon as I stepped out, he shouted at me as the vehicle jerked away from me, the door slamming shut from the momentum. "I'll see you in the morning if they don't get you!" I could see his tail lights as he sped down the road towards the gate.

Tears were streaming down my face as I stood there. My father had forced me to watch horror movies with him. He said that it would make me a man and that it would put hair on my chest. The only thing it did for me was give me nightmares. And now, as I stood in the pitch black night in the middle of a graveyard I was completely terrified that monsters or zombies were going to get me. I was too afraid to sit down or even to run. I turned to my left, and then to my right. I turned around. I was constantly looking to see if anyone of anything was coming for me. It probably sounds silly but I was a little kid and I didn't know any better.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I saw his lights reappear in the distance. It had probably been about fifteen minutes. Tears were still streaming down my face when I crawled back into the truck.

I had to grow up in a bizarre environment. Yet I can still say that God is good and his mercy is more than any of us deserve. No matter what you experience, God's love is extended to you!

For a while when I became a teenager, I resented the fact that a loving God would allow me to have to grow up with such a crazy father and with no mother. In fact, at one point as a teenager, I boldly proclaimed that I didn't want anything to do with God. Yet somehow God spoke to my heart and caused me to realize that those experiences were what shaped me into who I am. The traumas that I faced only served to make me stronger. They became stepping stones that provided me with a greater ability to help others in similar situations. I can relate to people and situations in a totally unique way that nobody else can understand. I now stand thankful for every trial that I experienced as a child.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

"One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam. He took out his old black bicycle and headed down a main road. Waiting in a doorway was a Moroccan man with a handgun and two butcher knives.

"As Theo cycled down the Linnaeusstraat, Muhammad Bouyeri approached. He pulled out his gun and shot Theo several times. Theo fell off his bike and lurched across the road, then collapsed. Bouyeri followed. Theo begged, 'Can't we talk about this?' but Bouyeri shot him four more times. Then he took out one of his butcher knives and sawed into Theo's throat. With the other knife, he stabbed a five-page letter onto Theo's chest.

"The letter was addressed to me."

So opens the compelling autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali as told in the book Infidel. Ali tells he story as she journeys from a young woman growing up in Somalia under European colonialism, changing governments, and warring clans to moving to Holland (and eventually America) and taking such a bold stand against Islam that she and her friends become targeted by the Muslim community just as in the story above. In fact while living in Holland, the citizens petitioned the government to revoke her citizenship as a result of her targeted status because they felt that her presence in their community placed them at risk as well.

I began reading this book yesterday on the recommendation of a lady at work and so far I have not been disappointed. I stayed up a bit later last night than I should have reading it. It really is an eye-opening page-turner. I will write a more in-depth book review as soon as I finish reading it. So far, however, I am really enjoying what I am learning about the Islamic culture.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Corporate Downsizing

A large company, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. This new boos was determined to rid the company of all slackers. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning on a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business. He walked up to the guy leaning against the wall and asked, "How much money do you make a week?'

A little surprised, the young fellow looked at him and replied, "I make $300 a week. Why?"

The CEO then handed the guy $1,200 in cash and screamed, "Here's four weeks' pay, now GET OUT and don't come back!"

Feeling pretty good about himself, the CEO looked around the room and asked, "Does any want to tell me what that goof- off did here?"

From across the room came a voice....

" Pizza delivery guy from Domino's"


Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Watchman Awards

The Watchman AwardsToday I ran in a 12k race which was a fund raiser for a local hospice. I had a great time and now I am extremely sore. I never found out what position I came in but my time was 1:06:26 which is 7.45 miles at a rate of 8:54 per mile. I felt good about that time since it has been a long time since I ran more than three or four miles. There is a marathon in March that I am hoping to work up to being able to run. I actually qualified for it during the run this morning.

Each Saturday, I post some of the most enjoyable articles that I found that week. This segment of the blog is called the Watchman Awards. Here are a few of the articles that I have enjoyed reading this week.

  1. Have a laugh on us by Rita Vernoy's Daughter
  2. The Devil is in the Details by Kent Brandenberg
  3. It is Real by Bro. Tim


Friday, February 8, 2008

Anti-Racist Racism

I recently heard some people on the radio discussing politics (as usual), and although the subject is already so old in light of the fact that they started campaigning two years before the election, I did hear one thing that really caught my ear. I heard several liberals make the statement that they were considering voting for Hilary Clinton just because she was a woman or that they were considering voting for Obama just because he was black. Whoa!

Clinton and ObamaThese liberals are the same people who rage the most against racism and against sexism. In fact, they will probably say that they are going to vote for these people for these reasons just because they are anti-racist. The truth is, however, that they are the ones who are being the most racist! Think about it!

If they are going to vote for someone based on their race or gender then it means that their candidates opponents are being voted against simply because of their race or gender. If you vote for Barak Obama for the sole reason that he is black, then you are voting against McCain or whoever just because they are white. That truly is racist! If you are voting for Sen. Clinton just because you think that it is time to see a woman in the white house, then you are voting against the opponent just because he is a male. This is sexist.

If you are all caught up in quotas and you believe that we should put these people into office just for the simple reason that they should have an opportunity based on their color or gender regardless of their qualifications, then you are a racist. I call this positive discrimination and it is just as wrong as negative discrimination.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

If you are not voting based on the issues but are rather voting based on the fact that your candidate is a certain color or gender then you are a racist or a sexist! Martin Luther King Jr. asked this nation to judge people based on the 'content of their character' and not 'by the color of their skin.' He did not ask for special treatment...he asked for equal treatment.

I am weighing the democratic candidates against the republican candidates based on the issues. I don't care if they are black, white, male or female. The only thing I care about is trying to figure out which candidate will represent me the most accurately politically. I am trying to figure out which candidate will stand for and defend the truths of the Word of God concerning government.

That's all I have to say on the matter!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Blood-Bath of the Catholic Inquisition

Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, they have been known from time to time to promote the execution of those who would disagree with their tenants and dogma. They would, in the name of God, murder anyone who opposed their ever-expanding religious hierarchy. They conducted these gleanings through a series of inquisitions including the Medieval Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition, and the Roman Inquisition.

The Catholic Inquisition Caused Thousands of Innocent Deaths!Some very famous and intelligent men have been condemned by the Catholic church throughout the ages for simply ridiculous reasons. A simple glance through the history of these inquisitions will reveal that thousands and thousands of men and woman were murdered for freely expressing their conscience toward God. The Catholic church officially supported the hanging, beating, torturing, beheading, drowning, and the many other forms of murdering those who didn't share their view of religious matters. It disgusts me to even think about some of the ways in which the Catholic church took life during these Inquisitions.

Even Galileo Galilei was banned by the Pope himself, Pope Urban VIII, from promoting the idea that the earth moved around the sun. He was forced to recant at the threat of death. He recanted and his sentence was reduced to imprisonment and was even forbidden to be buried with his family in the local cemetery.

These acts of inquisition were later renounced by the Catholic Church when modern society began to place political pressure on them to take such action. Consider this quote from the pope:

"The institution of the Inquisition has been abolished...the children of the Church cannot but return with a spirit of repentance to 'the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of the truth.'"
~ Pope John Paul II

Yet this becomes an even a greater difficulty to the open-minded Catholic because according to church dogma it is the Pope who speaks directly on the behalf of Christ. How is it then that these men could have been wrong? Unless, of course, the Catholic church leadership has been guided over the centuries by that which is the most politically safe for them rather than being guided by the voice of God as they claim. An objective look at history will reveal this very fact.

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One Year In The Army

I am happy to announce that today marks one year in the Army for my wife and I. This also marks the day that I receive a promotion from Private Second Class to Private First Class.

Private First Class RankOn Feb. 7, 2007, I left my beautiful wife and headed for basic combat training at Fort Benning, GA. It was here that I was trained for the next several months. I stayed up late after lights out and tried to write my wife a letter as often as I possibly could. She even posted a few of these letter on this site. You can find them by clicking here.

I graduated from basic training on May 25, 2007 and for the first time in almost four months, I was reunited with my wife. This reunion was short-lived, however. I still had more training to do.

She had to go back home and I continued in my military training. I headed up the street at Fort Benning to Airborne School. During the summer months, the classes are full so some students have to wait for a few weeks before they are allowed into the class. I was required to wait five weeks before I would get in.

During these weeks, I took a two week Javelin Gunner's Course (You can read about it here.) where I learned how to fire and operate an image-guided, shoulder-fired, medium-range, anti-tank, missile system.

Finally after five weeks, I was trained to jump out of airplanes! My first jump was the scariest five seconds of my life. I was the second man off that plane. Before we jumped, I found myself standing right next to the door waiting for the light to turn green. I could see the ground moving past us below. I should probably note that I am scared to death of heights! Then the light turned green and I took a step over and then a step out the door. I could feel my body twisting and turning in the wind...for about four seconds. By that time the parachute was completely deployed and the rest of the trip back to earth was extremely peaceful! The rest were easy. Even the night jump wasn't bad compared to the fear of the first one.

Private Cardot and His Beautiful WifeAfter airborne school, I picked up my wife and we headed out to Washington DC to serve with the 3rd Infantry Regiment The Old Guard. This is where I have been since August 1, 2007.

I praise God for the opportunities that he has given me and the lessons that he has taught me as a result of my military experience. I hope and pray that these experiences only make me a stronger servant for His kingdom. Although I love and am very passionate about serving in the Army, I cannot wait until my enlistment is up and I can, if the Lord is willing, serve God in a full time capacity. God's call on my life is to serve Him either as a pastor or as a missionary. I take extra care to learn everything that they teach us in the army, knowing that many of the principles of discipline and leadership will help me in my journey to serve God with my life.

I am so thankful for the wonderful wife that God has allowed me to have. Diane Cardot has been the greatest blessing that a man could ask for during these times. She has faithfully stood by my side each step of the way and I just want to publicly thank her and praise her for her goodness to me over the past year. I have no idea where I would be were it not for her loving encouragement! She really is an angel!

Thank you also to all of you who have been good to support me and pray for me. Please continue to pray for me. Thank you.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Joshua's Strength and Courage

"Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses."
~ Joshua 1:3

Joshua was a man of strength and valorGod made some pretty big promises to Joshua. Every place that Joshua went, God said, would come to belong to the nation of Israel. As a result of that promise, Joshua set out to conquer as much as he could. This journey required Joshua to exercise some very strong faith in the face of certain losses. Joshua lived an amazing life of spiritual strength and courage. And as a result, Joshua was able to see some remarkable victories that only God could bring. Joshua would have missed out on a lot of blessings if he had not pursued these promises with the fervor and intensity or faith that characterized his life.

It causes me to wonder what kind of things God may want to do in my life if I, like Joshua, will just keep moving forward. I need to be actively marching forward in the will of God. I need to be actively claiming the promises of God. Just like in Joshua's life, if I am faithful to do these things then God will send the victories!


Valentine's Contest Reminder: Free Money!

The Baptist Muse Valentine's Day ContestOn January 24, I launched a 3-week contest that will be culminating in a drawing on Valentine's Day for a $25.00 gift certificate to any restaurant that the winner might choose. Every method of entering this contest is completely free and most take only a few seconds to complete.

With very little effort, you could find yourself in possession of the $25.00 prize! There are many ways that you can participate and all of them are very easy to do. Leaving a comment only takes a few seconds. Linking to the Baptist Muse only takes a few seconds. Subscribing to the email updates only takes a few seconds. You get the idea.

The best part is that almost every method of entry into this contest results in a link back to your site from mine. In fact, there is only one item on the list that doesn't earn you a link back.

Consider, for example, The Baptist Muse Topsites. This section of the site allows you to place a large banner on my site linking toward your blog or website. This is especially good since my audience is predominately Baptist (especially Independent Baptist). That means that you are going to get more visitors to your site from the same belief system as you. This is called targeted advertising. And the way that we are doing it here, it is called free advertising. In fact, by advertising at The Baptist Muse Topsites, you might be the lucky winner of the $25.00. At least you will get five chances at winning it! Where else can you go to get paid to advertise your website?

In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. Every person who links to The Baptist Muse (either in the sidebar or with a buttton or banner) or joins The Baptist Muse Topsites will be added to my personal reading list. I read almost every article (90%+) that comes through my reading list and I comment on about 75%-80% of them. When I say that I comment, I don't mean that I pretend to read it and say "Great post" like a lot of bloggers probably do. I believe in conversational commenting. I try to stimulate the conversation between the author, the other readers, and myself. Its a way of saying that I appreciate the effort put into the post and I appreciate the support of the ever-expanding Baptist Muse.

There are Many Ways to Win!

  • Leave a Comment (1 Ticket)
  • Link Exchange (2 Tickets)
  • Subscribe to the Email Updates (3 Tickets)
  • Link to an Article (4 Tickets)
  • Join The Baptist Muse Topsites (5 Tickets)
  • Link via Button or Banner (6 Tickets)
  • Write an Article about this Contest (7 Tickets)
For a more thorough explanation of the rules and methods of entry visit the original announcement: Valentine's Contest.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ashamed of the Gospel?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
~ Romans 1:16

In our modern society, Christians are conditioned to shy away from confrontation. Toleration is touted as the supreme rule of order and any individual or group claiming that another's belief system is wrong is found guilty of bigotry and bias.
It seems then that as Christianity finds itself with the greatest religious liberty that it would find itself with the greatest preachers, the greatest soul-winners, and the greatest Christians that this world has every known. The truth, however, is in sad contrast to this.
Christians who tout that their savior Jesus is the only way to a pleasant afterlife are shunned and labeled as intolerant. Society rejects the proselytizing efforts and the unique lifestyle of the Christian community as closed-minded or antiquated.

Yet even with this grievous social rejection, American Christianity faces nothing remotely comparable to what Christians have dealt with in the past and are currently facing in other areas of the world. In fact, a case could be made for the notion that Christianity has never been received the way that it has been in the modern American society.

The first few centuries following the death of Christ were marked by severe persecution of believers by the Roman emperors. During this era, it was commonplace to make sport of the death of Christians by burning them in public, feeding them to animals in the arena, or forcing them to fight as gladiators. This era was followed by the Dark Ages appropriately named for the harsh suppression of the gospel light by the Roman Catholic Church. Scholars estimate that the pope and his legion of devilish imps eventually murdered over fifty million people most of which were Bible believing Christians. This has been the common trend faced by Christians of all ages.

It seems then that as Christianity finds itself with the greatest religious liberty that it would find itself with the greatest preachers, the greatest soul-winners, and the greatest Christians that this world has every known. The truth, however, is in sad contrast to this. Christians today are afraid of social rejection more than the early followers of Christ were afraid of death!

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in both his preaching and his lifestyle that the gospel message is the most important thing in the world to him. In many passages, he speaks about the persecutions and trials that he personally faced as a result of his gospel preaching efforts.

"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
~ II Corinthians 11:24-27

Paul embraced the way of the martyr. We know that Paul eventually gave his life for the gospel. I wonder if I compared my life to that of the Apostle Paul's what would I find in this area? Am I committed to the gospel or am I among the ranks of modern Christians who live in fear of the world's societal rejection?

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Revival: Wake Up!

1 Corinthians 15:34 "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."

Ephesians 5:14 "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

Christians need a personal revival!Where’s the beef? Alright, you caught me, I haven’t used any Scripture yet. Well, today’s post will be entirely a discussion of four key passages. Anymore, when I think of revival, I think of the two passages of Scripture quoted above. “Revival is a personal responsibility.” I don’t remember where I first heard that statement (I think it may have been in Ian Murray’s book - you know, the thinner one), but it has echoed in my mind more than any other statement on revival that I have ever heard or read. I preached a message when I was a youth pastor that pointed out this very truth and made the application that revival involves both a Private Labor and a Public Labor. Let me explain.

Hosea 10:12 "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

Jeremiah 4:3 "For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns."

By “Private Labor,” I mean this; breaking up the fallow ground of our own hard hearts. We do this by humbly examining and acknowledging our many sins. Let me recommend that you spend some time meditating on James 4. Let God really break your heart and then “seek the Lord, till he come.” Jesus told us to pray “importunately” for the Spirit. Beg God to fill you, change you, and use you.

Galatians 6:7-10 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

By “Public Labor,” I mean simply get the gospel out. The old ways still work, but they take time! In America our problem seems to be that we are too lazy and too used to instant gratification and so we quit before we see the blessing!

Consider these notes on Galatians 6:9-10:
  • Call to Spread the Seed (Ecc. 11:5-6)
    Proliferation of the gospel
  • Confidence - we shall reap
    Promise of success
  • Condition - in due season
    Pursue until due season
  • Caution - word of warning - if we faint not. (1 Cor. 15:58)
    Patient Steadfastness
  • Compassion v10
    Profitable service

Wake up sleepy Christian!

Romans 13:11-12 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light."

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Monday, February 4, 2008

The Day is Cold and Dark and Dreary

The day is cold and dark and dreary,
It rains and the wind is never weary.

These dark words form the opening line from the poem The Rainy Day written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I became very familiar with this poem when I was in high school. Unfortunately today, These words are also a very fitting description of my tragic work conditions. During my first funeral today, the sky opened and a barrage of rain began to attack just as we were getting out of the car and walking toward the graveside.

Despite the weather, I am still having a great day! Last Monday, I locked two high ranking officers outside for about ten minutes in the freezing cold! You can read about that by reading A Bad Case of the Mondays. Last Friday, it rained all day and it was about twenty degrees colder than it is today. Today isn't really that bad.

Also, I just had a great weekend. The weather on Saturday and Sunday was in the fifties and the sun was shining. On Saturday afternoon, a friend and I went running on a trail that overlooks the Potomac River. It was a very enjoyable run. I love running and have actually been running quite a bit lately trying to get into better shape. I was up and running on my treadmill at about 5:40 this morning.

Whenever it rains like this, I am reminded of the first time my wife ever flew. I had already flown several times. In fact, at this point I had jumped out of as many airplanes as I had landed with. She was really nervous and the weather wasn't helping. It was dark and foggy. The rain was coming down just a little bit off and on. It was a dark day. When we lifted off, I could tell that my wife was a little nervous. Immediately after liftoff, we began the climb to our cruising altitude. After only about a minute of climbing, we began pushing up through thick clouds. Literally, I am guessing that we could only see about fifty feet in front of us. Then suddenly, we reached the top of the clouds and pushed into an area of the sky that was completely clear. My wife was watching out the window this whole time. She looked down at the blanket of clouds below us and the sun shining above us and her face just lit up. "That's really neat!" She said. So now, I always remember that the sun is shining up above the clouds!

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.


Revival: What it is?

Welcome back, class. Today we will answer the question that every bus kid asks when told that there is going to be a special surprise: “What it is?” Let me begin by saying that both schools of thought have some good in them and some error in them. The Old School, consistent with the rest of Reformed Theology de-emphasizes mans’ duty and responsibility and, as you may have guessed greatly amplified the sovereignty of God. On the other hand, we know that men like Jonathan Edwards were men of deep humility and prayer. Historically, these revivals looked like this: a preacher would rediscover the simplicity of the gospel and get a burden for the lost. Then he would preach with fervency and power and many church members would get saved. Notice the emphasis. Here is where this view falls short to the Bible-believing Baptist. Lost people ain’t supposed to be members of the church!

Those of Finney’s thought pattern emphasize man’s responsibility and ability to bring about revival by fulfilling certain “spiritual laws.” These revivals, in their best forms, consisted of Christians getting right with God and then doing the work of evangelism. However, in their worst forms, they consist of men moving crowds with psychological manipulation.

Entire books could be written to prove and explain what I have already said. However, this is a blog and many are already bored. Let me conclude today’s thoughts by answering one driving question: What should a revival (in a Bible-believing, Baptist church) look like? I said before that both of the previous views contain some truth. I would say that first and foremost that revival would consist of a literal revival of individual Christians. What do I mean? I simply mean that a Christian or a few Christians allow themselves to be humbled before God in repentance and begin to faithfully obey the Lord in every area of their lives. In essence, they would return to Spiritual life. Secondly, real revival does many times include a real outpouring of the Holy Spirit in great power to the saving of souls. This second aspect is usually a result of the first, but is not always the result. So, to summarize, a Baptist revival is when a Christian gets thoroughly right with God and sets about to win the world for Christ. Kind of reminds me of the Separate Baptists in the days following the Great Awakening and the IFBs of the 1970s. How about you, do you need revival?

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Revival: An Introduction

Revival. The word means many things to many people. To some it is a congregation of people shouting and running in circles under a tent. To others, it is the modern charismatic confusion. Still others think of nothing more than a week (or perhaps three days) with an evangelist (definition: “Someone who says what the pastor is afraid to say“). However, there is no wonder that this term is surrounded by so much confusion; it has been this way since the earliest days of its usage in a religious sense. Every great revival has had its critics and many times, the critics had just cause for criticism.

Suffice it to say that none of these views (though popular) is accurate. Historically, the term has been defined by two separate “schools” of thought. The first, in chronological order is the Reformed, Calvinistic viewpoint. This has been referred to through the years as the “Old School” view. This view was probably best developed and defended by Jonathan Edwards and basically defines revival as sovereign work of God whereby He greatly increases the influence of the Holy Spirit in His normal workings. The second viewpoint, first promoted by Charles G. Finney and carried on by such men as Billy Sunday and probably the most common mode of thinking today, is that revival is a result of God-given laws. In other words, “revival comes through prayer and hard work.”

Now, both of these viewpoints come from separate theological foundations. One, as stated before, fits well with Calvinism. The other fits well with Arminianism and much of modern weak theology (whatever you may want to call it). As a Baptist though, I am prone to reject all man-made systems of thought and go straight to the Bible. Over the years I have read much concerning revival, from historical accounts to theological works from both viewpoints. At the same time, I read much of the Word of God and gave much thought to this subject in light of God’s pure revelation. With this great wealth of (largely forgotten) information tucked safely away (somewhere) in my oversized head, I will undertake to summarize over the next couple of days several simple observations concerning this great subject.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Watchman Awards

Well friends, it been another week. I have enjoyed all of the articles that I have been reading this week. There has been a lot of great articles written.

I am also very happy with the growth I have seen right here at The Baptist Muse. I pray for the effectiveness of The Baptist Muse. I genuinely desire to challenge and encourage Christians to love God more. I like to set goals for The Baptist Muse. It gives me something specific to pray for. I have been praying since I launched The Baptist Muse Topsites this week that six people would join The Baptist Muse Topsites by the end of the week. I believe that there are so many great Independent Baptist Blogs and Sites out there for people to find. The Baptist Muse Topsites is my way of bringing some of these sites together for Christians to browse through.

  1. Baptist History 101 (Part 1), (Part 2), and (Part 3) - This is an ongoing series written by Rita Vernoy over at the Jungle hut discussing the history of the Baptist Church. It is great information for people wanting to know who we are as baptists and where we come from.

  2. What to do when you've had enough. - This is a very encouraging article written by Bro. Tim over at Tim's Treasures concerning life's difficulties. Sometimes you need a little encouragement to keep moving forward. This article will do that.

  3. The Grudge that Stole the Hand that feeds you. This article written by Joe over at Joe's Jottings is a great piece about forgiveness. I really enjoyed reading it.


Friday, February 1, 2008

The Greatest Day of My Life

Whenever I read the Bible, I try to make it come to life in my imagination. I make every attempt to realize that these were real people with emotions, cultural ideals, dreams, and goals just like those of us today. I try to bring the stories of the Bible alive by trying to imagine how they might have played out. I especially try to understand the emotion, the sorrows, the depressions, the anxieties, and the joys, of the characters throughout the Bible. I wrote the following narrative with that in mind. This is my attempt to imagine the emotional charge that was built up in this man's heart. Open up your imagination and try to understand what this man probably felt during one of the most amazing miracles in the Bible.

"Sit for a moment and I will tell you the story of the greatest day of my life. Oh how well I remember that sweet memory. It floods my mind as if it just took place yesterday.

"You see, when I woke up that morning, I felt like I had no reason in the world to keep on going. I was so consumed with what had taken place just a few days before. I was still in shock from what I had seen...and what I had done. I was so heartbroken.

"Three years before, I met a man who changed everything for me. I remember the day that I met this man. He called out to me, "Follow me." I remember how he told me to follow him. He didn't ask. Who was this guy to tell me to just drop my nets and leave my father and follow him? Yet something in his voice seemed to intrigue me. He seemed to have such a deep and subtle authority. I felt compelled to follow him. My curiosity drove me. I had to know what this man was about. I was not disappointed.

"I watched him perform some of the most amazing things I had ever seen. He was a real live miracle worker! He made blind men to see. He caused lepers to be healed. He healed diseases. He caused lame men to walk again. He even brought a man back from the dead.

"I remember the day that we heard about one of his friends dying. I watched the tears as they dripped down his face. I saw the heartfelt compassion like I had never seen before or since. It was very obvious that he cared a great deal for his late friend. I could feel the pain of this man from the sheer sadness embodied on his countenance. I hurt for him that day in a completely unique sense.

"What he did that day, I will never forget. He demanded to see the body. They tried to stop him. After several days the body isn't pleasant to be around. Yet he refused to take no for an answer. He forced the people to roll the stone back from his grave. Then he spoke with that subtle authority that had demanded my attention a short time before. "Lazarus...Come Forth!"

"My heart froze. I couldn't move. My mind refused to believe what I was seeing. This man who had been dead for nearly four days came from the tomb as alive and well as I was.

"The miracles that he performed were so amazing! It wasn't long before we had masses of people following us. The crowds believed this man was the Messiah. This was the man that was going to deliver us from Roman oppression. This was the man that was going to gather the scattered remnants back to Israel. This was my Messiah!

"I was so enamored with this man. I came to believe that he was God himself! There was no other possible explanation for the great miracles that this man performed. I would have followed him anywhere...or so I thought.

"Yet all of my dreams and aspiration with this God-man came crashing down so hard that I thought I would just die. You see, I watched as they dragged him away. I saw the crowd that once followed him now turn on him and cry out for his crucifixion. I heard the groan as they whipped him with the cat-of-nine-tails. He never even opened his mouth. He never fought back. I thought he was going to deliver us and instead he just gave up!

"I stood there ashamed that I had followed this man so blindly for so long. I was in shock. I didn't even want to be associated with this man who had deceived me on such a huge scale. In fact, a couple of people recognized me as one of his followers. They asked me about him but I cursed his name and denied that I ever knew him. What a disappointment. I stood there from a distance and watched his last breath. I watched him die.

"It was with all this having taken place that brought me to the day in question. I had to walk away from all of this disappointment. I had to go back to work. I had to move forward...but it was so hard.

"I was out on my boat fishing. I had been fishing all night and hadn't caught a thing. When morning came, I heard a man on the shore tell me to cast my net in another direction. I was skeptical. What did this guy know? But I didn't have anything to lose. I mean I hadn't really caught anything all night so it wouldn't take much to be a step up. I cast the net.

"Suddenly I felt a pull at the net that was stronger than anything I had felt before. The net was completely full. We struggled and tugged and yanked to try to bring it in. Then John, one of my dear friends that I met those three years before, exclaimed loudly, "IT IS THE LORD!!!"

"I couldn't believe my eyes! It really was him! But I watched him die! I watched him hang his head and take his last breath! My heart jumped into my throat.

"I threw on my coat and jumped into the sea. I had to get to the shore. I can only imagine the look on the others' faces. I didn't care. Jesus was alive! He had risen from the dead! What a miracle! I watched him die and now he is alive! He really was the Messiah! He really was the savior of the world! He is alive!"

Written by
Nicholas Z. Cardot