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IMG_4020My visit to this remarkable place was not brand new.  I had been here once in the past.  A year ago during the opening month, I was here with the pressing crowds.

This time the visit was much more enjoyable.  The lines had shrunk to our scheduled window printed on our tickets.  We wanted to catch a look at the additional wing of the George Bush Presidential Library.

On our first visit the crowds had packed the museum.  We skipped the Oval Office wing due to the very long lines.  This time we got to the museum close to the opening hour.

We skipped the opening sequence of pictures and videos.  43 traces his entry into the White House.  He shares the events that shaped his Presidency.

The next stop was the initial years leading the nation.  Laura’s focus on literacy and George’s past with baseball was fun.  We lingered here again as we did during our first trip.

IMG_4021When we rounded the corner determined to visit what we missed a year ago, our swift walk slowed to an eventual halt.  In the center of the display were some of the twisted I-beams retrieved from the rubble of the Twin Towers destroyed during the 9-11 attack on our country.  Pictures, videos and audio presentations swirled the deep feelings from that horrible day.

The words of President George Bush defined so much of his leadership and one our nation’s rare moments of unity.  Together we drew together as a nation.  Politics were quieted.

Yes, the haranguing between Washington D.C. professional biased parties drummed the cadence of a nation that would stand together against an external threat.  Our nation even gathered for prayer and services that called on the name of God.  Hymns were sung.

Evil people who launched a wicked lethal attack against innocent civilians had polluted the soil of our nation with their dastardly plans.  Terror had taken advantage of a free nation and free people.  There was no bravery or chivalry by these who stole, plotted and murdered.

My eyes scanned these old pieces of twisted steel.  I listened to President Bush speak to our nation and the world.  He spoke on our behalf and promised to do his duty to bring all of our nation’s strength to bear against the cowards who unleashed an ugly cowardly act of war on our country.

Always remember.  This picture of steel will be in my mind forever.  My spirit is stirred.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Joshua 23
Part 2 of 6

The nation of Israel is coming into her inheritance of the Land. It has not been easy. Many rigorous military campaigns have been waged to get to this point.

However, war wears on a people. There is a longing for peace and an end to conflict. Unfortunately, people in this mood can become careless.

Joshua is concerned for the complacency that he senses is creeping into the mindset and attitude of the people. They are looking for a shortcut, an easy conclusion to war. A compromise and a feeling of finding a settlement are pressing on their minds.

Israel too easily accepts the idea of joint occupancy. God has clearly directed through Joshua for the nation to clean out the Land of those who are not followers of YHWH. Yet, Israel falters, fails and justifies a compromise.

Israel fails to discern that living with people who do not share the same faith will lead them to accept a diluted faith. Partial obedience never provides satisfaction. Instead, a bondage and corruption of their own faith will be inevitable.

More later…

Israel 2014 IFL 401There is a military presence in Israel that we do not experience in America.  Modern warfare and international threat are a part of an Israeli’s daily routine.  They go about their errands and travels without distraction from the weaponry and what those trappings of war could mean in a day that has the potential to erupt into violence.

On my tour I have subtly glanced at the presence of soldiers who were around.  When a man in fighting fatigues is in my vicinity and he is heavily armed for an altercation, I take notice.  Yet, there is something unique about Israel and its presence for battle.

You can look exclusively at the weaponry or you can look into the faces of the soldiers.  The guns and ammunition tell you that these soldiers are ready to fight.  They are colleagues who will fight together and for each other.

Yet, their collegiality supersedes their armament.  There is calm in their countenance.  A joy is pervasive among these young combatants.

They are not nervous about carrying weapons into a crowded square, packed with people from all around the world.  Locals mix in with pilgrims are part of the gathering that these sentinels are to guard from harm.  A successful sense of calm and security come with the presence of these warriors.

Israel 2014 IFL 402Each one carries his armament like he is comfortable with them.  That confidence comes from splendid training and experience.  Preparation like that gives us visitors a peace that frees us to enjoy our visit.

At the same time that sense of peace is held in check.  The very presence of the military reveals that the threat to peace is ever-present.  Contrasting political views vie for dominance.

Some want only peace and have proven their willingness to coexist.  Others are not so gracious.  That tension is the basis for placing these soldiers in our presence.

The spiritual world is the same.  We are surrounded by the trappings of spiritual conflict.  There is an invisible yet clear presence of an enemy who is constantly attempting to derail those in pursuit of righteousness.

We have been given the equipment to battle successfully against the wiles of the Devil.  They are listed for us as pieces of armor.  Each item is effective but we need to practice, train and utilize them until we are comfortable with them.

Our battle calls for truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word and prayer.  These are for our protection.  Are we comfortable with each and all?  Being prepared for war is wisdom.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Joshua 21,22
Part 6 of 7

 

The 2 ½ tribes build an imposing altar en route to their Lands on the East side of the Jordan River.  Word of this action reaches back to the rest of the Israelites.  Nothing is said of who brought the news or why they interpreted the news the way they did.  That is often the case in misunderstandings.

 

Israel reacted out of fear, surprise and assumption.  They jumped to a conclusion because their own sensitivity to their history of violating God’s law.  Further, they acted out of fear that if any of the tribes got out of line God would judge the entire nation.

 

The majority tribes were intent on war.  There was a prejudgment to hurt those that they had already judged as guilty.  Condemnation was embedded in their questions: “How could you break faith?  How could you turn away from the LORD?”

 

None of this was true.  However, their accusations had already concluded that they were right and the 2 ½ tribes were wrong.  They were guilty before being proven to be so.

 

A moment of respite happens that is not frequently repeated in our modern days.  It can be easily traced back to the common declaration that all of the tribes announced as their commitment.  Right at the precipice of disaster, the nation rights itself as what is most important rises to the surface.

 

More later…

 

Joshua 11
Part 5 of 6

Joshua’s success is indisputable. The military conquests are a historian’s marvel. Yet, the Scripture is clear. It was the LORD who directed this acquisition to Moses.

Nevertheless, God fulfilled this direction to Moses through his successor, Joshua. If God skips a generation to do what He says He will do it is not His failure but His mysterious timing. No one can ever say that God is late.

Furthermore, Joshua seemed to know that he was fulfilling what God had directed his mentor. He himself was not selfish but carefully and responsibly gave to the tribes what God wanted them to have. Leaders who are unselfish bring even more glory to God through their honoring God’s people than they do by what they achieve as a leader of men.

Peace from war comes when God wants it to happen. War can be God’s way to bring about the peace that will give people real rest. Peace is not a matter of the absence of conflict but the application of divine justice against the lives of those who rebel against the Almighty.

More later…

Joshua 11
Part 1 of 6

Alexander the Great was a military leader who stands out among history’s great conquers. He had the ability to muster men, give them a vision and motivate them to enter battle with confidence to win whatever engagement they encountered. There was immense confidence in the brilliant tactical orders that Alexander gave to his troops.

He was known for his surprise attacks and creative assaults, creating for his unsuspecting foes a surprise attack. Once he studied his objectives, he planned to create the element of surprise for his forces. His soldiers saw these tactics produce victory after victory, giving them confidence to follow his orders on their extended campaigns.

Once in order to gain a tactical advantage he led his troops through an arid dessert. It was a horrid march through heat and sand. His scouts had given them the only route through the unforgiving desolation.

During the march as his men pressed the limits of their endurance, scouts scoured the landscape for drinkable water. They came back with a single cup of thirst quenching water. Of course they handed it to their commander.

Alexander never gave his decision a hesitant thought. Instead, before all of his men who watched with parched lips, Alexander poured the cup of water on to the sand. He was heard to say, “What is one cup of water, when we ALL thirst?”

That discernment of the thoughts of his men and his identification with them was a small picture of how he was able to stir such loyalty and draw out the courage of these men. Those who can see, sense, understand and act in the best interest of those he or she leads will be successful in how they direct the lives of others.

 

More later…

Dallas 2013 124

So many lives lost…no good reason.

Dallas 2013 126

So many more lives lost…still no good reason.

photo credit: brucefong photography

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