This was posted on a site that I am a member of, today more then ever we need to stand up and be counted, time for talk, lets get to action….Inside this health care bill…… Yes, the Health Care Bill that was passed in the House this Saturday has a provision in it that officially eliminates your right to homeschool.

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Dear “Representative”,

You do not know me, but I know you; for I have been watching your work in Congress very carefully. Unlike my previous letters and phone calls to the so called representatives in Washington DC, this is not a plea for my voice to be heard, and I am not going to ask that you “take my views into consideration” when you vote on legislation that can affectively eliminate my personal liberties. The time for pleas has come and gone, and so has my tolerance for your complete disregard of The Constitution. No, this letter is not coming in the form of a request, but more it should be regarded as a warning of what is to come for you and your colleagues on the Hill.

In August, 2009 thousands of Americans attended town hall meetings to voice their displeasure with the healthcare reform bill; you mocked us. On September 12, 2009, an estimated ONE MILLION patriotic Americans gathered on your front lawn to protest the growing strong arm of the government; you ignored us. On November 5, 2009 an estimated 40,000 Americans left their families and jobs on only days notice to protest the passage of “Pelosi/Obama-Care”; again you ignored and mocked us. We have taken every civilized measure to prevent the American Dream from morphing into a socialized nightmare, and yet we have been ignored.

We are done being ignored, and quite frankly we’re tired of being the only ones that are playing nicely. So we’ve decided to play the game your way; bat in hand and target in site. And who is our target, you may ask? Well…you are. Like our forefathers, the time has come to make war with our oppressors to preserve our freedoms. Unlike them, our weapon will be action, not artillery. Over the span of mere months we have built an army of millions, all willing to sacrifice their time, money and sweat to one cause, and that cause is to remove you from office and regain control of this country. From this day forward we will dedicate ourselves fully to the cause, and we will not stop until you have either agreed to abandon party politics and defend the Constitution with every vote you cast, or until you are removed from your position of power.

After we are finished organizing thousands of impassioned voters in your district to campaign against you, whether that be going door to door delivering handouts, financing commercials or supporting your opponents, we will move on to those entities that have pledged their financial support behind you. Slowly but surely we will expose every corrupt tie you have forged, every lie you have told, and every promise you have made to every special interest that backs you. The downfall of ACORN was just the beginning, and you can rest assured that you and the entities that have pledged their allegiance to your corrupt ways will not only suffer a similar fate, but all of the public humiliation that followed.

Like you, General Cornwallis underestimated the power and wrath of We The People before he was defeated by “mere farmers with pitchforks,” and like your career in politics, this miscalculation will be short-lived. We have put down our pens and picked up our pitchforks, and this is only the beginning.

With a Watchful Eye,

An American Patriot

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

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From the blog at AsAMom.org

I do not believe that God has given up on our country. He did not give up on Ninevah (Jonah 3). He was willing to save Sodom if there were even ten righteous men there (Genesis 18:32).

There are two things that I am going to begin praying for daily and I invite you to join me. If Jesus is Lord of your life, I invite you to share these prayer requests with your friends and family.

1. I pray that Jesus will make it obvious to all who are the sheep and who are the goats in Congress (Matthew 25:31-46). There are too many wearing sheepskins to cover their goathides. I also pray that he will raise up sheep to take the place of the goats in governing this country.
2. Isaiah 6:1-4 I pray that God’s glory will fill our country and be revealed to the world. I pray that his glory will shake the doorposts and thresholds of the Capitol Building.

DID YOU KNOW THESE FACTS?

Death is certain but the Bible speaks about untimely death!

Make a personal reflection about this……

It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for
whatsoever a man sow, that shall he also reap..

Here are some men and women who mocked God :

John Lennon (Singer):
Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine,
he said: ‘Christianity will end, it will disappear. I do
not have to argue about that.. I am certain.
Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more
famous than Him’ (1966).
Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ,
was shot six times.

Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil):
During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes
from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.
Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President,
then he died.

Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):
During A show in Canecio ( Rio de Janeiro ), while
smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air
and said:’God, that’s for you.’
He died at the age of 32 of LUNG CANCER in a horrible manner.

The man who built the Titanic:
After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the
Titanic would be. With an ironic tone he said:
‘Not even God can sink it’
The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic

Marilyn Monroe (Actress)
She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a
show. He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her.
After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said:
‘I don’t need your Jesus’. A week later,
she was found dead in her apartment

Bon Scott(Singer)
The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he
sang: ‘Don’t stop me; I’m going down all the way, down the highway to
hell’.
On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked
by his own vomit.

Campinas (IN 2005)
In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a
friend….. The mother accompanied her to the car and was so
worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said
to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car:
‘My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You.’
She responded: ‘Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause
Inside Here…..It’s Already Full ‘
Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident,
everyone had died, the car could not be recognized what type of car
it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact.
The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To
their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken

Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer)
said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor
vehicle.

Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name
that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.
Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still
alive.
‘Jesus’

Jesus said
‘If you are embarrassed about me,
I will also be embarrassed about you before my father.’

Bishop T.D. Jakes ‘8 Second Prayer.’ Just
repeat this prayer and see how God moves!!
‘Lord,
I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me,
my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus’ name.
Amen.’

International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) General Stanley McChrystal Address 1 October 2009
Special Address
General Stanley McChrystal
Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, US Forces Afghanistan
I.
Preamble
It is an honour for me to be here and I would like to thank you for giving me the time. I would also like to thank not only my hosts but also all of you who took time to be here today. This is an extraordinarily important subject: we have young people – not only from the coalition but also young Afghans – in the field today, who depend on the decisions we make and the analysis we do. Taking the time to talk and think about it is always time well-spent, so I thank you for that.
I am privileged to speak here today as the Commander of NATO’s ISAF forces, representing people from 42 troop-contributing nations. I represent them today and I hope to do that well. As you know, I have a British deputy, Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, who is coming to the end of his term and will soon be replaced by another great British officer, Lieutenant General Nick Parker.
Before I continue, I would like to recognise the enormous sacrifice that families here in the UK have made. As you know, the losses that we have suffered are significant in terms of those who have fallen, suffered life-changing injuries, or given up parts of their life just by being away from family. I am in awe of the performance of the British brothers whom I have been honoured to work with for a number of years now.
I am humbled to be here because I do not claim to be in the same category as people who have been talking here, such as Prime Minister Brown and President Zardari, who expressed their views on this complex subject. I do, however, believe that I can offer some perspectives and will try to do that today. I will start by posing seven questions before attempting to answer them. If this works according to my plan, it will totally exhaust your appetite for this issue and I will leave the room to wild cheers and lucrative job offers. If my plan fails, as most of mine do, I will be happy to field any questions that we have time for.
II.
What is the Right Approach to Use in Afghanistan?
1.
People’s Own Suggestions
People ask me this question all the time; many people offer their own suggestions. There is a multitude of approaches to what to do. Some people say that we should focus primarily on development; others say that we should conduct a counterterrorist-focused battle, given that this really started after 9/11 and Al-Qaeda’s strikes. Other people say that we should conduct counterinsurgency (COIN). A paper has been written that recommends that we use a plan called ‘Chaosistan’, and that we let Afghanistan become a Somalia-like haven of chaos that we simply manage from outside.
2.
The Complexities of Afghanistan
a.
The delicate balance of power
I arrived in Afghanistan in May 2002 and I have spent a part of every year since then involved in the effort. I have learned a tremendous amount about it and, every day, I realise how little about Afghanistan I actually understand. I discount immediately anyone who simplifies the problem or offers a solution, because they have absolutely no idea of the complexity of what we are dealing with.
In Afghanistan, things are rarely as they seem, and the outcomes of actions we take, however well-intended, are often different from what we expect. If you pull the lever, the outcome is not what you have been programmed to think. For example, digging a well sounds quite simple. How could you do anything wrong by digging a well to give people clean water? Where you build that well, who controls that water, and what water it taps into all have tremendous implications and create great passion.
If you build a well in the wrong place in a village, you may have shifted the basis of power in that village. If you tap into underground water, you give power to the owner of that well that they did not have before, because the traditional irrigation system was community-owned. If you dig a well and contract it to one person or group over another, you make a decision that, perhaps in your ignorance, tips the balance of power, or perception thereof, in that village.
Therefore, with a completely altruistic aim of building a well, you can create divisiveness or give the impression that you, from the outside, do not understand what is going on or that you have sided with one element or another, yet all you tried to do is provide water.
b.
COIN mathematics
There is another complexity that people do not understand and which the military have to learn: I call it ‘COIN mathematics’. Intelligence will normally tell us how many insurgents are operating in an area. Let us say that there are 10 in a certain area. Following a military operation, two are killed. How many insurgents are left? Traditional mathematics would say that eight would be left, but there may only be two, because six of the living eight may have said, ‘This business of insurgency is becoming dangerous so I am going to do something else.’
There are more likely to be as many as 20, because each one you killed has a brother, father, son and friends, who do not necessarily think that they were killed because they were doing something wrong. It does not matter – you killed them. Suddenly, then, there may be 20, making the calculus of military operations very different. Yet we are asking young corporals, sergeants and lieutenants to make those kinds of calculations and requiring them to understand the situation. They have to – there is no simple workaround.
It is that complex: where you build the well, what military operations to run, who you talk to. Everything that you do is part of a complex system with expected and unexpected, desired and undesired outcomes, and outcomes that you never find out about. In my experience, I have found that the best answers and approaches may be counterintuitive; i.e. the opposite of what it seems like you ought to do is what ought to be done. When I am asked what approach we should take in Afghanistan, I say ‘humility’.
III.
What Environment Are We Operating In?
1.
Generally Accepted Truths
The answer to this question starts with some generally accepted truths about Afghanistan, which we all know to be true:

                    It is a graveyard of empires.

                    Afghanistan has never been ruled by a strong central government.

                    Afghans do not consider themselves Afghans.

 

All three are untrue. If you ask an Afghan what he is, he will say, ‘I am an Afghan’. There have been strong central governments, although different from what you think of as central government. In the sense of governance, there have been periods when Afghanistan absolutely had a central government. Therefore, we have to start by not accepting any of the generally accepted ‘bumper sticker’ truths.

                    Real Truths

                    Complex, difficult geography and demography

 

In terms of real truths, it is complex, difficult terrain, both in terms of land and people. It is also a tribal society with a culture that is vastly different from what most of us are familiar with. There are variations around the country; you cannot assume that what is true in one province is true in another. That goes for ethnic, geographic and economic issues. You cannot even assume that what is true in one valley is true in the next any more than you can assume that one neighbourhood in London is exactly the same as another. We would not generalise here, yet sometimes, as outsiders, we want to do that.

b. A long period of conflict

 

I would also remind people that we have been waging a war for eight years, yet the Afghans have been at it for 30. Life expectancy in Afghanistan is 44 years, so not many people remember pre-conflict life in Afghanistan. Of those 30 years, about 10 were spent fighting the Soviets, followed by six years of ‘warlordism’ and a further six years of Taliban rule and civil rule, and the last eight years have been eight more years of fighting.

One elder said something that really struck me one night as we were talking: ‘What you see in Afghanistan now is a reflection of pieces of each of those eras’. It is now a mosaic of the experiences of all those eras. If you think about the impact of 30 years on people and on a society, calculations change. The certainty that you have when you walk through your neighbourhood in London is not the certainty that they have. The expectation of the future is not the expectation that they may have. The opportunities to be educated and to associate with different ethnic groups, which have become more of a challenge in recent years, are very different.

 

c. A damaged society

 

The society is what I would call ‘damaged’. Individuals may not be damaged, but the society is not as it was. It is not so uniformly; nor can you say ‘it is all different here’. Tribal structures, relationships and expectations are uncertain now. When you go into a village in a Pashtun area, traditionally you could have predicted what the role and interrelationships of the mullah or the elders would be. That is no longer true. It varies based upon the experience of that area. In some areas, some have disproportionate influence and others have none. Some have been killed. In other cases, elements like the Taliban have come in and completely turned upside down the traditional structures. You can also not assume that traditional structures have disappeared, so you have to go in and learn what the structure is and how people deal with it.

  1. A Uniquely Complex Environment

 

What we face, then, is a uniquely complex environment, where there are at least three regional and resilient insurgencies, with further sub-insurgencies. They have intersected on top of a dynamic blend of local power struggles in a country damaged by 30 years of war. You then run into someone who raises their finger and says ‘here is the solution’ – they can have my job.

  1. A Crisis of Confidence

 

We also face a crisis of confidence. Afghans are frustrated after the most recent eight years of war, because in 2001 their expectations skyrocketed. Along with the arrival of coalition forces, they expected a positive change. They saw that initially and then waited for other changes – economic development and improvements in governance – that, in many cases, may have been unrealistic but, in many cases, were unmet. Therefore, there was a mismatch between what they had hoped for and what they have experienced. Again, as we learn in all societies, expectations and perceptions often matter as much as the reality.

.                  What Is the Situation Now?

.                   Serious and Deteriorating

 

The situation is serious, and I choose that word very carefully. I would add that neither success nor failure for our endeavour in support of the Afghan people and government can be taken for granted. My assessment and my best military judgment is that the situation is, in some ways, deteriorating, but not in all ways.

  1. Tremendous Progress

 

I can also point out areas in which tremendous progress is evident: the construction of roads, provision of clean water, access to healthcare, the presence of children in school, and access to education for females. All of these are up dramatically and hugely positive, and portend well for the future.

  1. A Need to Reverse Current Trends

 

However, a tremendous number of villagers live in fear, and there are officials who either cannot or do not serve their people effectively. Violence is on the increase, not only because there are more coalition forces, but also because the insurgency has grown. We need to reverse the current trends, and time does matter. Waiting does not prolong a favourable outcome. This effort will not remain winnable indefinitely, and nor will public support. However, the cruel irony is that, in order to succeed, we need patience, discipline, resolve and time.

.                  Who is Winning?

.                   A Battle of Minds and Perceptions

.                   Not a game with points on a scoreboard

 

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. This is not like a football game with points on a scoreboard; it is more like a political debate, after which both sides announce that they won. That matters because we are not the scorekeepers: not NATO ISAF, not our governments, and not even our press. The perception of all of these entities will matter and they will affect the situation, but ultimately this is going to be decided in the minds and perceptions of the Afghan people of the Afghan government and of the insurgents, whether they can win or are winning, and, most importantly, the perception of the villager who casts his lot with the winner.

b. Villagers make rational and practical decisions

 

Villagers are supremely rational and practical people: they make the decision on who they will support, based upon who can protect them and provide for them what they need. If a villager lives in a remote area where the government or security forces cannot protect them from coercion or harm from insurgents, he will not support the government – it would be illogical. Similarly, if the government cannot provide him with rule of law, the basic ability to adjudicate requirements legally, or just enough services to allow him to pursue a likelihood, it is difficult for him to make a rational decision to support the government. The Taliban is not popular. It does not have a compelling context. What it has is proximity to the people and the ability to provide coercion and, in some cases, things like basic rule of law, based upon the fact that they are there and can put themselves in that position. The perception of the villager matters in terms of which side he should support, so winning the battle of perception is key.

c. Allowing the facts to speak for themselves

 

I also think that winning the battle of perception, as it applies everywhere but particularly to us, is about credibility. As I told you, the situation is absolutely not deteriorating by every indicator, but I will not stand up and say that we are winning until I am told by indicators that we are winning. For me to stand up and claim good things that are not supported by data in order to motivate us and make us feel good very rapidly undermines our credibility. Our own forces are smart enough to do that, so I intend to tell people the best assessment that we can, as accurately as possible, and allow the facts to speak for themselves.

VI. It Has Been Eight Years – Why Is It Not Better?

This is a fair question for the Afghan people and for societies that have supported this effort. It is true that, after eight years of tremendous effort and expenditure and the loss of good people, many things are worse. Why have eight years of effort not made things better? There are a number of complex reasons:

.                   The insurgency grew.

.                   Expectations – both expected and unexpected – were not met, which has created frustration.

.                   It took us longer than I wish it had to recognise this as a serious insurgency. As the Taliban started to regain its effectiveness, we lagged in terms of accepting that as a clear reality.

 

Through our actions, we – i.e. the coalition and its Afghan partners – sometimes exacerbate the problems.

.                   We have under-resourced our operations.

.                   In some areas, we have underperformed; in others, we have under-coordinated.

.                   We have struggled with unity of effort, national agreements and chains of command that are complex to say the least.

.                   In some ways, we have not overcome some of our intrinsic disadvantages. We are operating in a very different culture, with language differences, relationships that do not exist and a complex situation that takes time to understand, yet we have not effectively developed enough expertise, continuity of people or sufficient numbers of language-trained people to deal with the situation as effectively as we could have.

.                   Most importantly, our own operational culture – and by ‘our’ I mean coalition forces – and manner of operating distances us physically and psychologically from the people who we seek to protect. We need to connect with people, yet physical or linguistic barriers make it increasingly difficult. Ultimately, our security comes from the people. We cannot build enough walls to protect ourselves if the people do not.

 

We must, then, operate and think in a fundamentally new way.

.                  Can We Succeed?

.                   Protecting the Afghan People from the Enemy

 

We can succeed. We must redefine the fight. The objective is the will of the Afghan people. We must protect the Afghan people from all threats: from the enemy and from our own actions. Let me describe it: a few days ago, just before we left to travel here, a bus south of Kandahar struck an improvised explosive device (IED) killing 30 Afghan civilians. That is tragic.

On the one hand, you might say that the Afghan people would recoil against the Taliban who left that IED. To a degree, they do, but we must also understand that they recoil against us because they might think that, if we were not there, neither would be the IED. Therefore, we indirectly caused the IED to be there. Second, we said that we would protect them, but we did not. Sometimes, then, the most horrific events caused by the insurgents continue to reinforce in the minds of the Afghan people a mindset that coalition forces are either ineffective, or at least that their presence in Afghanistan is not in their interest. That does not happen all of the time. There are times when they feel differently, but you have to put things in that context to understand what we must do. General Stanley McChrystal Address International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) 1 October 2009 7

 

.                   Protection from Our Own Actions

.                   Respecting the people

 

We also need to protect them from our own actions. When we fight, if we become focused on destroying the enemy but end up killing Afghan civilians, destroying Afghan property or acting in a way that is perceived as arrogant, we convince the Afghan people that we do not care about them. If we say, ‘We are here for you – we respect and want to protect you’, while destroying their home, killing their relatives or destroying their crops, it is difficult for them to connect those two concepts. It would be difficult for us to do the same. The understanding, then, must be that we respect the people.

b. Changing our mindset

 

We must assign responsibility because, ultimately, the Afghans must defeat the insurgency. As a force, however, we must change our mindset. Whether or not we like it, we have a conventional warfare culture – not just our militaries but our societies. Our societies want to see lines on a map moving forward towards objectives, but you will not see that in a counterinsurgency because you do not see as clearly what is happening in people’s minds. We will have to do things dramatically and even uncomfortably differently in order to change how we think and operate.

In short, we cannot succeed by simply trying harder. We cannot drop three more bombs and have a greater effect; it is much more subtle than that.

  1. Crucial Next Steps

 

In my mind, therefore, what we must do over the next period of time is:

.                   Gain the initiative by reversing the perceived momentum possessed by the insurgents.

.                   Seek rapid growth of Afghan national security forces – the army and the police.

.                   Improve their effectiveness and ours through closer partnering, which involves planning, living and operating together and taking advantage of each other’s strengths as we go forward. Within ISAF, we will put more emphasis on every part of that, by integrating our headquarters, physically co-locating our units, and sharing ownership of the problem.

.                   Address shortfalls in the capacity of governance and the ability of the Afghan government to provide rule of law.

.                   Tackle the issue of predatory corruption by some officials or by warlords who are not in an official position but who seem to have the ability, sometimes sanctioned by existing conditions, to do that.

.                   Focus our resources and prioritise in those areas where the population is most threatened. We do not have enough forces to do everything everywhere at once, so this has to be prioritised and phased over time.

.                    

A Need for Resolve

 

As you know, the concepts that I have outlined here are not new, but if we implement them aggressively and effectively, we can create a revolution in terms of our effectiveness. We must show resolve. Uncertainty disheartens our allies, emboldens our foe. A villager recently asked me whether we intended to remain in his village and provide security, to which I confidently promised him that, of course, we would. He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, but you did not stay last time.’

 

 

 

 

.                  Why Bother?

.                   The Risk Posed by Al-Qaeda

 

Afghanistan is difficult, so why bother? It is a long way away. It is not our business. As we know, however, 9/11 brought us here to the latest interaction, and transnational terrorist threats absolutely remain. I believe that the loss of stability in Afghanistan brings a huge risk that transnational terrorists such as Al-Qaeda will operate from within Afghanistan again.

  1. High Stakes for Afghanistan and the Region

 

I also believe that the stakes are high for Afghanistan and for the region. An unstable Afghanistan not only negatively affects what happens within its borders but also affects its neighbours. Afghanistan is, in many ways, one of the keys to stability in south Asia. A state that can provide its own security is important to all international security, and certainly to that of the UK, the US and our international partnership. The Afghan people are worth bothering about and they deserve that.

IX. Conclusion

 

In conclusion, I am exceptionally proud to serve at ISAF. Within my office, I have a picture of a British battle group, led by Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, with whom I worked for a long time in Iraq. He is with his soldiers, who I had the opportunity to speak with when I visited them during operations in Spin Majid this summer in the Helmand River valley. I keep that picture because, when I looked into their eyes, which were bloodshot with fatigue, I remember the extraordinary professionalism, competence and sheer courage of those young men. Whenever I come to London, I like to run through the city, and I particularly like the statues that you have erected to heroes. I hope that you erect one to that generation – they have earned it. Thank you.

Baltimore Orioles’ Luke Scott faithful to ‘planting seeds’ while hitting ‘lefties’ & ‘righties’

By JOSHUA COOLEY
Special to Florida Baptist Witness

BALTIMORE (FBW)—Aaron Cole vividly remembers the first time he met Baltimore Orioles slugger Luke Scott.

It was a cold winter morning nine years ago. Scott was a junior outfielder on the Oklahoma State University baseball team with a nose for trouble. He and Darren Heal, his best friend and teammate, loved to carouse. When the two of them got together, they were “ornery,” as Cole recalls.

Days before the meeting, Scott’s mother, Jennifer, called Cole out of the blue. She and her husband, David—residents of DeLeon, where they attended First Assembly of God church—had become Christians several years earlier and now felt a deep spiritual burden for their son. Though Luke had been reading the Bible Jennifer gave him two years earlier, there was no discernable fruit in his life.

Jennifer looked up the First Assembly of God congregation in Stillwater, just a few miles from Oklahoma State’s campus, and dialed the number. Cole, the church’s longtime senior pastor, answered her call, and after listening to her story agreed to contact Luke.

He didn’t have to. Two days later, Luke walked into the church unannounced and introduced himself: “Hi, I’m Luke Scott. My mom said I need to talk to you.”

And so began the radical spiritual transformation of one of baseball’s most outspoken Christians.

On June 9, 2001—a year and a half after he met Cole—Scott placed his faith in Christ.

“God has worked miracles in my life and brought me here, and I’m very thankful,” Scott said. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

The Orioles, it appears, made a pretty good decision by acquiring Scott. He came to Baltimore in the December 2007 blockbuster trade that sent five-time All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros for five players. In his second full major league season last year, Scott, 30, hit .257 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 148 games playing mostly left field.

“I was very pleased to see the talent and the power and the ability to play every day,” said Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley. “I don’t say that lightly. He can hit lefties, and he can hit righties.”

For Scott, the climb to everyday-player status was arduous. Drafted in 2001 by Cleveland, he spent his first three years in the minors, got traded to Houston shortly before the 2004 season and didn’t enjoy a full big-league season until age 28, when he batted .255 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI in 132 games in 2007. But the Astros, with a glut of outfield talent in Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, considered Scott expendable.

Scott’s first season in the American League was a wild roller-coaster ride. He hit. 279 in March/April, .212 in May, .333 in June, .185 in July, .326 in August and .181 in September/October. He is hoping to rediscover his 2006 comfort zone, when he hit .336 with 10 home runs and a .621 slugging percentage in 65 games after being called up for good by Houston.

“God had a big test for me [in 2008],” said Scott, who still resides in DeLeon Springs for part of the offseason and attends his parents’ church. “It’s the same with 2007. I had an Achilles’ [heel] injury, and I kind of changed my batting stance a little. I was locked in during 2006. I haven’t felt that the last two years. I kind of miss it, but I have the potential to do so much better.”

The Orioles acknowledged the potential by avoiding arbitration and signing Scott to a one-year, $2.4 million deal in January. He is an extremely diligent player who takes notes on every pitcher he faces and religiously reviews video footage of his at-bats, looking for any helpful morsel of information.

“He’s one of those guys that when he gets hot, he can carry you for awhile,” said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

But Scott’s one-year contract also sends a signal that the Orioles aren’t fully convinced that he is a long-term solution to their rebuilding project. Despite his solid play in left field last year—he only made two errors in 205 total chances—he will likely be relegated to mostly DH duties this season thanks to Baltimore’s acquisition of 24-year-old prospect Felix Pie this offseason. Nick Markakis, 25, who just signed a six-year, $66 million contract in January, is entrenched in right field, and rising star Adam Jones, 23, looks like a keeper in center.

Scott is taking everything in stride.

“I’d like to stay healthy throughout the year and maximize the potential the Lord has given me,” he said. “I’d like to get back to 2006. That would be nice. I’ve worked hard to get here.”

Spiritually speaking, Scott’s clubhouse presence is a boon to any team. He’s a faithful prayer warrior and a winsome ambassador of Christ, according to those who know him well. In fact, Scott led Cincinnati Reds center fielder Willy Taveras to the Lord when they were roommates during their time in Houston’s organization, according to Cole.

“It’s amazing to me how many people in pro baseball have been affected by Luke,” Cole said.

Chris Adomanis, the Orioles’ Baseball Chapel leader, will be relying mainly on Scott and second baseman Brian Roberts to be strong spiritual influences on the team and invite players to Bible studies.

“We are to be in the world and not of the world, and that’s what they’re doing,” Adomanis said of Scott and Roberts. “We want to really focus with those guys this year on being a witness for Christ.”

Ultimately, Scott sees this season through the lens of a biblical allegory. He is a farmer who has worked his fields and is anticipating a bountiful spiritual crop, both on the diamond and in his relationship with God.

“I’ve been planting seeds,” Scott said. “Now I’m waiting for the harvest to come. There are a lot of things I don’t understand. God’s ways are higher than mine. But whatever he wants me to do, I’ll do. He is faithful.”

Original Article: http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10182.article

I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late ! !

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… Terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves..

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it… No one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a “minor” automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son.. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied.

Her husband’s company “threatened” to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend suggested that Sandra’s grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

“She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder “Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered.. “For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child’s?”

“Good afternoon, can I help you?”

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. “I . . . I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, ”

she continued.. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you..”

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer….

“Hi, Barbara, let me get your order.” She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.

“Do you want these in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.

“You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, “Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . ..

she left with no flowers!”

“That’s right,” said the clerk. “I cut off the flowers. That’s the ‘Special’. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today,” explained the clerk.. ” She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk. “For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel..”

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly.

“I’ve always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, ‘Why? Why me?!’

It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement, twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator..

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously.

“Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?”

“Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced,” Phil replied. “After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from “thorny” times. That was good enough for me.

I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too . . fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time.. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love…. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart… The first year’s arrangement is always on me.”

The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

It read:
“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for the roses;

thank Him for the thorns.

God Bless all of you.

Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.
“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly,
and leave the rest to God..”

New  Pledge of Allegiance

Now  I sit me down in school
Where praying is against  the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If  Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our  hair can be purple, orange or green,
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom thing..
The law is specific, the law is precise..
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God’s name is prohibited by the state.

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks..
We can carry smut, but not the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me  liable.

We  can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the ‘unwed  daddy,’ our Senior King.
It’s ‘inappropriate’ to teach right from wrong,
We’re taught that such ‘judgments’ do not belong..

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It’s scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!
Amen

Bret Lane is the brother in law of a very close friend.  He has Cron’s Disease and is now in ICU with a stomach full of infection.  The doctor’s feel he may not make it, but he can make it with the help of God.  Let us pray for him and ask God that if it is in His will, that he will survive, so that if he is in need of salvation, that his family may bring it to him.

Thank you very much.

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
“He will defy the Most High God, and try to change all laws, morals, and customs. God’s people will be helpless in his hands for three and a half years.” (Daniel 7:25, TLB)

For several weeks, months actually, we have been studying the Book of Daniel in Sunday School. I have to admit that prophesy has never held a really strong interest to me. My mind is far more mechanical than philosophical, given to math and engineering more than philosophy or dreaming.. But this verse literally jumped out at both Gail (my wife) and me. Immediately we both saw this as VERY current. It is now July, 2009… the current presidential term and some senate terms, and all house terms will end in 3 1/2 years!

Virtually all Bible experts date this as having been written around 535 B.C. The experts also say this was a prophesy of the Roman Empire to come about 400 years in the future of this prophesy (around 146 B.C). Why then, does this seem so current and real for today? Perhaps the Bible explains it best in its own words. Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word of God is “quick and powerful” meaning alive and active. Jesus Himself told Satan that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that “proceedeth” (meaning currently being spoken) out of the mouth of God. Now we believe that the Bible is complete and is not subject to new words being added. However, it is alive and active. Therefore, I believe strongly that the precepts and principles written for specific times and events are applicable to ALL times and events.

From those who don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible, the argument comes that cultures, times, morals, etc. were different then and that today’s truths are different. I do not agree. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:8-11 (TLB) that ” …History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before”… “How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here.” Thank God, we have God’s Word, the Bible, where these things have been written down so we do know what was said and done back there.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. God is good and sin is evil. These absolutes are not relevant to time and circumstance. Do God’s people always do right and not sin? Unfortunately, no they don’t. We try, but we are sinners by nature and often do not succeed. Thank God who sent Jesus, who, through the shedding of his own blood, we who accept it are redeemed from sin. That forgiveness is once and for all, but is also renewable every day, every minute until that day when we are with Him and no longer have the influence of sin on us.

So then, is Daniel 7:25 a prophesy relating to today’s American political administration? I don’t know. I do know that Acts 17:24-28 the apostle Paul stated that God is not subject to man’s changes and that God Himself set the exact time and place for nations and each individual to be. I have no problem believing that God spoke from His “living and active” word to Gail and me at the exact same time in that exact place. What if nothing new comes from this prophesy in 3 ½ years? Still no problem, and that makes it no less real for us. After all, as Solomon said, “Nothing is truly new, it has all been done or said before”
As Steve Brown,  a mentor of mine, would say “Now you think about that”!