American Man-Gods Intentionally Foul, Bringing Woe

A Lawless Nation Reformed
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Augusta, GA

By Al Gray

This week the long-awaited and much-dreaded Freeh Report came out on the horrible child molestation cases at Penn State University, with particular emphasis on the enormous cover-up on the part of the coaching staff, athletic department, and administration. The guilt was universal. It was deep. It was inexcusable. It was disturbing.

It was American hero worship perfected. Coach Joe Paterno was revered across the land. Lauded and praised without limit and without cease. Paterno became a god among men.

It should not have taken these revelations to put the lie to the notion that any man is a god. There is one God and HE is about to render judgement on us all.

America is collapsing before our eyes.

The Rule of Law is DEAD.

The elites are utterly corrupt and they strengthen their grip on the good and honest folks every day.

There is nothing new under the sun and we find guidance readily in the Bible in Habakkuk 1.

The [a] oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.

How long, O Lord, will I call for help,

And You will not hear?

I cry out to You, “Violence!”

Yet You do not save.

Why do You make me see iniquity,

And cause me to look on wickedness?

Yes, destruction and violence are before me;

Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore the law is ignored

And justice is never upheld.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

Therefore justice comes out perverted.

“ Look among the nations! Observe!

Be astonished! Wonder!

Because I am doing something in your days—

You would not believe if you were told.

Yes, the law is ignored. It is ignored in Washington, DC. The law is disregarded under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. The law is antithesis to the government of Augusta, Georgia.

Justice is never upheld. Justice comes out perverted. This political season the burgeoning Liberty Movement succeeded in bringing forth the votes to carry many state and local conventions, yet they were denied victory by unethical, blunt naked power plays. In finance, a Federal Reserve primary dealer – a bank empowered to buy and sell US Debt as a government agent – stole $1.5 billion from customer accounts, an action met with no arrests. Last week Peregrine Financial Group was alleged to have done the same thing to the tune of $200 million. This month has also seen Liborgate, a global interest rate scandal that victimized billions of people, implicate the central banks of England and the US Federal Reserve. Justice is never upheld.

The wicked surround the righteous. Look at the Penn State mess. Those who notified authorities saw no investigation, only greater accolades heaped on the perpetrators. Who would believe their words against the man-gods of national champion football staff? Here in Georgia, the legislature is designated the most corrupt in the USA, this in a “Bible Belt” state replete with prayer breakfasts and notions of the “religious right.” We are horribly gone wrong at the hands of these people.  God will not be mocked. In Augusta, we see a government adrift, one that has only functioned over the last 4 years by wave of deceit, duplicity, and horse trading of largesse bestowed on the connected of the two warring factions.  This is happening in the face of a Greatest Depression. The parasites have multiplied and grow more aggressive in their demands for appeasement.

Something has to give and it will.

Observe! I am doing something in your days. Yes, the Lord is doing something. In the day of Habakkuk, it was the Chaldeans who swept out the corrupt. Tomorrow it will be the kids in the Liberty movement. The corrupt are old and weak. The lovers of Liberty are youthful and principled. They might have been overcome this time by deceit and strong-arm thuggishness, but the next time they will be stronger, more numerous, and more experienced. The judiciary may be co-opted by the forces of deceit, but judges and politicians have to live in society. Facts and truth forcefully presented will make even a judge fear to take the side of wrong. We are not there yet, but that day will come.

There is an awakening across America. Woe be unto the deceivers. Their power is built upon lies and lies disintegrate in the face of truth. The ugly truth may terminate Penn State football. It should, just as it should sweep out nearly every politician in the land.

We are not there yet. The corrupt are still in power.  They still control vast portions of the media, nationally and locally. They can still destroy the reformers. The Paterno-god was not the only fake deity. Locally we have more than our share.

The awakening  is happening. The awakening will not be denied. Sooner than most can understand, forces will align and the evil will be swept away.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary sums it up well.

The prophet complains to God of the violence done by the abuse of the sword of justice among his own people and the hardships thereby put upon many good people (v. 1-4). II. God by him foretells the punishment of that abuse of power by the sword of war, and the desolations which the army of the Chaldeans should make upon them (v. 5-11). III. Then the prophet complains of that too, and is grieved that the Chaldeans prevail so far (v. 12-17), so that he scarcely knows which is more to be lamented, the sin or the punishment of it, for in both many harmless good people are very great sufferers. It is well that there is a day of judgment, and a future state, before us, in which it shall be eternally well with all the righteous, and with them only, and ill with all the wicked, and them only; so the present seeming disorders of Providence shall be set to rights, and there will remain no matter of complaint whatsoever.

Tomorrow will be bright in America, but for now some of us must gird for battle like modern day Chaldeans on a mission from God. In verse 6, the Lord says “behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans.” Reform won’t come by any foreign Chaldeans, but from us, all of us, arising to take American back.

Breathtaking Events Engulfed Jonah

Three Gulps

Sunday July 1, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

Early last month, big government looked to strike again. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City proposed banning big sugary drinks with the hope of saving us from obesity and diabetes at our own hands. The Big Gulp came to mind for we know that staple of decades, an oversized 7-11 beverage, pretty well. A Big Gulp is the very definition of gluttony. Saint Thomas Aquinas said this about the matter – “Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire … leaving the order of reason, wherein the good of moral virtue consists.”

Jonah was a glutton for punishment, the fish that swallowed him was a glutton for a big gulp, and these days we all are gluttons for pushing a failed society beyond all bounds of prudent. Jonah might have wished that a commandment from a leader like Mayor Bloomberg carried the authority to save him from himself or hide him from the Lord. It wasn’t going to work that way.

Our scripture for today is Jonah Chapter 2. Jonah rebelled against the Lord’s instruction to go to Nineveh; he had gulped at the prospect to preaching to imaginably hostile crowds. Then the fish gulped down Jonah. In chapter 2 we read of Jonah gulping in anguish at being separated from the light of the world and the light of God. We get a sense of Jonah’s reality check at the seriousness of his position and his new-found faith that got him out of it.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

There are trinities all through the Bible.  The Book of Jonah is the story of the Three Gulps. The first gulp was one caused by Jonah’s imagination of the indifference, ridicule, and hostility he might receive at the hands of a foreign people, amongst crowds of strangers. Most folks we know are like that. They will do anything to avoid speaking in public, about anything, much less preaching about the one Lord in a pagan land.

The second gulp was that of the fish swallowing Jonah. While we can be sure the Lord summoned the great fish for the purpose of bringing obedience to Jonah, we can also imagine that a fish large enough to swallow a man would have a Big Gulp out of natural proximity to prey not too big to swallow.

It was the third gulp of realization in this story that is the most important. Gulping can be out of apprehension of the imagined, such as the prospect of preaching to a novice; it can be a physical act of taking an inordinate swallow, as the fish exhibited; and it can arise at a sudden very real assault on the senses, as the near-drowning, then engulfment of Jonah. There was a sudden need for breath, a desperation causing panicked swallowing of nothing but stale air. Then came realization, not just of his predicament of being in the belly of a fish, but the recognition of how wrong, sinful, and dismissive of God he had been, not just in avoiding Nineveh, but all through his life.

Lastly, the third gulp brought redemption. Jonah made peace with the Lord and promised to follow his commands, after his emotions had ranged from despair to calm assurance in the Lord’s presence and forgiveness.

Are we in this day and age so jaded, so conceited, and so consumed with gluttony from constant immersion in this corrupt society that it will take a massive shock to our senses to bring us to the conclusions to which Jonah was brought? Let us pray to the Lord that we might be mindful of the story of Jonah.

Three gulps there were. One arose from imagination. One arose from the aggressive gluttony of another, albeit that of a fish. One arose from physical assault on a fragile human body.

Mayor Bloomberg cannot save New Yorkers from a Big Gulp, nor can President Obama and Congress spare the American people. There will be no deliverance. Yet there will be redemption for those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

No one had greater trials than Jonah, Job and Moses. Let us pray that, should the time come, the Lord will give us their

perseverance and focus on Him.***
A.G.

Stoking a Unity Candle Isn’t for Sheep

The Pinnacle of Babble
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

At the conclusion of many wedding ceremonies, the wed couple rise to light the Unity candle, a solemn symbol of the merging of their two lives into one bound with love and Christian devotion. The Unity candle is at the pinnacle of flanking candles representing the two families now joined in matrimony.

All too often the sentiments behind the unity candle  get snuffed out shortly after the flame. The unity candle that winds up truly representing unity is a rarity. When a husband and wife make it to the ends of their lives together, there has to be an explanation.

All joking aside, it takes perseverance and a lot of faith to make a marriage into a true beacon of unity. Forces are too great in society and life for most to make it work.

In the Bible, nothing parallels the symbolism of the unity candle more than the story of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis, Chapter 11.

11 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have  the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

Let’s look at the parallels. The people took pride in their unity, and like the married couple, saw a pinnacle as a statement of their determination to remain one people in one place. They sought to make a name for themselves that was greater than simply being one people. In other words, they had status aspirations as deities, for what other levels of “name” were there?

In this day and time in America, aren’t we doing pretty much the same? Technology has become god for much, if not most, of the world. We are putting technology at the pinnacle. We aspire to the loftiest of heights with aggressive, sometimes immoral, and mostly unethical gene splicing. The clamor for every new edition of the iPad causes those without them to feel inferior and deprived. By the same token, in the last 30 years we have grown into a disunified, fractious, and pampered 330 million souls. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, enormous forces might just blow our nation apart. It doesn’t take something nearly so great as language difference.

Social networking, globalism, and institutions like “conservative” talk radio attempt to monolithically pigeonhole us into some faceless, amorphous mass with a single mind like that of a herd of sheep. A lot of us are rebelling, for that unity which is intended for us by our masters, is built like the Tower of Babel – weakly bonded with readily fractured cement. The question that would have destroyed the unity of the people of Babel long before the tower topped out was the same as that of today. Who deserves to be at the top?

God decided to end that nonsense before it got to that point. Why? Well, in His wisdom He probably saw that more powerful forces than language would eventually wreak permanent damage to the people’s family unity and even the roots of civilization. We see this all the time with politics.

Genesis 11 portrays a pretty stunning truth in these words – “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” We need to read, and re-read that verse carefully. Nothing is impossible for a people united!

Going back to the unity candle, we see that the two-lives become united only through, love, devotion and faith. Can we use the same permanent cement to restore a society that is built on those things instead of overrunning each other to the pinnacle? Sure we can. Nothing is impossible with the help of the Lord, but nothing is possible that arises out of human passions and weakness. We just need to come to our senses in time.

Some months ago, one of the wiser of the leaders in our area, asked your author this question – “What are the chances of that happening?” The answer was, “Slim, but it is the only chance we’ve got.” One chance exists in unity. What will we go through to find that truth?

We have each other and faith can be the cement for unity. We don’t need candles, pinnacles of fake “success,” or to make a “name for ourselves.”

Jerry Clower had the number right.

ONE.**

A.G.

A Patriot and a Heroine Departs Augusta

The Law Came in with Gail Force

 

 

Sunday June 17, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

 

Romans Chapter 5 perhaps sums up Christian faith more succinctly than any chapter in the Bible. It begins with tribulations, perseverance, proven character and hope. It finishes with transgressions, condemnation, justification, reconciliation and concludes in grace. In the middle one finds the Law in a curious light.

20 [o] The Law came in so that the transgression would increase….

 

Whoa! Many Bible scholars predictably avoid this improbable and seemingly out-of-place role of the Law, in such a negative light. Only those with passion for the Law, a keen intellect, curiosity, and fearless determination to seek truth in the Lord, like the legendary Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, address this passage. It is too daunting for most.

It wasn’t for Gail Duffie Stebbins. She found nothing daunting. Gail, a longtime friend, mentor, collaborator, and confidant, lived Romans 5 and exemplified why the notion that, “the Law came in so that the transgression would increase,” isn’t negative at all. It is the lifeblood of our society, key to our Constitutional rights, and, as Romans 5 shows, it demonstrates to all how we fall short.

Let’s return to the beginning of Romans 5.

Therefore, having been justified by faith,  we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and [we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Nothing better sums up the life of Gail Duffie Stebbins for this old friend. She suffered tribulations throughout life, as all of us must, but the one that strikingly stands out from this perspective is that Gail was a capable, forceful woman who thrust herself into the melee of the ‘boys club’ of the Augusta bar and Augusta Judicial circuit. As the Augusta Chronicle reported (her father, Hubert) “Duffie raised his daughters to ignore gender boundaries and pursue any career path they wanted, saying ‘the sky is the limit.’” She didn’t back down, taking a particularly aggressive stance against governmental predations of her beloved parent’s property rights. Her sword was Equal Protection under the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution and her shield was the Due Process Clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. Harmful overlay zoning ordinances with the Evans Town Center and Fury’s Ferry Corridor districts attempted to make short shrift of Hubert and Eleanor, her parents. She would have none of that. The dominant men would yield. Indeed, when a Superior Court judge threw out the Evans Town Center ordinance in a suit that Gail brought, the judge exclaimed to the county’s attorneys, She’s got you boys! Of course, in good-old-boy fashion the judge delayed entering his decision in the case long enough for the “boys” on the county’s staff to remedy the deficiencies she prevailed upon, and then reenact the law.

After tribulations comes persistence. She was so accustomed to being abused by the boys that Gail knew the judge was going to give the government every break in the Town Center case. She persisted in a backup plan to prove nobody else had ever lived up to the rules. We went around taking digital photos, doing Georgia Open Records Act Requests, and Gail even went to the extent of measuring distances and counting parking places to prove we were right! Our persistence meant that after her court case and our presentations, the county was never again able to use that ordinance against a determined property owner. In demanding equal protection for Hubert, Eleanor and herself, she benefited the rest of us.

The next stage is proven character. Gail insisted in following the second commandment of Christ – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – which is at the root of law and just common decency in how we treat others. She got a lot of that from her father, whom she adored. After Hubert’s death three weeks ago, she was cited and quoted in the Augusta Chronicle, His daughter, Gail Stebbins, hopes people will remember her father as a man with ‘extreme integrity’ who cared deeply about those in need and wanted to leave the world a better place… He never asked for recognition,” she said. “Daddy was one of those who liked to quietly work behind the scenes.” Gail was nothing like that. The Law came in with Gail force and she was scarcely shy in defense of her family and community. She had proven character and toughness.

The last time we spoke was on the eve of our Augusta Today activist group’s intervention to defeat the Laney Walker Bethlehem Overlay District before the Augusta Richmond County Commission, in which Gail’s guerilla style defense of property rights would reign supreme. She counseled for us to avoid providing so much information about the city’s mistakes that their lawyers would correct the crucial ones and in fact advised against doing anything. It went something like, “let them find out too late.“ I laughingly took half of her advice and we left enough untouched, unreported, and undiscovered issues to prove fatal should the need arise, even though we went forward in our (successful) opposition. Gail was like that. She was a fantastic sounding board.

One might think this friend would have trouble with the idea that she gathered hope. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Gail knew the score about a whole host of matters – law, politics, government, public policy, finance, world economy, and human nature. While we had not seen each other in several years, she was a steady counsel, fount of ideas, and source of practical thought. I treasured her wisdom, advice and perspective. She recognized the seriousness and precariousness of our world situation, but she had tremendous HOPE for her children’s futures.

Gail’s husband, Clay, represented our family when we had similar need to combat wrong with considerable ability and aplomb. He was a life partner in Gail’s battles and we offer him and their daughters our heartfelt condolences over Gail’s passing late last week.

Gail Stebbin’s life lent meaning to the words of Romans 5, Verse 20,  that says, “The Law came in so that transgression might increase.” The great Reverend Spurgeon explains that for us this way: Sin always existed, but until the Law was introduced, there was no way to measure or prove the universality of sin. Law, as Gail practiced it, was a great equalizer. It showed that all men (and) women have fallen short, even the wealthy, the powerful, and the privileged. The end of the verse explains this way: “grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Exposing inequality was Gail’s way of exposing sin and overcoming it with God’s help.

Gail knew one thing supremely. She had hope, “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [f] by His life. 11  And not only this, [g]but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Gail adored her father. In her last interview she said this – “He is my hero.

Now through hope and conquered transgression, she is reunited with him in reconciliation with God.

She was one of my heroines and she was a fellow patriot.

Godspeed Gail, you will be missed for a while, but we will see you one morning soon.

 

Your old friend,

Al

 

A Transportation to Heaven Investment

A Caesar Rendering Due

Originally posted on CityStink
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

All Americans should acquaint themselves with Andrew Jackson’s Farewell Address. The unabridged version, distributed as a pamphlet, stands as a clear warning and prophesy. In it “Old Hickory” wrote:

You will yet find there is a constant effort to induce the General Government to go beyond the limits of its taxing power and to impose unnecessary burdens upon the people. Many powerful interests are continually at work to procure heavy duties on commerce and to swell the revenue beyond the real necessities of the public service… They succeeded in obtaining a tariff… extravagant schemes of internal improvement were got up in various quarters to squander the money…  But, rely upon it, the design to collect an extravagant revenue and to burden you with taxes beyond the economical wants of the Government is not yet abandoned… efforts will be made to seduce and mislead the citizens of the several States by holding out to them the deceitful prospect of benefits to be derived from a surplus revenue collected by the General Government and annually divided among the States… Do not allow yourselves, my fellow-citizens, to be misled on this subject… It is, moreover, a system of injustice, and if persisted in will inevitably lead to corruption, and must end in ruin.

Don’t these words paint a hauntingly familiar picture in this election season when we are asked to vote ourselves a new tax for transportation improvement? There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to predatory government, is there?

Christians live with a dilemma in evaluating such things, for in Matthew 22:15-22 we find the duties of paying taxes in the context of perplexing instructions:

Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they *sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “ Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

What was ‘money’ then and now was whatever was branded as legal tender granted the privilege of being accepted in payment of the government’s taxes. The denarius coin was stamped with Caesar’s image, so Jesus responded simply, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (legal tender money); and to God the things that are God’s (ourselves and wealth that stands beyond legal tender money).”

When government strains the limits of the consent of the governed and the sheer mathematics of debt, the things it demands as “money” become debased. Indeed, the fall of Rome came when the denarius became so debased by the government’s own abuse, that other “things” assumed one of the two essential attributes of money – that of a Store of Value.  When some other “things” become stores of value – be they gold, silver, produce, grain, oil, or fertilizer – then they command more and more of the government’s legal tender required as units of exchange.  At some point the valuables assume both store-of-value and unit-of-exchange functions because the government’s money has gone worthless. Then governments get very hostile to the people.

Indeed, at the time of the Fall of Rome, it was said that the Roman farmers were so infuriated by the government’s raids of the stored value represented by their granaries, that they invited and implored that the barbarians’ invade to relieve them of tyranny from Rome.

We are at the same point here in our “modernity.” Our money is debased, so government is increasing its demands upon us – now wanting to tax our previously taxed savings when we spend them – and will continue to do this until the people rise up and put a stop to it.

Giving the government its due has to be limited to what the government needs to serve us, as Andrew Jackson intoned. As it moves beyond that, it gets into the realm of what is ours and interferes with our ability to give the Lord that which is His – support of church, charities, and our fellow men, women and children in need. Worst of all, it grows its demands so as to enslave man and to deny him the time to devote to the Lord and to others.

Let’s spend no more time on that conundrum. Men halt the advancement of government power at some point, if there be patriots still drawing breath (there are). Let us turn to rendering to God that which is His.

What is His?

We are His along with everything that we have and are able to store value into. We are charged to tithe, so as to support the church in its service to the broader community and that must be a central aspect of Christian life and practice.

Matthew 10, Verse 28 makes it clear for us:

28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in [a] hell.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? We should be fearless toward government and fearful of God. We must love the Lord, not government. Government is just another Pharisee, trying to trip you up. Be not deceived. Look beyond their power to harm. Look to heaven. All else is false pretense.

Come thou Fount of Every Blessing and that isn’t the latest Caesar or his government.

AG

Sunday Sermon: Grab an Oar and Give all You’ve Got

 

A ‘Mitey’ Big Present

The Return of “Giving it Your All”

Originally posted on CityStink
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

This writer’s favorite painting is, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” an 1851 work by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. Yes, historians and assorted wags sniff that it is not historically accurate, because the famous river crossing happened in the night, but the art of it is that it conveys the sheer power of pain and sacrifice that gave rise to our wonderful nation. It also sets one to pondering about the future and whether we the people of America in this year of 2012 remotely have the dedication to give it all to God or country.

Focus on the men manning the paddles and oars in the boat, not the general or the officers. These brave lads came from a populace divided on even whether the Revolution was a good idea, much as our folks are divided today on government. They were not likely to win fame or fortune, yet there they were, giving the liberty movement their very lives. That same winter it was said Washington’s army could be tracked by the bloody footprints these patriot warriors left in the snow. They gave it all.

Jesus gave it all. He expects us to do that too. He watches from Heaven in observation of our actions, much as he sat one day observing people paying the Treasury.

Our Bible story this week is found in Mark 12, Verses 41 – 44, of the New American Standard Bible.

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them,

 “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their [e]surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

The sequencing of this story is curious as it is immediately before an accounting of the last days found in Mark 13, especially verses 9 through 13.

“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13  You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Religion and politics are the realms where men and women of faith in God and country have been making the ultimate sacrifice since the days of Genesis. The widow didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. She might have been facing starvation. She certainly increased her deprivation in contributing her last cent. The patriots in Washington’s boat suffered starvation, freezing temperatures, frostbite, and isolation from home and loved ones. They risked death in camp, in battle, and as traitors, had they lost.

Today in this America people are fat, contented, and lazy. Few are the patriots. Few are those who give up everything to follow Jesus. City and suburban life foists neighborhoods where no one knows their neighbors, because very few feel a sense of community or a compelling reason to be part of a community. This writer has had the good fortune to migrate to country life. Here things are much different. Folks in this relatively poor county pitch in to help their neighbors. It isn’t all that uncommon to get the feeling that they will give you the clothes off of their back. People still GIVE without any expectation of anything received in return. The contrast between living and working in Chicago, Winston-Salem, or Savannah is quite amazing. One sees HOPE in rural America that our people still have it within themselves to sacrifice for the greater good.

When times become tough, faith and the willingness to sacrifice it all may be all a man or woman has left. Everyone doing it will keep society from something very dark indeed. One day, in which we all will rejoice, I believe everybody in the land will see this as a necessity for life itself.

Try not to count on the end times or predict them. Practice sacrifice for others. It is a ‘mitey’ fine thing.

Remember Washington’s frozen troops. They were not standing tall in the boat. They were throwing body and soul into the oars. The widow gave her last mite. Will you do the same?***

AG

Forward to Redemption in a Generational Crisis

Horns of Despair to Horns of Jericho

Originally posted on CityStink
Wednesday May, 27 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

In 1997 William Strauss and Neil Howe authored a book entitled The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny.

This provocative book posits, “Just after the millennium, America will enter a new era that will culminate with a crisis comparable to the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. The survival of the nation will almost certainly be at stake.” Strauss and Howe base this vision on a provocative theory of American history as a series of recurring 80- to 100-year cycles. Each cycle has four “turnings”- a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling, and a Crisis. The authors located America in 1997 as, “midway through an Unraveling, roughly a decade away from the next Crisis (or Fourth Turning).” Since the growing, morphing financial, economic, political and moral crisis we are now in started in 2007, the authors look prophetic as to timing.

Others have cited that alternating generations go through enormous crises, because the generation that went through the last crisis must die out, erasing the memory of it, leaving the next generation to fall into the next crisis. The citation of 20 year turnings and being in the Crisis stage brought to mind our story of the day. It comes from the story of Moses’ spies found in Numbers 13 and 14.

13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying,

“ Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”

So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel….

25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Thus they told him, and said,

“We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large…”

14 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them:

“Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 

So they said to one another,

“Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt……”

26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; 29  your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. 30 Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’”

36 As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, 37even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land.

The power of resistance to change that we visited in last week’s message was clearly at work with the Israelites. Like Simon Peter, they treated the miracles that the Lord had wrought for them and before them as yesterday’s news. They rushed to compare the relative security of lives in bondage in Egypt – even their lives wandering in wilderness – to the dangers of confrontation and war necessary to take the Promised Land. The promises of milk, honey, and bounteous harvests were a venture into the unknown setting off internal conflicts that were more easily resolved in seeking return to the past.

Relative to The Fourth Turning cycle theory, Moses’ people broke the bonds of slavery to leave Egypt at the middle of an Unraveling stage. Their memories of security, albeit security in bondage, conflicted with what should have been excitement over the future and taking ACTION to secure it. Strauss and Howe say, “Eventually, cynical alienation hardens into a brooding pessimism. During a High, obliging individuals serve a purposeful society, and even bad people get harnessed to socially constructive tasks; during an Unraveling, an obliging society serves purposeful individuals, and even good people find it hard to connect with their community. The approaching specter of public disaster ultimately elicits a mix of paralysis and apathy that would have been unthinkable half a saeculum earlier. People can now feel, but collectively can no longer do.”

By declaring that no one under the age of 20 would enter the Promised Land, the Lord was using the demographics of aging to eliminate the generation that fled Egypt with their sinful disdain of faith in Him wrapped fitfully in cognitive dissonance or resistance to change. This was the Crisis stage. The people were dependent upon the Lord and would do nothing to help themselves. Concurrently with killing off the generation of failures, the Lord used the forty years in the wilderness to allow the second half of the Crisis stage to prepare the people to work for their final deliverance into the Promised Land.

As the 4th Turning continues,A CRISIS arises in response to sudden threats that previously would have been ignored or deferred, but which are now perceived as dire. Great worldly perils boil off the clutter and complexity of life, leaving behind one simple imperative: The society must prevail. This requires a solid public consensus, aggressive institutions, and personal sacrifice… Eventually, the mood transforms into one of exhaustion, relief, and optimism. Buoyed by a new-born faith in the group and in authority, leaders plan, people hope, and a society yearns for good and simple things.” At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness the Tribes of Israel were at the stage to embrace their free will, not to reject the Lord’s plans for them, but to embrace them.

This writer believes firmly that we are between the Unraveling and Crisis. The great Baby Boom generation knows only prosperity learned in its awakening and continued by self-deceptive, massive debt creation to maintain the unsustainable for the last 30 years, a period during which GDP growth only exceeded debt creation for about one quarter. We are probably 4 years into the Crisis state, so the next decade will see the denouement of the Boomer generation as leaders. The young folks will disavow the debt we have run up to maintain the delusion – that is a mathematical certainty. We went into 2007 and 2008 with average savings of $58,000 outside of our homes. Now many of our homes are underwater by that much. Predictably, most boomers will rage in denial, but they will not change. Look around. Observe. You won’t need to read the Bible or the Fourth Turning to see this if you truly open your eyes.

When one tries to warn Baby Boomers, the nonbelievers ignore him and the believers invariably say, “The Lord is returning soon. I will depend on that!” Yes, he will return as promised and it might be in this Crisis cycle, but isn’t it sinful and presumptuous to pretend to know His timing when He told us we cannot?

How many will be the Joshuas and Calebs of the Boomer generation and embrace what lies ahead, seize opportunity, and become beacons of knowledge and leadership of the young folks? This story, indeed all of human history, says that it will be a small minority. What awaits is a period on High, summarized this way: “A HIGH brings a renaissance to community life. With the new civic order in place, people want to put the Crisis behind them and feel content about what they have collectively achieved.” For the people of Israel, made strong by 40 years in the wilderness, the high meant crossing the Jordan and seizing their destiny. For Caleb and Joshua, it meant that their sacrifice and courage in standing with full faith in the Lord’s promises were rewarded. They prevailed until the walls of Jericho fell to the sound of their horns.

Lord, give us, the wayward Boomers, the strength and faith of Joshua and Caleb. We didn’t deserve the fake prosperity we laid claim to. It is time to make amends. It is time to lead, even though our weary minds and bodies will resist. Most of us won’t make it, but those who do won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

AG

Fishing The Right Side

Originally posted on CityStink
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

The morning in late May had turned sultry early on the Florida fresh water sea. Panfishermen from across the Southeast descend on Lake George hoping to catch giant bluegills and shellcrackers on enormous beds during the magical few days in May that see the fish in a feeding frenzy. Alas, on this day your humble scribe was sitting in a boat on calm, listless waters surrounded by 60 other boats. Burgeoning heat had the cattle on the distant shore inching toward the water to join those who had braved alligators to go wading.

The fishermen were mostly bored as none were catching fish. Everyone was using standard rods and reels loaded with 10 pound test line. Switching to an ultralight rod, I decided to rework a shell ridge that had been fruitless for the last hour. The fish started biting. The catch began to pile up. The other 59 boats circled, getting closer, but nobody else was catching anything.  Eventually, about time the catch limit was reached, there were boats on top of the shell ridge, with one only 12 feet away, so casting was no longer possible!

On another boat far away in time and space, casting again in “fished-out” waters made for a similar bounty. The story is found in Luke 5:4-10.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,

“Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 Simon answered and said,

“Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but [a]I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 

When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ [b]feet, saying,

“Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 

9For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10and so also were [c]James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon,

“Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

This fishing trip happened at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. From that point on, Simon Peter witnessed a wondrous array of miracles, healings, parables, and teaching the way to salvation and eternal life. Mankind being as sinful as it is, none of these things mattered when tough times came near the end, when politicians, zealots, and even masses of people turned against Jesus. Ponder the words of Simon Peter: “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Let’s ponder that statement a minute. Simon Peter was acknowledging that his ways were the sinful ways of the world. He would follow Jesus every step of the way through His ministry, yet he remained captive to his position in society to the very end. Today this phenomenon is known as cognitive dissonance which is defined as anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like.

Human nature being as it is, the person with cognitive dissonance typically reverts or seeks that which is familiar, socially acceptable, and less uncomfortable at moments of stress. Today it is often seen in our responses to the current, ongoing financial and economic collapse – a total certainty – which is generally wishing it away, while refusing to take action to save ourselves. We want our cushy, old lives back. Indeed, in Greece there have been bank runs in recent weeks to the tune of $500 million, inexplicably delayed two whole years after the first bond defaults signaled to the people there that their deposits were not safe. Examples of calamitous delays in reacting to negative events appear throughout human history. The cognitive dissonance that gripped Peter was so powerful that he denied Jesus three times before people Peter perceived to be hostile to Jesus.

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said,

“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But he denied it before them all, saying,

“I do not know what you are talking about.”

71When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there,

“This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72And again he denied it with an oath,

“I do not know the man.”

73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

“Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk [a]gives you away.”

74 Then he began to curse and swear,

“I do not know the man!”

And immediately a rooster crowed.

75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said,

“Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

That is how powerful cognitive dissonance is. Peter had witnessed miracles by Jesus, yet the apparent inability of Jesus to save himself from arrest and persecution cast enough doubt that Peter’s weak human self readily defaulted to disavowing Jesus!

Only the resurrection and seeing the living Jesus broke the hold of evil human society and politics on Peter. The transformation came during another fishing trip.

After these things Jesus [a] manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called [b]Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.

Simon Peter said to them,

“I am going fishing.”

They said to him,

“We will also come with you.”

They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them,

“Children, you do not have [c]any fish, do you?”

They answered Him,

“No.” 6

 And He said to them,

“ Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.”

So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter,

It is the Lord.”

So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about [d]one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish…..

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,

“Simon, son of John, do you [f] love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [g]love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

 16 He said to him again a second time,

“Simon, son of John, do you [h]love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [i]love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” 17 

He said to him the third time,

“Simon, son of John, do you [j]love Me?”

Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time,

“Do you [k]love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I [l]love You.”

Jesus said to him,

“Tend My sheep.”

18 “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” 19Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him,

“Follow Me!”

Peter followed Jesus. He overcame his cognitive dissonance in the most complete way possible by embracing death to gain salvation through faith in a resurrected Jesus Christ.

That day in balmy Florida when this fisherman cast aside the ways of the entire fleet to embrace an unlikely technique that produced a bountiful catch wasn’t just like Peter in that one respect. It was also fishing on the right side of the boat.  If we go through life relying on the crowd and defaulting to our weak tendency for conformity, we will go home empty handed and hungry. It is only by breaking the bonds of sin, even embracing social disdain, ostracism and punishment to the point of death,  in embracing Jesus that we can ascend to eternal life.

These are transformative times, times in which those who are prepared for the worse must step forward to preserve the best.

There is only one side on which to be – the RIGHT side. We cannot afford to let denial keep us from it. Christ put it simply.

“Follow me!”

 

The Life Choice

The Lamp vs. Lamp Post Conundrum

Originally posted on CityStink
May, 13 2012
Augusta, GA

By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

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Uncivilized Emotion or Wisdom?

Moving Barbarians and Titans

Originally posted on CityStink
May 6, 2012
Augusta, GA

By Al Gray

The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

Berkshire-Hathaway stands at the pinnacle of world finance, having weathered decades with stunning returns for its investors under the guidance of the legendary Warren Buffett and his sidekick Charlie Munger.  This week Munger set off a small firestorm by questioning the wisdom of a young superstar of investing, David Einhorn, in recommending gold as an investment. The curmudgeonly Munger said, “Gold is a great thing to sew into your garments if you’re a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939, but civilized people don’t buy gold.” Critics slammed these words as a backhanded put-down to the Jewish Einhorn, while others noted that the barbarous relic, as gold has been called to by Buffett, has greatly outperformed Munger and Buffett’s flagship Berkshire for the last decade. Their attitudes toward precious metals are unmoving.

The mention of Jews in exile, gold, and immovable titans brought to mind the Book of Ezra, Chapter 1, Verses 1 – 11.

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

2 This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved —prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.

Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.[a] Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah…..

11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Reversing Exoduses

Yes, this is a story of moving back from an exodus of the Jews then, and more recently in 1949. The people of Judah had swept into bondage by Nebuchadnezzar and had been transported to Babylon with their treasures, which included gold and silver from the temple in Jerusalem. The book of Ezra is the story of their return to their lands in the 6thcentury B.C., much as they returned after the Holocaust, in Munger’s reference, and World War II.

Barbarous then and now

The second facet of this story is the transition from barbarity to benevolence (and back) of powerful worldly titans. The Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar had been uncivilized in his treatment of the Jews. He enslaved them, threw those who offended him into furnaces, and used precious metal wares from the temple in Jerusalem in his pagan temples. According to the Book of Daniel, he grew so evil that the Lord beset him with madness, sending Nebuchadnezzar into his own exile as a beast of the fields. He eventually acknowledged the Lord and was restored to his throne. Alas, his heirs returned to barbarity and evil.

Last week Mr. Munger totally missed the point with his remarks. Hardly a “barbarous relic,” then gold turned out to be a lifesaver for those Jews in the 1930’s, a hard money deliverance from the hideous, very real barbarity of the Nazis. It bought them safe passage out of Hitler’s Europe and provident savings toward a new life in safety and freedom. Throughout Ezra, the importance of gold and silver to the people in times of evil shines through in repeated references and accounts.

What may turn out to be truly uncivilized are our modern monetary and financial systems under the control of the perhaps the most corrupt men the world has seen since Hitler and Stalin. Our life savings and fruits of our labor are mere digits in various computers under the authority of people who can eviscerate their value with mere keystrokes, men who have proven amoral, thieving, and remorseless in electronically converting our “assets” to their use by outright theft or by “money-printing.” The situation is so bad that this clip came out of Southpark Studios after the near banking collapse of 2008.

In this evil world what is “civilized?” “Responsible?” The Berkshire corporation of Buffett and Munger was beneficiary of bail-outs facilitated under the electronic monetary system, so are these titans of business really credible arbiters of what is “civilized” versus “barbarous?” Are titans like these foisting a modern society built on looting while calling it “civilized?” (Later in his interview, Munger repeatedly cited the increasing “sin” in our world and the danger it poses, so he is not absolutely oblivious to reality. )

Titans moved and unmoved

Our business and political titans of the day are mostly resolute in their worldview. Many are globalists bent on one world government. They are people who are seemingly immovable.

Pay heed to the words in Ezra. “The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia.” Indeed, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.” Isn’t it truly incredible that the Lord moved the heart of a ruler of a gentile empire to free the Judeans, restore their lands, replace their treasure, and rebuild His temple in Jerusalem?

Why was Cyrus so powerfully moved? The ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote in Antiquities of the Jews – Chapter 11

“This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: ‘My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.’ This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written…..”

Imagine the powers of reading your name in a 2 century old prophesy! The Old Testament is replete with other pagan kings being bent to the Lord’s will or being tools of the Lord. Here in Ezra, we read of one who read the works of the Jewish prophets and honored them with belief and action.

Pray today that the titans of our world are moved by the Lord to do the right thing and honor His commandments, from which our rule of law derives. Be prepared to consider that they may be not so inclined, remaining resolute in their pursuit of one world government, corrupt finances, and power. Then you can determine for yourselves whether that which is “uncivilized” and “barbaric” in their eyes might be a lifeline out of evil times. Pray that another Cyrus will emerge who will be moved by the Lord and his holy word to restore our temple, the Constitution of the United States.

Should they do these things, no one need be compelled to move themselves into exile, wear garments lined with hidden gold, or live in fear in our own land.

Lord, move us one and all, even the titans. If this be not Your will, move us with the wisdom to protect ourselves from them, until You move another Cyrus in our direction.

AG