Monday, August 21, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #84: "Divine Encounters-Part Two"

Avalon Chronicles #84: "Divine Encounters-Part Two"

by Allen B. Clark

allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com

www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

The most "divine" and auspicious of all our multitude of "Divine Encounters" occurred in the village of St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe, three miles from Dover, which is situated only nineteen miles from the French coast across the English Channel. This is the shortest distance to France across the Channel. The village literally sits on the high ground above the iconic landmark of the "White Cliffs of Dover."
(We learned that in late May and early June 1940 Dover and the surrounding coastal locations were where more than 800 small fishing and pleasure vessels departed to cross the channel along with Royal Navy ships to to accomplish the epic evacuation back to England of 338,226 Allied soldiers, who had been pinned down at Dunkirk, France after the lightning attack of the Germans across northern Europe. The allied troops had been pinned down and surrounded at Dunkirk. I have already seen the new movie "Dunkirk." It is very graphic in violence so be forewarned, but it was timely for me after my return from the English coast."

Upon checking in to our hotel we decided to walk around the quaint old village we visited. It was August 9th, one day before the second anniversary from 2015 of the untimely and sudden death of Linda's only child, Vincent. It was anticipated by us both that August 10th would be very emotional for Linda. But, on its eve in that ancient village, the Lord provided and exceptional, poignant, and memorable "Divine Encounter" that was very healing for Linda.

Across the road from our lodging there loomed on the high ground, covered from the road by many trees, foliage, and vines, a large granite structure, dwarfing all the village buildings. We saw a sign that indicated it was the Anglican Church of St. Margaret of Antioch. We walked though its cemetery, populated by old tombstones. The church itself was locked, but the notice indicated the key could be obtained just down the road at a village store. We decided to obtain the key later in the day. After supper we decided to walk to obtain the key and observed a woman entering the grounds. We asked her if the church would now be open for us to visit. She said yes and we would be welcome as the choir was there for their weekly choir practice. We followed her with much gratitude. Linda proceeded to kneel and pray inside and I, as is typical for me on visits to English churches, sought out the ever-present memorial plaques to the military service deaths of the congregants of that church. In this church there were thirty one names from World War I and ten names for World War II. (The casualty list for World War I bore out what a worshipper told us in Brighton when we attended a service at its Anglican St. Nicholas Church. He said in some villages after World War I all the young men were killed in combat leaving the locale bereft of any young males. This obviously was the case here.) After a few minutes the choir director asked us to join the choir in the practice and sing with them!

We joined the choir for only one hymn, which they had been rehearsing. It was "Be Still For the Presence of the Lord." It is a beautiful hymn! Before we joined them in the singing, I stood at the back of the fifteen or so members and was touched as the joy of the Lord was evidenced in the choir members as they sang. They reflected such warmth and peace and contentment. I was touched emotionally to the point of tears. There are numerous renditions on You Tube, but I am especially drawn to the one dated 6/20/14 , a Christian Music Programme.

 A partial recounting of some the words include: "We stand on holy ground Be still for the presence of the Lord The Holy One is here. Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place. No work too hard for Him In faith receive from Him."

I was blessed to have the opportunity to say a few words to the choir and introduced ourselves as Anglicans from Texas. I announced we were decided  Anglophiles and had been met on our trip with much warmth from the English people with whom we had been in contact. As we departed one of the men hugged and embraced Linda. It was an incredibly amazing experience to help Linda face the emotion of the next day. We consider it the highlight of our entire visit to England.

Our Lord blessed us immeasurably throughout our visit. In faith we received from Him blessings and the knowledge that He can answer all prayers and no work on our behalf is too hard for Him. It is up to us to ask Him to perform the work. We just pray and step back. He fulfilled the "Divine Encounters" for which we prayed! Since our return I have listened and watched several renditions of this hymn on You Tube. Never do I cease to be touched. Perhaps you too will be?


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #83: "Divine Encounters-Part One"

Avalon Chronicles #83: "Divine Encounters-Part One"

by Allen B. Clark

allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com

www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

Linda and I recently returned from a seven day voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from New York City to Southhampton, England with further travels by rail to Portsmouth, Winchester, Brighton, Dover, Canterbury, and London. We always begin our travels with a prayer for "Divine Encounters." It is my hope that the following account of the "Divine Encounters" we experienced on this trip will be  a source of inspiration as to how our dear Lord answers all prayers, big and small.

The Queen Mary 2 announces for each day's schedule the time and location for gatherings of affinity groups. We attended the one for "Christians" our first day on the Atlantic. At this gathering we became acquainted with a pastor and his wife. He is involved with an international prayer ministry in the spiritual warfare arena. His wife teaches drama at a Christian high school. Linda has offered up prayers that there would be opportunities for younger women to take on the mantle of presenting the programs she has dramatized for twenty years of Women of the Bible (http://voices.name). The pastor's wife is eager to introduce Linda's scripts to her drama classes.

On the Sunday of the voyage an Anglican priest (passenger also) conducted an Anglican eucharist service which Linda and I attended. It went past the time at which a ship's non-denominational worship service was to begin. Attending late I went to the back of the auditorium and seated myself with some difficulty on a chair where my legs would be comfortable. There was only one other attendee in that section. Noting I did not have a program, she offered hers and went to obtain another one. The ending hymn was "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" with its prayer for protection "For those in peril on the sea." Most important through the centuries for all who sailed the "mighty oceans." Having observed my disability as I took my seat when I arrived, she approached me at the end of the service to inquire about my disability. As the conversation developed I learned she had been a British Royal Navy nurse assigned to a civilian ship converted to a hospital ship in Gibraltar. It sailed from Gibraltar in deployment to the Falkland Islands (east of Argentina) in 1982 when Argentina had invaded the Falklands and the British went to war over the incident. She served in the ship's operating room for the surgery of the war wounded amputees! Obviously we had much in common and met later twice with Linda to discuss her maiden name, Pugh, which was the maiden name of Linda's mother. She filled Linda in on much of the Pugh family history in Wales and England. Nicci Pugh is the author of White Ship-Red Crosses, the documenting of the Falklands War and its casualties.

In one of our destinations we enjoyed a delightful lunch after which the co-owner, an Englishman, whose family had been originally from Iran came to our table and a thirty minute conversation ensued. He said his deceased father had been a most generous gentleman, who provided much help to those in need. After the Iranian revolution of 1979 his mother returned to Iran and barely made it back to England safely due to a threat on her life. He said she took off her scarf she had always worn and threw it away never to wear it again. He related that the vast majority of Iranians/Persians do not support the mullahs in control of the country and said he wished our president would lift up the Iranian people for support in contrast to the leaders, believing this support might prove helpful for the people to rise up and overthrow the dictatorship. When we finished the conversation, he hugged us both! Very warm-hearted gentleman. We prayed for the success of his entrepreneurial endeavors. He offered us a drink on the house, but we declined since we do not drink any alcohol.

On the tour in England we worshipped at services in three cathedrals, Winchester, Canterbury, and St. Paul's. At Winchester Cathedral during the service I was in awe of the physical majesty of the edifice, but more importantly, my heart was filled with the overwhelming emotion that I was in worship in a place wherein my fellow Christians had been worshipping for over 1000 years.

At Brighton I read a Christian history of the town and discovered it was on a Brighton beach that Hudson Taylor received his inspiration to begin his China Inland Mission that has borne so much fruit in the propagation of our faith in that country.

At Canterbury we took a river ride on a small boat such as we know from Venice. On this one our boatman "punted" with a pole that propelled us through the shallow river meandering through the ancient city, originally visited by St. Augustine to introduce the Christian faith to England. He spoke about having been raised a Christian, but he did not worship today. He was still smarting from an experience in his youth when dissension in his church caused a split. I took this opportunity to define by being a Christian it was not necessary to attend public worship, nor adhere to legalism, but rather, in believing that Jesus is the Savior, Who gifts us eternal life, when we accept his purpose in coming to earth and dying on that Calvary cross. It was a simple rendition of our Gospel truth.

When we were at the Atlanta airport ready for the final flight home, we were at the location where I asked for a wheelchair to navigate security more comfortably and obtain transport to our gate. We observed a young man, who walked as I do, very haltingly as a double leg amputee also. He said he lost his legs in a train accident. He was at least half my age. Linda spent some time talking to him and gave encouragement to him in navigating his future life by pointing out the example of the richness of my life after fifty years as an amputee. I must declare that much of my richness is due to the blessings of my life companion, my dear spouse Linda.

Stay tuned for Part Two.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #82: "Christianity, E.Q. and S.Q."

Avalon Chronicles #82: "Christianity, E.Q. and S.Q."

By Allen Clark                     allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com        www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

References: http://www.catholicbible101.com/7deadly sins
                    http://www.holyspiritinteractive.com
                    https://www.gotquestions.org/mortal-sin-venial

 Until last year for almost twenty years it had been my privilege to be a guest speaker at high school Youth Leadership Conferences sponsored by my special patriotic organization, the Military Order of the World Wars. All hands were raised when I inquired how many knew what was meant by I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient). Only a few were raised when I asked what was meant by E.Q. (Emotional Quotient). In a secular setting I would not have asked how many knew about S.Q. (Spiritual Quotient).

Our Emotional Quotient is developed over time and is enhanced as we develop patterns in our lives that reflect choices of actions (especially words) and their consequences; reactions to the words and actions of others; and the state of the reflection of our faith in the Lord Jesus.

Once and when we cross that line in our belief as a "Christian" wherein we believe sincerely that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to earth to set an example for righteous living, who bequeathed us guidelines for what is acceptable behavior, and who provides us forgiveness upon confession of our sins, we then begin to live new lives, bolstered with a new manner of living. We develop our Spiritual Quotient.

Often I have heard, "They are not 'Christian.' They get angry. They do not forgive. Observe the way they act." What this line of judgmental critique represents is, just because we are "Christians," we are automatically supposed to have it all together in our E.Q. and S.Q. Life does not work that way. But, imagine what our life would be like, if we did not have the Holy Trinity in our lives.

Just recently I envisioned a pyramid. The bottom edge of the pyramid is crossed when we believe Jesus the Christ is the Savior, who came to earth to die for our sins and to point the path toward receiving the ultimate gift, eternity in Heaven upon bodily death.

Then begins growth in our E.Q. and S.Q., development of our maturity, and response patterns. Even after crossing that threshold of faith in which we endeavor to live as Jesus Christ teaches us to live, we must stick with the program.

I picture the pyramid as having seven levels, corresponding to Seven Virtues to which we aspire, all seven of which are the direct antithesis to what are termed the Seven Deadly Sins.

It is written in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV):

"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold all things become new."

They only become new as we are able and advance to virtuous living because incessantly we are subject to the world's system of behavior and reaction patterns because we are susceptible and typically driven by what is written in 1 John 2:16 (KJV):

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Life becomes a slow and tedious climbing up the levels of that pyramid with hopeful adherence to the Seven Virtues, which are the counters to the Seven Deadly Sins (as originally defined by Pope Gregory in 590 A.D.). The Seven Virtues contrasted to the Seven Deadly Sins are:

Humility--------Pride (Haughtiness, Arrogance)
Generosity------Greed (Excessive desire for wealth, cupidity, covetousness)
Love-------------Envy (Discontent and ill will over another's advantages)
Kindness--------Wrath (Intense anger, rage, fury)
Self-control-----Lust (Bodily appetites, especially excessive sexual desire)
Temperance-----Gluttony (Habit or act of overeating)
Zeal---------------Sloth (laziness, idleness)

Catholic doctrine divides sin into mortal and venial categories. With my limited doctrinal and theological knowledge (Protestant or Catholic) it is my desire to define venial and mortal sins in layman's terms. If we define not reflecting the Seven Virtues in their most simplified form as venial sins, then they become sins of "omission." If we define the Seven Deadly Sins as "mortal ones" (omitting for the time being the Ten Commandments), then they become sins of "commission." Sins both of "omission" and "commission" are necessary to be identified, confessed, and repented of in order to receive God's forgiveness.

We pray to God, in the Name of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit for forgiveness. If we do not confess and also receive forgiveness for the venial sins, it may lead to commission of mortal sins. For both, venial and mortal, lack of forgiveness allows the "tormenters" (a whole new topic of spiritual warfare) to take control of us. I want God on my side of the line of battle and I desire a state of grace to be imparted to me, wherein I receive the unmerited favor of God and answers to my prayers.

As a Christian, God is very patient with us in our lives (in contrast to all our "judges") as we work our way up through those levels of the pyramid. It is a constant struggle and challenge to achieve perfection, but we must never relent with discipline to continue trying. We must pray we will master as many of the virtues as possible as well as possible and maturely as we are capable, before it is our time of earthly demise. Amen.


 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #81: "Eternity Ticket"

Avalon Chronicles #81: "Eternity Ticket"

By Allen Clark    allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com     www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

     For several reasons I was deeply emotional in my church service this day. Yesterday Linda and I attended our Memorial Day picnic with my fellow members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. When I began attending these functions twenty years ago, it was mostly World War II veterans who were active members. My fellow Vietnam veterans were pursuing careers and raising kids. Yesterday it was only my fellow Vietnam veterans and one younger veteran from the current conflicts. I remembered all my dear World War II friends who have died. There was wonderful friendship with many of them. I recall those who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, those who served on faraway Pacific Islands, those who survived the Bataan Death March, those who stormed the beaches of Normandy, and those who flew bomber missions from England to German targets. This weekend especially their faces travel across the memories of my mind. Their families will perform their annual pilgrimages to their gravesites tomorrow at our cemeteries across the country and there will be ceremonies at our overseas gardens of stone in countries where our valiant young men and women fell to ensure freedom from the forces of evil.
     The world today faces an insidious force of evil that does not fight in uniforms on defined fields of fight, but rather their uniforms are black and under clothing hiding suicide vests, Just in the past few days we have witnessed attacks in Indonesia, Egypt, the Philippines, and England. This Memorial Day there are grieving families and loved ones remembering the dead across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Our own first line of defense protectors are constantly on the alert for attacks in our own beloved America.
     Deaths on past battlefields, a bus, a concert, and on Pacific islands. Deaths each day. I faced death on a battlefield fifty years ago in Vietnam, but I was spared. At my age of almost 75 I have friends dying often. When I began my prayers in church today I teared for those deaths from terrorists these past few days and watched my fellow church-goers on their knees in reverence in the house of God, where people of faith have been in synagogues and churches for millenia. We are blessed to worship in freedom in our native land.
     For several of the past few days I have planned on publishing a Chronicle on something I received from a dear gentleman who was born in 1920 and still vital, alert, and relevant! He has been a spiritual mentor to me and one of the finest examples of a Christian gentleman it has ever been my privilege to know. Herein is copied his "Eternity Ticket." He is Jim Ash and his web site is www.jimash3.com.
     "The Bible states, 'that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'" (Romans 10: 9,10).
     I have prayed this prayer below and I know and believe what it reflects. Upon my death my body will be in a casket at Arlington Cemetery, but my soul will not perish, it will be for eternity in Heaven with my Lord God, Creator, and Savior, Jesus the Christ. My family will have all my mementos, papers, books, very few assets, and hopefully mostly good memories, but I will have my "Eternity Ticket" punched and will have reached my final destination.

This is the most important prayer you will ever pray! "To receive Jesus as your personal Savior, pray this prayer from your heart: Dear Jesus: I believe you died for me and that You rose again on the third day. I confess to You that I am a sinner and that I need your love and forgiveness. Come into my life, forgive my sins and give me eternal life. I confess You now as my Lord. Thank You for saving me. Amen"
     "Next, confess to someone, 'I am a Christian,' for Jesus said, 'Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, Him I will also deny before My father who is in Heaven.'" (Matthew 10: 32,33).
     We should not pray this out of fear of what will happen if we do not pray it, but out of love for God and the peace and joy a life with him on earth and in Heaven will bequeath us.
     Several months ago I spoke before a group of prisoners at the Dallas County jail. When I finished one of them shouted out, "When are you coming back?" I said, "I have nothing else to say." He said, "We have turnover." When your life experiences the final "turnover," where will you be?
          After five years of Avalon Chronicles, I HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO SAY. I AM FINISHED!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #80: "Wounds"

Avalon Chronicles #80: "Wounds"

Allen B. Clark
www.combatfaith.com
www.combatfaith.blogspot.com
allenbclark@aol.com

This past Saturday the day before Easter Linda and I went to the theater to see "The Case For Christ," a most compelling movie of an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune newspaper. His wife had accepted Christ as Savior and he began an investigation to disprove the narrative of Jesus. His journey toward belief took him to an interview with a researcher, who recounted with intimate and detailed description the wounds of Christ at His crucifixion. All the wounds were depicted, sometimes with illustration; the crown of thorns, the scourging on the path to Golgotha, the spikes through the feet and wrists, the agonized breathing, and the final spearing into the chest drawing blood and water after the death. Jesus was a human being sent by God to be an example of behavior, but, more importantly, to be the way for us to eventually escape the bonds of earth through eternal life in Heaven. Eventually the reporter was convinced and accepted Jesus as his own Savior. Rarely do I tear in films, but I did in this one!
On June 17, 2017 I will celebrate my FIFTIETH "Alive Day," the fiftieth anniversary of my wounding in Vietnam on June 17, 1967. Rarely does a day go by that I am not triggered in some way with the memories of that day, three days from my 25th birthday. My wounds (as many of you already know) were from a mortar shell landing close behind me and ripping my left leg off below the knee completely and instantly. The right leg, broken in five places, was amputated ten days later. My gracious and loving God did not suffer me to feel the pain originally. I was awake until the medical evacuation helicopter delivered me to the MASH in Pleiku some unknown number of hours later. There were six weeks of morphine every three hours and twenty total surgeries even up into forty years later.
My Lord received no relief from His wounds. His wounds served a purpose for all of us that many do not fathom. The sacrifice on that cross meant that those of us that grasp its significance and believe he was Who He said He was, will have eternal life, when the wounds physically and emotionally and spiritually have taken their toll in our lives. In one of my daily readings reference is made to Psalm 34. In this world strategically with the threat again of possible nuclear attack, terrorist attacks even in our smaller cities, bombings, rampant crime, and the deterioration of morality and integrity, we are beset and besieged with our own personal tactical issues of failing marriages, deteriorating health, failing businesses, and inadequate provision financially. These will not end. It is reality therapy. All we can do is confess our sins, forgive all others, keep in constant prayer and intercession, and be faithful to our beliefs. We must go on with our lives, but love, love, love as Jesus taught us.
A friend of Linda's spoke of a friend who was told she had two months to live. Her friends began the typical responses of regret and sadness. She very dynamically and joyfully proclaimed, "Are you serious? I see Jesus in Heaven in two months!" Who will you see  upon your demise?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #79: "Change, it is a-coming!"

Avalon Chronicles #79: "Change, it is a-coming!"

by Allen B. Clark
allenbclark@aol.com
www.combatfaith.com
www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

Several decades ago Gregory Peck portrayed in the movie "MacArthur," General Douglas MacArthur, my childhood hero whom I  personally have seen twice. There is a scene in which MacArthur and President Roosevelt in 1943 conferred about the war in the Pacific on a ship somewhere in the Pacific. MacArthur had not been back to the United States, since he had lived in the Philippines from 1935, where he was training their Army. In the course of the conversation the President said to MacArthur, "You ought to come back to the United States. Things are changing." We all recall certain lines or scenes from our favorite movies and this was one indelibly imprinted in my memory. MacArthur replied, "Mr. President, the things I believe in never change!"

In my 75th year I can attest to this belief. This past Saturday night Linda and I attended our alumni annual Founder's Day celebration of West Point, founded March 16, 1802. One of our annual traditions is to hear remarks from both the oldest and youngest graduates present. The contrast in their remarks ranging from 1956 to 2010 was striking. The oldest grad spoken in such a dignified and measured manner pointing out the changes at our Alma Mater, not necessarily decrying any of them, but nevertheless indicating the difficulty as one ages to accept certain "changes." Our eminent speaker spoke of our motto which binds old and new graduates together, "Duty, Honor, Country." That never changes. Many other cultural manifestations change constantly and I remember a pastor one time illustrate the changing mores of the society by way of a frame of behavior that keeps moving over and becoming larger in its negativity and lowering of standards of civility

In Matthew 24:35 (KJV) it is written, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." The words I have attempted mightily to incorporate in my soul and spirit and carry through in thoughts, words, and deeds have not changed. They are in no particular order: to have totally engrafted in me that God created all; that Jesus is He Who came to earth to die for my personal sins and to provide a way for me to achieve eternal life through faith in Him; to verbally articulate this belief appropriately; that the Holy Spirit was gifted to us to indwell us and move us to strength in faith which is followed by good works to serve others; for the Holy Spirit to live in me; to offer constant praise to God; not to accept our culture's non-Christian values; God's word is the power we need for our lives in obedience and changes for the good; I ask the Holy Spirit to change me where needed for adherence to the Gospel message; that I would confess as a sin any resentments held toward others and ask forgiveness.

We just returned from a twelve day trip to Israel and our personal tour guide, Shooki Makovky, gifted me a treasure at his home, where he had invited Linda and me to share Shabat Friday meal with his wife and three daughters. The gift was a copy of the The Stone Edition of the Chumash, the Torah with commentary. The significance of God's word is expressed in the introduction in an anecdote. There is on page xxv a story in a section titled "Indestructible Letters." "When the ancient Romans condemned the Mishnaic sage Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon to death for the 'crime' of teaching the Torah, they wrapped him in a Torah scroll and set him aflame. As his agony reached its climax, his students asked him, 'Rabbi, what do you see?' He answered, 'The parchments are consumed, and the letters fly up [to heaven]'...The letters are eternal for they are the will of the eternal." So too are the words of our Lord in our Bible. They do not change.

I John 3:22 (KJV): " I know that my prayers are answered because I obey His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight."

Society, its standards, and Caesar's world may change. These words above I will not change!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #78: "To Bind'

Avalon Chronicles #78: "To Bind"

by Allen B. Clark
allenbclark@aol.com

www.combatfaith.com
www.combatfaith.blogspot.com

Source: American Dictionary of the English Language
Noah Webster 1828

BIND: "To bind the mind, close, make fast, to oblige by a promise, vow, stipulation, covenant, law, duty or any other moral tie, to constrain by a powerful influence or persuasion." The powerful influence behind the below prayer concept is the Holy Trinity.

Several years ago Linda heard a presentation by a minister by the name of Liberty Savard (http://www.libertysavard.com). I bought and read several of her books, Shattering Your Strongholds, Producing the Promise, and Breaking the Power. I studied all three and the below spiritual concept of "Binding" is derived from her teachings to which she must be given credit. The following is that to which I dedicate and strive mightily to "bind" myself .

I bind myself to the Character and Attributes of God: Righteousness, Holiness, Integrity, and Purity and to the Will, Purposes, Timing and Truth of God.

I bind myself to the Mind of Christ and ask Jesus to impart to me from the Mind of Christ Wisdom, Insight, Discernment, and Knowledge of all things.

I bind myself to Control by the Holy Spirit that I may reflect the Fruit of the Holy Spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, and Kindness. Amen.