Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #20-"A Not So Merry Christmas in Bastogne 1944"

"A Not So Merry Christmas in Bastogne 1944"

     Two weeks ago our area had a sleet and ice storm and Linda and I were without power, heat, or telephone for 54 hours. The temperature in the house was 50 degrees at one reading. It was handled with four sweaters and several comforters at night. For some reason the past few days I began to recall the event I organized on January 31, 2001 at my Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center when twelve veterans of the Battle of the Bulge were our guests for what we termed a Veterans Forum. I heard their recollections of the fighting in the terrible winter of 1944-1945 after Dec. 16, 1944 when the Germans made their final last ditch effort to attack west to drive to the port of Antwerp, Belgium. At this Christmas 69 years later I recalled their stories and pondered, as my heat is now on, the sky is sunny, and I, with most people in my circles, will enjoy our turkey and pumpkin pies, snug and warm in our homes, what it was like for those heroic Americans who stood against the enemy onslaught protecting us in the cause of freedom against Nazism.
     There were three stories I collected to relate in this Chronicle so that, we in our comfort may ever be aware of those who came before us and, who, on this very day, stand against the forces of evil on far away battlegrounds.
     Private First Class Eduardo A. Peniche was a member of the 101st Airborne's 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment thrust in to the battle at fabled Bastogne. He had related his story later to his father who said, "How sad and dreadful to experience savage fighting on the day of our Lord." Private Peniche recollected, "...(they were) clinginging to our foxholes in the frozen ground...The attack was on, it was Christmas Day already, lying face down in the bottom of my foxhole, I remembered praying both in English and Spanish. At 0300 the Germans attacked wearing their snow suits." He continued, "To me personally, this was a defining moment of my life as a soldier and as an American, to see well-disciplined courageous fellow soldiers well-motivated to follow orders under the most hellish of circumstances yet, without hesitation, at that very trying moment everyone seemed to know what had to be done and they DID IT...The enemy attack ended in failure...There were also, of course, American casualties, in grotesque forms the death froze in eternity." His battalion was relieved Dec. 26th by the 4th Armored Division of General Patton's Third Army. He also said, "I had my first white Christmas in that small Belgian town, and there were enough lights to last me a life time." He was wounded on Jan. 3, 1945. He died on Aug. 16, 2008 after an illustrious career as an educator at Lone Star College-Kingwood, Texas.
     A retired Sergeant Major once was interviewed on a blog and had this to say, "Oh, Lord, it was so cold. On Christmas Day they brought turkey stew to us on the front line. We had to go back from our fighting positions, one at a time, to go get our chow. It was so cold, by the time you'd get back to your fox hole, the turkey stew was frozen in your canteen cup. I have never been so cold in my life, before or after."
     Jack T. Pryor, M.D. wrote in Dec. 1972 his recollections as a physician at Bastogne. "The patients who had head, chest, and abdominal wounds could only face certain slow death since there was no chance of surgical procedures....." He went to the airborne area and to a riding hall where he saw, "...the unbelievable! There on the dirt riding floor were six hundred paratroop litter cases."
     The Germans conducted continued bombing and strafing raids on Christmas Day.
     On January 17, 1945 the most spectacular battle of World War II was over. More than 19,000 Americans were killed and 15,000 were captured. The Americans held their own and repulsed the German attack and went on to victory.
     General Courtney Hodges, Commanding General of First Army, once watched as his troops came by with tears in his eyes, "I wish everyone could see them."
     There are few of our men from WWII that we can see anymore, but their names are written large in the annals of American history and I, for one, will remember them this Christmas and always. I am wiping away my tears as I conclude this writing.
     On our recent trip to England in the Salisbury Cathedral the following is inscribed on a wall titled The Burma Campaign 1941-1945: "When you go home tell them of us and say that for your tomorrow we gave our today." On Christmas Day 2013 look upon your children and grandchildren and remember our warriors who have not returned to the joys we will have with our families.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #19: "Christianity and the Romans-Part 2"

Avalon Chronicles #19: "Christianity and the Romans-Part 2"

Acts 8:4 (King James Version) "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word."
     In sequel to Chronicles #18 we take up our stories with Joseph of Arimathea and the secular ancient archives that report (sourced from Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett) he, "...was the Apostle of Britain, the true apostle first to set up Christ's standard on that sea-girt little isle, five hundred and sixty years before St. Augustine set foot on English soil. He with twelve other disciples of Christ, erected in England the first Christian church above ground in the world, to the glory of God and His Son, Jesus Christ."
     Southwest of our visit to Bath is the Cornwall area of England and even Julius Caesar described the tin trade between Cornwall and Phoenicia. Joseph apparently held a position in the Roman administration as a minister of mines so he had frequent contact with the tin mines of southwest England. Many records indicate Joseph's involvement with Britain's tin trade prior to his exodus. After the crucufixion of Jesus the Jewish hierarchy, the Sanhedrin, began in Palestine a persecution of Christians, the followers of "the Way." That great man of faith, later known as Paul, previously known as Saul, was a leader of the Sanhedrin's gestapo. Recall that Joseph of Arimathea departed Palestine in 36 A.D. A Cardinal C. Baronius was considered in his time the most outstanding historian of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Curator of the famous Vatican library and the author of the 12 volume Ecclesiastical Annals (1588-1607). Jowett quotes Baronius, "In that year (36 A.D.) the party mentioned was exposed to the sea in a vessel without sails or oars. The vessel drifted finally to Marseilles (France) and they were saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his company passed in to Britain and after preaching the gospel there, died." (Drama, 31).
     Records also indicate the inhabitants of Britain (Druids) believed in One Invisible God and the coming of a Messiah. (Drama, 43). Julius Caesar in his Gaelic War (VI, 14) 54 B.C. wrote, "The Druids make the immortality of the soul the basis of all their teachings, holding it to be the principal incentive and reason for a virtuous life." Therefore, this constitutes the fertile ground of the people of Britain to accept the pure Christianity of Joseph and his Bethany group, carried by them from the Holy Land. Jowett writes that, but for the Druids in Britain, Christianity might never have flourished (Drama, 58). The Romans during their occupation tried mightily to kill all Druids and Christians. A Druid delegation presumably went to Gaul (France) to meet Joseph. It is probable that Philip, one of the original twelve apostles, was already in Gaul when Joseph arrived after his Mediterranean voyage. The Druid Prince Arvigarus offered Joseph lands and safe haven in Britain. Joseph was said to have had twelve companions with him when he went to Britain. Cardinal Baronius identified three of them as St. Martha, St. Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead,
 and St. Mary Magdalene. With others they were called the Bethany group.
     The group eventually settled on the western side of southern England in a place today called Glastonbury,
thirty or so miles from Bath, in a location at that time called the "Sacred Isle of Avalon", from whence comes the theme of my chronicles. For years Linda and I had desired to visit Glastonbury, but it was difficult to travel there without our own auto. Additional points of interest are important about Glastonbury. The abbey there is said by E.Raymond Capt in his The Traditions of Glastonbury to be, "...the oldest, continuous Christian foundation in the world. Since the time Joseph built his first church on the Sacred Isle of Avalon, men have worshipped Christ on that site,...worship of the Lamb of God has never ceased at Glastonbury Abbey." (pg. 83).
    Druid Prince Arvigarus was the cousin of Caradoc, defined in a royal lineage of Great Britain as the first Christian king of Britain. The Prince welcomed Joseph to Britain, was converted by him, and offered his protection from the Romans. Apparently the Romans never occupied Avalon. Propagation of the faith was divinely protected in this area of Britain. The Romans attempted here and in Rome itself to destroy Christianity, but God's protection prevailed and we stand on their shoulders.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #18-"Christianity and the Romans in England-Part 1"

Christianity and the Romans in England-Part 1 by Allen Clark
View Allen and other veterans on Veterans Day 2013 on Trinity Broadcasting Network "Praise the Lord"

     Here begins a series of chronicles of Linda's and my Nov. 2013 trip to England that will hopefully be more than just a travelogue, although The Christian Traveler's Guide to Great Britain, which was a principal resource for our trip and whose general editor was Irving Hexham, was what I utilized to plan our travel. Herein follows a historical guide to England as derived by us with especial focus on the spiritual, historical, and military aspects. Our travel evolved into a quest in seeking our Christian roots. That it became!
     "Visiting Great Britain to learn about great acts of faith can be a rewarding experience, and it is something all Christians, regardless of race or nationality, can find profitable." (Guide, 9).
     Our tour of Bath in southwest England began our journey to discover the Christian roots of Great Britain. Before our trip a fascinating book titled The Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett was introduced thusly by the Reverend Ansley Rash back in 1961, "...this book reminds us very forcibly that in those early days while the Roman Empire was still pagan men braved the fury of the elements and the peril of the sword to journey to the Britannic Isles in order to proclaim the Gospel of love, light, and liberty, and then as the Heralds of the Cross to bear it from Glastonbury (just south of Bath), and Iona (on the west coast of Scotland), Bangor (Wales), and Lindisfarne (NE England) to the far places of the earth, for Britain, not Rome, was then the Lighthouse of Europe."
     In the time of Christ in Jerusalem the Sadducees were to have their way in the eventual death of Jesus, but one man stood in their path. He was Joseph, the great uncle of Jesus, known scripturally, and in secular history as Joseph of Arimathea." (Drama, 13). It was this Joseph who took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him in his private sepulchre. Joseph remained in Judea for a few years thereafter. He was identified as, "...the indefatiguable head of the Christian underground in Judea and the guardian of Christ's only earthly treasure-His mother." (Drama, 13).
     Jowett's book portrays Joseph of Arimathea as a true setter of the cornerstone of our Christian way of life through his departure in 36A.D. from Judea in a boat without sails or oars into the Meditteranean Sea and an eventual migration to France and the British Isles to places south of Bath. Jowett also defines the name of our heritage thusly, "'Christ' is the Greek word meaning 'consecrated', and 'ian' is from the Hebrew world 'am', meaning a person or people. Therefore the true meaning of the word 'Christian' and 'Christians' would be a 'consecrated person' or 'consecrated people.'" (Drama, 37).
     The practical question for today is how do you define your Christianity, cultural or "consecrated"? The time of the Advent of our Christ is a good time for reflection.
     Stay tuned for this fantastic ride through Great Britain and the saga of the Lost Disciples and the spread of Christianity.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #17 "A Chance Encounter"

Avalon Chronicles #17 "A Chance Encounter"

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Allen was a participant on Veterans Day 2013 on Trinity Broadcasting Network "Praise the Lord" program
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     Recently I was returning from a trip and was turning in my rental car at an airport. I was being driven to the airport by an employee who was obviously not native to America. I always delight in engaging everyone in conversation, but especially non-natives. During the course of the drive I discovered my driver was an Egyptian who had won a lottery to obtain a green card and enter the U.S. with the eventual obtaining of citizenship. He had been in our our country almost five years and soon would become a citizen at which time he could bring his wife and two children here. Just before arrival at the airport I had assumed he was a Muslim. I ventured to ask him about the religious turmoil about which I had heard between Muslims and Christians in his home country.
     We arrived at the terminal curb and he proudly proclaimed he was a third generation Christian. Without any further questioning he then explained to me that it was in the Koran that a Muslim was to confront people and inquire as to whether or not they were of the Islamic faith. If not, they had three choices; either convert to Islam, pay a tax called a jizyah, or, then he took his hand across his throat as if cutting his throat, meaning they were to be killed. He then had a bright smile on his face and proclaimed "But, Christianity teaches us differently. If someone hits our cheek, we are to turn the other cheek."
     A siomple chance encounter it was. However, a reminder especially at this time of the year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, how blessed we are in the United States to be protected from the strife in other countries today and the persecution of our fellow Christians. Please have the joy of Christmas in your heart and be glad and grateful for the freedom we have in our faith walk.

Allen Clark

Monday, November 18, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #16: "The Three Heavens"

Avalon Chronicles # 16 "The Three Heavens"

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      Linda and I just returned Saturday night from fifteen days in England and I was prepared to write several messages about our incredible trip. However, those messages must await another day. I awakened Sunday morning languishing in my chair after a fitful jet-lagged night when I had finally gotten to sleep after twenty one hours. I looked out the ceiling to floor window of our living room and saw a very interesting view. At one level in the sky there were large white billowy clouds racing west to east, not just slowly, but at a fast pace. At a higher level in the sky there were small clouds moving very slowly seemingly unperturbed by the movements at the lower alttude. Then at an even higher altitude the sun was beaming down bequeathing on us earthlings its perpetual warmth and light.Then the large clouds became very gloomy as if they were being darkened by storms.
     As I contemplated the contrasts in the skies the recollection of Paul or the person he knew being caught up to the third heaven as recounted in 2 Corinthians 12:2 came to my mind. I had never especially thought much about it, but if Paul envisioned or experienced a third heaven, then what about the first and second heavens? My search produced the following on the First Heaven (source: "The First Heaven (is where) birds dwell, (and) Satan dwells as prince of the power of the air since the cross (the crucifixion of Jesus). The Second Heaven "(is) Where Satan and fallen angels first fell to and demons are fighting for now (and) angels fly and do battle." (Rev. 12: 4-12, 14: 6,7). We live in the spiritual realm of "...the place of human habitation, also where Satan prowls, and will be cast down to in the end times." Obviously my back yard and my home (where birds and squirrels fly and scamper about) are my place of human habitation and as do we all, in this realm, I face the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil on a daily basis. The two levels of clouds I witnessed were indicative of the second heaven where the good angels are calmly watching to do battle with the demon spirits who are represented by the darkened clouds rushing madly across the sky, perhaps awaiting the opportunity to rain down the torrential downpours of bad weather or awaiting openings to attack us mere mortals, buffeted by the travails and temptations of our daily lives.
     Then serenely and perpetually in the great highest Heaven above, as represented by the sun, our Father God watches over all, blanketing the atmosphere at all levels with His abiding warmth and caring and love. Despite all the warring spirits above and our challenges and turmoils where we live at our level we can look up and know with great assurance that our Father is always there to calm the storms of the skies and our own torments, tribulations, and trials. We need only be faithful enough to ask for help and know that He will answer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #15 "Sacrifices of Our Patriots"

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It was a week to remember for Linda and me. It started out last Monday when Linda and I attended a Gold Star Mother luncheon sponsored by my American Legion post. Linda and I sat with three Gold Star parent couples. There were thirteen total being honored. Several wore the dog tag of their son or daughter killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan as well as significant insignia of their service. It was very emotional. The only negative was the speaker, a psychologist, who spoke a text book rendition of handling grief. As the speech wore on, the Mom to my right began to tear and I reached across her back shoulders to hug her and prayed the speech would be over. A portrait artist from Baytown, Tx. had come to the affair and brought several of his portraits, some even of the warriors of the parents in the room. We left saddened by their loss, but uplifted to know of our American young who still believe in answering the call of freedom.

Wednesday night there was a special showing of the movie "We Were Soldiers" starring Mel Gibson who played the character of then Ltc. Hal Moore, who co-authored with Joe Galloway, the original book. Medal of Honor Recipient Col. (Ret) Bruce Crandall, who was the lead helicopter pilot and flew repeated sorties in to the battlefield made some very special remarks. Greg Moore, III, Moore's son, introduced the movie. The most poignant and heart-wrenching part of the evening was when Joe Galloway spoke. A real life experience in the 1965 Landing Zone X-Ray battle in Vietnam was when Joe Galloway, on the battlefield as a reporter, witnessed the anguished cries for three hours of pain experienced by Spec. Jerry Nakayama, who was burned by napalm dropped by our own plane too close to the friendly position. In real life and depicted in the movie was Joe Galloway carrying Nakayama to the helicopter. Nakayama lived only two more days. His daughter was born without his ever seeing her. The soldier's widow and obviously now adult daughter were at the theatre that night to have gifted to them a beautiful portrait of Jimmy, painted with heartfelt emotion and extraordinary talent by Phil Taylor of the American Fallen Soldiers Project. Soldiers from today's First Squadsron, Seventh Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood attended. This battalion was the one in the book and the movie. My niece, Charlene, is married to Ltc. Jay Miseli, the current commanding officer of the battalion and they attended. Needless to say, the heart strings of us all were pulled.

Saturday night Linda and I attended in a hanger at DFW Airport SkyBall XI with 2400 others, an annual event to raise support for a variety of military and family charities. It was an incredible night to honor Afghanistan veterans but especially honoring the U.S. Army. Another Vietnam veteran, Urban Mijares, and I were selected to represent the Army Vietnam War wounded in action. Urban was there with the Army medic who saved his life in an incredible manner. Urban had been presumed dead and was in a body bag for two days when Brian, a medic, detected Urban's heart beat and he was pulled from the body bag and has lived on despite many significant ongoing medical conditions.
There were many wounded men and women up from Brooke Medical Center. Linda and I focused on meeting and visiting with as many of them as we could neglecting the luminaries who had plenty of attention. If they were in a wheelchair or obviously burned, Linda and I introduced ourselves to them. I was afforded the extraordinary privilege of introducing entertainer and military advocate Tony Orlando, whose famous song in 1973 was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree." It was sung by Tony for the first time at the Cotton Bowl on June 2, 1973 at a celebration honoring our returned Prisoners of War. It was headlined by Bob Hope. I was there representing the war wounded in action. Just prior to my introducing Tony to the audience I had a conversation with retired Navy chaplain Michael Hogg, who had contacted me a year or so ago to inquire if I had any means to obtain a memento for Tony of the long ago evening because unbelievably he could not locate any photos from the event in 1973. It so happened that I did in fact have a photo of the time I walked across the field at the Cotton Bowl between a Marine Honor Guard. Chaplain Hogg blew up the picture, framed it, and presented it to Tony Orlando who proceeded to put it up on his living room wall at his home near Branson, Missouri. Tony's brother was a Vietnam veteran who eventually died after dealing with PTSD. As I ascended the stairs to introduce Orlando to the crowd of 2400, Tony was beside me and I said I was the one in the picture in his living room. We enjoyed a warm embrace. Later in the evening he came to our table and Linda and I have a picture of the three of us.

I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Army and know that I have lived and will continue to live a life far distant from what I would have lived had I returned from Vietnam unscathed. In retrospect, if I had it to do over, would I do it? Of course not to have undergone the pain and sorrow, but am I a better person for my sacrifice? By all means and I treasure the opportunities I have to help all my fellow veterans that my God puts in my path. May you always remember our men and women who have fought on distant battlefields and their family members.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #14 "How Should We Then Live Part 2"

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Military officers are well-acquainted with the difference in strategy and tactics in the art of war. The higher up commands establish the strategy to combat the enemy and it is carried out at lower levels in tactical maneuvers by the combatants closer to the enemy for implementation. So too is spiritual warfare divided between strategic spiritual warfare in the heavens and on earth in principalities and tactical spiritual warfare upon individuals. For decades I have studied spiritual warfare through writings of a multitude of authors much less the original source, our Bible. One of  the absolute premier teachers on spiritual warfare is Derek Prince, now deceased. He was a WWII member of the British Army and received his education at Eton and Cambridge. He is available on You Tube for his teachings (also through many books) and he teaches with a very agreeable, measured, and educated style that derives confidence in his conviction and knowledge.

In 2 Corinthians 4:3,4 (NIV LASB) it is written, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." The footnote states, "Satan is 'the god of this age.' His work is to deceive, and he has blinded those who don't believe in Christ. The allure of money, power, and pleasure blinds people to the light of Christ's gospel. Those who reject Christ and prefer their own pursuits have unknowingly made Satan their god." In one of Prince's videos he points out about warfare on the strategic level and how it is exhibited in the horrific leaders through the ages, the dictators, potentates, criminals, terrorists, yes, even religious leaders, who have exercised domination, manipulation, and control over humanity. Satan's mission is to keep humanity away from God and one major way is to bring horror, evil, and misfortune upon nations and individuals to such an extent that people deny there is a God because they say, "How could a loving God allow all this evil to exist?  That is why I do not believe in God much less His Son sent to earth." It exists because Satan was given control of the earth after the fall in the Garden.

On the tactical level we are subject to personal demonic oppression as individuals and this causes, among other things, depression, suicides, divorces, unfaithfulness, and all the litany of sins and examples of misbehavior to us individually. In 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5, it is written, "For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." The footnote reads, "...but we don't need to use human plans and methods to win our battles. God's mighty weapons are available to us as we fight against Satan's 'strongholds.'...Paul assures us that God's mighty weapons-prayer, faith, hope, love, God's Word, the Holy Spirit-are powerful and effective." It seems on the daily secular level we employ with varying degrees the normal weapons taught in psychology ("human plans and methods")to protect ourselves from relationship hurts and pains by others. Our Lord teaches us many much more powerful weapons to utilize in our personal spiritual arenas.                                                          

It is only directly possible for most of us to fight on the personal tactical level and that we can do daily. However, warfare at the strategic level also may be waged by us through intercessory prayer where we as individuals pray that God will intervene to block evil. On the personal level pray each day specifically for individuals in our families and friends for protection from harm and danger from benign neglect, malignant intent, and intersection of evil.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #13 "How Should We Then Live? Part 1"

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Linda and I are thoroughly fascinated by a Netflix series titled The Tudors. It is a 40 program series about the English King Henry VIII. Before watching this series about all I knew was that the king desired a divorce so he could marry Anne Boleyn whom he eventually had beheaded. I had understood his inability to obtain an annulment from his first wife from the Pope prompted his break from the papacy and the formation of what was to become the Church of England or the Anglican Communion which for much of my life has been the faith within which I have worshipped through the Episcopal Church and presently with the Anglican Communion of North America.

Obviously Showtime takes artistic license with the story lines and is not always totally accurate historically, but tracks the major characters, their motivations, machinations, and actions relatively factually. It is definitely graphic and racy in parts. However, the photography, costumes, scenery, and interrelationships of the flows of the connections between the powers of the European kingdoms, the state of the religious life, and the evolution of the Protestan Reformation lend itself to extraordinary entertainment. The vanity, avarice, lust, and power-driven actions of the characters reflect the times prior to the translated Bible and the wonderfully-powerful teachings we find accessible today for us to grow in our faith walks. Originally, I began to think we are not like that anymore, but actually our world today in the higher realms of political and religious circles much less in our personal realms has not really changed much. We are still doing and acting in so many ways just as they did 500 years ago.

How should we live today? I relate two sources as examples of how we should live in our personal lives. In Part Two I will discuss my thoughts about the higher levels of current society. Linda and I have become great fans of an author who died almost 100 years ago. She is Ellen G. White and we are currently reading her fifth book titled Acts of the Apostles. She bases our current readings on Paul's epistle to the Corinthians. We will discuss her writings in Part Two.

In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 it is written (NIV LASB) "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." The footnotes read, "Our society worships power, influence, and wealth. Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and he offers his kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn his gifts." The Tudors and therein some of its characters spoke of Christ, but few truly lived by His teachings. They really had not been taught it except in a shallow and superficial way. Many of our pastors and priests today continue the shallow teachings so as not to prick the consciences of those in the pews. Many of them do not wish to lose the people by introducing them to guilt. We all perpetrate actions which bring on guilt, but confession of sins, true contrition, and a turning of our ways to righteousness restores us. Many of The Tudors characters never really got it. Have you?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #12 "Wounded Warriors Weekend Canada"

Allen Clark: Avalon Chronicles #12 "Wounded Warriors Weekend Canada"

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In 2 Corinthians 4: verse 2 NIV LASB it is written, " setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."

     It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to report to you about an amazing six days I spent in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada for the second annual Wounded Warriors Weekend. Attending were 176 combat veterans from Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and the United States. I wish I had an interpreter to fully understand the Aussies and the Scots! There were a few wives and women vets . Over the period in Nipawin (a town of 5,000) half way up Saskatchewan province toward the wilds of the Northern Territories we veterans were treated and feted by some very generous Canadians to fishing, golfing, entertainment, wonderful meals, and a gala banquet. I was sponsored by a Christian gentlemen and his friends from a local church.
     I did in fact go out on the golf course once, did fish once (and reeled in a five pound pickerel), spoke at two services, and was interviewed twice on a radio program, but my time was spent in numerous one on one conversations with a group of the finest individuals it has ever been my opportunity to meet. Some of my fellow attendees were severely physically-wounded (burns, amputations, gunshot wounds, eyes lost) and sufferers of  Post Traumatic Stress issues and Traumatic Brain Injuries. I was able to tell many my own story of my healing from my double leg amputations and my fourteen week residency in a closed psychiatric ward in 1968. Once I heard their own stories of their combat and peace-keeping tours and other issues of their lives, most allowed me to pray for them. There were many tears shed as I invited them to allow the grace of God to enter into their lives for healing. Only two that I asked, if they wanted me to pray for their healing, turned me down with a "We are not in to that."
     I focused on two topics: Identity and Resiliency. I had read a recent article that the major reasons there were suicides among active miltary and veterans was that they had lost their identity and could not bounce back from the traumas of the battlefields and life. I spoke of the pride they should have in their identity as a loyal, courageous, and patriotic warrior who was qualified for military service. But, I spoke very emphatically about the most important identity they should be aware of was that of their faith. Obviously I expounded on my identity as a Christian who believed in the salvation message of Jesus the Christ. I spoke of this in the conversations and in two radio interviews. Resiliency was explained in our ability to bounce back from challenges.
    In my first radio interview the interviewer asked about "coping" with our issues. I told him I was past  only "coping" to the "healing" stage. In a book by Henry W. Wright he is quoted, "I am not interested in just relief; I am interested in eradicating the necessity for relief....I just have to hold out here for a complete healing." I have been healed from the demons of my double leg amputation and PTSD and I realize that all were dealing with their own demons, but I related in no uncertain specifics that my faith in my Lord Jesus the Christ did it for me. He may not do it for all of us, but unless we get our spiritual life straight and ask for healing, we will never know whether healing can be granted.
     It was an incredibly enlightening experience for me to hear the horrors encountered by these brave men and women who served in Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Northen Ireland, Vietnam, East Timor (look that one up on the maps), and the usual suspects such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I even met a WWII man who went ashore at Juno Beach on Normandy, was a POW for nine months, released by the Soviets, and walked over three hundred miles to the Black Sea. The stories I heard I will attempt to capture (if enough follow through on my request for their stories) in a third book.
     The bottom line for all of us each day is to believe in God's power to heal us and to have faith that we can go beyond coping and relief. Also we must be bold to proclaim our faith in Jesus the Christ. I am 71 now and do not know how many more years may be gifted me and it is too late in life to hold back on expression of my faith in the appropriate settings. I urge you all to go for it! It is the most important gift we can give others, especially our family and loved ones.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #11 "Double Agents"

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     Going through the doorway of a Barnes&Noble store a few weeks ago, I saw the discounted books stack and because of my past background in military intelligence in Vietnam,  The Secret History of the CIA by Joseph J. Trento (2005 edition) caught my eye. I began reading it that night and finished it quickly. Besides the fascinating stories from interviews with very high up people in the CIA, it was a compelling book from the historical angle of many CIA operations about which I had captured in my lifetime only fleeting facts. One of the most intriguing aspects was that of the penetrations of our CIA by "double agents" planted by Russia. These agents were specifically planted to determine who were  our own recruited "double agents", to determine our targets, and to plant false information to sidetrack us. One of the most amazing narratives was that of Kim Philby, a British intelligence officer, who eventually defected to Russia. He had been acquainted with both Jesus Angleton, CIA Counterintelligence Chief, and Hebert Hoover, our FBI chief. We were trusting Americans.

     In October 1966 I met probably fifteen times to debrief a defector from Cambodia, In Chin Hai Lam. His story which I took down in meticulous notes and later produced in intelligence reports was very captivating: former Cambodian Army officer, fluent in seven languages, mother had been head housekeeper in Prince Sihanouk's palace, a friend of Prince Sihanouk's son, a graduate of Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, the Communist school for young revolutionaries world-wide. I went on to another assignment and did not learn any more of him until reading a front-page story in the New York Times in 1970 that an American was being tried for his murder which occured on Nov. 24, 1967, a short time after which I had read an article about his murder. His fellow Khmer Serie, non-Communist Cambodians, had thought him to be a "double agent" of the Soviets.

     This harkening back to my wartime experience with a possible "double agent" caused me to relate these secular world accounts to my spiritual world. I believe our churches, our lives, and our societies are infiltrated by "double agents." These are people who attend our places of worship, associate with us in business and social lives, and are close to us in our families. Actually, they present themselves as high-minded and ethical persons, even very "religious," but actually are "double agents" in a sense, because what they really are is deceptive, duplicitous, and devious. Many live hidden lives. They attempt to curry our favor to obtain business, they place themselves in church organizations to establish trustworthiness, and they present themselves as one of us in God's world. They lie, cheat, and steal and act out as residents of  Satan's world and infiltrate the world of the people who enjoy the freedom achieved by our belief in Jesus as our Savior. We must be on our guard for them. We can give them our trust and respect only when their "walk" is straight, not just their "talk." We shall judge them by the fruit of the Holy Spirit they exhibit as expressed in Galatians 5:22-26: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (KJV). President Ronald Reagan once said, "Trust, but verify." Oh, by the way, be merciful and pray for them to come in from "out of the cold."


Monday, July 15, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #10 "Thank you, sir"

     I have watched the movie "MacArthur" with Gregory Peck starring as General MacArthur. Whether accurate or not I, recollect when the aide came in to inform the general that the North Koreans had crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 and that there would be a new war in Korea. The general said something to the effect, "One final gift to this old soldier." Going to war is definitely not a gift, but I presume it meant one more time to serve the cause of freedom.

      Linda and I returned July 9 from the Richmond, Va airport after a twelve day vacation to Maryland and the historic landmarks of southeast Virginia. We usually are boarded first as a pre-board so I do not get trampled going down the plane's hallway. As we waited near the door the American Airlines person announced that military people in uniform would be invited to board first so I stepped aside to allow them to board. I had observed several of them awaiting this flight to our hometown of Dallas. I assumed they were recruits because they had no unit patches on either sleeve.

     As each boarded and passed beside me, I patted the right shoulder of each of perhaps fifteen of them and proclaimed quietly, "God bless you." I was wearing a blazer on which was affixed on the left lapel my small Purple Heart pin. One only of the troops wore a patch meaning he was more senior to all the others. Linda and I boarded just after all of them. When I passed the senior soldier, he inquired, "Is that a Purple Heart?" I only said, "Yes," and nothing more. Linda was behind me and hearing the question, told the soldier I was a Vietnam Purple Hearter. As I proceeded down the aisle (and no others had yet boarded), I could hear the soldiers passing the word to each other. "Vietnam Purple Hearter, Vietnam Purple Hearter." I must admit I felt a twinge of pride in that they cared who I was.

     The flight was over back in Dallas and, though we board first, we debark last because we are so slow. To my great amazement all the recruits (and they were that just having finished basic training at Fort Jackson, SC and on their way to Fort Sill, OK) were gathered in a group in the airport lobby to greet me. They all pushed forward to shake my hand and to a person said, "Thank you, sir." I was taken aback by their expression of gratitude to me. They all surrounded me. I was holding back my tears and said, "I am glad there are still people willing to serve. You are people with guts, courage, and ability and I thank you." I had to get away to claim my baggage before I lost it.

     I hope it is not my "final" gift, but it definitely was a magnificent gift to this "old soldier."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #9 "M.I.C.E"

Allen B. Clark

     Linda and I went to a very entertaining and educational presentation this week by Jason Matthews, author of Red Sparrow, a classic spy thriller. Jason is a retired officer of the CIA's former Operations Directorate, now the National Clandestine Service. He served in this capacity for thirty three years.
     As a former Military Intelligence officer in Special Forces in Vietnam, spy stories have always had a special fascination for me. Admittedly my experiences over ten months in Vietnam involved low-level tactical intelligence collection and assuredly I did not consider myself any James Bond type. My missions were so low level that I was wounded at an isolated Special Forces camp in 1967, not in some "grand" paramilitary operation or meeting with some traitor in a Moscow subway system or park.
    Mr. Matthews answered questions about intelligence tradecraft in a very illuminating manner and halfway through the book I am captivated with the story.
     One of the most compelling questions he answered related to recruitment of agents. He was asked what were the reasons people turned on their country and became traitors. He pegged it to the acronym M (Money), I (Ideology), C (Character), and E (Ego). MICE. He said the Russians added an S (for sex).
      Over several days I have contemplated his response given with several examples (and further exemplified in his novel) and likened it to our faith (or lack thereof) as a Christian. Money and materialism, what we believe or do not, what is our character (good or lacking), expressions of ego, and temptations of the flesh, all either controlled or run rampart, either maintain us in line with the precepts of Christianity or keep us outside the "wire" as it called in today's battlegrounds when we are not in the protection of our base camp and go out on convoys where we  become susceptible to the Improvised Explosive Devices. Being faithful to God and what Jesus came to teach us keeps us inside the "wire" in a protected position.
     Obviously we are in danger of mortar attacks and turncoats inside the camp and that represents life, but without a strong faith and prayer life we are always "out in the open", a target for the demon spirits preying on us to recruit us to the bad side through unethical dealings to enrich ourselves (money), too enamored of the materialism of life, having no identity in which to believe (ideology), not accepting the benefits of God's creation and our privilege of eternal life when we accept Jesus as Savior, spoiling our (character) through addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or perverse behavior, much less lying, cheating, or stealing. Then we add the (ego) issues, believing we are always in the right and elevating ourselves way beyond being humble servants of God and reaching out to assist those less fortunate. Obviously promiscuity and unfaithfulness in the marriage covenant take care of our being recruited to the dark side through (sex).
     MICES. It makes sense in the shadow world of espionage and spying and also in the everyday world where most of us reside. We must question ourselves. Have we been recruited by the "enemy?" What is our weakness that makes us a traitor to Jesus and pursuing a good and decent life of unselfish living?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Avalon Chronicles # 8: "Poundings From Life's Compoundings"

by Allen B. Clark 

     I have gone in to a Subway Shop and ordered a sandwich and the "layering" begins with all the good stuff, meat choice, cheese, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, sauce, the works.

     Unfortunately in life we get "layered" with all the bad stuff, issues throughout life that compound on us to impart a "malaise of spirit." Issues from our upbringing and parenting (perhaps bad parenting), relationships with others (sometimes abusive), fears from the neighborhood in which we lived, hopelessness for any kind of a future, despair about relationships, selfishness exhibited in obtaining things for ourselves at the expense of others (thereby causing guilt), sins and "stupids" we committed.

     For some percentage of today's volunteer military, the traumas of the battlefield, the loss of comrades, the fears of death, the "survivor's guilt" when we lived and others beside us died, the constant pounding of the pressures of military service are reflected in agonies of nightmares and sleeplessness leading to anger and bitterness.

     For non-military we are beset with pressures of finances, employment, relationships, susceptibility to the cultural temptations, peer pressures to indulge in sinful, obsessive, or destructive actions.

     Life is a "layering" of experiences, a "compounding" of occurences, some positive, some negative. Some of us never address the core spiritual issues of the experiences. For the good ones , we are not grateful. For the bad, we do not know how to peel back the covering of the situations to introduce a spiritual process for the healing of the memories. In my life, derived personally and through multitudes of conversations with troubled and grieving military veterans and others, each issue must be individually addressed.

     Looking at history strategically, beginning with the foundations of our culture from the Hebrews as they left Egypt for the Promised Land, our Lord God in Heaven has laid out a blueprint to light the way for our lives. It is embodied in the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments. When the layering takes us in to dark places, the only way out and into the light is the Word of God. Only our Lord God, who sent Jesus among us as a human being and then to the cross for the redemption of all our sins and to ensure eternal life for us all, past, present, and future, can light the way to peace. Peace for us from all the poundings we have taken from the compoundings of life's issues, caused not only by our faulty and unwise choicews, but also the impacts of other's choices on us.

     If we do not allow the infinite available wisdom of a personal relationship with Jesus to be applied to all our challenges, we are like a ship at sea without a rudder. As have I for so many years, we read through our Bible and nothing sinks in. I have discovered in my latter years that it is a treasure trove of lessons and stories and examples of how to address the poundings of our lives. If only I had been enlightened on this earlier in my life.

     At Memorial Day ceremonies in Manteca, CA this past week a veteran came up to me. He looked a little unkept, but there was a smile on his face that said it all when he said, "I am a Vietnam veteran and I am a changed man because of Jesus Christ in my life."

     Are you ready to stop the compounding of the poundings and try God and the wisdom of a life of faith revolving around a way out of dark places in to the light? As Ellen G. White wrote in her Bible study in Acts of the Apostles, "Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honor and immortality." Sounds good to me!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #7: "True North"

     From the beginning of history there has been a straight line through the millenia that pointed to "true north," the direction of movement to something correct and right and accurate and "on track." Johnny Cash, who had been in prison, sang about "I Walk the Line." Not sure I know exactly what line he meant. However, all who have attempted to "walk the line" have sometimes wobbled or wandered off, but many have been drawn back to that center line established by God through the gentle urgings of our consciences.
     After the fall in the Garden of Eden the evil one, Satan, took over and today he is the God of this world. He dispatches his minions (demons) to perch on the shoulders of God's people as related by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, whispering the thoughts that become emotions that lead to choices of actions usually with negative consequences that impact our own personal walk of faith, diverting us away from our own "true north."
     Those whispers are heard and cajole us to reflect the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, sometimes to effect significant detours on the paths of our lives. If we never "walked the line" or got off it, we are doomed to a life of selfishness, greed, conflict, confusion, and guilt.
     God had to provide a guide to "true north" for humanity, a real example, something tangible and visible physically to be our exemplary standard to remove us from the clutches and chains achieved by our listening to and following the way of that still voice on our shoulders speaking really "sweet nothings" into our ears.
     His "battle plan" for His created and the ultimate warrior to light the path to "true north"for us all was encompassed by His Son, our Savior, Jesus, the Christ. His life and His teachings in His manual of the New Testament are a brilliant light that is a lamp post every few feet on our pathway of life. It is the illumination we all need to overcome the overwhelming darkness that blankets us when we fulfill the lusts of the flesh and the eyes and fulfill a life of pride and elevation of self. It can get and keep us moving on a healthy path when we accept in faith with a personal relationship with Jesus that He is our "True North."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #6 "Passages to One's Heart"

     Several days ago I commented to my wife Linda that these days with her as my wife (now in our ninth year) have been the happiest and most contented and joyous of my life. I defined it as a time or period of my life, but searched my vocabulary for another word to define it. I knew there was one and asked God to bring it to my memory. He did and it was "passages". I have by my living room chair a facsimile copy of Webster's 1828 dictionary. In it a usage of passage is a quote in a poem by John Dryden, "And with his pointed dart explores the nearest passage to his heart." In Proverbs 4:23 it is written, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
     We have several "passages" or periods of our lives and we are subjected in each of those times to experiences that are good and bad that impact us. They depend upon what enters our heart and our reaction and action to the influence.
     In the NIV Bible it is written in Ephesians 6:16, "...take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Arrows are large darts. My study of spiritual warfare has taught me that our spiritual adversary has authority to send "flaming arrows" to us for two major reasons. They are because we have unforgiven sin and we have not forgiven all others who have wronged or hurt us.
      In Jeremiah 24:7 it is written, "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord." In Ezekiel 11:19 it is written, "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." The footnote to this scripture is, "This new life can only be the work of the Holy Spirit. It is God's work, but we must recognize and turn from our sin. When we do, God will give us new motives, new guidelines, and new purpose." In I Chronicles 28:9 it is written, (in speaking to Solomon about building the temple), "...for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts." NOTHING is hidden from our Father. We may hide it from the world and even ourselves, but not from him.
     In the New Bible Dictionary the heart is defined thusly: "The heart is considered the governing center for each of us, and all our attributes, physical, intellectual, and psychological. It is who we are and governs all our actions."
      What enters our hearts is crucial to our well-being. When we have faith in God and what we learn in the Word of God, we can experience passages of our lives by controlling what passes to our hearts.
      In Psalms 37:4 it is written, 'Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." I like that agreement.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #2 "Jesus is Available"

Avalon Chronicles #2 "Jesus is Available"

Feb. 19, 2013:
     I was sitting in my living room yesterday and these are the thoughts that came to my mind. I truly believe as I listened that my Lord was speaking:

     "There is so much pain in the world and always has been. I came to remove much of that pain and sorrow for those who call on Me for redemption and salvation. The enemy occupies the territory my Father created. My mission was defined in the New Testament as that to reclaim the inhabitants of the land so they would be free from oppression of their souls. I came, died, and was resurrected so that those who believed in Me could have a new way of life. It would not be trouble-free, but it would be a life where troubles and tribulations could be looked upon as inevitable, but whose impact would be lessened and ameliorated when I am called upon to provide understanding of causes and then guidance as to changes of heart, direction, or acceptances to work through the condition or issue. I am like the original 'ap' on your smart phone. Click on me without charge, learn from me, and have direction, knowledge and wisdom to approach any challenge. I am available 24/7/365. (366 in leap year.)

Avalon Chronicles #1: "The Why and What of Avalon Chronicles"

Avalon Chronicles #1 "The Why and What of Avalon Chronicles"

     For months I have agonized over sharing with people closest to Linda, and me and others whose path has crossed ours, our spiritual thoughts. I have decided to do so on an intermittent and sporadic time frame. I am motivated to send you these messages, because, at age 70, having endured the Vietnam War and all the emotional, financial, physical, and medical battles of my life, I do not know how many years God will continue to bless me with life before I am gone to the fulfillment of the immortality of my soul in Heaven.
     Avalon is an ancient island in Great Britain where Joseph of Arimathea from Jerusalem, the man who took Jesus down from the cross and placed him in the sepulchre on his own home place, arrived in 36AD. Avalon was the location where Christianity began its spread into "the isles."

On February 3, 2013 I wrote the following in my diary:

     I am reading a book by George F. Jowett titled Drama of the Lost Disciples about the establishment of Christianity in Great Britain upon the arrival of Joseph of Arimathea. The larger locale today is identified as Glastonbury in southwest England. (Linda and I will travel to Glastonbury in Nov. 2013.)
     I am truly inspired by the foundation of the faith there and the "Scarlet Thread" of the history of Jesus' sacrifice for us and the propagation of our faith for the past two millenia. In the course of reading this history of the beginnings of the movement of the faith outside the Holy Land, I have been moved almost to the point of tears, with how important is my faith and my responsibility to be holy and pure and "sold-out" to Christianity.
     The word "imbued" came to mind. Webster's original 1828 dictionary defines it in this manner, "to tinge deeply, to cause to imbibe (to absorb: to receive or admit into the mind and retain; as to imbibe principles) as, to imbue the minds of youth with good principles. (Most on my list are "youth" to me as I am in my 8th decade.)
     In the course of this time of reflection this morning, I began to be reminded of Linda's frequent proclamation, "The Lord told me." I have until today always listened with a sense of skepticism to what she has said. Obviously, it is not an audible voice, but rather a progression and transmission of a thought process transmitted by our Father in Heaven and imparted to her, who listens to God's quiet and still voice in her prayer time.
     I have come to the conclusion this day for the first time ever that, when we totally "sell-out" to God, that our mind becomes a conduit of the thoughts of God to and through us for guidance, direction, and correction.
     May God bless and keep you all. Allen

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #5: "Broken Arrow"

     Several weeks ago I was the guest of a long-time and good friend, Gene Blanton, a Marine, who presents at Plano's Prestonwood Baptist Church a program for men titled "Semper Fi Warrior." I was a presenter one night on one of my topics titled "Spiritual Warfare." When I finished, Gene began a program about "Broken Arrow." He proceeded to show a short clip from the movie We Were Soldiers, when on Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment-Custer's Old Battalion, landed in Vietnam's Central Highlands to fight a vastly superior in numbers North Vietnamese force. Gene went on to teach the following:
     On the second day of the battle the enemy attacked ferociously leading to severe hand-to-hand combat. Ltc. Hal Moore's battalion was in imminent danger of being overrun. It was classified by Col. Moore in his opinion that "His unit was in grave danger of being overrun." As I viewed this film clip I began to tear and had to wipe my eyes recalling the sheer horror that back on that day my fellow Army soldiers had to have felt. In reflection since then I realize that we all feel at some time that we are about to be overrun. The pressures of our lives seem to be overwhelming due to family, financial, situational, and sin issues.
     When Col. Moore broadcast back to his headquarters "Broken Arrow," it was the code word meaning there was no further questioning or hesitation or calling for a conference. All available aircraft in country immediately descended on the battalion's battlefield to deliver air support to the beleagured ground troops. The enemy assault was repelled.

     This story in our military history is quite gripping and the scenes in the movie leave one with an indelible memory. That actual situation has its comparability in many of our own lives. We all probably face some or many extremely traumatic situations in our lives. When we do, it is time to ask for all the divine help we can obtain from our Father in Heaven. That is when we cry out, "Broken Arrow," in humility just as did Col. Moore. As Blanton relates, "In the same way, when God hears a 'Broken Arrow' coming up from one of his (people), He always hears our prayers and mobilizes resources. 'He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.' Psalm 91:15. We receive help, but in all candor we must recognize the issue may not completely be obliterated. There are consequences sometimes due to our decisions that brought on the challenge.
     Our God in Heaven who sent His Son to die on the cross for us 2000 years ago at Calvary is in that headquarters in the sky and is able to send forth all the help we need. We need to be faithful enough to believe He will be there for us and answer our prayers. We need to ask Him for help out of our situation when the enemy is everywhere.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #4: "The Gift of Faith"

Avalon Chronicles #4     "The Gift of Faith"

From time to time, the author and originator of this blog “Avalon” (my husband Allen Clark) has encouraged me to write about some truth I have gleaned and shared with him to be submitted for possible publication.

It has occurred to me many times while observing Allen's approach to life, that in the adversities and challenges of himself and others, he immediately takes them to his Heavenly Father in prayer.  Like a child running home to tattle on his playmates and tell his dad so his dad can fix it for him, Allen races to his Father in heaven in prayer asking and believing that all will be well and it usually is.  Much to my chagrin I have observed this eternal optimist overcome overwhelming odds to achieve his goals time after time until it finally dawned on me, Allen has the gift of faith!

With his 'child on Christmas morning' joy and enthusiasm, he welcomes each new day with expectancy and delight.  Admittedly, though I sometimes defend my pessimism by declaring that I am a practical  realist, I believe Allen may be the winner in that he seems to derive such joy by looking up rather than by looking down.

In my Bible reading the other morning I was reading about Jesus walking on the water.

The passage from John 6:21(KJV) reads “Then they willingly received him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to which they went.”  This stung and resonated in my spirit as I realized that when we invite Jesus into our life, our situation, our boat, almost without effort we are immediately at the place we need to be.  Often the first thing He does is give us His peace and we can then think more clearly about how to solve or resolve what we are dealing with.  Sometimes we just have to accept the situation or go in a different direction.  Whatever the answer turns out to be, with Jesus in our boat we soon reach land.

How many times have I heard Allen say in telling his story about overcoming the loss of his legs, that when Jesus became Lord of his life, he began to heal?  I saw for the first time, that the physical power that was taken from Allen was replaced by the spiritual power given by going to the Lord His help.

We live in a world of walking wounded.  Broken hearts, hard hearts abound in this imperfect world we live in.  There is a hospital complete with a specialty for all the ills of mankind that is never depleted. There is the great physician who never tires, who has a storehouse that never becomes empty and that can minster to every need we can ever have.  Running to Him he can bind up every wound, heal every broken heart and set every captive free.

Allen lives the example of someone who runs to Jesus (the Lord of his life) for all his needs to be met and how completely and how beautifully they are met.  His prayers may not always be answered exactly the way he asks or what he would like but they are always answered by what he needs.

P.S.  Dear Reader:

I feel compelled to add that Allen was hesitant and shy to publish this as he felt it was too laudatory of him.  I encouraged him that he should do it before I became “disenchanted” about something and changed my mind about the whole thing.  (If you are a wife you will understand this).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Avalon Chronicles #3: "Count Your Blessings, Not Your Beatings"

Allen Clark: Avalon Chronicles #3 "Count Your Blessings, Not Your Beatings"

In my prayer time on March 12, 2013, these thoughts came to my mind:

"You are brought forth for such a time as this, preserved at Dak To, delivered from oppression, smoothed out at your rough edges, quieted in your sharpness and anger, softened in heart, directed to true north, uplifted in confidence, restored in marital tranquillity, established with provision, armed with my understanding, grown in my teachings, placed in positions to represent me (the pre-eminent responsibility), armed with knowledge of spiritual truths, surrounded by my people, uplifted by grace, wiser through experience of failures, humbled by illnesses, matured through age. Is there anything else you need to wholeheartedly serve me, unreservedly, cleansed and purified? Are you prepared to give back to me service in my Name to the others to whom I will direct you?
You are equipped and educated. Go forth as a soldier in the Army of God."

I have had my own share of life's beatings, but this recapture of my true blessings is indeed sobering. Where are you in the recollection of your blessings from God and their outweighing of the beatings?
Are you reaching out to serve our God who has bestowed those blessings? If not, why not?