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!