consequences…the decisions we make

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.
That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.
An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge
or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(a willet makes off with a crab for breakfast /Julie Cook / 2019)

Scanning a local Atlanta’s news feed Sunday, I noted the storyline about a local Army Master Sgt.
passing away ten years after he was initially wounded in Afghanistan.

I stopped to read the story.

It seems that this soldier’s tale is a bit more complicated than that of a soldier being wounded
in the line of duty.

This particular soldier, Master Sargent Mark Allen of Georgia, was shot in the head 10 years ago
after he went out on a search mission for a fellow soldier who had deserted the unit.

The AWOL soldier was Sgt Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl deserted his unit and was eventually captured by the Taliban.
He was in captivity from 2009 until 2014, when then-President Barak Obama
traded 5 Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl.

Master Sargent Mark Allen’s now recent widow Shannon,
did not know that her husband was actually shot while searching for Bergdahl,
not until several years later when President Obama ordered the prisoner exchange.
All she had known was that her husband had been shot in the line of duty and had
suffered a debilitating traumatic brain injury.

Allen was to spend the next 10 years of his life in a wheelchair and unable to
communicate, requiring constant around the clock care.

The full news story is below…followed by a bit of personal reflection…

Georgia soldier injured while searching for Bowe Bergdahl dies 10 years later
By: Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A retired Army National Guard officer from metro Atlanta died Saturday,
10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
in Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Mark Allen was injured in a June 2009 search mission for Bergdahl,
who walked off a U.S. military outpost and was captured by the Taliban.
Military prosecutors said Allen was shot during a firefight that erupted when U.S. forces
and about 50 members of the Afghan National Army were attacked by enemy fighters.

Allen suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a wheelchair and
unable to communicate.
His wife, Shannon Allen, told WSB Radio that she did not learn about the circumstances surrounding
her husband’s injuries until 2014, after former President Barack Obama negotiated Bergdahl’s release
in a swap for five Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Shannon Allen typically declined interviews,
but she was in the courtroom in October 2017 when Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion
and misbehavior before the enemy, The Associated Press reported.
He was later sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but avoided prison time.

When Allen returned home, after being treated for three years at a military hospital in Florida,
he was honored as a hero.
The father of two was a frequent recipient of local accolades in his Walton County hometown.

According to an obituary printed in the Walton Tribune,
Allen spent 21 years in the Army and the Army National Guard.
He retired in 2013 upon receiving a Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, his son, Cody, and a daughter, Journey.

Services are planned for this week.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tim Stewart Funeral Home in Loganville.
A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church of Snellville with a burial to follow.

This story was written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stories such as these are hard for all sorts of reasons.
Lives are shattered and forever changed all because of one person’s choice,
action or decision.

Two children lost their dad this past weekend… and if the truth be told,
they actually lost the dad they had known as small children, ten years ago
when he was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban.
There are conflicting reports that upwards of 8 other soldiers were shot and killed
as a direct result of that particular search mission.

The story behind Bergdahl is cloudy.

When President Obama exchanged 5 military prisoners for Bergdahl’s release,
some of the truth behind Bergdahl’s story began to emerge.
Details causing some in our Government’s leadership to question the legality of
President Obama’s prisoner exchange.

Bergdahl was eventually tried in a Military court and pled guilty to desertion.

He was given a dishonorable discharge, demoted in rank and was fined $1000 from his
monthly pay.
He did not face any prison time.

Since then, some have wondered aloud whether or not Bergdahl was actually
an enemy sympathizer.
A disillusioned soldier who decided to take his chances by deserting the Army
and country he served, opting to seek asylum with the enemy…or did he merely desert,
hoping to elude capture and simply “run away” to whatever it is was that he thought
might be a better life.

Bergdahl, however, does not deny deserting.

In a letter to his parents just prior to his desertion, Bergdahl paints
the picture of a young man who was very much disillusioned.
He was angry and had decided that he must wash his hands of any part of the mission and war.
He spoke of “being ashamed to be an American”
He noted that “the US Army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at”
He points to the fact that America and her military are arrogant and even cruel in their actions
against the Taliban and the local people.

His father’s response was for his son to follow his conscience.

Yet one thing history has taught us is that war is not pretty nor is it ever fair.
Wars are bad and bad things happen during such.
Rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, the UN, all have
been put in place to aid man in fighting his wars fairly…
yet what of any war is ever fair?

But those who are the committed members of our military understand
the mission and in turn work to that end.

And yet in all of this, I am reminded about the matter of consequence.

A man who was once proclaimed as ‘The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, once noted that
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”

Ingersoll was not a Christian man however both Christian and nonbeliever can each agree
that from all actions comes consequence.

No matter Bergdahl’s claims as to what took place following his departure from his Unit,
the fact of the matter was, and remains, that the consequences from his decision
and actions that fateful day in 2009 has forever changed a myriad of lives.

Bergdahl made a conscious decision, that many say to this day, was purely selfish.
I happen to be one of those who find Bergdahl’s actions self-absorbed…
and according to Military protocol, even criminal.

His choice to walk away, for whatever reason, set in motion a chain reaction of
life-altering events…perhaps none so great as experienced by the Allen family.

The Bergdahl case remains somewhat fluid as his legal team continues to push that he
be awarded various medals from that of POW survivor to a Purpleheart…
as well that his “Court Martial” be overturned.

Despite whichever side of this case you find yourself, the fact of the matter is
that decisions, actions, and choices all hold weight.

And often that weight is a balance between life and death.
As they directly affect other people…whether we see or not the effect.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

Oops he did it again…

“Strong men ruled bloodily; weak men gladly exchange freedom for protection…
for freedom is meaningless in a world of anarchy.”

Morris Bishop
The Middle Ages

“We seem to be witnessing the coming of Antichrist, for this is the falling
away of which the Apostle speaks.”

French Bishops from the 991 council


(statue of Robert The Bruce / Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland)

Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots was not always the leader he needed to be.
He waffled to and fro…confused about what he was truly representing or
fighting for.

Himself, or something much greater than himself.

Yet with most of those brave individuals tapped for great leadership,
Robert eventually came around to his senses and to that of his destiny.
He figured things out while in exile on a lonely cold windswept Irish isle and
finally came home to rout the British out of Scotland.

Once Robert understood his true destiny, he rode forward, never looking back.
His mind was made up.
He was going to fight to win or die trying.

Freedom has that sort of draw on men.
You will fight for it or die trying.

Yet most of us know that our brave freedom fighters throughout the annuals of time
have not always been the saints or perfect individuals we often imagine.

In fact more often than not, valiant individuals usually have a rather checkered past.
For it usually takes a lot of falling and dying unto self before real virtue
bubbles its way to the top.

We’ve seen as much here in the States in our own quest for freedom.

Yesterday our good friend the Scottish Pastor David Robertson offered a post
of observation.

Just when I think he’s said everything there is to say while saying it so succinctly
as he covers all the bases, he reminds me he’s only just getting started.

Should I be embarrassed for us here in the States that people now around the world
are taking notice of our latest public temper tantrums and are actually writing
about them and us?

And I don’t think it’s the kind of stuff we really want other people to be
seeing let alone writing about… that being our egregiously dirty laundry.

But our Scottish friend has been most astute in his observations.
Let’s take the latest crazed mentality of ours to desecrate, destroy and remove
the static polestars of history.

Robert E Lee-
Lets talk about removing statues.
In the Ukraine over 2000 statues of Lenin are being removed.
In the UK our loony left are falling into line with this latest virtue
signaling fashion—according to this article in the Guardian Nelson’s
column must go—
Never one to miss a trick, the Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie wants
statutes pulled down as well…
I wonder if anything will be left standing!

In America the liberal left are going hysterical about monuments to
Confederate generals – especially Robert E Lee.
The irony is that they know nothing about Lee –
they are just virtue signalling.

Lee himself was opposed to the breakup
of the Union and was also apparently opposed to slavery.

In 1856 he wrote to his wife –
“in this enlightened age, there are few I believe,
but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution,
is a moral and political evil in any country.”
He set up an illegal school for slaves at Arlington and all
the slaves they were freed in 1862. Lee has become the latest victim
of “identity politics”.

The irony is that he did not think statues of himself should be erected
and he hoped that the wounds of the civil war would be healed.
“I think it wiser not to keep open the source of war, but to follow
the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterated the marks
of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

But if the fashion of the day is statue destroying – can I suggest others?

Statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce should be destroyed.
After all they were slaveholders – at least in the sense that serfs were slaves.

One of the reasons that Wallace went to war was to maintain the right
of the Scottish nobles to have their own serfs.

Will the Scottish government start pulling down statues soon?!

And what about the statue of the Duke of Sutherland above Golspie –
the ‘Mannie’ responsible for some of the most savage clearances in the Highlands.
Every time I sit in my parents home at Portmahomack and stare across
the water to the Sutherland hills, I see that monstrosity of a statue
on top of Ben Braggie and I am offended.

I had an elder in Brora who at one point,
before he became a Christian had seriously considered blowing it up –
even as a Christian he was tempted!

Meanwhile can anyone tell me the substantive difference between
ISIS and the Taliban

Buddhist statutes removed by the Taliban
pulling down monuments to ideologies they don’t like and Antifa doing
the same thing in the US?
It strikes me that once you start removing
a nation’s history you end up being as bad as the people you are trying
to replace.

And that was but one observation by our good friend in a litany of observations
worth your perusal when clicking the following link:

LED 6 – Back to Uni – Demolishing Statues – Natural Disasters – Robert E Lee – The Duke of Sutherland – Houston – Poland – Trudeau and Abortion – Australia and SSM – Macron – Tower Hamlets Adoption Madness…

While I stand mouth agape, dumbstruck…wondering once the dust settles if anything recognizable of this country I’ve known and loved,
all these many years, will be left standing…
As the protestors and politicians have long forgotten the cost paid for their freedom
to do what it is they are doing, forgetting, hating and desecrating…
I wonder…
will Shirley Temple will be next…..


(Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson in The Littlest Rebel, 1935)

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:17

the collision of patriotism and xenophobia

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith
becomes an American and assimilates himself to us,
he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else,
for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed,
or birthplace, or origin.
But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American,
and nothing but an American…
There can be no divided allegiance here.
Any man who says he is an American, but something else also,
isn’t an American at all.
We have room for but one flag, the American flag…
We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…
and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Theodore Roosevelt

article-2307859-193fc4e3000005dc-15_634x552
( part of the health screening for those passing through Ellis Island)

Immigration, the coming and going of peoples from one country to another…
freely…
as in, it’s ok because there is a working process of passage in place…

It is a process for those possessing the desire of becoming something other…
hopefully better, thankfully freer, happier, safer, more prosperous…
and in the end,
American.

It worked in ages past when it was done openly and legally,
as in going through the proper steps and stages.
Remember Ellis Island–

However today, that is no longer the case–as in it is now a harry carry mess…
often a covert process at best…
clandestine, and even sinister, at worst…

A process that has existed unchecked and unabashedly out of control for decades…
And maybe that’s because none of that had really mattered during those previous decades.
Maybe it was believed that the Nation could keep up and absorb the flow.
Provide for, house, educate, keep healthy and well, defend and protect and afford…
the flow….

Yet, in time, as the world shifted,
we began to not only witness, but rather experience that very shift.
No longer could the flow be absorbed…
Financial affordability and responsibility was maxed…
The original intent was no longer the same…
English was not wanting to be learned.
Assimilation became a bad word.
It was a flow wanting perks without dues…

New words crept into our vocabulary….
Undocumented
Alien
Drug lords
Border control
Terrorism
Islamic extremists
Al Qaeda,
Taliban
ISIS

Tunnels were dug…
As planes flew into buildings…
all with a grave purpose….
And we were learning that things had to change…
there had to be new safety steps put in place….

Yet no one cared to recognize the folly or the negligence in allowing things to continue…
They preferred to rally….
vehemently angry while trying to counter any means possible to corral
and bring some semblance of order to a broken process.

They march while holding signs.
They quit work to protest.
Yet they refuse to do those necessary things that should be done, must be done…
properly…
legally…
correct….
inorder to make it all work…

And so those who say such words as…
proper
broken
assimilate
learn
legal…

are taunted, jeered, cursed and ignored…

Time and resources are passing away…
making it all too late to make things right….

confusion
apathy
ignorance
greed
loss
now replace what once was…
loyalty,
patriotism,
and National honor…
rendering a once strong nation….neutered.

“A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”
Ronald Reagan

Onward Christian Soldier

Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads again the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!

Openning stanza to the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers
lyrics by the Englishman Sabine Baring-Gould 1865

DSCN0255
(stainglass window of St George, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 2:3

Christianity to the non believer, as well as to many of the faithful, must appear to be a faith of conjecture.

On the one hand we are reminded to be like minded with Christ… to forgive without ceasing…70 times 7…
We are to be peace minded when attacked by offering the other cheek, our cloak, our possessions…
We are the followers of the “Sacrificial Lamb” who when lead before his shearers is dumb, as he opened not his mouth…
As there are those who have long considered Christians weak, passive and non-agressive to a fault.

Yet there are others who eagerly finger point and recall that throughout history Christians have been known to rile against those who were not of the faith. Waging crusades and “holy” wars…as we are all left wondering what sort of war could ever be considered “holy” as that seems to be the epitome of oxymorons.

And yet we are called to be soldiers for Christ…

However’s today’s global family is currently witnessing an extreme example of a holy war, or caliphate. This war is being raged on a terrorizing global level by the Islamic extremists Daesh otherwise known ISIS.
It is a caliphate to be carried out against the infidel and all non muslims as per the Quran.
And yet our western governments continue to assure us that the Islamic faith is one of peace.

Despite the continuing airstrikes conducted by US, UN, British, French, Russian and other coalition forces, the numbers of IS recruits has only continued growing by leaps and bounds.

Stories of what happens to those civilians who fall under IS control continue making headlines.
Beheadings, shootings, torture, caged burnings, crucifixions—all manner of public executions are rampant.

The following link is to a recent story found on the BBC concerning IS, or Daesh’s, growing occupation in Libya, as well as elsewhere throughout northern Africa and the Middle East. The article is a collection of firsthand accounts of those who “got out” before total occupation but sadly left family and friends behind. The stories of the barbaric brutality, which is on an alarming rise, is most sobering if not stomach turning…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35325072

It has also been almost a year since the tragic news of the young American aid worker Kayla Mueller’s horrific death at the hands of IS leaders. Just yesterday there was a news article stating that her parents would soon be making their first public statement regarding their daughter’s kidnapping and subsequent death— as well as their failed attempts to negotiate with her captors and of the ensuing war of words with the American Government over those negotiations.

Whereas our Government has long held the stance that the families of any Americans taken hostage by hostile nationals would not be allowed to “negotiate” a loved one’s release by paying ransoms, the irony is sadly found in the Government’s negotiating with the Taliban for the release of the American soldier Bowe Berghdahl— by exchanging 5 terrorist prisoners—all of which has rung a sour note with the Muellers as well as other families such as the families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Berghdahl, as it turns out, had purportedly gone AWOL and was a suspected Taliban sympathizer.
He is soon to be tried in a military court of law, facing a court martial with a sentence of life in prison…
Our Government exchanged five terrorist prisoners for this purported AWOL soldier while the Muellers are left trying to make sense a Government “threatening” their attempts to pay a private ransom for their own daughter.

http://news.yahoo.com/murdered-hostage-kayla-mueller-s-family-is-speaking-out-013516761.html

In 1941, after three years of fighting that was raging across the European continent and prior to US involvement, President Franklin Roosevelt met secretly with the British Prime minister Winston Churchill aboard the HMS Prince of Wales in the middle of the North Atlantic. The meeting of these two leading allied leaders was for the creating of the Atlantic Charter, a charter that would help to define a post-war world. During the time the two leaders were meeting, Churchill was charged with arranging a joint church service to be held aboard ship for all the attendees. He chose all the hymns with Onward Christian Soldiers being his foremost choice. Following the meeting, in a radio broadcast, Churchill later reccounted his reasoning for his choice of hymn…

We sang “Onward, Christian Soldiers” indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals … it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.

Churchill’s words could easily be spoken today…“it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.”

May we be reminded that as Christians we are to be that living embodiment of hope, that sure hope, as we march forward as the Soldiers for Christ casting His brilliant Light into a world held hostage by darkness.

“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.
Deuteronomy 20:1

Post Script regarding Malala

Hope is nature’s veil for hiding truth’s nakedness.
Alfred Nobel
Sweden Alfred-Nobel2

***A bit of a disappointing Post Script
The Committee who awards the various Nobel prizes announced this morning form Oslo that a Chemical Weapons watchdog group, who has overseen the chemical weapons search in Syria, has won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately Malala Yousafzai, the young defiant 16 year old Pakistani girl, who was shot in the head last year by the Taliban and left for dead– all for refusing to back down from the hardline edict that girls should not be educated, did not win. She was the youngest contender.

Watchdog groups are important but I always have a hard time when “groups” win such awards verses the individual who has somehow defied the odds, overcome grave adversity, stood up to tremendous obstacles all in the face of grave danger with little to no regard to self in order to be the still small voice for the masses who have no voice. Alone. No group of support. Simply, alone.

I suppose the argument could be that that “Peace” and working towards that as an end to the means, is what the Weapons group is all about—but to me, that is their job, their responsibility. Is there danger involved? Certainly. But Malala is not ordered, asked, contracted, to be the voice for millions of young girls, she did not volunteer for this global platform, but came to it by simply refusing to stay at home and not attend school. It almost cost her her life but she understood the importance of learning and schooling for children world wide, particularly for countless young girls who still find that a deep double standard exists all around this globe.

Malala will still stand her ground against a terroristic group of men who somehow think it’s ok to burn down schools, pour acid on young girls and who even hunt them down as animals shooting them, as they simply attend school, in hopes of silencing “this rebellious act.” She will continue being the advocate for the countless numbers of girls who are mutilated, enslaved, tortured, bought and sold, pimped, who are considered less than all across this globe. She will continue to educate a world that a girl is a person of worth and that an education is the most important gift you can offer to children other than love.

Here is to education, to the hope that knowledge is more powerful than ignorance and that all children, male and female, deserve to be nurtured, loved and educated by the adults who are all entrusted to care for them.