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God walks the dark hills

When I was a child, my mother shared about her experience on a mission trip to Mexico. During that trip, years before I was born, she accompanied the pastor and a few others from her church. As they walked a steep hill, heading toward a distant village, they seemed to feel the burden of great spiritual oppression. The pastor enjoined them to sing “God walks the dark hills”.

My mother occasionally sang this song in the church we attended when I was a child. She was the song leader for many years. When I recall this memory, I can see her face and hear her voice. She sang as one with experience. She sang as one who knew God. She knew him imperfectly, but she recognized the appearance of his character in the Scriptures and in the lives of disciples of Christ.

A few days before she died, I told my mother how I cherished the memory of her telling me about singing in Mexico. She gave a weak smile. As we planned her funeral, she asked that we include this song. As the service began, the congregation heard the classic recording of Vestal Goodman singing “God walks the dark hills”.

Sometimes the hills are awfully dark. It especially seemed that way when my mother died: a great light was taken from my life. The pain of sin brings scars. The separation of death, the stench of decay, the sting of every failure: all these are signs of mankind’s waywardness from God. Yet, those who have been redeemed by the Lamb have hope beyond the toil of this life. We mourn not as those without hope. We rejoice that all shall be well in the kingdom of God.

God walks the dark hills. Christ shows us the way.

The pain is still there

The death of an American soldier in combat is painful. The agony of loss is heart-wrenching. I’ve looked at the faces of the dead, those who were beside me talking only a few moments ago.

I’ve looked in the faces of their friends; for some, friends for years: through basic training, AIT, and a first assignment together. These are friends who were in pain. Their grief was visible. Sometimes is came out in anger, sometimes in laughter, sometimes in tears, sometimes in rigid features that could not express the pain.

I’ve looked in the faces of their family members: wives, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and others. Sharing memories with them was an a privilege. Hearing their memories was an even greater privilege.

Those men weren’t angels, but they are heroes. Cut down in the prime of life, they gave it all. None of them awakened thinking it would be a good day to die. Instead, they simply performed their duty, a duty that led them into harm’s way. They fulfilled their sworn duty with the full measure of their lives; they gave it all so I might live in peace.

The pain is still there for the families and the buddies. Yes, my own pain is still there, too. In some sense, it is compounded by knowing that those families and friends bear the pain; I suppose this is a pastor’s calling–to grieve and to bear the grief of others.

If you don’t know someone who gave his life for this country, ask me. I’ll tell you about these honorable men. They were my friends.


In grateful memory of those men of my military flock who died fighting our nation’s enemies:

  • Elias Elias
  • Allen Jaynes
  • Michael Balsley
  • Alexander Fuller
  • Jay Martin
  • Alexander Funcheon
  • Brian Botello
  • Eric Snell
  • Mikeal Miller
  • Jason Fabrizi
  • Tyler Parten
  • Michael Scusa
  • Christopher Griffin
  • Stephan Mace
  • Brian Pedro
  • Nathan Carse
  • Alexander Povilaitis
  • Tristan Wade

Comfort their families and their brothers in arms.

Terri Schindler: a year’s agony

One year ago today, Terri Schindler (Schiavo) began the slow and agonizing path of starvation and dehydration, as the nutrition tube was removed from her body. Terri, as you hopefully recall, was brain-damaged and in hospice. Sadly, some of the very persons who should have sought to preserve her life actually fought to end it. Her husband (whose hopes to move on with his adulterous life were more important than the life of his wife) had convinced a morally bankrupt Florida judge to order the starvation of Terri.

While American citizens watched on television, listened by radio, and read by Internet, the legal battle was fought to the very end. Terri’s parents and siblings made every possible legal effort to save her from the cruel and unusual death she suffered. Despicably, those intent on murder were successful in their quest. Despite rumblings from President George Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Florida legislature, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the conspirators of disaster worked their wileful deed. As Terri lay conscious, painfully aware that she was thirsting to death, her husband and his attorneys congratulated themselves on their endeavor.

Although this situation seems reminiscent of a horror story, it actually happened. The events played out publicly in Pinellas Park, Florida. Millions of Americans were aware of the sadistic state-sanctioned murder of this innocent woman. Thousands gathered outside the hospice where Terri lay dying; they were there to encourage her parents and siblings, to pray for God’s intervention, to seek justice from the secular authorities. Press conferences were called; demonstrations were held; prayer gatherings were organized; public and private entreatments for intervention were proffered. Sadly, the deed was begun and carried to its end.

A year ago, I wrote some things about this harsh event. I was present for a few days at the concentration camp hospice where Terri was incarcerated. The local police were out in force to ensure that no one carried food or water to Terri. They were also present in her room to ensure that she be allowed to die the unnatural death that was inflicted upon her. I saw a few familiar faces among the crowds, and met many common citizens who came to weep and pray.

I will offer a few more reflections over the coming days. Terri should long be remembered. She should be remembered because she is one of God’s children, valuable simply because she was created by him. She should be remembered because she was a public sacrifice for the seared conscience of an increasingly godless people. Let us not forget Terri Schindler, the lady who was butchered by the blood-stained hands of politically powerful reprobates.

Black Thursday

As I left work around 9:20 a.m. to drive to an appointment today, I turned on the radio to hear that Terri Schiavo had died.

I am deeply saddened by this news. I am saddened that a beautiful child of God has left this world where she brought so much joy and received so much love from her family. I am saddened that her parents and siblings and extended family no longer have Terri to enjoy her presence and share their love with her. I am saddened for my country that cares so little. I am saddened by the rebellion against God and the compromise of the truth that many Christians have shown in this case.

The future is uncertain but I know that I will always remember this ordeal. Terri struggled to live and she was denied the most basic of natural care–nourishment. Her blood is on the hands of her husband Michael Schiavo, his attorney George Felos, the judge George Greer, the handful of appelate judges who returned to case to Greer, the other state and federal judges who refused to hear the case, the governor of Florida Jeb Bush, the president of the United States George W. Bush, the members of Congress who refused to enforce the congressional subpeonas, the Florida Department of Children and Families which refused to intervene even though they said they had the authority and responsibility to do so, and so many more. Ultimately, the people of Florida and of the United States are responsible because we haven’t been diligent to see that life-haters aren’t holding public office and because we’ve devalued human life.

I’ll offer more thoughts later. There are several actions I will be taking in response to this entire matter. The first thing I’ve done today is remove from my blogroll a “Christian” blog that supported Terri’s murder.

May God have mercy on us all.

May the Holy Spirit strengthen Terri’s family and give them peace which passes understanding. Terri stands, whole, in the Father’s presence.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Revelation 14.13)

Remember thy servant, O Lord, according to the favour which thou bearest unto thy people, and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, she may go from strength to strength, in the life of perfect service, in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever, one God, world without end. Amen.