Monday, October 30, 2017

3 Big Mistakes the Enemy Made at Pearl Harbor

Here’s something I ran across while reading a copy of The Seahorse, the official newsletter of the U.S. Seagoing Marine Association that Dick Wilson sometimes passes along to me. The item concerned Admiral Chester Nimitz’s response to his initial review of the damage done following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat — you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.

On Christmas morning, Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, ‘Well, Admiral, what do you think?’ Admiral Nimitz's reply surprised him. He said, ‘The enemy made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make. Either that or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?’ The young man had no answer. So Nimitz explained.

He said, ‘Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow everyone of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.’

President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair, and defeat.”

The Scandal of Grade Inflation. It's Even Worse Than You Think.

“A professor at the University of Georgia has adopted a policy that puts a premium on stress reduction.  Hoping to avoid the ‘profound consequences’ of stressful situations, he has set out a policy that includes all tests being open-book, and designed to be completed in half the time allowed.  Those exams will be designed to assess a ‘low level mastery of the course material.’  If students are unduly stressed by a grade, they may contact the instructor and indicated the grade the student considers ‘appropriate, and it will be changed.’ 

There are more provisions in the policy, to prevent  those profound consequences of stress, including only positive comments made in class about presentations.  The professor acknowledges that the policy ‘might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material,’ but ‘ultimately these are your responsibility.’

How did Chesterton put it?  ‘Standardization by a low standard.’”
(Mark Pilon, Gilbert Magazine)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Grace Is the Message in the Voice of God (A Quick Look at Psalm 19)

Psalm 19 is one of the most well-known and well-loved psalms because of the poetic declaration which introduces it. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3, NKJV) However, as lovely and profound as the opening verses are, they are but an introduction to two other sections of the psalm which emphasize the proper response to nature’s glorious revelations of God’s power, beauty, wisdom, and goodness.

To be sure, the first response to the order and beauty of nature should be praise and thanksgiving to the God Who made it and Who reveals truths about Himself through it.  We are to humbly worship the Lord Whose voice is communicated so universally, so constantly, and so majestically.  But the second section of the psalm teaches something even more important; namely, that we should recognize that God has extended and clarified His revelation by means of the written Word.  Indeed, it is in the law given through Moses and the prophets (and eventually through the divinely inspired writers of the New Testament) that the Lord reveals much, much more of Himself, His purposes, and the requirements He lays down for men and women to obey.

It is in verse 7 that the psalmist begins this second section. “The law of the law is perfect, restoring the soul.” David goes on in the next verses to describe God’s law as sure, right, pure, clean, enduring, true, righteous, desirable, and everlasting.  And those who appreciate and carefully follow God’s laws, David explains in these verses, will be made wise, will rejoice, will be enlightened, will be protected, and will receive great rewards.

So is it a good thing to appreciate the power of God in the thunderstorm and earthquake, to rejoice at the beauty of God in the sunrise and the waterfall, to be amazed to the point of worship at the intricacy and orderliness of the stars and seas and squirrels?  Of course.  God desires just such responses as these to His voice as expressed in His creation.  Yet more relevant, more important still are our responses of awe, thanksgiving, and loyalty to the moral law of God that is expressed directly and perfectly in His Word.

This thought is then expanded in the third and concluding section of Psalm 19 as David addresses the ongoing sanctification of His people; that is, our day-to-day gratitude for and obedience to the spiritual sharpening His written Word provides.

David begins this third section with the provocative question of verse 12: “Who can discern his errors?”  The possessive used (“his”) applies to man, not to God, as the Hebrew word translated here as “error” is used elsewhere to describe going astray, wandering, misleading, engaging in sin and folly. David is thus asking (of himself as well as others), “Who can fully understand one’s moral failure? Who can figure out why men act against their own self-interest by rebelling against God? Who can comprehend the huge distance between God’s holiness and man’s shallow and self-centered choices?”

In the next verses, David underscores the deliberate nature of sin. For instance, the Hebrew adjective which describes sins in verse 13, translated in most versions as  “presumptuous,” describes an insolent, defiant attitude towards God. We do not merely stumble into sin – we often look, evaluate, and then jump headlong into it.  This willful disobedience must be contritely admitted to God before we can move towards forgiveness and a fresh start. And that’s just where King David, long acquainted with God’s tender mercies towards the penitent, goes next. “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

David lifts up his prayer to a gracious God.  For though he has known God’s voice in creation and he has known God’s voice even more particularly pronounced in His law (including its warning against sin), yet he has turned aside from God.  He has failed to consistently heed those warnings. He has sinned, even defiantly so. David takes responsibility as he calls sin and transgression by their right names.  Yet, even at this, all is not lost!  For God’s holiness can be satisfied through the mercies He offers to honest, humble worshippers. And it is on the basis of God’s grace (demonstrated in the symbolic sacrifices of the Temple but eventually to be fulfilled in the complete atonement provided by the death of the Messiah to pay our penalty) that David confidently appeals for acquittal of sin and restoration of fellowship with God.

The suggestion that there is no or little grace expressed in the Old Testament is a silly idea and Psalm 19 is but one example of hundreds that show the real story.  In fact, Psalm 19 emphasizes God’s grace being provided in several ways. First, David praises the awesome power of God’s revelation in nature. That God thus reveals himself is a grand expression of His grace to mankind. Second, there is what’s often termed as “common grace” that God’s creation provides for all men. By His orderly creation, all mankind lives on a planet that makes sense, that allows for family and food production and navigation and thousands upon thousands of other blessings. That too is grace. Third, Psalm 19 acknowledges God’s grace in the revelation of His character, will, and wisdom through the written law.  In particular, David is grateful that God’s law is liberating and enlightening and empowering.  That’s sanctifying grace. Fourth, God’s Word extols His grace that provides salvation to man…and even eternal rewards for their faithfulness to walk according to His Word.

As I said at the beginning, Psalm 19 certainly deserves to be appreciated for the moving testimony about God’s created order with which it opens.  But there’s much more truth to embrace there. Indeed, Psalm 19 is a glorious song about the profound voice of God – a voice which continually expresses God’s amazing grace to mankind. Through creation…through the Word…through the existential power of the Holy Spirit -- God lovingly uses all three to express His character, His offer of atonement for sin, and His provision for strength to walk closely beside Him towards the life to come.

What's Going On?

Here's the latest in my offerings of the best in news and commentary:

* “How Churches Die” (Stephen Hayward, Power Line)

* “The Tower Amid the Ruins” (Richard Fernandez, PJ Media)

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Prayer and a Declaration

A few days ago I wrote a brief essay called “Nothing Good Does God Withhold” and posted it on Vital Signs Blog. (You can read that here.) As a followup to those thoughts -- stimulated, in part, by reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s “Holiness in Hidden Places” -- I recorded this prayer while walking along Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri. It’s a declaration (a spiritual vow, you might say) as well as a prayer which deals with the Christian’s trust in God in the midst of life’s trials.

Mark it down. 

One day I will be delivered from any and all infirmities, injuries, sickness, and anxieties.  And I will be delivered from them forever.  Indeed, because I have believed in Jesus as my Savior and therefore experienced His forgiveness of my sins and my adoption into His family, my future is brighter than words can ever express. And that future includes the transforming of my body, mind, and environment. I will then know health and vitality and focus and joy in completeness. I will also experience peace of unimaginable quality and abundance.  My relationships will be sweet, fulfilling, and free of goodbyes. And again, all of these gifts will be mine to enjoy throughout eternity.

Therefore, dear Lord Jesus, when You ask me now to deal with sickness or injury, with loss or anxiety, with fear or grief, please pour out Your mercies so that I not give in to my flesh but instead depend upon Your sovereign will.  Help me to remember and rely upon Your character, Your power, Your wisdom, and Your deep and abiding love for me and, in so doing, to believe with confidence that You know what is best for me from Your eternal perspective.

Lord, You have promised me every good and perfect gift.  You have promised to withhold no good thing from me as I strive to walk uprightly before You.  So please provide all needed graces for me to rely upon Your goodness to me even in the midst of today’s trial.  Jesus, You will heal me in Your perfect time.  And, in that appointed moment, You will embrace me and reward me and direct me to the place in Your kingdom You have lovingly prepared especially for me.  I know this and I trust in Your care for me.

Lord, in that moment of forever victory, I will be satisfied.  There will be no regrets, no second-guessing, no recriminations – only understanding and appreciation of how You worked out Your plans in my life.  So, dear God, I pray today that You will help me to look forward to that wondrous, liberating day and endure more patiently the trials You have allowed me to experience.  Let me trust You to give the strength and understanding I need so that I do not cave in but rather endure this by Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for Your mercy.  

These things I declare and pray in the Name of my loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

A Post-Branson “Catch Up” (Part Two)

Here's more of the best reads on the web from recent days.

* “The Left’s New Plan to Gut Religious-Liberty Protections” (Margot Cleveland, National Review)

* “The Bergdahl Deception” (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

* “Conservatives Fault Senate Republicans for Slow Confirmation of Trump Nominees” (Casey Ryan, Daily Signal)

* “Tech vs Trump: the great battle of our time has begun” (Niall Ferguson, The Spectator)

“Harvey Weinstein Helped Pay for Bill Clinton’s Legal Fees During Monica Lewinsky Scandal” (Joshua Caplan, Gateway Pundit) (And, near the end of the article, you’ll see who else in Hollywood helped pay Bill’ s bills.)

* “Hollywood's Masculinity Deficit” (Andrew Klavan, PJ Media)

* “Harvey Weinstein—Shameless Communist Propagandist to Boot” (Humberto Fontova, Town Hall)

* “Are you weak if you make your man a sandwich? This is why real men don’t marry feminists” (Suzanne Venker, Fox News)

* “Scalia's Legacy” (Mona Charen, Jewish World Review)

* “WSJ Editorial Board Accuses ‘Beltway Media’ And Democrats Of Trump Dossier ‘Coverup’” (Chuck Ross, Daily Caller)

* “As monopolies, airlines just want to ‘own it all’” (Kevin Burke, The Hill)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Post-Branson "Catch Up"

Being in Branson the past couple of weeks for a family reunion and then a week of our traditional autumn working vacation, not to mention the extra duties I've embraced because of Claire's broken ankle, I have neglected compiling a selection of “must read” posts for awhile.

I remedy that now with these gems:

* “America’s abortion extremism” (Sheila Liaugminas, Mercator)

* “President Donald Trump Defends Defunding Intl Planned Parenthood: We Must ‘Protect the Unborn’” (Steven Ertelt,

* “Weinstein Dropped $100K at 2017 Planned Parenthood Gala” (Katie Yoder, MRC NewsBusters)

* “5 lessons Harvey Weinstein can teach us about Hollywood” (Michael Cook, Mercator)

* “Trump’s Great Call on UNESCO” (Paul Mirengoff, Power Line)

* “Google Honors Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards as a “Modern-Day Hero” (Micaiah, Bilger,

* “Don’t Call Climate Skeptics ‘Deniers,’ Call Us ‘Correct’” (Christopher Monckton, American Spectator)

* “Never Forget: Muslim Hate Crime Hoaxes” (Michelle Malkin, National Review)

* “Boy Scouts Are Now Allowing Girls to Join” (Henry Rodgers, Daily Signal)

* “Actress Elisabeth Moss Will Star in New Movie Glorifying a Network of Secret Abortionists” (Micaiah, Bilger,

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nothing Good Does God Withhold

Among the Scriptures I’ve been studying, thinking about, and using in my prayers of intercession is this Psalm 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (NASB)

How wondrous and sweet is that promise. Imagine, absolutely no good thing will He withhold!  Because God is ever gracious to His children and because He is our guide (sun) and protector (shield), He gives us, as it is written in 2 Peter 1:3, every good thing we need pertaining to life and godliness.  Wow.

But let’s go even farther with this idea.  Remember Jesus’ words to the disciples as recorded in Matthew 7:11. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?” And the apostle James writes in 1:17 of his epistle that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

Of course, it’s crucial to understand that these promises do not mean that God is our butler. He is not an errand boy or a genie who is obligated to supply whatever we wish.  Oh, no; God is the omniscient sovereign Who knows what is for our forever good, those exact things that will most bless and exalt us for all eternity.  Thus, we can trust His character as well as His power to give us what is truly best for us…always.

Do we get frustrated when it seems that God doesn’t answer our prayers?  Sure.  Do we wonder why His distribution of blessings seems uneven, sometimes even unfair?  Yes.  And do we chafe at the waiting process, the denial of self, even the suffering that often precedes what will be the “proper time” of our exaltation, as it’s put in I Peter 5:6?  Certainly.  But the verses I cite in the beginning of this note are among the many which remind us of the unshakeable foundation upon which our trust in God’s mercies must confidently rest.  We can rely upon our Savior to give us what eternity will sparklingly reveal were the very best gifts we could have ever received.

Our natural perspective is limited, even distorted, by our desires for temporal comfort and happiness, for peace and success.  But the Lord urges us to look further ahead than those temporal conditions and to calmly trust in His kind providence.  And, make no mistake, God is looking forward even more than we are to the day when He completes His gift-giving to us, to that victorious day when all things are reconciled to Him and we enter into the everlasting splendor of the new heavens and new earth.  And, in the meantime, we hold on to such glorious truths as Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” and 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Before I close my comments on Psalm 84:11 and the other “good thing” Scriptures mentioned earlier, let me also emphasize their existential applications; that is, their relevance to our walk in the Spirit today.  For instance, the context of James 1:17 shows that the good gifts that come from the Father of lights center upon the strength and wisdom He provides His children to escape temptations.  God’s good gifts sanctify us. They allow us to turn from evil and to instead “prove ourselves doers of the word.”   Also, Jesus’ question recorded in Matthew 7:11 is to encourage specific prayers of faith for maintaining holy, unselfish behavior.  And finally, Psalm 84:11 emphasizes that the good things of God are given to “those who walk uprightly.”  That’s a very important condition for the blessings.  Careful, consistent, and humble dedication to God’s Word keeps the channels clear so that He will pour out upon us all needed mercies.

How comforting these truths are.  And challenging too.  But they remind us of how glorious and gracious is the God we serve, One Who gives us all good things to empower our service to Him today and which will be completed and added to in the forever life that awaits us. So keep praying, dear friends.  Keep trusting.  And let there be a fresh spring in your step today as you walk uprightly toward glory.