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Justice Scalia, in a Supreme Court decision involving the so-called “separation of church and state” wrote: “Church and state would not be such a difficult subject if religion were, as the Court apparently thinks it to be, some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one’s room.
For most believers it is not that, and has never been. Religious men and women of almost all denominations have felt it necessary to acknowledge and beseech the blessing of God as a people, and not just as individuals, because they believe in the "protection of divine Providence," as the Declaration of Independence put it, not just for individuals but for societies.”
The Spirit of Power that we receive is not like the human power that we recognize as strong. It’s a power unlike anything we can do on our own.
A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully. He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money. He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it.
He learned to box, and became pretty good at it. He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew. The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital. Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.
He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything. Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to. Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”
His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”
He realized then how grave the situation was. When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad.
Then it hit him. All of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem. It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands. For the first time, he was totally powerless.
And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.
He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed. He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew. Then he got back in bed. A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew. Then he got back in bed again. A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet. George told God to take his life instead. Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.
The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital. His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.
She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes. The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation. But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.
Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young. He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”
In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven. I was terrified, knowing I had no way out. Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine. If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. …
“ I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.’
“Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place. Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”
George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He realized his human power, his money, his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this one.
He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice. He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church. He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.
You probably know him best for the George Foreman Grills that continue to sell around the world. And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicated her own life to Jesus.
That’s God’s idea of power.
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John Ortberg states:
"The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life. And that’s sobering news to most of us, because we’re into comfort...but water walkers master failure... Did Peter fail?...Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes...Did Peter fail? Well, I suppose in a way he did. His faith wasn’t strong enough. His doubts were stronger. 'He saw the wind.' He took his eyes off of where they should have been. He sank. He failed. But here is what I think. I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly. They failed privately. Their failure went unnoticed, unobserved, uncriticized. Only Peter knew the shame of the public failure. But only Peter knew two other things as well. Only Peter knew other things as well. Only Peter knew the glory of walking on water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it. Once you walk on water, you never forget it--not for the rest of your life!"
(Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, page 21-23).
Several years ago in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, George and Vera Bajenksi’s lives were changed forever. February 16, 1989. A very normal Thursday morning. The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. "There’s been an accident..." It involved their son Ben.
As they approached the intersection of Adelaide and Simcoe Streets near the high school, they could see the flashing lights of the police cars and ambulance units. Vera noticed a photographer and followed the direction of his camera lens to the largest pool of blood she had ever seen.
All she could say was, "George, Ben went home--home to be with his Heavenly Father!" Her first reaction was to jump out of the car, somehow collect the blood and put it back into her son. "That blood, for me, at that moment, became the most precious thing in the world because it was life. It was life-giving blood and it belonged in my son, my only son, the one I loved so much."
The road was dirty and the blood just didn’t belong there. George noticed that cars were driving right through the intersection--right through the blood. His heart was smitten. He wanted to cover the blood with his coat and cry, "You will not drive over the blood of my son!"
Then Vera understood for the first time in her life, one of God’s greatest and most beautiful truths...why blood? Because it was the strongest language God could have used. It was the most precious thing He could give-- the highest price H...
In an earlier century, there lay a large boulder in the middle of the roadway. Traveler after traveler walked past the boulder, veering off the side of the road to get around it. All the while, they were shaking their head and muttering, "Can you believe that? Someone should get that big thing out of the way. What an inconvenience!"
Finally, a man came along and, seeing the boulder, took a branch from a tree and pried the boulder enough to get it rolling and rolled it off to the side of the road. Lying underneath the rock, he found a small bag with a note. The man picked up the note and read it. It read as follows:
"Thank you for being a true servant of the kingdom. Many have passed this way and complained because of the state of the problem and spoken of what ought to be done. But you have taken the responsibility upon yourself to serve the kingdom instead. You are the type of citizen we need more of in this kingdom. Please accept this bag of gold that traveler after traveler have walked by simply because they didn’t care enough about the kingdom to serve."
I wonder what "bags of gold" we’re missing each day, simply because we don’t bother to get involved in serving our heavenly kingdom. Are we the type of heavenly citizens our Father needs more of?
Annie Dillard, in her book The Writing Life, tells of an experiment that was done with butterflies. The experiment involved placing a male butterfly with a female butterfly of his own species. Then they placed a painted cardboard butterfly alongside them. The cardboard butterfly was bigger than the female — bigger than any female could ever be. The male ignored the living female butterfly next to him and went to the painted cardboard butterfly over and over again. Dillard adds, “Nearby, the real, living female opens and closes her wings in vain.” It is a picture of the world in which countless males are trapped today. Staring at painted cardboard butterflies they are squandering their own resources and defrauding the real, living, breathing females in their homes. But then you don’t have to establish a relationship with cardboard butterflies. You don’t have to put up with their failures — nor do they have to live with you and discover yours. There are no expectations from you. You don’t have to communicate with them. An inviting smile is painted on their faces and they don’t even know you. Perhaps it is better that way.
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About 25 years ago, Cruz and Debbe Santiago met at Coney Island beach in New York City. They were homeless. They were addicted to drugs. They were experimenting with witchcraft. They were involved in gangs. They lived in the meager shelter underneath the Coney Island boardwalk. That was their home, except when they were in jail. Jail was their second home—their home away from home.
Then, one evening when Debbe was in jail, something happened. It was a little thing—such a little thing that you wouldn’t think it would make a big difference—but it did. The little thing that made a big difference was a Bible. A jail matron handed Debbe a Bible.
What about that matron? Did she expect her two-dollar Bible to make a difference? She had given Bibles to prisoners before. She had seen them leave without changing. She probably felt like you and I feel sometimes—that we do our best, but nothing happens. Perhaps she still feels that way, because Debbe didn’t change either—not right away.
While she was in jail, Debbe read the Bible. She read it every day. It fascinated her—and what else did she have to do? But then she fell into using drugs again. She ended up in the hospital in a coma. She woke up to the hissing rhythm of the respirator at death’s door. She woke up to the path of death on which she was walking. She had been there before. But this time it was different, because she had been reading the Bible. This time she knew what to do. This time, she asked God to release her from the drugs—and He did. This time, she dedicated her life to Christ—and Christ made the difference.
When she was released from the hospital, Debbe went to the jail to visit Cruz. Cruz noticed the difference. He said, “She was clean. She talked about the Lord. She left me a Bible.” Cruz became a Christian. In 1988, Cruz and Debbe were married.
But there’s more! (If Paul Harvey were telling this story, he would say, “And now the rest of the story!”) The rest of the story is that Cruz and Debbe started the “Salt and the Sea Mission” near Coney Island. They’re helping people just like the people they used to be—homeless, addicted, headed for jail. They preach the gospel. They feed anyone in need—60 on an ordinary day—hundreds at Thanksgiving. They operate a latchkey program. They help 350 children in a nearby welfare hotel. Every Sunday after church, they walked down to the beach—and poke into the secluded places—and give people a piece of bread—and give them the Bread of Life.
All because a jail matron gave a Bible to a junkie. All because a woman kept on handing out Bibles! God will bless our loving service.
How valuable is salt? 40 million tons are required each year to fill our needs. Homer called it divine. Plato called it a "substance dear to the gods." Shakespeare mentioned salt 17 times in his plays. Perhaps Leonard da Vinci wanted to send a subtle message about purity lost when he painted "The last Supper." In that painting an overturned salt cellar is conspicuously placed before Judas. In ancient Greece a far-flung trade involving the exchange of salt for slaves gave rise to the expression, "...not worth his salt." Special salt rations were given to Roman soldiers and known as "Solarium Argentums" the forerunner of the English word "salary." Thousands of Napoleon?s troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal--their bodies lacked sal...
THE FALSE FOUNDATIONS IN THE KINSEY REPORT
Almost 50 years ago, Alfred Kinsey, a quiet Midwestern Zoology professor, published the 1st of 2 volumes that would shake American culture to its foundations. His 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male - like its 1953 sequel, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female - claimed to report the findings of a massive survey of American sexual behavior.
And what findings they were! In dry, scientific language, Kinsey declared that many traditionally forbidden sexual activities were commonplace: About 1/2 of all married men and one in 4 married women had had extramarital sex; 69% of men had been with prostitutes; 10 % of men had been homosexual for at 3 years; 40 to 50% of boys raised on farms had had sexual contact with animals.
What’s more, Kinsey claimed many of these practices could be beneficial. Premarital sex helped women "adjust" to marriage. Boys may develop "affectional relations" with their animal sexual partners.
The public - then sexually conservative by today’s standards - might not have accepted such information from just anyone. But Kinsey was a scientist and, impressed by the wonders of modern technology, Americans had grown to respect science deeply. And because Kinsey’s was a scientific study, says historian John D’Emilio of the University of N. Carolina at Greensboro, "The press had permission to write about the subject in a way it wouldn’t have before."
American culture shifted under the impact. The old sexual rules, supposedly hypocritical, began weakening. "If you discover that the desires you’ve been repressing are being acted out by millions," says historian Paul Robinson of Stanford University, "you are less inclined to repress them." Newsweek characterized that effect as "If it’s OK with Kinsey, it’s OK with me."
Today, in good measure because of Alfred Kinsey, we live in a different world. But were the things he said true?
In December 1995, nearly 50 years after Kinsey’s 1st report, the Indiana institute that Kinsey founded to carry on his work acknowledged that certain data had been misrepresented. Kinsey had written that 9 observers - some technically trained" - had found that children as young as 5 months were capable of multiple orgasm and, when "uninhibited," were "aggressive in seeking" sex. The truth, the Kinsey Institute now said, was that those data were supplied by a single observer - a pedophile who claimed to have sex with 317 boys....
In fact, many of Kinsey’ findings were based on flawed methods. And some are outright false. Nevertheless, prominent scholars who know this continue to promote Kinsey’s work....
When Kinsey took a sexual history, he was far more likely to "find" sexual activity than were his own colleagues - reporting 2 to 3 times as much premarital intercourse and 4 times as much homosexuality as they did. Says historian James Reed of Rutgers University, "Kinsey was a man who very much wanted to find sexual activity."
Even more troubling was Kinsey’s collection of child pornography. According to a 1981 letter from Kinsey colleague Paul Gebhard to researcher Judith Reisman, Kinsey obtained photos and film of children engaged in sexual acts from adults who had had sex with them. Kinsey never notified law enforcement of the existence of any of these pedophiles.
Kinsey claimed to be a neutral scientist who had no agenda. He wrote in his 1st volume that he aimed for "scientific fact completely divorced from questions of moral value and social custom." His claim was false. "Kinsey had views, and they’re in his books," says sociologist John Gagnon, a former president of the International Academy of Sex Research, who joined the institute after its founder’s death in 1956. Kinsey believed that sex was a simple, biological reaction to stimuli with no moral, spiritual or psychological dimension. Only "inhibitions" imposed by society, he claimed prevented everyone from enjoying equally a variety of "outlets."
"It is not so difficult," Kinsey wrote in his 2nd report, "to explain why a human animal does a particular thing sexually. It is more difficult to explain why each and every individual is not involved in every type of sexual activity." In his declared opinion, there was no moral difference between one sexual outlet and any other.
It is not surprising, then, that the Kinsey Reports contain graphic description of young children under prolonged sexual stimulation by a pedophile including the children’s screams and struggles to get away. Yet Kinsey concluded that the children "derive definite pleasure from the situation."
The survey respondents on whom Kinsey based his conclusions were grossly unrepresentative of the general population. About 75% of his male respondents volunteered to take part, for instance. Using Kinsey’s data, psychologist Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University reported that such volunteers are anywhere from 2 to 4 times more active sexually than nonvolunteers.
Kinsey’s sample also included prison inmates. Pomeroy wrote that by 1946, the team had taken sexual histories from 1400 convicted sex offenders. Kinsey never revealed how many he included in his total sample of 5300 males; he did acknowledge that his 1st volume included "several thousand" male prostitutes.
THE FALSE FOUNDATIONS IN THE KINSEY REPORT by Rachel Wildavsky in R.Digest 4/97 p. 59 ff.
In England, most radio and television stations are run by the government-operated British Broadcasting Service (the BBC). There are some independent stations today, but 40 years ago, the BBC ruled the airwaves alone in England. In 1965, a free-spirit named Roy Bates, decided to set up his own, independent, illegal, pirate alternative – Radio Essex. Operating a radio transmitter on English soil was clearly against the law, and he was quickly arrested and fined £100.
Not willing to give up his radio voice, Mr. Bates moved his operation offshore. England’s territorial waters at the time extended only 3 miles off the coastline. Roy Bates, once a commercial fisherman, knew of an old abandoned fort six miles off the coast, just far enough to lie within international waters. Rough’s tower, as it was known, was a military platform built during WWII to protect the Thames Estuary – the harbor at the mouth of the Thames river, where large and vulnerable convoys of shipping were assembled. It housed up to 200 men, and had a helipad. These sea forts were equipped with radar and heavy armaments, and housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. The fort, built on a barge which was later intentionally sunk, was originally intended to be built within English waters, but was moved to it’s current location at the last minute to take advantage of shallow waters in the area. After the war, the platform had been abandoned and had lain derelict ever since. Roy set up his radio station on Rough’s Tower, safely in international waters, and broadcast his own brand of entertainment over much of England.
Were this all there was to the story, it would still be quite interesting, but what happened next makes it truly epic. In 1967, realizing that his home was in international waters claimed by no country, Roy Bates decided that he could, in fact, claim it as his own sovereign realm. He and his wife Joan declared the tower to be the “Principality of Sealand,” and a independent country. They crafted a constitution, named themselves Prince Roy and Princess Joan of Sealand, and swore loyalty to their new country, using their newly created flag and national anthem. They designed their own passports, postage stamps, and minted coins (about 25 coins of each denomination). The official language is English, and the currency exchange rate is fixed at one Sealand dollar equal to one US dollar. The Sealand national motto is E Mare Libertas, or "From the Sea, Freedom".
Sealand offerred to join the coalition of nations supporting both the first and second Gulf Wars, and issued statements of condolences and offers of assistance to the United States after 9/11. In 2003, Sealand also appointed its first official athlete - Darren Blackburn of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Blackburn has represented the Principality at a number of sporting events, including marathons and off-trail races.
By late 1968, the British navy had become aware of the new situation and dispatched a naval cruiser to quietly resolve the situation. Prince Roy took exception to this invasion of his territorial waters and fired warning shots – basically plinking the side of the naval warship with a shotgun loaded with bird shot. Since Prince Roy was still an English citizen, he was accused of several serious crimes against England and was summoned to a British court. In this widely publicized lawsuit, the court decided that it could not exert any jurisdiction outside of British national territory, which many interpret as the first de facto recognition of the Principality of Sealand. English law had ruled that Sealand was not part of the United Kingdom, nor did any other nation claim it, hence Prince Roy’s declaration of a new Sovereign State was upheld. Prince Roy has been called to British courts several times since to face charges ranging from more incidents between his shotgun and British warships to not paying taxes. In each case the Court ruled that they had no jurisdiction in international waters, strengthening Sealand’s claim to statehood. A well-recognized international precedent known as the Montevideo Convention states that one test of the legitimacy of a nation is when it is recognized by other states. England, by specifically NOT claiming it, was recognizing it.
Prince Roy now claimed Sealand as his own based on de jure (based on law – because the fort was abandoned in international waters) and de facto (based on facts – recognition by other states) precedent.
What would you do with a country of your own. What laws would you pass?
Sealand instituted an international ferry service consisting of a rubber Zodiac. In order to board the Sealand vessel at the dock in England, you had to present your Sealand passport and submit to customs inspection. Smoking and swearing were both subject to banishment, as was taking more than three five-minute showers per week. Sealand printed international postage stamps and used them to post letters in England, which the British postal service subsequently delivered, again recognizing Sealand’s existence and rights.
But dark days soon fell on the brave new country…
SEALAND GOES TO WAR (AND WINS)
In August of 1978, a number of Dutch men invited Roy to continental Europe. It was later found that the men represented organized crime families interested in the possibilities of owning a country beyond the reach of other nations. They stated their purpose was to discuss the possibilities of paying Prince Roy a large amount of money to relinquish Sealand to their control. Roy left Sealand under the control of his Prime Minister (the German night shift disc jockey, who was later discovered to be in league with the Dutch criminals. While Roy was away in Britain, armed men boarded Sealand and staged a coupe, imprisoning Prince Roy’s son the His Royal Highness Prince Michael in the toilet. Prince Roy became suspicious of the delaying tactics employed by the “business men” and returned to his country. Discovering what had happened, Prince Roy declared war on both Germany and the Netherlands, went back to Europe and hired a mercenary unit, and led the helicopter assault to retake his country. They were quite successful. No lives were lost, and the traiters were declared prisoners of war and imprisoned.
During the time that he held the prisoners, the Governments of the Netherlands and Germany petitioned for their release. First they asked England to intervene in the matter, but the British government cited their earlier court decision as evidence that they made no claim to the territory of Sealand. Then, in the most definitive recognition of Sealand’s sovereignty, Germany sent a diplomat directly to Sealand to negotiate for the release of their citizen.
Roy first released the Dutch citizens, as the war was over, and the Geneva Convention requires the release of all prisoners. The German disc jockey was held longer, as he had accepted a Sealand Passport, and therefore was guilty of treason, but was later released as well. He claims to this day that his government was entirely legal, and now claims to be the ruler in exile of Sealand, living in Spain.
On 1 October, 1987, Britain extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles. The previous day, Prince Roy declared the extension of Sealand’s territorial waters to be a like 12 nautical miles, so that right of way from the open sea to Sealand would not be blocked by British claimed waters. No treaty has been signed between Britain and Sealand to divide up the overlapping areas, but a general policy of dividing the area between the two countries down the middle can be assumed. International law does not allow the claim of new land during the extension of sea rights, so Sealand’s sovereignty was safely "grandfathered" in. Britain has no more right to Sealand’s territory than Sealand has to the territory of the British coastline that falls within its claimed 12 nautical mile arc.
In 1997, forged Sealand passports started tuning up around the world. Some of these were used to open bank accounts under false names in various countries. Since few people have ever seen a legitimate Sealand passport (less than 300 exist today) it was difficult for these to be easily detected as forgeries. The source of these forgeries was traced back to the same German disc jockey who was involved in the earlier attempt to take Sealand by force. His Minister of Finance had created a fake Sealand Business Foundation and boasts that he has sold over 150 000 fake Sealand Passports to all comers. Thus there are now unfortunately 500 times more forged Sealand Passports in circulation than real ones. Many of the forged passports were apparently sold to people leaving Hong Kong at the time of Chinese reoccupation for USD 1 000 each. These passports, which were not authorized by the Bates family, were involved in several high-profile crimes, including the murder of Gianni Versace.
Whilst Sealand has been the pride and joy of Prince Roy and his family for well over 30 years, his recent poor health has caused him fundamentally to review the arrangements which have been in place for decades and to look to the future of his Principality. Consequently, his son Prince Michael was appointed Prince Regent as Sovereign pro tempore by Royal Decree in 1999. Since that time, the Royal Family has struck a deal with HavenCo Limited, and that company now leases exclusively its offices in Sealand, where it offers, and is able to offer, unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take advantage of its Internet services. The presence of an active and rapidly growing high-tech internet industry in Sealand has changed the character of the Principality; once more, Sealand rings with the sound of voices, boasts regular support ferry services, and is host to a growing and dynamic population.
The point of all this? Roy Bates is an extreme example of a man who set up a kingdom for himself here on earth. As cool as that sounds, the Bible tells us that we have a kingdom in Heaven. We are citizens of that country, not this. We are just strangers here.