Friday, May 31, 2013

Livin' in the Country

It's barefoot time here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere and the Colonel is relishing the muggy warmth of late Mississippi springtime.

Of course, in a couple of weeks, the Colonel will be complaining about the heat as spring gives way to full onset summer.  But, for the time being, the Colonel's carcass is appreciating the winter-long-coveted caress of southern solar sympathy.

Short trips out of doors are more often sans footwear, and while the the bottoms of the Colonel's dogs are beginning to toughen up, they still haven't regained the shoe-leather insensitivity required for care-free shoeless operation.

Yesterday afternoon, as the Colonel corralled his two oldest grandsons and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for a leap off the dock and a soak in the pond, the Colonel was padding about on the parking pad between the big house and the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility and stepped squarely and not-so gingerly upon a rock which, in size and shape, felt like a not-so-miniature replica of the Great Pyramid.

The Colonel leapt skyward and howled so loudly that neighbors throughout this part of the county mistook the wail for that of a tornado siren and took to their storm shelters.

You'd think they would have gotten used to the Colonel's wailing by now...

Grandson #1, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dash 1 (H21CC - 1), stood to the side with head cocked and eyebrow raised watching the Colonel's pyramid-stomp hop and wail give way to a post-traumatic limp and whimper.

"What happened, Pop?  Did you get bit by a snake?"

Snakebite is the current concern 'round these parts -- a neighbor suffered a copperhead bite on a bare foot recently.  The neighbor is fine.  The snake, not so much.

"No, it wasn't a snake! I stomped on that big sharp rock right there!"

H21CC - 1 knelt down to examine the size and weapons-grade dimensions of the rock in question.  The boy is at the age where such rocks are collected for future offensive operations.

"What rock, Pop?  All I see is this little pebble."  The rock was clearly not pocket armory-appropriate ammo in his estimation.  

"Little!?!," the Colonel exclaimed.  "That boulder nearly crippled me!"

H21CC - 1 straightened and appraised his grand-progenitor with the sort of look that the Colonel has heretofore only seen on the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's face.

"Pop, you need to toughen up.  I step on rocks all the time in my bare feet."

And then, the sagacity of youth:

"That's livin' in the country."       

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Faded and Tarnished

The Colonel has had eagles pinned on his uniform twice in his life.

The last time toward the end of his career in the Marine Corps; the first thirty years earlier, toward the end of his time in the Boy Scouts of America.  

The walls in the Colonel's office are covered in memorabilia, plaques, flags, certificates, and photos from his time in the Corps -- but none is more dear to him than the smallest and least significant looking.

On the wall behind him as he types this missive, in a tiny frame, is the certificate attesting to his achievement of Eagle rank in the Scouts.  

The certificate bears the signature of the President at the time, Richard M. Nixon.

In a cutout in the matting next to the certificate is the Eagle ribbon and pendant that was pinned to the Colonel's scout uniform over forty years ago. The ribbon is a bit faded and the eagle pendant somewhat tarnished with time -- a shadow of the glorious award for which the Colonel was, and still is, as proud of accepting as any promotion or medal he received in the Corps.

And so it is with the Boy Scouts of America, today.  By the Colonel's estimation, Scouting is a far cry from the organization to which he belonged in his youth.

Mind you, this is no screed on the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow boys who profess to be homosexual.

Frankly, that decision was a forgone conclusion, given the Scouts' decades-long slide in standards, and reorientation from a rustic training ground for gentlemen to an urban survival laboratory.

In the process of "modernizing," Scouting lost its bearings.

The Colonel can still proudly recite the twelve points of the Scout Law:

"A scout is:


He has tried to continue to live his life by the Scout Oath:

"On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

A homosexual lifestyle is incompatible with the Scout Law and Oath.  And so is a lifestyle full of heterosexual sin and other forms of dissipation.

The Colonel is no homophobe.  If he is any kind of "phobe" it's a sin - a - phobe.

The Colonel fears sin, because it so easily entangles him and diverts his eyes from Jesus' teaching.  The Colonel takes no pride in admitting that he has violated every single one of God's Commandments -- either in thought or deed.  The Colonel ain't no saint -- except by the marvelous grace of God through Jesus.

But, the Colonel keeps trying to maintain the standards.

When the Colonel was active in Scouting, he was fortunate to have adult leaders who held him, and his peers, strictly accountable to every point of the Law and each of the standards in the Oath recited at every assembly of two or more.

Every point of the Law and every standard of the Oath meant something. 

Being a Boy Scout meant something.

Unfortunately, the Colonel believes it no longer does.

But, the Colonel's opinion of the current status of Scouting didn't change with the recent decision.

The Colonel's opinion changed a long time ago, when Scouting's internal compass fell captive to the magnetic allure of the false religions of pacifism, feminism, progressivism, and political correctness.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More Than Life, Their Country Loved

Teaching His disciples, Jesus told them this, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another.”
Monday, America observes Memorial Day – a day specifically set aside for the sole purpose of remembering those who marched off to war under the flag of our nation,
... and returned covered by that flag.
Memorial Day is not the day to say thank you to living veterans.  Veterans Day is for that.
Memorial Day is the day we honor the memories of men and women, who, in the uniform of our nation, laid down their lives for others.
Federal law declares that on Memorial Day, all U.S. flags are to be flown at half mast until noon, and that at 3 P.M. all Americans should pause for a moment of solemn remembrance.
Monday, most will be too busy celebrating a day off to stop and remember our fallen.  So, let’s do that now.
Almighty Father, we worship Your holy name.  We thank You for Jesus, the commander of the armies of heaven, who laid down His life for us.  We thank You for blessing our nation with selfless men and women, who more than life their country loved.  Grant that we, who enjoy the liberty and freedom for which they died, may live our lives in such a way as to be worthy of their sacrifice. 
In Jesus' name we pray. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Discipline's Harvest

Thirty-six years ago, as the Colonel (then an NROTC Midshipman) was in final physical and mental preparation for a summer of fun and sun at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, a member of the little country church to which he and his new bride -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda -- belonged, approached the Colonel...

"You're headed for OCS in a few weeks, aren't you?"  T. K. Moffett was a graduate of the United States Military Academy who had served his post-graduation obligation in the Army and was now back in his native Mississippi attending Law School at Ole Miss.

"Yes, sir!"  The Colonel was raring to go.

"Got any scripture to meditate on each day?"

"Uh..., no, sir."

"Try Hebrews 12:11."

"Yes, sir."

The Colonel was (is) a scatter-brained knucklehead and he promptly forgot the advice. 

He did carry the pocket New Testament that had belonged to his Methodist preacher great-grandfather (and namesake) Thomas Edwin Gregory along with him to OCS and during a rare free minute one evening during the first week or so of the ordeal he thumbed it open looking for some comfort and inspiration.

The Word fell open to the 12th chapter of Paul's letter to the Hebrews and the Colonel's eye caught the word "discipline." He began to read...

"1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.    
2. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  
3. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.    
4. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  
6. because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.'
7. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  
8. If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  
9. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10. Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness."

And then, there it was, the verse that had been recommended:
"11. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. "

The Colonel quickly committed the verse to memory, making room for it in a wrinkle of brain-matter not yet crowded with the Marine Corps "knowledge" his drill instructors were requiring him to memorize.

Throughout the remainder of his career in the Corps, the Colonel referred often to Hebrews 12:11.  Early on, the Colonel leaned on the promise of "righteousness and peace" as he endured hardship and the discipline of others.  Later in his career, he sagely passed on the verse to subordinates.

That was good, as far as it went.  But, the Colonel was misappropriating God's Word for a secular purpose.

Recently, the Colonel has been participating in a study of Hebrews, chapters 11 and 12, with several other men in his church.  Chapter 11, with Paul's recounting of the Heroes of Faith, provides examples of men and women of God who exercised faith in God's promises and provision in times of hardship and want.  

Interesting and inspiring, and all, but the Colonel was really looking forward to Chapter 12 -- the "discipline" chapter.

The Colonel had a lot of experience with "discipline."  

But then, as he read Hebrews 12:11 in context with the rest of the chapter, and Chapter 12 in context with Chapter 11, a dim light of a new understanding began to glimmer in the gloom of the Colonel's cavernous cranium.

The Colonel's attention was drawn to Paul's exhortation in verses 3 through 7.  In particular, verses 3 and 7.

"3. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart... 7. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?"  

The example of Jesus' suffering is what must be considered as one "endures hardship."

And, our hardships here on earth are God's way of disciplining us.

Just as the Greek language, from which our English language versions of New Testament scripture are translated, has different meanings (agape, eros, philios) of the English word "love," so it has several different meanings that are all translated "discipline."

It's not just God's "punishment" for sin.

It's also God's "training" for greater and harder tasks.

And, it's "correction" aimed at bringing us into closer fellowship with Him.  (Verse 10: "...God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." )

So, when we are in the midst of a particular trial, suffering some hardship, perhaps we should not ask, "Why me, Lord?"

Perhaps we should ask God, "Where have I failed to measure up to your expectations?"

Or, "Show me my sin."

When, early in his time in the Corps, the Colonel learned to apply the discipline of "immediate and willing obedience to commands and orders," he displayed a form "righteousness" in the eyes of his trainers and seniors and harvested the "peace" of their approval.

To paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 12: 9, how much more should the Colonel submit to the Father of his spirit and live!