Thursday, February 28, 2008

Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

Lately I have been on a reading kick. Late at night after all my work is done and the boys are tucked in and snoring, I find the "me" time I crave. I've discovered Ann Rule, a true crime writer who has covered many of America's prolific murderers and their victims. It surprised me to know that she once worked side by side with Ted Bundy before the world figured out what kind of monster he was.

I have read several of her books, the latest one being Green River Running Red, over 650 pages, 49 victims, and a serial killer that ran amok for 22 years uncaught. Creepy! The next book of hers on my list is Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder, in which she covers several cases, one being the Mary Winkler case. This is of particular interest to me because it occurred here in Tennessee, just down the road a piece. (In Southern speak, that translates a few towns over.)

I'm not sure what intrigues me most about these cases. I have the same fondness for CSI. Part of it is knowing it is a puzzle and that it can be solved in most cases by the evidence, the minutiae, the tiny things that others have failed to see. I know there are thousands if not millions of unsolved crimes in the United States alone today. But many of them probably could be solved with the right person dissecting the cases. In my fantasy world, that person would be me. In real life, I would not have the stomach for such grisly details. And the nightmares would probably haunt me forever. Still it intrigues me to no end...this science of dissecting particles and interpreting clues.

Another aspect that I find interesting is that of the profiler. This is someone who can read the clues left behind and get inside the killer's head. They can form a profile of what the killer may or may not be like by looking at the body and the way it was disposed of or not disposed of, the way it was murdered, the area the crime occurred, and in a thousand other ways. It fascinates me how all those details can add up to a physical and psychological profile. This, I think, I might have been good at.

And then I look at the book itself. The writer has all the sources available to her. She has access to witnesses, evidence, reports, case files, experts. She has become an expert herself. She takes all the information and compiles it in a compelling fashion--and sells books from it. I would probably struggle with the fact of making a living off others' misfortunes. I wonder at times if Ms. Rule ever feels like this. I have read enough of her books to know that she is adamant about speaking out for the victims, and she is careful to protect their dignity, and always treating them as a person with a name and a family. Still, it must be hard for the families of these victims to have the world entertaining themselves at their loved ones' expense. Still others, probably prefer that their stories be told--to memorialize their loved ones, to keep them from being forgotten.

I cannot say that I know how these families feel. I have had 2 such murders in my family, one unsolved and one solved. But both were in the 70's when I was but a child in grade school, and I only know what I have been told about them. My grandmother's brother's killer is serving time in a Tennessee prison. We recently found out that he had been released on parole, and the only reason he is back in is because he violated that parole. This is a man who stabbed my great uncle repeatedly and then played tic-tac-toe on his back with the knife and dumped him in a pond.

My mother's brother's killer was never found. My uncle David was found near train tracks in Redbud, Illinois where he had been working for the railroad. He was still alive--his neck broken, skin torn from his body down his back and legs as if he had been drug by the train. No train had run during that time. Someone had run over him or drug him with a vehicle and placed him on the tracks to die. He died a few days later in the hospital. My mom was 9 months pregnant and delivered early. I remember kissing his forehead and telling him goodbye. This was a man who had been honored in the Army for his bravery in Viet Nam. He lived through the terrors of war only to come home and be killed by one of his own.

These are the stories I would like to have told. These are the stories I would someday write given the luxury of time and ability to pursue them. How would my grandmother feel about this? How would my Uncle David's only living brother feel about it? I don't know. I suppose if I ever decide to follow in Ann Rule's footsteps, these are the questions I would ask...along with about a million others. What's your verdict? Is truth stranger than fiction? Which would you prefer reading? Which role would you prefer, the forensic analyst, the profiler, or the writer? I'll be the first to admit that when the light goes out at 2 a.m., I would prefer to believe these kinds of crimes and criminals never existed. Thankfully, I have another Book I read as well that comforts me, and as Paul Harvey is fond of saying, tells the rest of the story. Be sure if you only read one good book this year, that that is the One. BIBLE

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Stones that Spoke

Don't you just love the way the Word of God is so much more than an ancient text? Just this past week I was reading the account of David and Goliath found in I Samuel chapter 17. It is a very familiar story and I thought that I knew all about it. Then I realized that the 5 stones had their own story to tell.

Everyone knows that David used one of them to down Goliath. But has it ever occurred to you the purpose of the other four? Some say that he just randomly picked five stones. Others say that he wanted to have some extra just in case he missed. My husband says it was because David knew Goliath had four brothers.

II Samuel chapter 21:15-22 tells of four of Goliath's relatives that set themselves against King David. Some commentaries say these were brothers of Goliath. Others say they were his sons. Though it wasn't the shepherd's stones that brought them low; it was the stones that prophesied their death. They were killed at the hands of David's servants.

David may not have given much thought to the number of the stones he stashed in his bag, but God did. He wrote all of David's days before they began.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

As you face the giant of today, remember to be armed for his relatives that you may encounter tomorrow. Face the battle with confidence knowing God is on your side. Let your battle cry be like that of David; "I come in the name of the Lord!" One more thing; once you have vanquished the enemy, be sure to lop off his head.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Divine Inspiration

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Timothy 3:16, 17 KJV

All scripture includes historical accounts, descriptions of people and places, and journal entries; not just the scriptures concerning the laws and prophecy. Many people are willing to accept the divine inspiration of the books of the Pentateuch, Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, and the majority of the New Testament, but unwilling to accept the genealogies, census reports, and inventory lists as inspired. The Apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear that ALL scripture is divinely inspired and states its purposes clearly.

Doctrine: set of guidelines, policies, or principles, dogma
Reprove: warn, caution, rebuke, admonish, convince/persuade by argument
Correction: modification, adjustment, alteration, improvement, discipline
Instruction: education, teaching, training, lessons, orders, commands

Righteousness: justice, honesty, virtue, morality, right-standing with God
that the man of God may be:

Perfect: faultless, unspoiled, just right, whole, complete, mature
Thoroughly: absolutely, completely, systematically
Furnished: equipped, supplied, endowed

Good: wholesome, healthy, positive, excellent
Works: actions, labors, efforts, vocations

When we have the mind of God concerning His word, we will be more diligent in study.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26 KJV

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bed & Bath

Urgent Request: Please pray for the author of this blog, my sister Cindy. She has had an ugly intestinal bug for almost 3 days now. She has been confined to the "B" rooms (bed & bath) and unable to eat, blog, or work.

There is power in both private and corporate prayer. I want to thank you in advance for taking her needs to the throne room of God. We will keep you posted.

15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15,16 KJV

4 But he took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us. We saw his suffering and thought God was punishing him. 5 But he was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of his wounds. Isaiah 53:4-5 (New Century Version)

"....The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]." James 5:16 Amplified Version

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Greater Love


As Christians, we have all heard it said that if you give the devil an inch, he will gleefully take a mile. But what if we stop for a moment and look at the flip side of that statement? Let’s revisit for a moment a Bible story from Luke 15 that most of us have heard of all our lives—that of the prodigal son.

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[a]'
22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

Something happened in this family to cause the young man to ask for his inheritance and leave home. Did he have intentions of going out and squandering it all on riotous living, of losing it all and not even being able to find a job or food? Did he ever in his wildest imagination believe that somewhere down the road he would be living among the pigs—starving, dirty, and barefoot? What was on his mind as he left home that day? Perhaps he was angry—maybe there had been words spoken between him and his brother. Maybe he was wounded. The scriptures do not say why he chose to leave. Perhaps he was just immature and wanted to find out what he had been missing all those years living under the protective wing of his father. We don’t know. We only know that his choice to leave resulted in a drastic change in his way of life.

Did his father beg him to stay? Did he forbid him to leave? No, he gave him his inheritance and let him go. Because that was the son’s choice. The son had a free will. I’m sure the father grieved many nights for his son. The father knew that it was a great big world out there, that life might not treat him as kind, that the world would not love him near as much as he did. But he let him go.
The scriptures say in verse 17 that when the young man came to himself, he got up and headed for home:
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.

Although he knew returning home was always an option, he did not expect to be restored completely to sonship. He thinks maybe his dad will let him at least be one of his slaves. Deep down, he knew that his father loved him too much to turn him away. But he had no idea the extent of his father’s mercy, forgiveness, and love.

The Bible tell us: "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Did you see that? The son was yet far away. He had turned toward home. Repented. But he still had a long way to go before he was back where he belonged. But his father saw him. He recognized him from a long way off. He could tell that his son had been beaten down, hurt, used, and wounded—and all from his own doing. Still, he recognized his son. And his heart had to have leaped for joy inside as he ran to him. The father did not sit on the porch or walk to the mailbox and think about how to punish him or what he was going to say to scold him when the son got there. The father RAN to him, fell on his neck, and kissed him. And not only that but he restored him completely to his place of sonship in the family. Completely.

When the older son saw this, it angered him. He questioned the father bitterly.
28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

Why did the brother do this? Because he was jealous? Because he did not love his brother as much as the father? Because he was selfish? Why didn’t the older brother go out and compel the younger one to come home? The main reason was because he did not understand, much like the younger son, his rightful place in the family. He was the older brother—the one who should have been the adviser to the younger. He should have taken his younger brother’s welfare to heart. His place as the older brother was to help his brother, not kick him while he was down.

Neither of them understood that being a son meant everything. Neither of them could fathom the depth of the love of the father. The father said, “Son, I recognize your faithfulness. I love you just as much. And because of that, all that I have is at your disposal—healing, salvation, prosperity, blessing. It’s been right here all along. I have just been waiting to see if you would take it and use it. Your brother recognized this. He took it and used it. The lesson he had to learn was how to quit taking it for granted, while your lesson was to learn to come to me. Come to me with your questions, your concerns, your needs. I will take care of you as well.

It’s no time to squabble over the place I have given your brother. Now is not the time to discuss petty jealousies and whether or not he deserves what he gets. He is home. That is all that matters.
And you my younger son, I want you to recognize that I as your Father, love you more than you can ever fathom. I grieved for you desperately. I yearned for you. I am so glad that you decided to come home. I thought you were dead. I thought you had forgotten us, had disowned us, turned your back on us completely. But I rejoiced when I saw you from afar, because I knew that your heart really was here with me. Oh, it is a great day, my sons. A great day, indeed.

All God is looking for in your life is a little wiggle room to work. You may be limping home. You may not can lift your head up. But put one foot in front of the other as you turn toward Home. Give God an inch—and He will move all heaven and earth to intervene. So great is this love for us.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lessons from an Ancient Storm

Last week's post came on the heels of a trio of tornadoes. Thank God we have been storm-free since then. Cleanup efforts are well underway. People from nearby states have joined the locals in demolition and repairs. It is a beautiful thing to see a community working together to find housing for those who have been displaced.

Acts 27:14,15 references a similar storm. The King James version refers to it as a tempestuous wind. The NIV refers to it as a wind of hurricane force. Euroclydon was not just a passing storm, it was one that could last for days. In this account, its destructive forces battered Paul's ship for fourteen days.

It was so powerful that the ship's crew had to relinquish control of the helm. Then they brought the lifeboat aboard. Additional precautions were taken to keep the ship together. The sails were lowered in efforts to keep them from being driven into the sandbars. And everything that could be thrown overboard was tossed. They lost all hope of being saved.

Everyone that is, except the Apostle Paul. He had received a message from an angel of God. He explained it to the centurion. Their salvation was dependant upon staying with the ship. The storm worsened. Even when daylight came, they could not discern a shoreline. In a last ditch effort to save themselves they hastened the destruction of the ship.

As the ship broke apart, those that could swim headed for the shore. Others clung to the remnants of the boat and floated to safety. Because they stayed with the ship, even the broken pieces, they survived. Not one life was lost.

The storms of our life may range from little sprinkles to devastating typhoons. It is certain that we will try everything in our power to stay intact as we ride through them. At times we may lose our grip. And there may be times that we will feel hopeless. It is in those times that we must seek the Lord, listen to His voice, obey His commands, and trust that He will keep us safe in His care.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WW Through the Storm

Not since the tornadoes of Janurary 2002, has Jackson,Tn experienced such devastation. Last evening Union University was all but obliterated by a twister. Many North Jackson residents and businesses are still without power. As of this time there are only 2 known fatalities, but many are physically wounded and some will be emotionally scarred for life.

This all happened about one-half mile from my baby sister's house. She actually saw the funnel cloud as it approached the school. She and her family took refuge in their bathroom. After the storm had blown through, they went to her in-laws' house for the night.

Cowboy was at home. He was praying. I was at work 14 miles away. We were operating under a Code T. This meant getting all of the patients out of their rooms and into the hallways. For a couple of hours we waited for the ALL CLEAR signal. Long story short, we did not sustain any damage from the storm.

While I am saddened at the devastation suffered by a neighboring city, I am so thankful that the Lord took care of me through it all. All of my family are safe and sound. He has seen us through another storm. His grace has once again been sufficient for me.

Please join me today in this prayer for those affected by the tornadoes. Dear Lord, comfort all of those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Be near to those who are broken-hearted. For all who have lost homes, provide a safe haven for the days ahead. For the students that no longer have their personal belongings, dorm, or classroom, grant them the courage to aid in the clean-up and the resolve to continue their education when circumstances become favorable.

Dear Lord, strengthen all those who are laboring to restore power to the community. Grant wisdom to the authorities as they restore order to the city. And stir your people to unite in prayer and labors to rebuild the city. Amen.

Monday, February 04, 2008

No Mission Impossible

And Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."
Genesis 45:4

Why did Joseph have to endure the hardships he encountered? To preserve a posterity in the earth and to save his brothers' lives by a great deliverance. God was working through Joseph's life to save others! It was not to destroy Joseph. He knew that Joseph had the power of God on His side and the spiritual fortitude to overcome. He had gifted Joseph with supernatural abilities and everything he needed to face his obstacles and overcome them. He had great plans for Joseph. It was a master plan to preserve not only Joseph, but his family as well. Joseph was to be the conduit for God's mercy and deliverance. God did not have plans to harm Joseph; indeed, he was highly favored by God and chosen for this mission.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to use what God has given us, to face life head on with the certainty that He is in control, and to forge bravely ahead in spite of our seemingly impossible circumstances.

Indeed, what we have should be beheld as a treasure:

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. II Corinthians 4:7-9.