Author Archives: Dave_Jones

You have the right to remain silent

No one is quite sure who originally said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” but it is quite true and very applicable in America today.

Our “right” to remain silent stems from the free will given us by our Creator, God.   The question at hand these days is when we should choose to exercise that particular right.  Often times, as is quoted in the book of Proverbs on multiple occasions, holding our tongue is a wise and prudent action which prevents us from speaking hurtful words in anger.  Remaining silent also provides us with the benefit of using proportionally the senses God provided for us (if we have TWO ears and ONE mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak).

However, there are also times when we need to exercise our “right” of free speech.  In Mark 16:15, Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  In the past week, I have read two articles which are indicative of the growing religious bigotry against Christians in America – a country founded on the principle of religious freedoms.

The first event occurred in a school in western New York State where a long-time teacher was given a written reprimand by the school district and told to remove all biblical references (including a poster with a quote from President Reagan) from her classroom.  The teacher served as the adviser to the school’s Bible Club.  In the same school, another teacher was openly displaying and promoting “Gay Rights” posters and events and encouraging students to attend and celebrate their “freedom.”  No action was taken against the second teacher.

The second event involved a long-time substitute teacher in a New Jersey school who was fired because he gave a student a Bible. The teacher, Mr. Walter Tutka, was waiting at the classroom door for his students to file in, when he saw one boy lagging behind and cheerfully said to him, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  Several times over the next few weeks the boy mentioned the quote and asked Mr. Tutka where that quote came from.  Mr. Tutka told him it came from the Bible, but he could not remember the precise verse and would need to look it up.  Then, one day at lunch, the boy approached Mr. Tutka and asked again about the origin of the quote and Mr. Tutka pulled out his pocket New Testament, found it and showed it to the boy.  As their conversation continued, the boy mentioned he didn’t have a Bible so Mr. Tutka offered his pocket New Testament to the boy.  For this action, he was fired.

Scripture clearly tells us that Christians will suffer for our faith in this world.  The New Testament is replete with examples of Believers being persecuted for their faith.  But, Scripture also tells us that we are to be bold in our faith and stay true to its teachings.  Jesus sternly warned us in Mark 8:38, For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  Then Paul, in his letter to the Romans said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

I ask only that you ponder this question, “Should I exercise my right to remain silent?”

I feel the earth move under my feet…

I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever you’re around… – Carole King

South central Alaska was reminded yesterday afternoon that we live in earthquake territory.  A quake registering 5.8 on the Richter scale hit at 4:42 p.m. AST.  They say it was the strongest quake to hit the Anchorage area in a number of years.  While many people in the Anchorage area felt this quake, no major damage was reported and people rapidly went on about their business.

I am told we experience earthquakes every day, but never feel most of them.  Although we don’t feel them, these quakes are always occurring causing significant changes to the earth beneath us.  Most of us never really think about earthquakes since the impact of them is rarely significant in our lives.  But, on Easter weekend in 1964, Alaska was devastated by one of the worst earthquakes on record.   A magnitude 9.2 quake destroyed parts of Anchorage and the resulting Tsunamis were responsible for over a hundred deaths and millions of dollars in property damage.

On that Easter weekend in 1964, thousands of people’s lives were turned upside down by the earthquake. Their lives were changed, their attentions diverted, their purposes re-directed.  They were moved.  They experienced a SEE (Significant Emotional Event).  The energy and effort expended by Alaskans in the days following that quake was truly impressive.  The rescue, clean-up, and re-building efforts demonstrated by friends and neighbors showed our true frontier spirit and a genuine concern for our fellow man.  But, the adrenaline rush and the excitement soon wore off as we returned to our “normal” routines and resumed our daily lives.

What would our lives be like if we could capture that same adrenaline rush and keep that type of enthusiasm all the time?  Maybe we would feel like Carole King’s lyrics:

Oh, darling, when you’re near me
And you tenderly call my name
I know that my emotions
Are something that I just can’t tame
I’ve just got to have you, baby

I just lose control
Down to my very soul
I get hot and cold all over

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
Tumbling down
Tumbling down

Carole King was writing about the feeling of being in love and the magical impact it has on us – the excitement and passion in our lives when we think of the love of our life.  What a wonderful thing to ponder – that we could have that feeling every day of our lives!  The good news is that you can!

What could possibly give you that exhilarating feeling of ecstasy and joy?  Who could possibly offer the kind of love which makes the earth move under your feet every day and leave you eagerly anticipating another quake?  The One that created the earth and everything on it.  The One who loves us so much He came down to earth in human form to shed His own blood to cover our sins and bring us back to Him.  The One whose birthday will be celebrated by countless people around the world this month.

God loves you with a passionate, sacrificial, and unconditional love.  The evidence of His love is clearly seen in John 3:16.  He loved us so much He humbled Himself to come to earth in human form to save us.  Jesus loves you with a love that moves heaven and earth.  If you want to experience that kind of love; if you want to feel your earth move and your heart bursting with pure joy and the ecstasy of  truly being in love, all you need do is accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and ask Him to be the love of your life.  Why wait?  Tis the season…


The Positive Side of Zero

I love mathematicians; I really do- I married one.  But, I must admit that I don’t always understand the way they think. Math and I got along fine all through our practical and fun-loving counting and arithmetic years.  I was very pleased with the way it supported my love of orderliness and accountability.  It was all very dependable and predictable until that one dreadful year – 1974.  That was the year the school decided that 8th grade was a fine time to disabuse me of the notion that math was all about numbers. ..they introduced me to algebra.

It’s not that I have anything personally against algebra; I certainly see its usefulness with problem-solving.  It is just that I was of the firm belief that letters and numbers should not intermingle.  It messes with the whole natural order of things.  However, in my attempt to be open-minded, I grudgingly went along with this strange concept to try and please the teacher.  That was all fine and good until one day, in some sort of delusional state, the teacher began expounding on the “theory of zero.”  I still remember thinking, “why does ‘nothing’ need a theory?”  Try as I might, that was the beginning of the end of the beautiful relationship I had shared with math lo those 14 years.

Over the decades since then I have matured in my perspective in many areas.  While I still can’t get excited about the theory of zero, I have learned that the positive side of zero has many advantages.  For instance, in the accounting world, the positive side of zero means you have money!  Living in Alaska, the positive side of zero means it’s not REALLY cold.  I have also noted that people who have “zero” interest in a topic are difficult to engage in a conversation on that topic.  Just as my eyes glaze over and I look for the nearest exit when asked about the theory of zero, others react in like manner when topics of faith arise.  Many studies have proven that the majority of unbelievers are not atheists (believe there is no God), but rather agnostics (not willing to commit to an opinion about the existence of God).  What is the real difference between atheists and agnostics?  Atheists have a passionate opinion about God and agnostics don’t care enough to think about it.

Putting that definition in the context of a number line, we could say that a very faithful believer in God is a +10 and an avid atheist is a -10.  That would make the true agnostic a zero.  Agnostics’ ambivalence toward God puts them in the unenviable position of being the least likely to come to a saving faith.  Numerically, it doesn’t follow that someone with a negative number (an atheist) is easier to convert to a positive number than someone with a zero.  After all, the zero doesn’t have as far to go.  But, in matters of faith, this basic rule of math does not apply.  Atheists’ strong opinion about God makes them open and eager to discuss and debate matters of faith while agnostics choose to avoid it altogether.

Matthew 28:18-20 (the Great Commission) calls on believers to spread the good news of the Gospel to the world.  In my number line analogy, this means that the faithful believer’s job is to get others moving to the positive side of zero.  How, you may ask, do we do this?  By making the positive side appealing to them.  We need to show them both the near-term and long-term  benefits of living on the positive side of zero.  If you are a faithful believer, you can bet that there are people in your life who are living at or below zero.  Those people are watching you and waiting to see if they want what you have.  What are you showing them today?

As we transit through this Holiday period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have a golden opportunity to both talk about and demonstrate our faith.  As you prepare your heart to celebrate the birth of Christ, someone in your life is watching you to see if your faith is something they would like to share.  This next month, I urge you to share the greatest gift ever given and impart the true Spirit of Christmas to others.  Do your best to be a +10 and watch God work in your life.

Who Do You Thank?

Next week Americans observe the “kick-off” holiday of the Holiday Season – Thanksgiving.  Sadly, I have noted that there is more media coverage of “Black Friday” than there is of the holiday itself.  Thanksgiving has traditions which date back many years.  Most people believe that Thanksgiving originated with the pilgrims and Native Americans in the early 1600s.  Some others point to the proclamation of the holiday by President Lincoln in 1863.  Regardless of your belief of the exact origin of the holiday, its original intent is no mystery – the name gives it away!  It is a day to give thanks for the many blessings we have.

“Giving thanks” begs a question.  To whom are we giving thanks?  “Thanks” are not very meaningful if we don’t have an object of our gratitude.  Next Thursday millions of Americans will gather around a thanksgiving meal.  And, for many of them, it will be one of the few occasions they give thanks for their food.  Again, I would ask, who are they thanking?

To help answer the question of the intended object of our thanksgiving, I refer you to two of our Country’s greatest presidents – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  In 1789, President Washington signed what is believed to be the first proclamation of the newly-formed United States of America.  This proclamation established a national day of thanksgiving to “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits…”  In 1863, President Lincoln penned his proclamation exhorting Americans to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  Lincoln’s proclamation went on to say why the citizens should be thankful for their many blessings, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

The original intent of this national holiday is clearly evident in the words of President Washington and President Lincoln.  I have provided the entire texts of the two proclamations below for your review.  As you celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday this year, I ask that you take some time to consider your many blessings and to whom you should be giving thanks.  Take ten minutes and read Psalms 96, 100, and 103.  I hope it will bring you a joyous and thankful heart.


 George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.


Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln