The Hurricane: What Everyone Can Do To Help

You yearn to help the thousands of Hurricane Harvey victims who feel helpless and have lost almost everything. But you can’t go to them because you have to work, and you have a family to take care of. Anyway, you couldn’t afford the gas, food, and lodging even if you could break away for a few days. However, there are two things much needed that you and everyone else can do.

First, you can pray. Everyone can take a few minutes each day to pray specifically for the relief efforts and the victims. It is impossible to estimate the power of an entire nation focused on praying for one specific need. It would bring order to the chaos, comfort to the hurting, wisdom to the decision-makers, and resources to the recovery work. Don’t depend on others; assume the responsibility yourself.

Second, you can donate money. Many victims have only the clothes they wore escaping the devastation. Those left homeless need food and personal items. The first responders need equipment and supplies. These needs are best supplied by gifts of money distributed by official agencies who know exact needs and can purchase in bulk. Avoid sending “items” such as clothing and food–money is much more efficient. Not being able to afford a large donation is not an excuse. Thousands of people giving $10.00 each provide tens of thousands of dollars.

There are many trustworthy agencies already receiving donations, mostly by internet with credit cards. Most will also take mailed checks. The Red Cross always accepts donations, especially in emergencies like this. Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s benevolent operation, receives hurricane relief donations at http://samaritanspurse.org. The Texas Baptist State Convention, http://texasbaptists.org, has a hurricane donation link on their website. I am on the Executive Board of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and we have a similar link on our website, http://absc.org. These and many other trusted internet portals offer avenues for giving every dollar directly to the relief efforts. Just be cautious to ensure you’re giving to a legitimate agency. Sadly, disasters like this bring all kinds of scammers out of the woodwork.

The people ultimately benefiting from your donation will never be able to thank you personally. It will be an unconditional, sacrificial gift, which is what a true gift should be. You will be rewarded, but in other ways. But for the grace of God, any of us could be in the same situation as these victims. Some of us will be at some point. Please consider sharing this post, so help will be further-reaching.

 

 

Truman & Eisenhower: Poverty to Power

The lives of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower present inspiring stories of rising above humble beginnings to become powerful, world-changing leaders. Growing up in poverty in the obscure mid-west, they had almost no hope of doing anything of significance. Yet, they led the free world to succeed in the most threatening crises of our nation’s history. Still today, they are models of unlimited opportunity inherited by every American.

This year, I’m on a presidential library kick. These libraries enhance my hope for America. A previous post highlighted visits to the Nixon and Reagan libraries with my wife, Linda. Last week, we had the privilege of touring the Truman library in Independence, Missouri, and the Eisenhower library in Abilene, Kansas. Although these two gentlemen differed greatly in their political ideologies and leadership styles, I was struck by the similarities of their life stories.

Harry S Truman (no period after “S,” because that’s his middle name–“S”) was a nondescript son of a poor Missouri farmer. At age six, he and his family moved to Independence, Missouri, seeking a better life. As a teenager, he worked many odd jobs and enrolled in college after graduation. Frustrated with his disappointing academic performance, he left the campus, got a job with the railroad, and lived in a hobo camp. He soon became disenchanted with the city life and moved back to the farm. When WWI broke out, he felt he didn’t have anything to lose and joined the National Guard. His discipline and determination earned him officer rank and command upon his infantry unit’s deployment to France. He quickly earned the reputation of a tough commander and recognition for heroic performance. At the conclusion of the war, he returned to Independence and opened a clothing and hat shop in Kansas City. The business failed during the depression. However, his wartime accolades and business contacts won him an invitation to run for county judge. His success in leading infrastructure improvements in the county resulted in the Missouri Democratic Party urging him to run for the Senate.

As WWII raged, Senator Truman’s no-nonsense, plain-spoken political savvy impressed the Party so much, they nominated him to be the Vice President candidate for President Roosevelt’s fourth term. President Roosevelt died soon after his election to a fourth term, and the non-elected 33rd president, Harry Truman, soon announced victory in Europe. But Japan still had to be dealt with. He made the agonizing decision to drop the mother-of-all-weapons, the nuclear bomb, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender. Truman’s victory and subsequent international negotiations shaped the future of the entire world.

Dwight David Eisenhower grew up literally on the wrong side of the tracks. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway ran just north of Eisenhower’s small boyhood home and separated the elite from the commoners in the little town of Abilene. His father, David, worked in the local creamery for a wage that kept the family economy at the poverty level. Dwight shared the house with his parents and six brothers. He was just an average student in high school, but loved to study history. Upon graduation, without funds for college, he and an older brother agreed to alternate years in college so that one worked for tuition while the other took classes. Just before his first opportunity to enter college, a friend who had been appointed to the Navy Academy urged Eisenhower to apply for an Academy appointment. Realizing that this education option might be the only way he could afford college, he secured an appointment to West Point.

Although “Ike,” as he became known, never saw action in WWI, he commanded a tank crew training unit earning several awards and impressing the generals. He served directly under some generals between the wars, and was a highly respected planner in the Pentagon at the beginning of WWII. Ultimately, he became the commanding general of all allied forces and received credit for leading the alliance to victory. His reputation for winning the war probably sealed his election as the 34th U.S. President succeeding Truman. His mild-mannered, but visionary presidency transitioned America from a wartime footing to an unparalleled industrial period within just a few years.

These two men are prime examples of the limitless opportunity afforded to Americans. We hear constant references to maldistribution of wealth, an uneven playing field, unfair advantage, as well as educational and economic disparity. But, these two men, and thousands like them, made their own opportunity in spite of great adversity. America, with all its faults and issues, still offers abundant fruits from individual freedom and initiative found nowhere else in the world.

The Most Under-reported News Story: Israel

The dominant news stories exploding across our media today have left little room for what is perhaps the most significant conflict on the planet. While America is consumed with the White House, health care, investigations, North Korea, Russia, and Syria, there is a tinderbox of epic proportion that may be about to ignite: the nation of Israel–the epicenter of the world.

From the Judaeo-Christian perspective, the nation of Israel, and more specifically the city of Jerusalem, is the focal point of all civilization. It was where God led Abraham to establish a land in which He raised up His chosen people. According to the New Testament, Jerusalem is where Christ was crucified and will return to rule His eternal Kingdom. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a most holy and sacred place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. It has been a target of conflict and war for over 3,000 years and is so today. What happens on this mountain will always have a monumental impact on civilization.

King Solomon led the building of the first temple on the Temple Mount in the 10th century BC. It was totally destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. At that time, most of the Jewish people had been taken captive earlier by Assyria, and almost all remaining of God’s chosen were exiled to Babylon. Most of the Jews remained scattered around the world from then until now, but a large number were released from exile and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple around 515 BC. That second temple was destroyed in AD 70 by Rome never to be rebuilt to this day.

After a Christian Church occupied the Temple Mount for a brief period in the sixth century, the site was claimed by the Muslims who completed their al-Aqsa Mosque in 705. The Mosque was completely demolished twice by earthquakes and rebuilt each time. The last rebuilding in 1099 is the iconic gold-domed al-Aqsa Mosque on the Mount today.

When the Jews reclaimed their land, and Israel was declared a nation again in 1948, they vowed to ultimately rebuild a third temple on the Temple Mount replacing the al-Aqsa Mosque. Although Israel assumes control of the Temple Mount, the Mosque remains there, and it is considered the third holiest site of Islam. The barring of Jews other than security forces from the Temple Mount has been the source of great tension for years. The events of the past month, however, should command our utmost attention.

On Friday, July 14, 2017, two Israeli policemen guarding the Temple Mount were fatally shot by three Palestinian Muslims. The three gunmen were also killed in a shootout near the Mosque. On the following Monday, Israel’s government closed the site to Palestinians and opened it for Jews to pray and worship for the first time in decades. Jewish Rabbis are now urging all Jews to visit the Temple Mount to “strengthen their hold” on the site. Jews are openly proclaiming the place to be theirs and declaring the eventual replacement of the Mosque with a third temple. For the time being, they seem to have the momentum over the Palestinian Muslims in dominating the Mount with their presence.

During my first visit to Israel in 1978, I was privileged to not only visit the Temple Mount, but also to go inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, although our Jewish guide was prohibited from accompanying us. I was allowed no access to either on my second visit in 2015. An intriguing part of my second trip, though, was to visit the Temple Institute where Jewish religious leaders, engineers, and architects are planning the details of rebuilding the third temple. That would mean the destruction of the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Bible indicates a temple will sit on the Temple Mount before Christ’s return.

Why are we not hearing more about this in our news media? In my opinion, there is too much noise about the temporal that is drowning out the eternally significant. Be alert for any and all breaking news coming out of Israel. Your thoughts?

 

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