Friday, November 14, 2008

FCA Speech

Several years ago, I gave a speech to the school FCA. It addressed my thoughts to the young students who were present. The ideas I presented then still apply now. So then, to my students, all of them, from the year I started teaching to the wonderful young teens I have now, I present the following text of the speech I gave that day.

I have decided to discuss 4 things: I am going to talk a little bit about life, being a Life Science teacher. I am also going to talk a little bit about me, a little bit about you, and a little bit about God.

All life, in my opinion, reflects the nature of God in its beauty, complexity and design. How many of you have pets? There are numerous accounts of dogs, who, when separated from families who have moved across the country, travel 1000’s of miles to be reunited with their human families. How can they travel so far, never having been there before? Scientists don’t have an answer, but I do. It’s love. And GOD IS LOVE. And that, my friends, is beautiful.
All physical living things are made up of cells. Our cells make proteins that make up our bodies and the structures of all plants, animals and less complex organisms. So, is that all we are, is just chemicals that came together by accident? No. There is a spark of life in all living things. And that spark comes from God, for He is the author, the originator, the One whose spirit gives life to all things. GOD IS LIFE.

I have lived a really imperfect life. More than you know. Please don’t look up to me or put me on a pedestal, because if you knew everything there was to know about me, you would be supremely disappointed in me. I am fallible. I am not Super-Christian. I am more like Super-Flunky. Tada! Time for me to make the wrong decision and screw something up! It’s time for me to hurt someone’s feelings, trying to be funny. It’s time for me to blow it again. Perhaps, at times, you have felt the same way. Here’s a little secret: God does not see us the way we see ourselves. He sees the invisible part of us. He sees our hearts. God uses imperfect people who make themselves available to Him. God’s not looking for Super Christian to do His work of showing love. He’s looking for you, and for me. Just the simple act of looking up to God and saying, “Please help me to show your love to someone today” is all it takes.

There was a young man who gave me fits as a teacher last year- absolute fits. He interrupted class, got me mad, blew off his grades completely, got kicked out of my class every day. Laser beams were coming out of my eyes, smoke coming out my ears. His only joy was making teachers upset, which can be kind of fun if you are the one doing the disruption. So here I was facing this situation. I decided to start praying for him. “Oh Lord, please bless him. Please help him. He is so angry and mad and upset, and he doesn’t even know it. He makes very poor choices. Please be with him. Let him know your love.” And that marked a beginning of a difference in the war of the classroom. Why? Because he could tell that I cared. My prayers were answered in an unexpected way because I was the one who was changed through prayer, not him. I have not stopped praying for him to this day, and maybe someday, my prayers on his behalf will be answered. You see, prayer changes things, because God loves us.

If there was any piece of advice I had to choose for teens in middle school and high school it would be these 2 things:

First, be careful who you choose to be your close friends. Why? It’s because you will become just like them. You all are in the process of trying to find out who you want to be. You want to have friends. If it has not started yet, you will want to identify with a peer group. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the band kids, the nerds, and the skaters- you name it.

I was a mess, a complete mess as a kid. I was alone. I was unpopular. I was just this sort of stupid, nerdy immature person who wanted to have some friends. And there were these other guys. They were outsiders too, but they were troublemakers. They used bad words. They encouraged each other to make fun of folks in order to feel better. So, I hung out with them for a while.

Now, there was this other student, a quiet guy I will call Mike. He kept to himself, didn’t bother anyone. He was a nice guy- had this cool watch which was the first type that had glowing numbers that lit up to show the time. I started teasing this guy mercilessly, calling him gay, etc. I was a real jerk, and I did it so I could go brag to my new “buddies” about it. Well, eventually Mike had enough and confronted me about it and I backed off because I knew I was wrong.

10 years after high school I went back to my class reunion and guess what I discovered? Mike was gay. I went up to him, and I said, “Mike, in the 8th grade, I teased you mercilessly. Please forgive me.” And he looked up at me, and he said, “Glenn, I forgive you.” It didn’t matter whether he was gay or not- what mattered is that I had wounded his spirit. It all started when I began to hang out with the wrong crowd.

Secondly, how many of you are offended by the fact that slavery was once legal in this country? Good. I am too. Slavery was absolutely horrific. Families were torn apart; people were bought and sold like pieces of cattle, their lives subject to the whims of someone else. Moms and Dads were separated, sons removed from fathers; daughters from mothers. If you tried to leave slavery, they would whip you until scars crisscrossed your back.

There is a form of slavery that is alive and active right now, today, in America. I am talking about illegal drug use. You see, drugs release dopamine from certain cells in the brain, and that makes you feel good. It chemically squeezes all the dopamine from the cells that produce it. Now, dopamine gets released naturally at a very slow rate. However, when it is released by drugs, it KILLS the cells that produce dopamine, and they don’t regrow. Eventually what happens is you have a person who will never be happy another day in their lives, and they need the drug simply to feel normal.

There was a guy in my church who was a cocaine addict. He would go to a wilderness treatment center for 6 months and then come back clean and immediately turn around and begin using again, lying to everyone. This happened over and over again. His family recently split up and separated, because he was a slave to his addiction. He blew his families lifelong savings to get high- his life was subject to the whims of his addiction- nothing was more important. When he tried to quit, he was lashed with the pains of withdrawal.

Recognize the spiritual issue for what it is, not with judgment but with understanding. Realize that when one uses drugs they are holding up their hands for the shackles. It’s slavery- pure and simple.

God’s love is so great, we cannot begin to understand or comprehend it. It is something that transcends knowledge, and this goes against the science teacher in me, because I desire to understand and comprehend. God’s love is shed in our hearts spiritually, and God’s love changes us. Just to say “God, help me know your love” every day is a beautiful thing. “Thank you for making me. Help me, despite my problems, to be the person you want me to be.”

Here’s one final story: I was in high school in 1979. As we prepared for football practice gearing up, I was the last one out of the locker room. Now this was during summer practice and the heat was like one of those unbearable Georgia days. It just sort of shimmered there. There was the smell of dried cut grass and there was an inaudible humming it was so hot. So I stayed behind in the locker room to pray for rain. As I was praying, of the guys, Scott Ladd came back in and saw me there.
He said, “What are you doing, Houtchens?”
I replied, “Praying for rain.”
He ran back outside to tell the others and they all laughed at me as I came out. Well, the heat and the sun that day were absolutely brutal, and here we were in pads running around in it. About a half hour later, clouds started to gather overhead. Thunder was heard rumbling through the ground. To make a long story short, coach had to cancel practice and we did a walk through in the gym, which was considerably cooler now that we were soaked.

God loves us. God will never leave us. I spent many years after college without going to church. I was mad at God because of the actions of his servants ( people). God never left me, though. I told God to get lost, but He stayed right there with me, just waiting for me to look up and talk to Him. This I know for true: if He never left me, as poor an example as I have been, He will never leave you. He’s waiting for you to look to Him, you see, His patience and His love endures FOREVER. God loves YOU.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Reverend Graham; God Bless You!

Today the Reverend Billy Graham celebrates his 90th birthday, and he will do so with fried chicken and barbecue. The man who has preached the gospel in so many countries and has been counselor to presidents going all the way back to Harry Truman is very much loved in the hearts of the American people. (Harry Truman was president at the end of World War 2, in 1946) It is to God's credit in the work of the heart of this gentle man that he never wavered in his commitment to the gospel. I have his daily devotions and am never disappointed to reflect on them as they are filled with the love of God, with the awesome blessing of His word.

He stated recently that he was prepared to go to heaven, but no one had ever prepared him for growing old. I cannot imagine losing a spouse of over 50 years, losing my eyesight and being infirm. If I could, I would reach out and give him a hug.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing this humble man to remain among us, a spokesman for Your wonderful love, Your son Jesus who was sacrificed on our behalf.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On the Supernatural

I had meant to type this article up on October 31st, Halloween, however, I was tired and am so used to getting up early that it makes it difficult for me to stay up late. There have been several TV shows with the new fad of reality television on the subject of the supernatural. These shows center on hauntings of various types, encounters with spirits manifesting themselves in different ways, and various parapsychological phenomena. These shows break down into several groups:

1. The Thrill Seekers, otherwise known as Stupidity over Validity. Typically, these shows have low light cameras that focus on the faces of people who are novices on things supernatural. They enter a haunted building of some sort and eventually split up, scaring themselves witless and the producers use this along with scary music to try to scare the audience. To me, it seems to be the equivalent of Jerry Springer for the supernatural. The few times I have watched shows like this, I have wound up rooting for the ghosts, being disappointed that the family always seems to survive. There is another show that is closely related to this type, where mediums "feel" their way around with no scientific investigation whatsoever. I have another word for these folks who go about blindly, groping in the dark determining their fates by their feelings based on this type of investigation: Democrats.

2. The Super Scientists. I speak here of the tv show "Ghost Hunters." You have these two guys who are Roto Rooter plumbers who investigate supernatural hauntings on weekends with their team known as TAPS. First, if you have a hit tv show, WHY are you still working a day job? Secondly, if you are going to do a serious scientific investigation, do it right. One experiment on one night does not an investigation make. You need to quintuple the number of cameras, both low light and infra red, to cover as much of the structure you are investigating as possible. THEN you need to come back to the site of haunting over a period of weeks or months every night. When the experiment is repeated with consistent results, then you begin to have something which may be defined as evidence. Also, it is difficult to study a spiritual subject using only objective tests which are limited to the physical senses. Finally, most of the time TAPS does nothing to help these poor people who are suffering from hauntings. They say, "YUP! You have a poltergeist! Thanks for having us over!" and they leave. Some help they are.

3. The Balanced Approach. This is the method used by the Penn State Paranormal Research Society in the show "Paranormal State." Now, they don't use *nearly* enough scientific equipment, and they don't rely solely on mediumship or the scientific method, but they do a decent job of investigating, in my own personal opinion, spending anywhere from several days to a week in one location. Yes, they are green, wet-behind-the-ears college kids, but they do a better job than the other shows because they use a wide variety of methods to collect evidence. I do NOT agree with their practice of contacting spirits in the use of what they call "Dead Time." This is, literally, playing with fire.

So now that we have evaluated some of the reality shows, lets take a look at some of the classifications of haunting, as well as my own personal opinion about both hauntings and spiritual warfare. I shall be using information that I have acquired from outside sources, scripture, and personal experience.

Classification of Hauntings:
When supernatural events attributed to the presence of spiritual entities occur, they generally fall into one of the following categories:
1. Intelligent, independent. This form of spirit is classified according to how it interacts with people in the areas they are found. They are placed into this category when they respond interactively with the persons who are present (usually this occurs in some negative way, but not always.)
2. Non-intelligent. This occurs when spirits manifest themselves in a manner which represents an old style tape recording. They do not recognize the presence of others, and the events that revolve around them often recur on certain nights of the week or year. It is theorized that this style of haunting occurs because of strong, unseen but nonetheless traumatic, emotional events that have occured in the respective setting.
3. Poltergeist activity. Poltergeist is German for "noisy ghost." When this type of haunting occurs, knocking on walls is reported and objects sometimes fly around or appear to move on their own. Also, in cases that involve such spirits, there often is a child or adolescent that seems to act as a focus for the activity that takes place. Electrical manifestations also sometimes occur in these instances.
4. Single visitation, human. This type of haunting can occur when a loved one dies, and appears to a relative before leaving this earthly realm.
5. Non human spirits. Such as demons or angels. These creatures do exist and they are nothing to trifle with.

1. Houses or buildings can sometimes begin having manifestations when they are being renovated. Evidently, spirits do not care to have their physical surroundings altered.
2. There have been reports of infernal spirits hiding their demonic nature by adopting the guise of playful children. Do not be fooled.
3. There are some who say that all supernatural hauntings are demonic in origin, that there are no human spirits involved. The scripture used to support this is "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." I do not discount this, as this article is for the most part, conjecture and research, my personal experience being limited to one incident which occurred in college that I do not care to repeat.
4. There have been reports where objects (typically old ones, such as a piano, organ or doll) as well as places (graveyards can be considered) have been reported as haunted. I think this may well be possible.

1. If you think you are being subjected to a haunting of some sort, get an expert. I would recommend clergy. The power of God's Holy Spirit is greater than that which inhabits our world.
2. Do NOT under any circumstances address any spirit or attempt to communicate with them in any way unless you are ready at that moment to go into hardcore spiritual warfare. Do NOT play with Ouija boards and do NOT involve yourself with seances or the occult. This acts as an invitation for the enemy of mankind. Don't do it.
3. Be strong in the faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 That means immerse yourself in scripture, and become familiar with it. Allow God's Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he was able to remain faithful not only by knowing the word, but also because it was within his heart. 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Matthew 4:3,7 and 10
4. Jesus knew about spiritual warfare. There was an incident where the disciples tried to cast a spirit out of a possessed boy and it refused to go. Jesus said that this kind (of spirit) does not go forth except by prayer and fasting. I don't know a lot about unseen spiritual forces and neither do you. If you don't know if a downed power line is charged or not, you don't mess with it. The same concept applies here.

This is a delicate subject, and although I joke about Democrats and rooting for the ghosts, the fact is that I do not approach it lightly. Hollywood seems to be using the ghost centered reality show as a form of entertainment, much as spiritualists used mediumship in the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's as a fad of sorts. The reason I address this issue is that in a rational society that lives in a rational world, it needs to be reiterated that there IS INDEED an invisible spiritual realm. We cannot expect to completely understand it on this side of life, but not to acknowledge its existence gives way to spiritual and intellectual pride. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

armchair coach
amateur historian

A Reply

Dear George,

Thank you for your post on my blog. I was touched by it. Basically what I see coming up is a repeat of the Carter years. I'm sure you remember them. Mr. Carter who stated "peace must be waged like war," left our kidnapped citizens high and dry in Iran for over 400 days while he conducted "diplomacy."

I see the Iranian government using the Obama presidency as an excuse to stall while they complete their nuclear bomb. Israel will attack, will not be successful because the facilities are located well underground, the Obama government will condemn Israel, and Iran will respond. And, to put it in words, there goes the neighborhood. Earlier this year, a North Korean government cargo jet was stopped at the border of India. Its destination was Iran and it was suspected to contain nuclear bomb parts. This was the reason I chose the graphic on my previous posting.

Now I don't like war. I hate it. I hate the war in Afghanistan, and I especially hate the war in Iraq. There was a scene in the Lord of the Rings that left an impression on me. Frodo at one point has for the most part given up hope. Sam is speaking to Frodo, about why they are on this dangerous mission to take the ring to the mountain, and to resist the evil hordes of Sauron. Sam states "Mr. Frodo, there is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."

I see a lot of corruption within our government, from both parties. As I stated in an earlier blog entry, it was basically a choice between the lesser of two evils. One of the reasons I was so strongly against Mr. Obama was his promises of money to the masses *at the expense of others.* To bring out in the character of our citizens the most vile of motivations, greed and envy. To me, this seems to be a blatant attempt at spreading corruption. And it worked. I guess that is why I am still stinging. I had thought better of our country than this.

I will pray for our president. Mr. Bush listened to his cronies who told him the presence of WMD's in Iraq was a slam dunk, that there would be no problems with the occupation of this foreign country where factions that hated one another were kept in check by Saddam's sadistic military police, that literally fed people into paper shredders. Bush initiated an unprovoked war, and we see the results of it today. Evil can take many different forms, not just war, and I wonder what the people who surround our future president will tell him.

Sincerely yours,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Goodbye Israel, Hello Nuclear Iran

That almost sums up my thoughts about this election. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Forget about it if you are still in the womb. Kiss your job goodbye if you are working for any company that makes more than 250k/year. The unions will force companies to become unionized thanks to the lack of anonymous voting. They will increase their prices and pass that increase to we, the consumers. We are going to "stick it" to big oil and those evil, white, fat CEO's that smoke cigars. You don't think that would affect our gas prices, would it?

But that's okay because we have "change." The system that has congressmen in Washington buying one anothers votes with money pledged to their districts continues, with a scalpel. But it was stated so eloquently, wasn't it?

There is a reason this election turned out the way it did. God is in control. My fear is that we are going to get *exactly* what is coming to us. Iran does not hate us- they love us! They don't mean it when they chant "Death to America" by the thousands. I predict that they will soon have the bomb and that they will use this as leverage in the middle east to act with impunity, if not worse.

God have mercy on us.

armchair coach
amateur historian