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Belief–Principle 1

“They can conquer who believe they can.”


I will probably spend more than one day on this subject for its thrust is massive, and I am gripped by the far-reaching tentacles of such understanding.

Principle 1

We must believe in ourselves if we are to succeed.

It is almost incomprehensible to imagine success for a person who does not believe in himself. Latent talent shrivels, inherent gifts fail to mature, and strategic ideas birthed in a brilliant mind find no nurturing soil, and thus fail to mature. The person who does not believe in himself will likely spend his days among shattered, ill-laid plans, wrecked relationships, and ultimate failure.There are exceptions, but typically whether or not a person believes in himself springs from an inner mirror that is reflected from those around him–his parents, his teachers, his minister, his neighbors. How the world perceives him, how they mirror it back, how they speak to him, of what goals and talents they converse–determine to a large extent the image that person grasps.
The mantle, then, rests on you and me. We each are charged to touch our friends, our students, our family–especially our children–and to mirror our positive thoughts and aspirations for them. For it is only when man believes in himself that his finest work will be done. It is a powerful force we possess–that of helping another believe in himself.
I’m not sure where I read her story, but I want to bring part of it to you today. She was identified only as a 13-year-old student, and she tells of a very difficult time in her life…when she had totally lost hope. Thirteen years old, mind you…and she had lost all hope. She was lonely…and desolate. She told of being at school on the playground…and of being alone. She walked round and round the playground equipment, speaking to no one.
Finally she entered the classroom, watched as the teacher checked the role, and then says:
Sometime during the lesson, I began looking up from my books at the faces around me, and as I did so memories kept flooding back to me. Suddenly I felt hot tears build behind my eyes, and soon felt them falling on my face. I quickly lifted my textbook to cover my face. By this time tears were flowing freely down my face and burning my cheeks silently. I thought to myself, “Look at them! Not one of them cares that I’m here, NOT ONE!”
A sob escaped my throat, “Oh well, today will be the last day I’ll have to put up with this because tonight, tonight I am finally gonna do it! Tonight I am finally going to die……”
Yes, it’s true! That night I was going to commit suicide yet again. That’s right, again. I had tried many times before but I always woke up, threw up or passed out before I died. It was as though something wouldn’t let me die, as though I was meant to live for something.
The class was dismissed for recess, most of the students left the room, but the 13 year-old stayed at her desk–drawing, sketching, deliberating.
I never heard him approach me until he was practically standing on top of me. “Nice drawing,” he said in his usual happy way. “Thanks…,” I mumbled while fumbling with my pencil sharpener.
Before I knew it he had launched into the “I’m there if you need to talk,” comforting pep talk they spoon feed you from first grade. I politely looked at him while he said the same speech that I had heard so many times before, while quietly thinking, “Oh, my good Lord. You can’t be serious. I can’t believe he’s actually saying this..,” but then he said something, I would never forget–I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Later that night, as I lay on my bed, rattling my mom’s prescription pill medicine and thumbing a knife, I reflected on my life. Nothing! I popped the lid to the pills and dumped them into my mouth. As I was preparing to swallow, I raised the knife to my wrist and looked in the mirror…There I saw my reflection. I saw my long blond hair, tangled and messy. I saw my young self, scared and alone.

The pills felt huge as I swallowed them. Then I looked into my eyes, a tear escaped them; the words, “I Believe in You,” echoed soundlessly in my head.

I dropped the knife and ran to the washroom and threw up the pills. Then I walked back to my bedroom and cried. It was my teacher’s words–Mr. Godecki’s words–that showed me I was not alone. It was those words that brought me love, even if they were only spoken by a grade school teacher.


By speaking positive words to those humans with whom through life we jostle, we may see the development of excellent grocery men or truck drivers or artists or writers or teachers. And then again, we may recognize the saving of one or two from absolute destruction.


My devotional blog is here.

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Unbelievable Steak Knife Caper

Expected is that the majority of people who read my writings easily discern my right-wing leanings, my belief in moral absolutes, my high regard for life from its inception, my conviction of Biblical inerrancy, and my idea that we should obey the laws of the land. Frequently, I also meddle in the arena of common sense.

Yesterday I heard of an incident that is grossly lacking in said trait:

OCALA, Fla. — A 10-year old Ocala girl brought her lunch to school and a small kitchen knife to cut it. She now faces a felony charge after being arrested. The school and the sheriff’s office disagree on the reason for the arrest.

School officials say the 5th grader was brown-bagging it. She brought a piece of steak for her lunch, but she also brought a steak knife. That’s when deputies were called.

It happened in the cafeteria at Sunrise Elementary School. The 10-year-old used the knife to cut the meat.”She did not use it inappropriately. She did not threaten anyone with it. She didn’t pull it out and brandish it. Nothing of that nature,” explained Marion County School Spokesman Kevin Christian.But a couple of teachers took the utensil and called the sheriff. When deputies arrived, they were unable to get the child’s parents on the phone, so they arrested her and took her to the county’s juvenile assessment center.

This is nuts.


My devotional blog is here. 

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Trust Fund Set for Alexis Goggins

Breaking news says that because of one of the the bullets taken in her brave body, Alexis indeed will lose an eye, and as early as tomorrow she willl have surgery to have a prosthetic eye implanted. Although she is slipping in and out of consciousness, her condition remains stable, and indications are that she will survive this tragic event.

Messages of concern, accolades and offers of help have poured in from around the world. According to the Detroit News, a trust fund–a hero’s trust fund– has been set up by her school through Comerica Bank.

Checks should be made out to the Alexis Goggins Hero Fund and sent to Campbell Elementary School in care of the Alexis Goggins Hero Fund, 2301 E Alexandrine St, Detroit, MI 48207.


My devotional blog is here.

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Machines March Toward Replacing Humans

Massey University

Credit: Massey University


When I read about this development by Massey University a few days ago, I was struck again–and impressed–with the intelligence of man and the great strides we are making with computers, while at the same time feeling some reservations about the capabilities of this program. Read it all carefully and let me know what you think.

The near-human performance of a virtual teacher called Eve created by Massey researchers has drawn the attention of scientists across the computing world. Eve is what is known in the information sciences as an intelligent or affective tutoring system that can adapt its response to the emotional state of people by interaction through a computer system.

The ability of virtual Eve to alter her presentation according to the reaction of the child facing her at the keyboard has been hailed as an exciting development in the $25 billion e-learning market.

Read the entire article here.

My reservations include:

1. My discomfort at a machine being able to read and respond to my emotions.

2. The lack of human contact that is spiraling in our computerized society.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.


My devotional blog is here. 

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Two Images for Today–One Sad, One Funny

Backpack shield

At backpackshield they sell a particular backpack so that you won’t have to worry about your kids at school. Unbelievably sad that the need for such an item would even be contemplated.

Ipod & toilet roll holder

At you will find this absolutely indispensable item. Sometime back I wrote of the of the role of the telephone in society as having changed drastically since my childhood years –from one simple black instrument, to today, when almost every American family has phones scattered everywhere. In this post, I mentioned my friends who have a phone in their bathroom, and of my being surprised when I visited the place. Now here’s a lovely place for your Ipod.

I’m doing my bit for the economy today. Surely you’ll want to order one of these items.


My devotional blog is here.

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Anguish and Forgiveness

To plumb the depths of a person and there find pristine virtue and untarnished valor is rare, seldom sighted among us, notable because of its infrequent reality. To detect its presence in a lighted eye neath the furrow of sincere brow, to catch a drift of telling word and its corroborating moves–moves that signal not only the philosophy, but the exhibition of this thing called forgiveness, is an almost unknown factor in our jaded society. I mean real forgiveness, gut-wrenching forgiveness, ghastly forgiveness. Forgiveness that stops the world, that snaps to attention the heads of men and women across the globe. It matters not our divergence, our cut, our color or our class…for when we see it and hear it and know it, we understand that we are seeing, hearing and knowing God. It’s that rare.

The Nickel Mines Amish did it. They showed us Forgiveness. Awful forgiveness, anguished forgiveness, bloody forgiveness.

Recall that just over a year ago these Amish people–a religious group who lived in Nickel Mines, Pa. on farms without electricity and other modern conveniences had their lives splintered into untold agony when a person who lived in the area, their milkman, Charles Roberts, burst into a one-room schoolhouse, and shot ten young girls. Five of them died. Unbelievably, during these atrocious actions, one of the girls, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, offered to be killed first, thinking perhaps the others would be saved. The most telling of all is that within hours of the murders, these beautiful Amish people–the families of the slain children–not only spoke of forgiving Charles Roberts, but visited his wife and children and gave them food and money.

Picture and the following from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Horrified strangers worldwide sent $4.3 million to the Nickel Mines Amish settlement in Bart, Lancaster County. But the Amish, who have no insurance, used the gifts for more than medical bills.

They gave shares to local emergency services that came to their aid and, in a move that caught the world’s imagination, to the widow and children of the man who murdered their daughters.

“It certainly means a lot for us to spend some time with the families,” Miller said after their meeting together on the anniversary of the shooting. “There’s no other place we would have rather been this morning.”

Also attending were community members, state troopers and officials from Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 students and faculty members in April, Miller said.

Though grateful for all the help and sympathy it has received, the Amish community is hoping to be left alone as much as possible Tuesday during the actual anniversary of the shootings.

The New Hope Amish School, which replaced the one torn down after the attack, was closed Monday and will remain shut Tuesday.

Read more here.

Now consider this–also from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Not everyone affirms the Amish response.

Rabbi Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of Tree of Life Congregation, Squirrel Hill, and president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative Rabbis, applauds the Amish care for Amy Roberts, but not their forgiveness of Charles Roberts.

“In Judaism, there are some strings attached. I have to say I’m sorry for what I did, I have to resolve not to repeat that pattern of behavior again and I have to ask those I harmed to forgive me,” he said.

“Letting somebody off the hook even though they are dead doesn’t sit well with me. Society can’t function when you just wipe the slate clean constantly. He did a horrendous, horrendous thing and he did absolutely nothing to repent.”

This post was difficult for me to put together, and I truly can say as I finish here, that from the skin of my body to my inward parts, I am shaken, and at this moment physically tremble. I knew when I broached the subject it would be difficult. For in trying to be honest with myself, I wonder…I truly wonder…could I forgive such an assault on my family as did the Amish in Nickel Springs? Am I that Godly? If I’m not, why not? Is such forgiveness indeed Godliness?

What about you? Do you have it within you to exhibit such a sterling quality? Have you been challenged in your resolve to forgive those who wrong you? Ever had to extend forgiveness when it really hurt, when it caused anguish? Do you perhaps agree with Rabbi Berkun that forgiveness in this instance is misplaced?


My devotional blog is here.

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Loren Hedger is Dead

A text message on my phone yesterday gave me this information.

Chances are you have never heard of Loren Hedger, although he lived a long and rich life. I met him in September of 1955 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I had enrolled as a student at Apostolic College. I was young. Tender young, for to be exact, I had graduated from high school in May, and had just turned 17 in July.

He was a minister of the gospel, and was one of my instructors. Now, these more than 50 years later, I vividly recall his appearance, his concepts, and most importantly his godly ways. Through the years, Jerry and I have had some contact with him, and in Tulsa, some time ago before his beloved wife, Gladys, succumbed to cancer, we visited again with him–spent several hours talking, reminiscing, and sharing a delightful meal.

Loren Hedger was a handsome man, tall and dark-haired with a readily available smile. His demeanor was soft and tender, but one should not have been fooled by that, for, inwardly he was strong, principled and incorruptible.

Loren came out of such a church denomination as did Martin Luther, and immediately he set to studying the Bible–closely, intently, with a grasping mind and with fervor. During the early days following his conversion, as he was yet holding a secular job, he was so hungry for God and for an understanding of Him that he spent many long nights with God’s Word. Vividly, do I recall his telling of becoming so sleepy, and yet so passionate about his study, that, to help keep him wakeful and stimulated, he would prepare a pan of icy-cold water and place his bare feet there.

This godly passion was apparent in any dealings with this superior man. I would not be surprised to learn that such intense love for God’s Word was transferred to scores of young people who were privileged to “sit at the feet” of Loren Hedger.

I’m using this space today, not only to honor Loren Hedger, but to acknowledge those people who have contributed both to my secular education and to my understanding of The Spirit. I especially want to honor those who, with passion, have told me of life, of God and His principles. I’d like to hear from you also. Is there a teacher or two who has profoundly affected your life? Would you like to name them and give them honor?


My devotional blog is here.

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No, Mr. Obama. Don’t Teach Our Children About Sex

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is “age-appropriate,” is “the right thing to do.”


I am at a loss to understand why anyone would think it even rational to teach sex education to kindergarten children. Hey, I know what–novel idea, I suppose–but how about the ABCs, counting, sliding down slides, swinging on swings, erecting sand castles, standing at an easel and, with a floppy brush, smearing poster paint onto white paper, and rolling out clay people and dogs and cats. How about singing Teensy-Weensy Spider, and manipulating building blocks, and banging cymbals and triangles, and marching in cadence, and learning to share, and sitting in a circle to hear the teacher read from a magic book.

Sex education! Let me think about it. Seems to me the more we talk about sex education, the less educated, the less moral, and the less wise our young people become. More couples live together sans marriage than ever did in my day when the schools left such tender and delicate information to the venue of the parent. More babies are born outside of wedlock than were generations ago when the schools hadn’t a clue about sex education.

No, Mr. Obama, we don’t need government schools teaching our babies about sex. Let the Mamas and the Daddies speak of these things. Let it be done lovingly, thoughtfully, and in the fear of God and in consideration of His holy principles.

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Muslim Prayer Allowed in San Diego–Christian Prayer Denied in Bayonne

Somehow I missed hearing about this story until yesterday, and when I did so, I listened carefully, then read thoroughly about this development. My ire is raised…for it is reported that in Carver, a San Diego elementary public school, a time during class hours has been set aside for Muslim led prayers, and that the school is now offering classes in Arabic.

Carver school no longer serves pork and other foods which conflict with fundamental Muslims diet restrictions. In addition, single gender classes for girls have been set up there.

When I read this, my mind raced to Jeremy Jerschina, the valedictorian of his graduating class, who was forbidden to include a prayer in his address to the assembled people during the ceremonies.

Please carefully read both of these accounts …and think…what you’re reading. It’s outrageous!

Muslim prayers in school debated

S.D. elementary at center of dispute

By Helen Gao
STAFF WRITER San Diego Tribute

July 2, 2007

A San Diego public school has become part of a national debate over religion in schools ever since a substitute teacher publicly condemned an Arabic language program that gives Muslim students time for prayer during school hours.

Carver Elementary in Oak Park added Arabic to its curriculum in September when it suddenly absorbed more than 100 students from a defunct charter school that had served mostly Somali Muslims.

OVERVIEW Background: The U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines say students can pray at public schools during school hours by themselves or with fellow students. However, Šteachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible or other religious activities. What’s happening: A substitute teacher claimed that Carver Elementary School in San Diego was indoctrinating students into Islam, and that a teacher’s aide led Muslim children in prayer. An investigation failed to substantiate the claims, but the allegations have thrust Carver into a nationwide debate over prayer in schools. The future: Carver, which has set aside a 15-minute break to allow time for students to pray, is considering alternative prayer accommodations. Religious and civil rights groups are monitoring developments.

After subbing at Carver, the teacher claimed that religious indoctrination was taking place and said that a school aide had led Muslim students in prayer.

An investigation by the San Diego Unified School District failed to substantiate the allegations. But critics continue to assail Carver for providing a 15-minute break in the classroom each afternoon to accommodate Muslim students who wish to pray. (Those who don’t pray can read or write during that non-instructional time.)

Some say the arrangement at Carver constitutes special treatment for a specific religion that is not extended to other faiths. Others believe it crosses the line into endorsement of religion.

Article continues here.

The Bayonne High School graduation ceremonies on July 20 were marred by a controversy over the inclusion of a prayer in this year’s Valedictory Address.

Traditionally, the top student of the graduating class speaks during the ceremonies, often expressing feelings about the past and hopes for the future.

But a few days before the June 20 ceremonies, Jeremy Jerschina – this year’s valedictorian – was asked to submit his speech for review.

The speech ended with a prayer to God, which was deemed unacceptable by school officials.

The article continues here.

Here is Jeremy’s “offensive” prayer:

Dear God,
I am to You forever grateful for Your Creation. You placed Your eternal Hand upon the Earth and created Man. You have created him of every tongue and race, and gave him the capacity to grasp at least some of the vast multiplicity which You precisely engineered.
Thank You, Lord, for bringing us together tonight to celebrate both our achievements and those individuals who have helped lead us to this level of accomplishment.
Also, lest we forget about You in the midst of our individual successes, I ask You impart in us an understanding and remembrance of Your omnipresent power and might.
Lord, I pray that You guide, protect and bless us.
I give You all praise and honor for Your Creation, for Your love, for Your mercy, and for the life that You proffer to us daily. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

What is wrong with our country, our Christian nation formed on Judeao-Christian values? What has happened to our throats that sing loudly, God Bless America, and on whose coins is stamped In God We Trust?

Who is behind these wretched decisions that provide for Muslims to have special menus, class arrangements and adult led prayers during class time, but who deny a high school valedictorian the opportunity to say a godly prayer in which Jesus Christ is mentioned? Something is terribly wrong here.

I will get lots of flack from this post–I know that, but I am prepared for it. I hope too, that you who are of like thinking as I, will also speak. We must not be silent against the terrible war that is raging against our country, and that threatens to destroy the freedom to practice our cherished Judeo-Christian values–values that were brought at great price.


My devotional blog is here.

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Profoundly Outrageous School Assembly

It was early in the morning yesterday when I learned of the assembly that recently took place in the Boulder, Colorado high school. During the mandatory assembly, this outrageous speaker, Joel Becker, an associate clinical professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles, encouraged the students to engage in sex, and to use drugs. Not only did he advise sex, but he encouraged the students not to limit their sexual experience to people of their own sex. A direct quotation follows: “Well, I don’t care if it’s with men and men, women and women, men and women, however, whatever combination you would like to put together.

The speaker spoke in such an offensive way that at the school board which later met to discuss several parental objections, the following exchange occurred:

At one point, school board president Helayne Jones told Priscilla White to stop reading excerpts from the panel discussion because the language was inappropriate for the meeting.

“But it was at Boulder High School,” Priscilla White responded. “If they can listen to it, I think you can listen to it.”

There are other startling developments in our school systems. Last week, a teacher showed the controversial “homosexual” film, Brokeback Mountain, to a group of 8th graders. The film is rated R, and the students were required to watch it.

A couple of weeks ago, teachers in Murfreesboro, Tenn. subjected their class to an imaginary terrorist attack. From an AP article reprinted in the Edmonton Sun comes the following article.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables. The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip. “We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation,” he said. But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged. “The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip. Some parents said they were upset by the staff’s poor judgment in light of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 students and professors dead, including the gunman. During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door. After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said. “I was like, ’Oh My God,’ “ she said. “At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out.” Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation “involved poor judgment.”

WHAT is going on in our school systems? I’m outraged.


My devotional blog is here.