Never Forgotten…

Please take a moment today to remember those in our military who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  And, as today’s world climate grows ever more violent, remember too those who are on the front lines giving all they have, often with their lives.  For THEY are the TRUE heroes of our time…

The following is taken from http://www.BLACKFIVE.net

The Washington Post brings us the story of the Dutch who continue to honor the fallen Americans who fought the Nazis.

On Sunday, they came again, bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never knew, but whose 8,300 headstones the people of the Netherlands have adopted as their own.

For the American relatives of the fallen, it was an outpouring of gratitude almost as stunning as the rows of white marble crosses and Jewish Stars of David at the Netherlands American Cemetery. Each grave has been adopted by a Dutch or, in some cases, Belgian or German family, as well as local schools, companies and military organizations. More than 100 people are on a waiting list to become caretakers.

Story here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/americans-gave-their-lives-to-defeat-the-nazis-the-dutch-have-never-forgotten/2015/05/24/92dddab4-fa79-11e4-9ef4-1bb7ce3b3fb7_story.html

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Back in New Jersey…

Well, my family and I are back in the good old Garden State.  The year we spent in Colorado was one of growth (and, hopefully) spiritual maturity.  But, it was a rough and difficult process.  Because, when you’re going through a baptism of fire, it’s not pleasant.  Not one iota.  Being stripped down in almost every facet of your life takes a toll.  However, as I said, we knew it was for a reason, but that didn’t make it any easier.  The refinement of something is very often only successful through that very thing being put through intense heat.  And, believe me…we felt the heat.   However, we knew it was for a purpose.  His purpose.  And, we’ll rest and find peace and joy in that.  A spiritual walk, at times, will always have in it struggles and challenges.  It’s what God does to bring us to the place where He wants us to be.  Without it, we just won’t have the foundational and spiritual anchor(s) to succeed in what He has for us.  A father disciplines his children and it’s no different with our heavenly Father.  No matter if you’re 18 or 80…you can expect it to happen.

I may have mentioned this scripture in another blog essay, but I think it bears repeating again.  James 1:2-4 (NIV) says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  All the apostles experienced it.  Open the bible to just about any page and you won’t be able to read very much until you see it for yourself.  And, believe me…our experiences come nowhere near the pain and suffering they went through.

Consider it pure joy.  Well, that was the most difficult part for us, but with His help, that’s just what we found.  We realized that we didn’t want to lack anything and that this process was essential to bring to fruition just such an outcome in our lives.

pure-joy-small

So, right now, we’re looking forward to seeing what He has for us.  The excitement we feel can barely be contained.  We know that what lies ahead will be for a greater good.  Not only for my family, but for those we love and cherish too.  My wife and I were blessed to have secured employment here in NJ weeks before we left Colorado.  And, we know there is purpose in that too.  There’s purpose in everything.  In a spiritual walk, nothing occurs by accident.  The orchestration is incredible and it’s amazing to watch the Lord do the work.  To be able to see the thread of Christ in our lives as we go through it is reason enough for us just to have a relationship with Him.  But, He wants more for us.  And, THAT is pure joy.

dog jumping for joy

We live in a world filled with evil…

From school, movie theater and shopping mall spree killings, to local and national acts of terror, to the kidnappings, sexual assaults and murders of children, there is no escaping it.  No matter how hard we may try, whether it is in our own backyard or across the country, it is ever-present and unfortunately widely pervasive.  These crimes have no jurisdictional boundaries.  They happen in large cities and they happen in the smallest of sleepy little towns in the most rural of states.  Just when we think we’ve seen the worst of the worst, another monster wrapped in human skin does something that tops the last act of unfettered cruelty and malice.  I’ve given up trying to explain, much less understand these horrors and the people that perpetrate them.  Explanations like “it was just the act of an insane person” or “they just lost it somehow” or “how could someone do that in the name of a religion?” (insert whichever one you’d like here) always seem to come up a bit short when I try and wrap my mind around it.

anguish

Over the years, I’ve seen my share of misery and malevolence.  I was a cop for 25 years in a municipality just outside picturesque Camden, New Jersey.  Now, for those of you not familiar with Camden, it competes annually with Detroit and St. Louis as the most crime ridden cities in the nation.  Shootings, murders, sexual assaults, armed robberies and the like are everyday and commonplace occurrences in and around Camden City.  However, I’m not talking about city type crime for purposes of this essay, I’m referring to the type of crime that defies the ability of the human mind to fully comprehend it.  The type of crime that leaves you a bit shaken even if it happens a thousand miles away from you.  The type of crime that you feel compelled to discuss with a perfect stranger in the grocery store or at the coffee shop hoping that they may be the one person who has a plausible explanation for its occurrence.  Some will say it’s a sociological thing, some that it’s from a screwed up childhood and some will blame video games.  To me, it’s fairly basic and that is that one must take personal responsibility for their actions and stop displacing blame.  But, I digress and as I said, I’m done with even trying to have a modicum of understanding beyond the fact that evil is evil.  Period.

angry video game player

So, to my point…I have a real concern.  Not a concern for myself and my family (although I do greatly care about their welfare and safety during any given day).  No, I have a concern for the children of the future.  If at my age I am already becoming somewhat desensitized and detached from emotion when these things happen, (although it does still affect me in certain ways) I can’t imagine what the future looks like for a young person who’s life (I believe) is going to be filled with this type of evil much more than mine was.  I firmly believe it’s only going to get worse.  I’m concerned for my grandchildren (when they come) and I’m concerned for their children.  Scripture talks about these days being filled with all types of evil and it becoming more and more prevalent every day.   So, are these kids going to become so immune from feeling anything when these things happen because of their frequency that they dismiss it as just another news story, and then change the song on their ipod?  I don’t know, but I certainly hope not.  Once a complacent and uncaring attitude sets in, it can be extremely difficult to reverse it.

But, there is hope…

So, what can we do?  Well, we can pray of course.  But, we can also walk in the knowledge that God is our provision and our protection.  He is not only “in” control of everything, He also “has” control of everything.  So, for us to really grasp and comprehend these acts of evil, we have to fully understand that they’re not a surprise to the Lord.  He doesn’t sit upstairs and say “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that just happened!”.   The first thing one might say is “why would a supposedly merciful God allow such a thing?”  I don’t know.  But, what I do know is that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are often times just that…mysteries.  Sometimes God reveals the answers and sometimes He doesn’t, (I know I’ll most likely “respectfully” have a few questions when I stand before Him).  That is why there are many times no plausible, visible explanations to abhorrent, random acts of violence and evil.  The reasons are only known to God.  And, He grieves too.  We can teach our children these truths at an early age which will allow them the ability to understand and process these things when they occur.   I know this may or may not make it easier to swallow or understand, but for me it keeps me grounded in the fact that The Father is in control…not us.  And, I really, really like it that way.  To be continued…

Here we go…

Well, here it is…my first blogging essay.  It wasn’t easy coming up with a first topic and as I write, I’m still not sure what it will be.   But, I think that’s what the desire to write can sometimes do to a person…even if that person likes to write, they very often come up empty.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I’d like to say, even if I’m the only one listening or reading it.  But, it’s the content of the writing that’s got me a bit stumped.  God has given me not only the desire to write, but I believe the ability to write.  It’s taken me quite some time to prayerfully consider what it is He wants me to say and what it is He wants me to relay to others.  But, before I go on, I want to say that the few prior sentences have nothing to do with religion, nor will this blog.  It has to do with relationship.  And, that is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  OK, good.  I got that out of the way.  I won’t be Bible thumping or standing on my soap box pontificating.  That is not the purpose of this blog.  What IS the purpose of my blog is to bring to light the life (and, often times struggles) of a Christian man through his everyday walk, experiences and sometimes meandering and tumultuous life, hence the term “The Ascent of a Son”.  I am a son of God.  And, I am and will be continually ascending upward to be more and more like Him, (plus, I also wanted to include a mountain term as that is where I live and that is what I love).  Now, this isn’t to say that I have no peace and joy in my life, I do.  But, the reality and honesty of it is that some of the time it just isn’t that way.  And, I think that it’s the same way with the majority of Christian men and women.  The walk with Christ is a difficult one.  And, the bridge between fleshly, soulful desires and the desire to be obedient to the Lord and what it is He has and wants for us in our lives can be a tenuous one.  But, I guess that’s what these essays will sometimes be about, (hey…I think I just came up with the topic!).   So, I guess if you want religion or religious dogma and the like, this may not be the website for you.  There are plenty of places for that all over the internet.  Now, this isn’t to say that I won’t throw in a few scriptures from time to time to reinforce my point(s), but the majority of the time it will be real life issues experienced from the view of a Christian man.  I was going to insert the word “mature” man there, but my wife might have taken issue with that.

During my life, I’ve seen the world from many different and often polar points of view, but I am still living a life of learning, discovery and training and I’ll always want it that way.  In some respects, I’m still in an “early learning” stage of things.  But, I guess that’s the beauty of learning…you start out slow then get those wonderful “Ahh Haa” light bulb moments.  And, come to think of it, there will probably be a lot of those as I continue to write this blog.  Hopefully, not only for myself, but for you too.

So, these essays and experiences are for those men (and, women) who are continuing to walk with the Lord, but as a dear friend once coined the term “while holding onto the Cross, I sometimes get splinters in my hands”.  I hope you all come away with something that you can use in your own lives to help you find that place of balance while still loving the Lord and finding and living in His peace, love and joy.

I wholeheartedly welcome your thoughts and comments too…so, please feel free to offer them as you deem fit, (but, please keep it clean though!).  So, welcome everybody!  Let’s take this journey together and maybe, just maybe, we can teach one another and have many more of those wonderful light bulb moments in our lives…

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