Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
June 11th, 2009


Once again I’ve received an e-mail that begs to be spread abroad.  The words below are taken from Surviving Hell:  A POW’s Journey (Encounter Books, Dec. 2008) by Col. Leo Thorsness.   On April 30, 1967, Leo Thorsness was shot down over North Vietnam, held and tortured for six years.  He has been awarded the Medal of Honor.

The first Sunday at the Hanoi Hilton, someone said, “Let’s have church service.” Good idea, we all agreed. One POW volunteered to lead the service and we started gathering in the other end of the long, rectangular cell. No sooner had we gathered than an English-speaking Vietnamese officer who worked as an interrogator burst into the cell with a dozen armed guards. Ned Shuman, our Senior Ranking Officer, went to the officer and said there would not be a problem, we were just going to have a short church service. The response was unyielding: we were not allowed to gather into groups larger than three persons and absolutely could not have a church service.

During the next few days we all grumbled that we should not have backed down in our intention to have a church service and ought to do it the coming Sunday. Toward the end of the week, Ned stepped forward and said, “Are we really committed to having church Sunday?”

There was a murmuring of the assent throughout the cell. Ned said, “No, I want to know person by person if you are really committed to holding church.”

We all knew the implications of our answer. If we went ahead with the plan, some would pay the price — starting with Ned himself because he was the SRO. He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually.

“Leo, are you committed?”


When the 42nd man said “yes,” it was unanimous. We had 100% commitment to hold church the next Sunday. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells. It was different from previous Sunday. We now had a goal and we were committed. We only needed to develop a plan.

Sunday morning came and we knew they would be watching us again. Once more, we gathered in the far end of the cell. As soon as we moved together, the interrogator and guards burst through the door. Ned stepped forward and said there wouldn’t be a problem, we were just going to hold a quiet, 10-minute church service and then we would spread back out in the cell. As expected, they grabbed him and hauled him off for torture.

Our plan unfolded. The second ranking man, the new SRO, stood, walked to the center of the cell and in a clear, firm voice said, “Gentlemen,” our signal to stand, “the Lord’s Prayer.” We got perhaps halfway through the prayer when the guards grabbed the SRO and hauled him out the door.

As planned, the number three SRO stood, walked to the center of the cell and said, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” We had gotten about to “Thy kingdom come” before the guards grabbed him. Immediately, the number four SRO stood, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.”

I have never heard five or six words from the Lord’s Prayer recited so loudly or so reverently. The interrogator was shouting, “Stop, stop!” but we drowned him out. The guards were now hitting POWs with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.

The number five ranking officer was way back in the corner and took his time moving toward the center of the cell. (I was number seven, and not particularly anxious for him to hurry.) But just before he got to the center of the area, the cell became pin-drop quiet.

In Vietnamese, the interrogator spat out something to the guards. They grabbed the number five SRO and they all left, locking the cell door behind them. The number six SRO began, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.” This time we finished it.

Five courageous officers were tortured, but I think they believed it was worth it. From that Sunday on until we came home, we held a church service. We won. They lost. Forty-two men in prison pajamas followed Ned’s lead. I know I will never see a better example of pure, raw leadership or will ever pray with a better sense of the meaning of those words.

There are many reasons that young people join the Armed Services.  Some just have no idea what they want to do with their lives.  Others are looking for adventure, a college education, a paycheck.  Some actually want to serve their country and what their country stands for.  Whatever the reason these 42 young men who were imprisoned in Hanoi joined the service, in my opinion each of  them became a hero at the very moment that he committed to “having Church.”  Whether or not he was eventually dragged off to be tortured he became a hero the instant he decided he was willing to suffer in order to say a simple prayer with his friends.

This book is available on Amazon and I plan to get one to give to a soldier friend.

IN A LIGHTER VEIN ….Stephen Colbert (below) becomes “one of the boys” in Iraq on the order of our Commander-in-Chief.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama Orders Stephen’s Haircut – Ray Odierno
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Stephen Colbert in Iraq


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:13

March 18th, 2009


Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, stated during the 2008 election: “What I hear from people is,  ” ‘John McCain was not my first choice, John McCain was not my second choice, John McCain was not my third choice.  However, I would rather have a third-rate fireman than a first-class arsonist.’ And they view Obama as a first-class arsonist.”

Yet, Rev. Frank Page, former president of the Southern Baptist  Convention, was asked to serve on President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rev. Page has said in the past: “I am unapologetically pro-life in my stance….I believe the Scripture which prohibits the taking of life includes the innocent unborn.”

You have to think Obama’s people didn’t properly vet Rev. Page. One is hard put to find a glimmer of pro-life sentiment among the President’s recent appointees.

Rev. Frank Page says he told the White House that he is “seeing this consistent pattern of removing any pro-life protection, so I am deeply concerned…..I have stated that concern and will continue to state it.”

Last week Obama took steps to eliminate enforcement of previous laws that would protect healthcare providers who did not wish to take part in abortion-related  procedures. However, after Rev. Page objected to the removal of conscience protections for medical providers, he says he got a letter from the White House. “Promising me in writing that President Obama would never be a part of forcing anyone to perform an abortion against his or her conscience.”

Earlier Obama had reversed the Mexico City policy that prevented taxpayer money from being used for anti-life “family planning” procedures. Now Obama’s latest move is opening the door to funding the production of embryos for stem cell research. Obama has said, “And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society, or any society.” Note well — this last statement must be carefully parsed: He said he will not approve cloning for “human reproduction.”    He did not say he would not approve cloning for experimentation.  He is, in fact, now approving cloning for experimentation and, when you get right down to it, he is approving
any cloning. Cloning, by definition, reproduces another human being whether or not that human is ever born.  I see this talk as highly duplicitous.

Reverend Page observes rightly that Obama is one by one removing every vestige of protection that had been put in place to protect human life. It seems he is dead set on killing the unborn.

I wonder if Rev. Page will be able to keep his post and still stand for life.  He has said, “But if I feel at some point that I’m just a token conservative, or fundamentalist — some see me that way up there — then I will resign, because I don’t have time just to be a token voice.”

Time will tell. Let’s all watch and see.


Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.  —  Matthew 5:37

November 8th, 2008


1. Pray for Obama’s protection. We already know that some weird, neo-Nazi fanatics in Tennessee plotted to kill Sen. Obama during his campaign. Let’s pray that racist hatred is not allowed to spread. Let’s cancel every assassin’s bullet in the name of Jesus. May civility triumph over bigotry.

2. Cover his wife and daughters in prayer. It is not easy to live under constant media scrutiny. Pray for Obama’s wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, as they face invasive cameras, nosy reporters, maniacal fans and dangerous enemies. Obama is not only a politician but also a husband and a father.

3. Pray that Obama will govern with God’s wisdom. God rewarded Solomon because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth, long life or vengeance on his enemies (see 1 Kings 3:11-12). Pray that Obama will order his priorities like that. Despite Solomon’s tragic character flaws, his legacy was wisdom. We can ask God to give our president the same grace.

4. Ask God to keep our president humble. Many great American leaders became corrupt after they moved to Washington. The fatal attraction of fame, wealth and power proved irresistible. The only thing that will guard a man or woman from this pitfall is humility. May God deliver President Obama from the curse of pride.

5. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him. Godly leaders cannot do their job alone. Even the best leaders have failed because they trusted the wrong people. Pray that Obama will not select his counselors based on party, race, pedigree or political cronyism but on godly character and proven wisdom. Pray also that he will not allow secret traitors into his inner circle.

6. Ask for the spirit of reconciliation. Some segments of our deeply divided society want nothing to do with Obama now that he has won the presidency. Even some Christians will be tempted to harbor resentment and nurse political grudges throughout his term in office. Pray that God will grant forgiveness and healing so that leaders on all political levels can have constructive dialogue.

7. Pray that Obama will adopt pro-life convictions. Many politicians have changed their views on key issues while in office. In the 1800s some leaders who favored slavery later denounced it. In the 1950s some who opposed racial integration later became champions of it. Even though Obama won approval from many voters because he sanctions abortion, God could soften and change his heart.

8. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president. The specter of Islamic terrorism looms over the United States, and dark forces are ready to infiltrate. Our only hope lies in prayer to the God who is able to expose and outwit the schemes of the wicked. This is truly a time for spiritual warfare, and intercessors must not come off the wall in this hour! Pray that no foreign government, terrorist organization or demonic principality will use Obama as a tool. We must stand strong against the spirit of antichrist that promotes dictatorship, persecution of Christians and hostility toward Israel.

9. Pray that Obama’s door will remain open to the church. The loudest voices of secular culture—from Bill Maher in Hollywood to atheists in academia—would be happy if religion were removed from public life. Pray that Obama, who claims to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, will unapologetically welcome Christian leaders into his company and seek their counsel. And pray that false religious leaders (who claim to know Christ but deny His power) will not have his ear.

10. Pray that our nation will enjoy God’s peace and blessing during the Obama administration. The apostle Paul instructed early believers to pray for all in authority “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2, NASB). God’s will is for America to experience peace and prosperity so that we can continue to export the gospel to the nations. This must happen whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House. As we cry out for God’s mercy on our wayward nation, pray that He will allow us to be a light to the world as we finance global missions, feed and heal the world’s poor and share Christ’s love at home and abroad.

The above Ten Ways to Pray for Obama arrived in my e-mail a day or two ago.  I have not been able to  find out who wrote it so I could give appropriate credit.  However,  people who write prayers are usually not seeking recognition but, rather, want to encourage more people to pray.  I include it here, with gratitude.

Postscript:  In no time at all I have been informed that the author of the above prayers is  J. Lee Grady of Charisma magazine — see here


More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.   Tennyson.

October 29th, 2008


It was two weeks before the election and Archbishop Charles Chaput in Colorado had publicly stated that “activism for Senator Barack Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

My friend, Kay, had visited a church in another city the previous Sunday and had heard the Catholic priest there, after the mass, tell his parishioners from the altar that the Church cannot tell them how to vote, that they could decide for themselves who they would vote for. He was heartily applauded by his congregation. Kay was considerably upset as he was, indeed, doing his best to undermine everything pro-life that had been accomplished in the past 35 years.

Barack Obama is the most liberal of all the Senators by anyone’s measure, and has promised to keep Roe v Wade in place. He says he will appoint liberal judges, and opposed the confirmation of Read the rest of this entry »

April 21st, 2008


On April 13, 2008, a “Compassion Forum” was held at Messiah College (PA) to discuss the moral issues that divide our nation. Presidential candidates Senators Clinton and Obama accepted the invitation to participate. Senator McCain declined. It was not a debate. Clinton and Obama were individually questioned about the role religion played in their lives with regard to various moral questions. The full text of the forum can be found here.
Read the rest of this entry »