"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
While It Is Day
Greetings! Jesus said in the 'Book of John', chapter fifteen, " Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
The following hymn by 'Celtic Bagpipes' helps to illustrate this point.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
We hope the following news articles will be a help in understanding where we are in the world today, and where we may be heading tomorrow.
Gulf Coast Evacuation Scenario Summer/Fall 2010
Posted By admin On June 13, 2010
SCMLA - June 13, 2010
Editor's note: There is no definitive evidence the government plans mass evacuation at this point. In fact, the government refuses to admit gases in the Gulf exist or pose a health issue. All of this may change as the problem worsens.
SoCal Martial Law Alerts (SCMLA) has been in existence for a year and a half and this is our first MARTIAL LAW ALERT.
We have withheld putting out information on the Gulf oil spill for a variety of reasons, but there is now enough evidence for us to put together a fairly clear picture of what really happened, what may result and to warn people who live in the area.
Due to toxic gases from the fractured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, the possible off-gassing of the highly-toxic Corexit 9500 (the chemical dispersant used by BP in the oil spill clean-up), acid rain and various as-yet-unknown forms of environmental damage, we believe that the government will have no choice but to relocate millions of people away from the Gulf Coast. Those living in Florida are presently at the highest risk, but the danger also appears likely to spread to all Gulf Coast states east of Louisiana and possibly even to the entire Eastern half of the United States once hurricane season begins.
Greg Evensen, a retired Kansas Highway Patrolman, estimates that 30-40 million people would need to be evacuated away from the Gulf's coastline (i.e. at least 200 miles inland). In order to accomplish this gargantuan feat, the federal government (through FEMA and other agencies) would most likely seek first to control and manage the transportation system and then operate relocation centers to manage evacuees. Toward this end, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already declared the airspace over the oil spill site to be a no-fly zone until further notice. Various sources have indicated that local police, highway patrol, National Guard, US military and foreign troops may be involved in an operation to evacuate the Gulf Coast. In fact, the Governor of Louisiana has already requested evacuation assistance (i.e. National Guard) for his state from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Those living inland may also be at risk, since the movement of vast numbers of evacuees would cause a significant strain on local resources. In other words, inlanders should not expect life to continue "as normal," since, under a martial law scenario, the government would have the power and the motivation to seize everyday necessities, such as: food, water, fuel, housing, etc. Some have also suggested that if a hurricane were to occur over the oil spill area itself, lightning might possibly ignite volatile organic compounds, not to mention the acid rain clouds that could form and be carried inland (i.e. acid rain could pollute the water table, destroy crops, kill wildlife and pose significant health risks to humans in the southern and eastern states.)
Lastly, Lindsay Williams, a former Alaskan pipeline chaplain with high-level oil industry connections, has suggested that BP, in conjunction with the federal government, might try to cap the well by using a nuclear explosion - the environmental consequences of which are currently unknown.
If you live, or if you know people who live on, or within 200 miles of the Gulf Coast area, we recommend that they immediately relocate to at least 200 miles inland (i.e. the farther away, the better). If people living within this 200-mile zone do not relocate voluntarily (i.e. on their own initiative), it appears likely that a forced evacuation through a martial-law scenario may occur within the coming weeks and (possibly) months.
Our country has been in a state of national emergency since September 11, 2001, which means that martial law (i.e. military rule) can be declared by the President at any time, for any reason - large, or small. If martial law is implemented, evacuees will lose their ability to determine when and where they will move and for how long, since the normal protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will have been suspended. To put it bluntly, a scenario in which evacuees are forced to live in relocation centers for an unspecified length of time is not unlikely.
Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and methane in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they provided both a visual and audible cue in this respect. The use of so called miner's canaries in British mines was phased out in 1987.Hence, the phrase "canary in a coal mine" is frequently used to refer to a person or thing which serves as an early warning of a coming crisis. By analogy, the term climate canary is used to refer to a species that is affected by an environmental danger prior to other species, thus serving as an early warning system for the other species with regard to the danger.
AXA fears 'fatal flaw' will destroy eurozone
Analysts at the French financial group AXA see a serious likelihood that the eurozone will break in half or disintegrate, dismissing Europe's â‚¬750bn (£623bn) rescue package for Club Med debtors as a stop-gap measure that misdiagnoses the problem.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard -
Published:14 Jun 2010
A riot policeman's clothing catches fire during protests in Greece. Photo: AP
"The markets are very nervous because they can see that there is a fatal flaw in the system and no clear way out," said Theodora Zemek, head of global fixed income at AXA Investment Managers.
"We are in a very major crisis that has even broader implications than the credit crisis two years ago. The politicians have not yet twigged to this."
Ms Zemek said the rescue had bought a "maximum" of 18 months respite before deeper structural damage hits home, with a "probable" default by Greece setting off a chain reaction across Southern Europe. "It would be the end of the euro as we know it. The long-term implications are at best a split in the eurozone, at worst the destruction of the euro. It is not going to end happily however you slice it," she said.
The warning came as Spain's authorities were forced to shoot down German media reports that Madrid was preparing to tap the rescue facility after ructions in the inter-bank market.
Carlos OocaÃ±a, Spain's treasury secretary, said smaller Spanish banks are struggling to roll over debts but denied that the country is seeking outside help. "The rumour is false," he said.
Spanish banks increased reliance on funds from the European Central Bank to a record â‚¬86bn in May.
Berlin said Spain "does not meet the conditions" for the aid package in any case, even though the socialist premier Jose Luis Zapatero has already provoked a general strike by cutting public wages by 5pc. It is becoming clear that German demands for austerity across EMU are nearing the limits of political tolerance, and may prove self-defeating as 1930s-style wage deflation sets off a vicious circle.
Greece's woes increased further as Moody's downgraded Greek debt to junk status, saying the "macroeconomic and implementation risks associated with the programme are substantial". The move is largely symbolic at this point since the European Central Bank has suspended its rating requirements for use of Greek debt as collateral for loans.
Greece is almost entirely shut out of the capital markets. Private investors are believed to have offloaded â‚¬25bn of Greek debt on to the ECB as it steps in to shore up the market, shifting the credit risk on to tax payers.
Axa said there was "no chance" that the EU's â‚¬750bn "shock and awe" shield will succeed since it treats Club Med's debt trap as a short-term liquidity crisis.
In the case of Greece the joint IMF-EU policy will increase Greek public debt from 120pc to 150pc of GDP by 2014, arguably making matters worse.
A number of ex-IMF officials have said the policy is doomed to failure since there is no devaluation or debt relief to offset the ferocious fiscal squeeze, and may endanger the credibility of the Fund itself. The IMF had floated the idea of a debt restructuring but this was blocked by the Brussels.
The strategy assumes that voters in Greece and other Club Med democracies will endure years of pain for the sake of foreign creditors. "It's a pipedream," said Ms Zemek.
Contagion from a Greek default would be harder to control than fallout from the Lehman collapse. "This has huge implications for banks. These bonds didn't just disappear; they went somewhere, allegedly into French money markets and insurance companies, or on to French balance sheets," she said.
The Bank for International Settlements said French and German lenders have $958bn (£650bn) in exposure to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, mostly in mortgage and company debt rather than sovereign debt. The distinction has become meaningless in Greece. The ECB has lent Greek banks â‚¬85bn, mostly in exchange for collateral in the form of Greek government bonds.
This has kept Greek lenders alive as they suffer a slow bank run, losing 7pc of their deposit base since last June as wealthy Greeks shift their funds abroad. The ECB support is equal to 20pc of their non-equity funding, according to Lombard Street Research.
Axa said the America's currency union is successful because Washington has over-riding legal powers over the 50 states. "It is a precondition for the system to work but it doesn't exist in Europe and the bond markets are starting to figure this out. We are looking at a noble experiment on the brink of failure," said Ms Zemek.
Nightmare vision for Europe as EU chief warns 'democracy could disappear' in Greece, Spain and Portugal
By Jason Groves -
Last updated 15th June 2010
EU begin emergency billion-pound bailout of Spain
Countries in debt may fall to dictators, EC chief warns
'Apocalyptic' vision as some states run out of money
Democracy could 'collapse' in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the debt crisis, the head of the European Commission has warned.
In an extraordinary briefing to trade union chiefs last week, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso set out an 'apocalyptic' vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.
The stark warning came as it emerged that EU chiefs have begun work on an emergency bailout package for Spain which is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds.
Crisis point: Demonstrators protest cuts announced by the Government in Malaga last week in an echo of the Greek crisis
A £650 billion bailout for Greece has already been agreed.
John Monks, former head of the TUC, said he had been 'shocked' by the severity of the warning from Mr Barroso, who is a former prime minister of Portugal.
Mr Monks, now head of the European TUC, said: 'I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: "Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They've got no choice, this is it."
'He's very, very worried. He shocked us with an apocalyptic vision of democracies in Europe collapsing because of the state of indebtedness.'
Greece, Spain and Portugal, which only became democracies in the 1970s, are all facing dire problems with their public finances. All three countries have a history of military coups.
Greece has been rocked by a series of national strikes and riots this year following the announcement of swingeing cuts to public spending designed to curb Britain's deficit.
Spain and Portugal have also announced austerity measures in recent weeks amid growing signs that the international markets are increasingly worried they could default on their debts.
Dictatorships: An end to democracy in Europe could see a return of figures ruling dictatorships. General Franco was dictator of Spain until 1975; Georgios Papadopoulos led a military junta until 1973; and Antonio de Oliveira Salazar ruled as Portugese president until 1968
Other EU countries seeing public protests over austerity plans include Hungary, Italy and Romania, where public sector pay is to be slashed by 25 per cent.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who visited Madrid last week, said the situation in Spain should serve as a warning to Britain of the perils of failing to tackle the deficit quickly.
He said the collapse of confidence in Spain had seen interest rates soar, adding: 'As the nation with the highest deficit in Europe in 2010, we simply cannot afford to let that happen to us too.'
Mr Barroso's warning lays bare the concern at the highest level in Brussels that the economic crisis could lead to the collapse of not only the beleaguered euro, but the EU itself, along with a string of fragile democracies.
GREECE: Georgios Papadopoulos was dictator from 1967 to 1974. - The Colonel led the military coup d'etat in 1967 against King Constantine II amid political instability. He was leader of the junta which ruled until 1974. - Papadopoulos was overthrown by Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis in 1973. Democracy was restored in 1975.
SPAIN: General Francisco Franco led Spain from 1936 until his death in 1975. At the end of the Spanish Civil War he dissolved the Spanish Parliament and established a right-wing authoritarian regime that lasted until 1978. After his death Spain gradually began its transition to democracy.
PORTUGAL: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's regime and its secret police ruled the country from 1932 to 1968. He founded and led the Estado Novo, the authoriatan, right-wing government that controlled Portugal from 1932 to 1974. After Salazar's death in 1970, his regime persisted until it eventually fell after the Carnation Revolution.
But it risks infuriating governments in southern Europe which are already struggling to contain public anger as they drive through tax rises and spending cuts in a bid to avoid disaster.
Mr Monks yesterday warned that the new austerity measures themselves could take the continent 'back to the 1930s'.
In an interview with the Brussels-based magazine EU Observer he said: 'This is extremely dangerous.
'This is 1931, we're heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship.
'I'm not saying we're there yet, but it's potentially very serious, not just economically, but politically as well.'
Mr Monks said union barons across Europe were planning a co-ordinated 'day of action' against the cuts on 29 September, involving national strikes and protests.
David Cameron will travel to Brussels on Thursday for his first summit of EU leaders since the election.
Leaders are expected to thrash out a rescue package for Spain's teetering economy. Spain is expected to ask for an initial guarantee of at least £100 billion, although this figure could rise sharply if the crisis deepens.
News of the behind-the-scenes scramble in Brussels spells bad news for the British economy as many of our major banks have loaned Spain vast sums of money in recent years.
Germany's authoritative Frankfurter Allgemeine Newspaper reported that Spain is poised to ask for multi-billion pound credits.
Mr Barroso and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank are united on the need for a rescue plan.
The looming bankruptcy of Spain, one of the foremost economies in Europe, poses far more of a threat to European unity and the euro project than Greece.
Greece contributes 2.5 percent of GDP to Europe, Spain nearly 12 percent.
Yesterday's report quoted German government sources saying: 'We will lead discussions this week in Brussels concerning the crisis. It has intensified to the point that the states do not want to wait until the EU summit on Thursday in Brussels."'
At the end of last month the credit rating agency Fitch downgraded Spain, triggering sharp falls on stock markets.
On Friday the administration in Madrid continued to insist no rescue package was necessary. But Greece said the same thing before it came close to disaster.
Yesterday the European Commission and the statistics authority Eurostat met to consider Spain's plight as many EU countries consider the austerity package proposed by the Madrid administration insufficient to deal with the country's problems.
Investors are betting on a Black Monday-style collapse, BoE warns
June 14, 2010
Investors are placing bets on a Black Monday-style crash in the British stock market at the fastest rate since the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank in 2008, the Bank of England has warned.
In a survey of markets, the Bank warned that widespread fear over the possible collapse of a sovereign debtor, including Greece and Portugal, had sparked a mass of bets on a 20 per cent fall in the FTSE 100.
The warning coincides with calculations from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) showing that Britain has major exposure to the Irish and Spanish banking systems, which many fear could be at risk in the next round of the financial crisis.
The Bank of England used its Quarterly Bulletin to warn that markets were under increased strain following the International Monetary Fund and European Commission's bail-out of Greece.
Japan PM Naoto Kan warns of 'collapse' under debt pile
June 11, 2010
Japan is at "risk of collapse" under its huge debt mountain, the country's new prime minister has said.
Naoto Kan, in his first major speech since taking over, said Japan needed a financial restructuring to avert a Greece-style crisis.
"Our country's outstanding public debt is huge... our public finances have become the worst of any developed country," he said.
After years of borrowing, Japan's debt is twice its gross domestic product.
Netanyahu warns: Dark days ahead
June 14, 2010
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted rough waters ahead for Israel on Monday. "Be prepared for difficult days," he told a Likud faction meeting, in which he also announced the establishment of an inquiry committee to probe the IDF flotilla raid.
"Dark forces from the Middle Ages are raging against us. I have received calls from concerned officials in the Balkans and Eastern Europe who are very worried about these developments." Earlier, at the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told ministers to expect "surprises", even from Israel's allies.
"This committee strengthens our ability to fight in the international political arena. If we had done nothing, I assume we would have had worse problems in the world.
"The flotilla to Gaza was not a one-time thing. We find ourselves in the midst of a difficult and continuous battle against the State of Israel. The flood of hate is being led by Israel's enemies all over the world," Netanyahu added.
New York Times
Vital River Is Withering, and Iraq Has No Answer
By Steven Lee Myers
June 12, 2010
("And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” Revelation 16:12)
SIBA, Iraq--The Shatt al Arab, the river that flows from the biblical site of the Garden of Eden to the Persian Gulf, has turned into an environmental and economic disaster that Iraq's newly democratic government is almost powerless to fix.
Withered by decades of dictatorial mismanagement and then neglect, by drought and the thirst of Iraq's neighbors, the river formed by the convergence of the Tigris and the Euphrates no longer has the strength the keep the sea at bay.
The salt water of the gulf now pushes up the Faw peninsula. Last year, for the first time in memory, it extended beyond Basra, Iraq's biggest port city, and even Qurna, where the two rivers meet. It has ravaged fresh-water fisheries, livestock, crops and groves of date palms that once made the area famous, forcing the migration of tens of thousands of farmers.
In a land of hardship and resignation and deep faith, the disaster along the Shatt al Arab appears to some as the work of a higher power. "We can't control what God does," said Rashid Thajil Mutashar, the deputy director of water resources in Basra.
But man has had a hand in the river's decline. Turkey, Syria and Iran have all harnessed the headwaters that flow into the Tigris and Euphrates and ultimately into the Shatt al Arab, leaving Iraqi officials with little to do but plead for them to release more from their modern networks of dams.
The environment problem became particularly acute last year when Iran cut the flow entirely from the Karun River, which meets the Shatt south of Basra, for 10 months. The flow resumed after the winter rains, but at a fraction of earlier levels.
In the 1980s Iran and Iraq fought over the Shatt al Arab, which forms the southernmost border between the countries and is still littered with the rusting hulks of sunken ships from that war. Now, despite improved relations after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the river has once again become a source of diplomatic tension.
"The water is from God," said Mohammed Sadoon, a farmer and fisherman in the village of Abu Khasib, who sold two water buffaloes last year because he could no longer provide them with potable water from the Shatt. "They shouldn't seize it from us."
Iraq's minister of water resources, Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, said that the environmental problems and the disputes over water rights were a lingering legacy of dictatorship.
Mr. Hussein diverted the southerly flow of water into a trench during the war with Iran and drained the marshlands of southern Iraq in the 1990s. His belligerence toward Iraq's neighbors also left the country isolated--and then weakened--when those countries built their dams, siphoning off what for millenniums flowed through Mesopotamia, the land of the two rivers.
"Iraq was in a position neither to reject nor to cooperate with them," he said in an interview in his office in Baghdad. "They did what they wanted to do."
In Basra and in the villages that cling to the Iraqi shore of the Shatt, the impact of the disaster has been profound. The fresh waters that once flushed the canals of Basra--the Venice of the Middle East, it was called, though long ago--are fetid and filled with garbage.
The encroaching salt has so polluted supplies of drinking water that the government has scrambled to dig canals from the north that bypass the Shatt--Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki inaugurated one ahead of this year's national election--and to truck in fresh water to much of the region. Anyone who can afford it avoids tap water, which is salty enough to leave spots on a glass when it dries.
Mr. Mutashar said that Iraq's acceptable level of salt in the Shatt's fresh water was 1,500 parts per million; last year the level reached 12,000.
Faris Jassim al-Imara, a chemist at the University of Basra's Marine Science Center, said he had recorded levels as high as 40,000 parts per million, as well as heavy metals and other pollutants flowing from the north and from Iran's oil refinery at Abadan, where enormous pipes steadily discharge waste water.
"It's killing the river and the people," he said. Here in Siba, across the river from Abadan, the salt water is slowly destroying agriculture, the primary source of income other than oil.
Jalal Fakhir, who with his brothers farms a plot of land that has been in his family for decades, lost his grape vines, five apricot trees, and his entire crop of okra, cucumbers and eggplants. The new date palms he planted two years ago have died; the older ones have held on, but their branches are yellowing, while the annual crop of dates has become meager.
Walking in his emaciated groves, he said, "This used to be paradise."
Love hormone Oxytocin helps soldiers like each other and hate the enemy
Soldiers form loyal "Bands of Brothers" fighting and dying for each other because they have the same instincts that cause mothers to ferociously protect their newborns, a study suggests.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent -
Published:11 Jun 2010
Researchers have found that in the heat of battle they have the same chemicals running through their bloodstreams as protective mothers, meaning they develop incredibly strong bonds with each other but become extremely aggressive to outsiders.
The effect resolves around the hormone oxytocin which is released at times of stress and when people socialise with each other.
But the scientists have found that this chemical, often referred to as the love or bonding hormone, also makes them - like mothers - incredibly aggressive to outsiders.
Using a computer simulation game they found that volunteers given a spray of the hormone bonded more quickly and deeply with their own group but became much more hostile to outsiders.
Dr Carsten De Dreu, of the University of Amsterdam, said that the phenomenon was known as "parochial altruism" or "tend and defend".
This meant that boosted levels of oxytocin produced "in-group love" and "out-group aggression", he said.
Dr De Dreu, who published the findings in Science, said: "Oxytocin is a double edged sword. It makes you kinder to your group but more aggressive to those outside."
Dr De Dreu thinks that the production of oxytocin, which increases at times of stress and in new mothers, has evolved since hunter gathering times when food was scarce and groups had to compete to survive.
He said: "Being aggressive to threatening out-groups makes you a hero, loyal and a patriot to your own group."
Holly Arrow, an expert in the psychology of war at the University of Oregon, said: "Oxytocin is perhaps an important pathway that bonds men together and makes them ready to defend the group."
In three experiments, all on male volunteers, they compared the choices of individuals who received a dose of oxytocin via nasal spray with those who received a placebo.
The volunteers were assigned to three-person groups and introduced to a game in which they made confidential decisions that had financial consequences for themselves, their fellow group members and the competing groups.
The results indicated that oxytocin drives a "tend and defend" response, promoting in-group trust and co-operation and defensive, but not offensive, aggression toward competing out-groups.
The hormone appears to have this effect regardless of how naturally co-operative people are.
Radio ghost mystery at former RAF station
World War Two radio continues to pick up vintage broadcasts despite not having any power.
04 June 2010
Radio mystery: The Pye wireless with Marie Paton whose father owned it
A 70-year-old radio at a Scottish heritage centre has been picking up vintage broadcasts featuring Winston Churchill and the music of Glen Miller.
The Pye valve wireless at Montrose Air Station, a heritage centre that tells the story of the men and women who served there, has no power and is not connected to any source of electricity.
The aerodrome has been a source of paranormal sightings and sounds for almost a century, with reports of ghostly figures, eerie footsteps and door handles turning, but the mysterious wireless broadcasts have had even the most sceptical staff at the station searching for a rational explanation.
The vintage radio set is kept in a recreation of a 940s room. Several people have heard Second World War era broadcasts including the big band sound of the Glenn Miller orchestra and speeches by Winston Churchill. The broadcasts come on at random and can last for up to half an hour.
Technicians who examined it removed the back, but found "nothing but cobwebs and spiders".
My John Wooden Story
June 10, 2010
I have been around the rich and famous for most of my career while never joining them in richness or fame. I often tell my boys that celebrity too often ruins the offspring of the famous. So I dramatically inform my three sons that I have "taken the burden of mediocrity on my career to save them from such a fate". They seem to doubt my sincerity. But if I had to make a choice I would quickly choose for them to be solid citizens, good men and authentic followers of Jesus rather than for me to be a famous author or director.
A very large number of the rich and famous I have observed have been disappointing, and it is often in one particular area: How they treat those who have nothing to offer them. I watched a well-known Christian sports figure consistently be condescending to service people and waiters. I was saddened as a famous Christian athlete profanely addressed a young TV crew member who simply asked for a moment of his time.
Thank God some celebrities handle fame with grace and class. I never saw Nolan Ryan respond in a rude or dismissing way to any fan or media member. The recently deceased Ernie Harwell treated princes and paupers exactly the same. Coach John Wooden was another celebrity who handled his fame with amazing class. I had a brief season of my life where I got to see the man up close and he passed my test for how he treated "the least of these".
A little background is in order. In the late 70's Athletes in Action fielded a barnstorming basketball team of Christian athletes that played some of the best teams in the NCAA. I was the radio play by play announcer for that team. At halftime the players would tell their story about their faith to the audience. They defeated then number one San Francisco and number three UNLV in one memorable stretch. UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian once said after a blowout loss to AIA, "They beat you up in the first half, pray for you at halftime, then beat you up in the second half."
Athletes in Action put together a television network to cover those big games. For reasons I still don't understand they picked me to do the television play by play. Most likely it was a lack of budget. And then they announced that the color analyst for my first game would be recently retired legend John Wooden. He was the only man to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. The Wizard of Westwood had won an unprecedented 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years. And he was beginning his broadcast career with me, the former morning voice of WCHI in Chillicothe, Ohio.
I accompanied the executive producer and director to the airport to pick up Coach Wooden for a production meeting. He immediately flashed that warm smile and greeted us all. When we walked to the car to head to our meeting I learned a lot about Coach Wooden. We were driving a small Toyota and it was a bit cramped for my 6'5" frame. I started to climb into the back and Coach gently grabbed me.
"No, you are too tall to get back there. You ride up front where there is more leg room. I'll get in the back."
So I watched as a 67 year old Hall of Fame coach crawled into the back seat so that a 25 year old nobody would be more comfortable. That was John Wooden. And I have never forgotten that image. The "Wizard of Westwood" crammed into the back without a complaint for the comfort of a kid he had just met.
I got to work one season with Coach Wooden as my analyst. Later I would read his books and come across thoughts like this.
"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights."
And I realized that John Wooden didn't say things that he didn't live. That is why so many people loved him. He was selfless and kind. He was an important influence in my desire to be authentic. One of Coach Wooden's most famous quotes was this one.
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
I am just one of thousands of people who were influenced by the life of John Wooden. It will be humbling for him in heaven to see the impact of his life. A life that well lived is a treasure for all of us to enjoy. Coach Wooden said this about what really matters.
"Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters."
As John Wooden finished his race on earth he might well have quoted another selfless man named Paul.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4, NLT)
Enjoy the prize, Coach. You fought well and remained faithful to the end. Thanks for your example.
In Psalm sixty-one, David prayed, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings."
If you are not sure you are abiding in God and He in you, you can make sure by simply asking and inviting Him to abide in you and you in Him. To do this you simply pray a short prayer of invitation such as this one.
"Dear Jesus, I know I have done wrong in my life, I ask that you please forgive my sins, and come into my heart and give me eternal life, and that You would abide with me and I with You forever. Amen!"
That's all there is to it. If you have sincerely prayed that, or a similar prayer you have eternal life, and your future is assured with Him.
Until next week...
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
(1 Peter 1:23)