Friday, January 15, 2010

Some Good News from Haiti

The following came from my good friend, Pastor Ken Ackerman. He is our Outreach/Missions Pastor at South Brandon Worship Center:

Thank you Lord Jesus for your faithfulness and protection of those we love.

I have confirmation from 2 sources that all the children in the orphanage are OK. The back wall around the orphanage fell down and there might be some other structural damages to the buildings.

One source has spoke to Pastor Lucien directly and he is OK as well.

I have wept again over this good news. I am overwhelmed right now with appreciation and relief. Thank you Lord Jesus for your grace.

Lord bring healing to the land of Haiti.

Luke 4:18

PS: If you wish to make a donation for relief, please make your check to :

South Brandon Worship Center (Haiti Fund)
4929 Bell Shoals Rd
Valrico, FL. 33596

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayers for Children in Haiti

From Pastor Cindy Ackerman:
As you know, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The epicenter was only 10 miles southwest of Port-Au-Prince. The Ambassadors of Jesus Children's Home and Church is located about 2 miles north of the international airport in what we would consider to be suburban Port-Au-Prince. As of this moment, we have been unable to reach Pastor Lucien or anyone else in the orphanage or church. However, our Lord Jesus Christ is fully aware of what is happening. Your prayers are critical at this time. If you are not in a group that is meeting tonight, (Men Who Want More, Ladies Leadership, Girlfriends in God or Youth) please join Pastor Ken in the worship center at 7:00 pm for prayer. The groups who are meeting will also be praying for Haiti.

Ambassadors of Jesus is our sister church, and I can personally assure you that they regularly pray for us. Now it is our great privilege and honor to pray for them. I look forward to the testimonies of God's great power, mercy and love!

From Pastor Ken Ackerman:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of South Brandon ,

I am sure you are aware of the tragedy that occurred in Port au Prince, Haiti . I have wept over the horribleness of all this. The suffering is more than I can imagine. I still hold on by faith and know that the Lord loves these people even more than we do. Please join with me tonight at 7 p.m. in the Worship Center to pray for Haiti and the orphanage that we support there. For those of you who are already meeting tonight, please include them in your prayers. I have attached a prayer outline for all of us to pray.

I have not been able to get through to Pastor Lucien to asses the possible damage to the orphanage, but I am sure this area of Port au Prince was affected gravely. The Lord reminded me that our relationship goes much further than just the orphanage, and I am recalling and praying for many people that I have come to know and love throughout the country.

I am asking you all to come to action now.

Please start praying for all the Haitian people affected.

Ask the Lord to have good come out of this tragedy. Pray that the world's awareness of Haiti 's needs will come into more light now. In the name of Jesus, I am asking for all countries of the world to respond to Haiti .

Please pray about giving to our Haitian relief fund that starts on Sunday. Your checks can be made to SBWC – please indicate “For Haiti ” in the memo section.

Pray that the food I shipped on Monday arrived by Tuesday before the quake.

I will keep you informed as I get more information.

Lord, please help our people!, PLEASE PROTECT THE CHILDREN

In His Name,
Pastor Ken
Luke 4:18

Prayer Guide for Haiti

The Ambassadors of Jesus Ministry , led by Apostle Lucien Almanord is closely united with South Brandon Worship Center . We are spiritual partners in the advancement of the Kingdom of God . Pastor Lucien has been in our pulpit many times, and many of our members have been to Haiti on a variety of mission adventures. Pastors Ken and Chuck have preached in Pastor Lucien’s church. Our bond is a strong one. It is our duty, privilege and great honor to intercede for them in this time of great need and devastation in Haiti . This morning as I was praying, I began to sing and weep over the nation as the images of the crushed and broken buildings came to mind. In my worship time, I declared God’s faithfulness, mercy and love to the nation of Haiti and especially the children and workers of the Ambassadors of Jesus. So as you pray ask the Lord for:

1. Mercy and compassion. Lamentations 3:22-24

2. Aid and assistance from the Church and the nations. Isaiah 58:6-12 and Isaiah60.

3. Salvation and cleansing of the people and the land. Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 6:2 and 2 Chronicles 7:14

4. Healing and Deliverance. 2 Timothy 1:7 Ephesians 6:10-18

5. Faith and Hope. Matthew 17:20, Mark 10:27,Psalm 33: 18-22 , Psalm 126, Psalm 34 and 1 Thess. 5:8-11

6. An Army of Intercessors: Luke 18:1-8

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Notes from Lifework Leadership Integrity Case Study

This morning I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in Lifework Leadership - Tampa Bay's session on integrity. Below are some of the notes that I used in this morning's presentation. I will probably come back to edit these notes because there were other thoughts worth sharing, that I did not have the opportunity to address given the time limit of the presentation.

Views regarding values, character, integrity shaped at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. With the exception of Army Ranger School (which I did not finish), West Point was the toughest thing that I did in my life. At West Point I was challenged physically, mentally, and still had to maintain a level of military bearing. As a plebe or freshman, I had to endure boxing, where I employed the strategy of trying to injure the other guys hands with my head. Then there was gymnastics where I was certainly not the most coordinated person in the world. During competitions/Olympics, you would see the athletes scoring 8s, 9s, etc. At West Point the instructors usually gave me a low 2 or a high 2. And there was swimming, where they made us swim 500 meters, in full BDUs with boots. I think it took me the entire class time to complete that task.

West Point’s motto is Duty, Honor & Country. During time there between 1982-1986 I sat through many lectures and discussions on the subject. About a year or two before passing away, General Douglas MacArthur delivered one of his most famous speeches at West Point, which began by quoting the motto Duty, Honor, Country. This was a speech that he delivered with passion, and no notes. We did not have to memorize the entire speech, but there is one memorable excerpt that we were required to recite.

Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to
be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

West Point’s definition of duty is doing what ought to be done, when it should be done, without being told to do so, and with a spirit of service.
-- This is taught from a gradual process beginning with following orders at the lowest level, and moving to leading people and giving instruction.
-- Lots of time invested in teaching cadets how to understand this concept of duty.

The other aspect is instruction on honor. At West Point, the cadets are required to live by an honor code, which is: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.
-- Like duty, a significant amount of time is spent in lectures and small group instruction learning about these concepts.
-- At West Point, honor is taking very seriously.
-- A cadet who is caught violating the honor code will get kicked out of the academy.
--- This is a system that is run by cadets, not by the officers. However, built into the system, the West Point Superintendent (a 3 star general) will review each case before a final determination is made by the Academy as to whether a cadet is separated. There is also a procedure that would allow a cadet to have his case reviewed by the Secretary of the Army. The Superintendent and Secretary rarely overturned a decision to separate a cadet for an honor violation.

Then there is also the Cadet Prayer. There was a time when West Point cadets had to memorize this prayer, but that was no longer a requirement when in the early 1970s, due to a Supreme Court decision, West Point had to abandon mandatory chapel. I did not memorize the cadet prayer, but there is one line that stands out.

Make us to choose the harder right than the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.

These views also spill over in the Army, where things like honor, duty, integrity, courage and respect are taught to soldiers.

Looking back I definitely see the importance of these concepts both at the academy and in the Army. Unfortunately, there is one component that is missing. For West Point and the Army to produce leaders with integrity, the faith component is essential. To me a relationship God is the one thing that would allow a person to be able to hold onto his/her integrity in difficult situations. There were many times instances in which honorable men, including West Pointers, who encountered moral failure in difficult situations. Faith is certainly encouraged in the military, but there are limits because of we live under this concept of separation of church and state. Indeed, when West Point had to abandon mandatory chapel, the administration asked how are we going to instruct the cadets on integrity. Of course, it does not work unless the individual is willing to yield himself/herself to the Lord. Otherwise, you have someone who is mechanically following a set of rules, without purpose. That is the problem with religion and legalism.

In the military, as many know you have the chain of command. Privates, report to Sergeants, who report to First Sergeant, Sergeant Major, Lieutenants, Captains, etc.

With my West Point background and also having a father who served in the Army, I understood respecting the chain of command. It was not in my nature to ignore or contradict those in authority over me. Still, during my time in the military I was confronted with challenges that made me question whether I was doing the right thing.

Fort Benning – School of Americas Story
Multiple units were located at Fort Benning for training, including the US Army School of Americas(“USARSA” aka SOA). At USARSA, Latin-American allied nations would send their soldiers to Fort Benning for training American style. In 1988, I was temporarily assigned to USARSA to assist in the training of Salvadoran Officer Candidates. In El Salvador, officers normally come from their military academy. The class had a total of 81 officer candidates and lasted about 6 months. Working with me were 2 other American officers and 3 Salvadoran officers. About ¾ through the course, there was discussion about sending some of these candidates home because it was felt that they were not meeting the challenges of the training. This challenge was raised by the 3 Salvadoran officers. Some of us however, were skeptical and suspected this was an attempt to railroad some of the officer candidates out of the course.

The challenge presented to us was whether we should concede to the findings of the Salvadoran officers, thus failing the group of about 6 candidates or should we object. We interviewed the questionable candidates and decided that 3 should stay and conceded that 3 should be dismissed. Instead of a decision being made at our level, a formal conference was held with Salvadoran and American senior officers (around the rank of colonel). Long story short, we advocated on behalf of the 3 that we believed should remain in the course and they were allowed to stay.

Approximately, 2 weeks later, I was confronted by an American colonel (also a West Point graduate) who was not happy with how the conference went. He accused us of being poor hosts because we all 3 American officers contradicted the opinions of the 3 Salvadoran officers.

South American Story

A few years later, I was stationed in Panama. A platoon of about 30 American soldiers went to South America for joint training with a South American airborne battalion (approximately 500 soldiers). I was required to lead a team of approximately 10 soldiers to provide service support for the training – i.e., we provided cooks, medics, maintenance support, and ammunition. As part of the exercise, the South American army used some of our materials including ammunition. We probably used about 2/3 of the ammunition that was allocated for this particular training exercise. Thus, for accountability purposes we were required to send the remaining ammunition home. The American colonel that was in charge of this exercise wanted to do a favor for the South American colonel that commanded the airborne battalion. He wanted to let him have the remaining ammunition for their own training exercises. Although may not seem like a big thing, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Army was very serious about ammunition. There was always a requirement to keep an accurate count of ammunition used and ammunition available. The challenge here was do I say yes sir to colonel and let the extra ammunition stay in South America. I told the colonel no. He was disappointed, as well as his South American counterpart. From my observation, maintaining accountability with ammunition was a serious business. The colonel asked me to break the rules to do a favor for his counterpart. Also, if I did the alternative, I would have to face the soldiers and tell them that it is okay to bend the rules because the colonel said so.

Law Practice
It goes without saying that I strive to conduct myself with integrity with respect to the practice of law. Regarding the cases, I try to be upfront with clients and potential clients so that they do not get a false sense of security. I try to present them with both the strengths and weaknesses of their case. If I believe that chances for success are not there, I try to explain that as early as possible. Again, I do not want to give my clients false hope or waste their time, and money.

I admit that I do not get things right all the time. Still, I try to do my best to conduct myself with integrity in the legal practice. People respect that, and more importantly, it reflects well on my witness to others.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brit Hume Thrown to the Lions . . . But He is Right (Tiger's Confession Part 2)

Here is another post on the Tiger Woods saga. During a panel on Fox News, the question of Tiger's return to the PGA Tour was discussed. Brit Hume suggested that Tiger will recover as a golfer, but he will not be able to save his family (more later). Hume suggested that Tiger should abandon Buddhism and embrace Christianity.

Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

While Brit's statement was direct, and commendable, I am not sure he was direct enough. Some may ask how can you be more direct than what Brit Hume stated. In part, I would direct the reader to my post below entitled "Tiger's Confession." I would further note that there is a difference between simply going to Church on Sunday and turning to the Christian faith, as opposed to truly walking it out. Tiger not only needs to follow Brit's suggestion. He needs to find someone to be a Paul to him and help him truly grow in his faith. A few weeks ago, Herm Edwards added his take, which lines up with something that I posted here a while back. (See "Need for Accountability")

Britt Hume is telling Tiger to follow Jesus, and Herm Edwards is telling him to choose the right friends. These are messages that Americans do not like to hear. If anyone is paying attention, I am sure that both Herm Edwards and Brit Hume will draw criticism . . . for telling the truth.

Last thought. On a side note, I believe that it is possible for Tiger to reconnect with his family. It will be difficult, but he can salvage his marriage. I recommend watching "Fireproof" and going through the 40-day "Love Dare." Despite his many mistakes, supernatural transformation is possible.

Edit: 1/5/09 - First point. I've always enjoyed watching Tiger Woods golf since he began his career in the mid 1990s. I also followed the bio on how his dad spent time investing in his life to make him a great golfer. Against that background, it has always been my personal take that he should stay out of the Buddhist Temples. In essense, Brit Hume hit the nail on its head. Next, take a look at Ray Comfort's observations on Brit's Advice to Tiger Woods.


And the lions are showing their teeth. Guess who just was added to the prayer list.

See: Ann Coulter's "If You Can Find a Better Deal, Take It!" She is close but off on a few comments, but in the ballpark.