Thursday, July 3, 2008


Almost 30 years ago I first heard this reading in a patriotic musical and it stirred my heart back then. It still does today.

In the years since then, I’ve become more concerned about my other citizenship and the advancement of my King’s agenda. But every time the 4th of July rolls around I still swell with pride at what our forefathers were able to conceive and create.

Philadelphia! 1776! Fifty-six men met together and signed a new document. That parchment was to stand forever as a partnership between the living and the dead, and the yet unborn. We call it the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

There is a price tag on liberty. You will recall the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states: "We must mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor." The fifty-six signatures on the Declaration of Independence were kept secret for one half year because the gallant fifty-six who made that promise knew when they signed that they were risking EVERYTHING! If they won the fight, the best they could expect would be years of hardship in a struggling new nation. And if they lost ... they'd face a hangman's noose as traitors.
Now these were men of means, well educated. Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants; nine were farmers and owners of large plantations. But they signed the pledge and they did indeed pay the price.

In the Pennsylvania state house, now called Independence Hall, the best men from each of our colonies sat down together. On June 11th, a committee was formed to draw up a Declaration of Independence. We were going to tell our British fatherland, "no more rule by redcoats."
Thomas Jefferson finished the draft of that declaration in seventeen days. Congress adopted it on July 4, 1776. That much is familiar history.

Now here is the documented fate of the heroic fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence:

Of the fifty-six, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes looted or destroyed by the enemy. Nine of the fifty-six died in the war from its hardships and its bullets. Wealthy planter and trader Carter Braxton of Virginia saw his ships swept from the sea in battle. To pay his debts he sold his home and all his properties. He died in rags.

Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and hiding.

Thomas Nelson Jr. raised two million dollars on his own signature to provision our allies, the French Fleet. After the war he wiped out his entire estate paying back the loans. He was never reimbursed by the government. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave. Thomas Nelson Jr. pledged his life, his fortune, his sacred honor.

John Hart was driven from his dying wife's bedside. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the war to find his wife dead, his children gone and his property worthless. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.

John Hancock, one of the wealthiest men in New England, stood outside Boston one terrible night of the war and said, "Burn, Boston, burn! Though it makes John Hancock a beggar, burn!" He too lived up to the pledge.

I don't know what impression you had of the men who met that hot summer night in Philadelphia, but I think it's important that we remember this about them: They were not poor men or wild-eyed pirates. They were basically rich men who enjoyed ease and luxury in their personal living. They were not hungry men - they were wealthy and prosperous. But they considered LIBERTY so much more important than security that they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They fulfilled the pledge ... they paid the price ... and freedom was born!

Adapted from WHAT PRICE FREEDOM by Derric Johnson

I hope that after reading this adaption from this musical you will ask yourself: “How much am I willing to give to keep our country free?”

Finally, let remember to thank God for the men and women who have voluntarily stepped up to the task of serving in our country’s armed services.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Dr. Val

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I found this article on a website recently. It was reported that at the Enterprise 2.0 conference Don Burke and Sean Dennehey from the CIA gave a talk on Intellipedia, the CIA’s internal wikipedia. As part of their talk, they cited a manual, including, I’m told, this from page 28:

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Their point was that these instructions come from a 1944 manual on how to sabotage a business.

Another blogger saw this same article and commented that these same eight points could also be used to sabotage a church from the inside out.

I got to thinking about my 25 years of ministry experience and realized that he was right. I’ve dealt with leaders who couldn’t lead people out of a paper bag. They would refer every decision to a committee. I’ve experienced windbags who loved to hear themselves pontificate. Every time they opened their mouths you knew that they had a speech to make and often an ax to grind, often bringing up irrelevant issues causing the committee to spend the meeting rabbit trailing for much of the meeting.

I remember one church where decisions were never settled (even after a vote) unless certain people got their way. If they didn’t, you could count on the issue being brought up again and again until they finally got their way.

At a recent ministry hours and hours were spent working on wording for memos and memorandums in an attempt to “get it just right!” Some people advocated reasonableness over a willingness to seek God’s way and to step into the way of the numinous where human reason is often set aside in favor of doing things God’s way that seems foolish and unreasonable to man.

The final group of leaders I call handwringers. These people are always worried about the appropriateness and “rightness” of their decision. This constant worry causes these leaders to stall every decision until they were sure that everyone was on board. A church could die waiting for their leaders to lead.

Is this sabotage due to human frailty, or human intrigue? Is it possible that there are spiritual dimensions in the sabotage of our churches?

The answer to all of these questions is – yes!

Leaders, we need to lead our flocks and follow our Leader

Dr. Val