Trust: one of the simplest words in the English language, yet one of the hardest concepts to learn. It’s so easy to say we trust God when we are laying in a soft bed with a fluffy pillow, with a whole fridge full of food downstairs, and money in the bank after all the bills are paid. But when all of that is torn away, will you still trust God? Will you rest in Him, knowing that He can and will provide for your every need? Can you withstand the pain you feel when comfort, whether physical or emotional, is worlds away?

God says He loves us, and He chastens those He loves. We’ve all heard it: “It’s in your darkest moment that you grow closer to God,” or “It’s outside your comfort zone that you will grow the most.” But it hurts to grow. It’s painful to step outside that comfort zone. It’s lonely in that dark moment.

For those of you in that dark moment, that time of growth, don’t give up. Fight the good fight. Run the race. Press toward your high calling from God. Relinquish the control of your life that you so desperately hold on to.

He will NEVER leave you. He’s always right beside you. Reach through the darkness. Call through the pain. You can’t always feel Him, or hear Him whispering words of peace. But that’s when He’s nearer than ever. He’s ready to catch you when you fall. He’s guiding you, even when you don’t realize it. Keep believing. Remain faithful. Trust God.


Free Speech isn’t Free

David Benham, from the TV show Benham Brothers, once said, “We need to disagree. This is what makes America great” (Stossel). However, people nowadays are not so willing to disagree. In fact, freedom of speech, granted to American citizens by the U.S. Constitution, has seemed to be under fire in the past few decades. It may even be said that freedom of speech is no longer free to all, but free to those who are not opposition.

In modern America, I have observed that three different type of people concerning freedom of speech: people who are afraid of offending others, which, as a consequence,  are not vocal about what they believe in; people who really don’t care and as a result are allowing our freedoms to be taken away; and people who force their beliefs on others by not being open to listening to anything that may disagree with what they believe.

It is not uncommon to find the latter group of people in our school system.  As James Madison once said, “Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against craft and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” The problem that we are facing in modern America is that schools aren’t “throwing that light over the public mind,” they are indoctrinating them into thinking that freedom is not a good thing and that big government is the answer to all of our problems. The communist, Vladimir Lenin understood this concept when he said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Liberal propaganda is being sown in a child’s mind from an early age. Children as early as seventh grade have been exposed to the methods of homosexuality (Beattie). In a local incident, a high school student got in trouble for wearing a t-shirt that had a Confederate flag on it because it offended the teacher. When that student refused to turn the shirt inside-out because he felt that to do so was a violation of his free speech, he was expelled.

Colleges and Universities are continuing the limitation of free speech in the education system. In the video Censored in America, Kirsten Powers, author of The Silencing, says, “Offensive speech on campus is having a non-liberal view” (Stossel). I personally know two people who have faced challenges because they dared to disagree with their liberally-minded teachers.

The first is a friend of mine. During a psychology class, students were expected to write a paper on the effects that actions have on mental health. My friend chose to write his paper on the controversial issue of abortion and the psychological side effects that may occur. When a fellow classmate was offended by the subject, the teacher informed my friend that he could not write on the topic of abortion’s psychological effects and that if he ever tried to bring the subject up in the class again, she would fail him. My friend, not one to be intimidated, stood his ground and submitted his paper on the psychological effects of abortion. Not surprisingly, the paper returned with a failing grade. Wanting a second opinion, he took his paper to his English professor, who, after looking it over, said that it was not deserving of a failing grade. He then spoke to the president of the college and the situation was straightened out. A substitute teacher assumed the responsibility of the class for the rest of the semester.

The second, more recent incident concerning the limitation of free speech on campuses involved my brother. While working on a group project for a business communications class, my brother and his fellow group members were informed that the issue on which they had chosen to present to the class, the dangers of gun control, was too “political.” Not wanting to cause any problems, the group changed their subject to a less controversial issue. However, when they presented their project in class, they found that another group in the class had not only chosen, but presented the political issue of fracking from a liberal viewpoint without any problems.

Freedom comes with a price. Maybe that price is offending someone or failing a class because you dared to speak what you believe. Mark Steyn, author of Lights Out, once said in an interview with John Stossel, “The spirit of liberty manifests itself in people’s willingness to get outraged.” If we are no longer allowed or courageous enough to speak freely, or “get outrage,” the essence of what makes America great is lost. America was founded upon the principle of liberties, including the liberty to say whatever you want. Without that liberty, we are bound, as slaves, to the whims of the politicians in control. As George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”


Beattie, James. “Angry Parents Stand Up To School Board.” Western Journalism, 2015. Web. 1 Dec 2015.

“John Stossel – Censored in America.” Stossel in the Classroom, 2015. Web. 19 Nov 2015.

This Republic of Suffering

I realized that it had been awhile since I posted anything on the blog, so here is a paper I wrote covering the suffering that occurred during the American Civil War:

The American Civil War is, to this day, the bloodiest war that America has ever been involved in. It claimed the lives of approximately 620,000 Americans between the years of 1861 and 1865. According to Drew Gilpin Faust, this number is equal to the total number of American casualties in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined. In the battle of Shiloh alone, 24,000 fatalities occurred. Such astounding losses would, in fact, change the face of our young nation. There were many challenges and changes that Americans faced during this time of trial. The first of which would be overcoming the barrier for one to die a “Good Death” (Faust).

During the 19th century, it was expected that when an individual’s time to leave this world came, he/she would be surrounded by friends and family. This allowed the departing to expose their spiritual state to assure their loved ones that they would pass out of this world into the safe arms of The LORD. By doing so, the family would be comforted (Faust).

The Civil War, however, disrupted this tradition. Young men would suddenly die on the battlefield with no one to comfort them in their transition from this world to the next. To compensate this feeling of loneliness, the dying would remove pictures of their family members to speak their last words to. Some soldiers would write a letter to their family in advance and carry it with them to be forwarded after they died (Faust).

Comrades of the departed soldier did their best to reenact the scene to the family to assure them of his spiritual state. These letters would comfort the grieving a little, but nothing could replace the satisfaction of being there at the moment of passing. Families would be left to imagine their loved one’s last moments, never really knowing for sure if their loved one was safe in the arms of Jesus (Faust).

Unlike today where many cower at the thought of dying, soldiers during the Civil War faced death with courage. They were willing to die for the cause of “masculinity, patriotism, and religion.” As Faust says in her book:

“Soldier,” a confederate chaplain reminded his troops in 1863, “your business is to die.” Men in the Civil War America went to war talking of glory and conquest, of saving or creating a nation, and of routing the enemy. But at the heart of the soldier’s understanding of his duty rested the notion of sacrifice. E.G. Abbot was far from alone when he explained his motivation for entering the Union army. “I came into this war,” he wrote, “to lay down my life. As a Confederate soldier prayed, “my first desire should be not that I might escape death but that my death should help the cause of the right to triumph.” (Faust)

Another difficulty that Americans were forced to overcome was that of killing. How could an individual who claimed to be a Christian go to battle and kill other humans? This was the question that many Americans faced. Some tried to explain this feeling away by saying that the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” did not apply to the killing that occurred during war. Still soldiers struggled to grope with this concept. It has been suggested that the aversion to kill could be the cause of 24,000 loaded rifles that were found on the battlefield after Gettysburg. This conviction also resulted in one Confederate soldier’s refusal to kill. Faust elaborates:

Instead of aiming at the enemy, he shot straight up into the air while “praying as lustily as ever one of Cromwell’s Roundhead’s prayed.” When his captain threatened to shoot him, a comrade reported his reply: “You can kill me if you want to, but I am not going to appear before my God with the blood of my fellow man on my soul.” Willing to remain “exposed to every volley of the enemy’s fire,” the soldier was ready to give his life rather than take that of another. (Faust)

Other soldiers convinced themselves that killing was acceptable, using the excuse that it was in self-defense or vengeance. The Union was attacking in vengeance for slavery, while the Confederates were defending their rights. For others, it became a game of sorts. Faust explains:

Frank Coker of Georgia tried to explain to his wife how despite battle’s horrors, “there is an excitement, a charm, an inspiration in it that makes on wish to be where it is going on.” For some men from rural areas, battle took on the character of the hunt, with its sense of sport and pleasure. A Texas officer exulted as the enemy fell before him, “Oh this is fun to lie here and shoot them down.” To a Union soldier near Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, in 1862, battle “seemed like play for we would be laughing and talking to each other yelling and firing away. One fellow would say ‘Watch me pop that fellow.’ Another fellow said, ‘I dropped a six foot secesh.’ (Faust)

Still yet, another method of excusing all of the killing was by dehumanization. For example, blacks were not recognized as humans, therefore it was okay to kill them. In fact, this belief was taken to the point of not burying the blacks who were killed, but rather, they left them on the battlefield to rot. This only fueled the black’s excuse for the killing: to be seen as human beings, not mere property (Faust).

With so much killing, the question of what to do with the dead remains became of significance to Americans. Obviously, it was near impossible to bury each man individually. There were several different attempts to solve this problem.

Friends and comrades of the deceased would do their best to provide a proper burial for the deceased. A barrier would be placed between the corpse and body when burial took place to distinguish the fact that their friend was a human, not a mere animal. They would do their best to provide markers for the burial plot. Most of the time, these markers were made of trees, wood, or stones (Faust).

Those who came from wealthy families were privileged to be sent home to be buried. It was during this time that embalmment became a popular method of preserving the body to allow the family to have closure. Other methods of preservation such as refrigeration was used during this time. However, this method proved to be unsuccessful (Faust).

The dead and dying that were left on the field after a battle was left to the responsibility of the victor. Generally, deceased officers of the defeated army would be traded for the remains of their own officers from previous battles. However, privates were not so privileged (Faust).

One way of disposal of the corpses was by forcing prisoners of war to bury their own dead. This allowed the victor the enjoyment of seeing the captives squirm as they buried their dead friends and comrades (Faust).

Probably the most common method of disposal was by digging a pit and throwing the corpses from the opposing army into it. However, this created an almost impossible task of later accounting for the dead (Faust).

This is what led to Congress passing an act containing standards for dealing with the corpses. Special graves registration units were sent out to record where men were buried. This would allow families to come and retrieve the remains of their loved ones when the war was over (Faust).

Soldiers knew that it was possible that in the possibility of dying, there was a possibility of never being identified. Thieves would scurry over a battlefield in search of valuables. Opposing soldiers would strip the dead of much needed clothing. Sometimes, it would just be impossible to identify a corpse due to the extent of wounds received. In an effort to secure their identity, soldiers came up with some ingenious methods of identification (Faust).

Soldier identification badges were first introduced during this time. Those who could not afford these badges would scribble their names on a piece of scrap paper and pin it to their clothing before a battle. Some wrote out who they were after being wounded, as was the case with Captain O.W. Holmes. If the soldier was unable to write their own name, nurses would accomplish this task for them (Faust).

However, these methods did not stop the inevitability that some would go unidentified. This created terror in the hearts of those with sons, brothers, and husbands in the war. The knowledge of not knowing anything about their loved one’s well-being was sometimes unbearable. As a result, families would put advertisements in the paper in hopes of hearing news, any news (Faust).

However, these searches were not always fruitful. Some men were never identified, given the term that is used for so many men who died during the Civil War, “Unknown.” Other men were blown to pieces by the advancing weaponry used during the war. This made it impossible for the body to be recovered, leaving the family innocent of their loved one’s state of being (Faust).

Sometimes, bodies would not be identified, if identified at all, until after the war. Faust expounds in the following section:

Official policy toward the dead evolved slowly over the next several years, but immediate action seemed imperative, as a matter of both decency and expediency. The longer the bodies were left without proper burial, the more vulnerable they became to depredation and the less likely they were to be identifiable. Military commanders improvised in the face of need and opportunity. In June 1965 Captain James Moore, an assistant quartermaster who had been active in fledgling graces registration efforts during the war, was ordered to the Wilderness and Spotsylvania “for the purpose of superintending the interments of the remains of Union soldiers yet unburied and marking their burial-places for future identification.” Moore found hundreds of unmarked graves, as well as skeletons that had been left for more than two years without the dignity of burial. “By exposure to the weather,” he reported, “all traces of their identity were entirely obliterated.” Summer head and “the unpleasant odor from decayed matter” prevented him from removing all bodies to a central location, but he made sure all were carefully interred, with remains appropriately “hidden from view.” On these two fields he estimated that he oversaw the burial of fifteen hundred men, although the scattering of so many bones made an exact count impossible. Solders of the U.S. Colored Troops, no yet mustered out of service, did the often repellent work. Moore reported that 785 tablets were erected over named graves, and he submitted a list of the officers and men he had identified (Faust).

This brings us to another difficulty that families would face. How does one grieve for the sudden loss of a son, brother, or husband? People used many different ways to cope with this devastation. Some never got over it, literally grieving themselves to death. Others threw themselves into finding evidence of their loved one’s death. Some carried small memoriums, such as buttons cut from the deceased’s clothing, or the bullet that killed their loved one. Others began work to improve the medical environment in the army, as was the case with Henry Bowditch after his son died from a wound that could not be properly cared for (Faust).

Women, especially, were notorious of going into mourning. To show this, they would dress in black, moving to the lighter colors of lavender or gray for around 2 years after the death of one they were close to. Some never gave into believing that their loved ones were really dead, but continually hoped that they would come home someday. Public displays became a popular method of saying goodbye. The object from which most found comfort from would be their faith (Faust).

Up to the Civil War, Heaven was depicted as a place where the saints all gathered around The Throne of GOD and ceaselessly sang praises to HIM. However, in the face of the sudden traumatic losses, people began to form a new idea of what Heaven may be like. It was no longer picturized as an on-going church service, but, rather, it was pictured as a perfected earth. It became a symbol of reuniting with loved ones who had gone on before them (Faust).

Those who were not so dedicated to their faith turned to more secular ways of confirming the happiness of their loved ones. Séances became much more popular. By being able to communicate with the dead, those still on earth could rest easy knowing that the departed was in a better place. They viewed death as merely passing through a veil into an invisible world (Faust).

Although people turned to different venues to comfort their doubts, there was still a nagging question in the hearts of many: Why did these soldiers die? What was the purpose in their death? Lincoln addressed this issue during his Second Inaugural Address in March of 1865:

…it was God, not man, who gave it [death of soldiers] meaning. An Old Testament God of justice is avenging the sins of slavery. The Civil War and its deaths are not so much sacrifice as atonement. “Yet if God wills that it continue until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (Faust).’”

Not only were these lives sacrificed in revenge for slavery, but it was also seen as a cost for victory. As Faust says, “Death was not loss, but both the instrument and the substance of victory.”

Overall, I think that the best word to describe the book, This Republic of Suffering, is sobering. Death during the American Civil War is a grievous subject. It had never really occurred to me that through the death of so many, there would need to be a way to dispose of the corpses. Nor had I thought about the psychology behind Christians killing other human beings. I found these chapters most fascinating.

I was deeply moved in reading of the sacrifice of so many for a cause they believed in. I believe that this should be required reading in every American history class, as it sheds a new light on issues that we face today.

Many Americans nowadays claim that the African Americans are due special liberties because they were forced to suffer under slavery. They say that payment needs to be made. However, after reading this book, I believe that payment has been made. Over 600,000 American lives were sacrificed during a war that ended slavery.

Whether the Civil War could have been prevented or not, no one will ever know for certain. History cannot be rewritten. The lives of those men were snuffed forever. Granted, I believe that if the federal government had just stayed out of the state’s business, slavery would have sooner or later waned as it did in European countries. However, the legacy that the American Civil War holds today cannot be forgotten. Not only does it inspire America to overcome the struggles that we face in modern times, but it also changed to face of the Nation.


Works Cited

Faust, Drew Gilpin. The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Vintage Books, 2008. Print.

Lock, Stock, and Barrel

I just wanted to share part of another great sermon from camp.

The first night of camp, Brother Thayer preached from Romans 12:1-2 which says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” He was speaking about the parts that says “present your bodies a living sacrifice” and “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

His point was this, we all know that saying “lock, stock, and barrel,” but have we ever realized what that truly means. For example, a rifle has three basic parts, a lock (trigger, hammer, etc), stock (what holds the gun together), and the barrel (the part that the bullet travels through). We are required to sell out to God “lock, stock, and barrel.” This means that we can’t hold on to ANYTHING.

You must surrender all to God. This doesn’t mean that if you surrender to be a missionary to a foreign country, that God is going to call you there, it simply means that you are willing to go should God call you.

If you are anything like me, you may be thinking that you have already surrendered all to God. But I challenge you to take a closer look. Sometimes the things that we think and say that we have surrendered are the things that we are holding onto the tightest.

Almost is only to fail

This past week has been a pretty amazing week. I was very blessed to go with my church to a Mt. Salem Revival Grounds in West Virginia for almost week. God is definitely working there, and I would recommend anyone who can to go to at least one of their evening services if they ever get the chance.

One of the messages that really hit me between the eyes was during chapel Thursday morning. Brother Tim Davenport preached on a pretty well known passage, Acts 26. In verse 28, King Agrippa said, “Almost thou persuadest (sic) me to be a Christian.” To which, Paul replied in verse 29, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

Brother Davenport’s point was that almost doesn’t count, but altogether does. It grieves me to think of all the times that I ALMOST testified, ALMOST went to the alter, ALMOST approached someone about their eternity, etc. But the key word, is “ALMOST”. You see, I didn’t do those things, and by not doing what God told me to do, I missed blessing someone with my testimony, I missed the blessing of having a heart-to-heart talk with God and leaving my burdens at the alter, and worst of all, I missed the opportunity to lead or encourage someone in their salvation.

I was thinking of the old hymn “Almost Persuaded” after the sermon. The third verse says, “Almost will not avail, almost is but to fail.”

So, the next time that God prompts you to do something, don’t delay. Don’t almost do it, just do it.

Gun Control: A Small Step Toward Government Control

So a couple of months ago my dad sent me a link to the Stossel in the Classroom’s annual essay contest on liberty. I didn’t really have anything else worth doing, so I took the challenge of writing a 500-1000 word essay on gun control. I honestly didn’t expect anything to come from it. However, today I found out otherwise. Out of the 3,500 contest entries, I placed in the  top 20 finalists. But, before you read the essay, I want to give the glory where it is due: first to God for the ability to be able to write. And secondly to my parents for the time and effort that they have sacrificed for me. Now, without further ado, the essay follows:

Gun control is one of the most hotly argued topics in America. Has the American citizen’s Second Amendment rights expired? Are guns really dangerous? Is it the government’s responsibility to keep guns out of the wrong hands, or is it the American citizens who are responsible?

Modern-day pro-gun control advocates try to argue that the Second Amendment of the Constitution is outdated and unnecessary nowadays. The Second Amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The definition of a militia is “a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country, but are trained like soldiers.” ( So, a militia is really normal Americans who know how to fight and use weapons.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

The Founding Fathers were concerned that a nation whose population lacked the right to bear arms could become subject to a tyrannical government. Adolf Hitler once said, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall.”

We now know that the Second Amendment is still applicable to America’s citizens and that the Founding Fathers intended these rights to pass from generation to generation of American citizens. So the next question is: should the government regulate the sale and ownership of weapons? Is it really necessary for government intervention?

Citizens who carry guns kill more than twice as many criminals as police. Out of that, only two percent of people shot by citizens are innocent compared to eleven percent of innocent people shot by police ( According to government statistics, over 235,000 times a year, American citizens defend themselves against life-threatening situations (

Let’s say that you are in your local grocery store, minding your own business, when you suddenly hear screaming coming from behind you. You turn around just in time to see a masked gunman pulling out his weapon. What would you do? If you carried a gun of your own, you would probably be able to at least wound the criminal enough to where he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone until the police arrived to do their job. This act would save lives. Yes, it may seem cruel, but in the end, which would be the cruelest act: to allow dozens of innocent people to be seriously wounded (both physically or psychologically) or die, or to wound the person who is dangerous and stop him from hurting those around you?

Ted Nugent, an American rock musician, once said, “Where you have the most armed citizens in America, you have the lowest violent crime rate. Where you have the worst gun control, you have the highest crime rate.” If you compare Detroit, Michigan, with some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, to Plano, Texas, without gun control, you may find this to be true. Detroit has a 54.6 murder rate compared to Plano, Texas’ rate of 0.4 (Whittle).

A country that has a well armed populace is less likely to be invaded by foreign powers. Think about it: If an army of two million invades a nation of let’s say 10 million armed citizens, do you think that the army is going to have much of a chance?

We have established that guns can save more lives than what they take. So, why is the government still putting so many restrictions on them? It was said by Andrew Ford, “Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the first allows us to find out what’s happening, the second allows us to do something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the first and then the rest of our freedoms.” Is this a prophecy of what is happening today? Is the American government trying to strip it’s citizens of their liberties and rights in order to control them?

Gun laws vary from state to state. Most states, however, require you to have a license before you can own a gun or buy ammunition. This takes both time and money to do. But, you see, this is just one small step in the direction of complete governmental control. As Stossel pointed out in his video, War on the Little Guy, government is starting to control unreasonable things like how a magician is supposed to take care of their bunny or how a tour guide in Washington D.C. has to obtain a license to know what he can and can’t say (an infringement of our First Amendment right to free speech). It may seem like a small sacrifice in the name of protection, but as Benjamin Franklin once said, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”

Works Cited

“Just for skeptics.” Gun Owners of America, 2008. Web. 13 Feb 2015.

“Militia.” Mirriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 30 Jan 2015.

Smith, Guy. “Guns and Crime Prevention.” N.p., 2014. Web. 30 Jan 2015.

Whittle, Bill. “Number One with a Bullet.” Truth Revolt, 2014. Web. 16 Feb 2015.