Category Archives: Current Events

Moment in the Spotlight

As you may already know, I am a Swedish car enthusiast. So, when I heard that SAAB owners would be having a rally for the brand at GM’s Renaissance Center in Detroit on my day off, I decided to take part. Sharon and I drove up Tuesday morning and had an interesting day. We were part of several interviews and made it into a number of newspaper pictures, articles, and even an online magazine. But the “neatest” part was when a Massachusetts state senator quoted a line from my article in his letter to the CEO of General Motors. I’m not sure we accomplished a whole lot, but with the brand on the brink of extinction, it was fun to make a public statement and to be a part of history.

Veterans Day

Last Sunday morning, one of our church elders asked all veterans to stand and give their name, branch, and years of service. Perhaps 15-20 people stood to speak. It was interesting to hear each one speak and to consider the wars in which he may have been involved. When the last one to speak was a tiny, white haired lady, I leaned forward in wonderment. Under what branch would she have served? After giving her name, this elderly woman stated that she had served in the Nurse Corp in the early 1940’s.

I appreciate all the people who have served in the military over the years. Without them we would have perished long ago. But when I think of military heroes, I generally think of a fighter pilot who has shot down enemy planes, the soldiers at Iwo Jima, or the soldier who single handedly knocked off a regiment of enemy soldiers. This elderly woman reminded me that there were others who were just as important. Without the nurses, support staff, chaplains, mechanics, and many others, none of the others would have made it.

For the peace and safety enjoyed now by all of us … thank you.

Painesville’s Recent Loss

Those not from the immediate area may not know that one of Painesville’s young Marines, Lance Cpl. David Baker, recently gave his life for the sake of freedom in Afghanistan. The funeral was held within walking distance of my home at the Zion Lutheran Church. I was unable to attend due to other obligations, but I’m sure it was a solemn testament to this young man’s selfless actions for the people of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, news of his sacrifice was eclipsed by the possibility of Fred Phelps also attending the funeral. Phelps is a pastor who uses military funerals as a chance to protest the sin of homosexuality in America. According to one report, Phelps and his church believe that the death of American soldiers is God’s judgment against homosexuality in the US. He and his “troops” feel duty bound to proclaim this message despite the inappropriateness of their timing.

Thankfully, Mr. Phelps didn’t make it to the funeral. But with the possibility looming, several of our local pastors prepared for him by writing a public letter to the newspaper. The letter contrasts Mr. Phelp’s tactics with a “speaking the truth in love” approach. As you will see, the letter doesn’t negate the problem of sin in America. Instead, it points to the Cross of Jesus as the answer to man’s sin problem.

Honor the soldier and tell the truth

Yesterday Fred Phelps and primarily his immediate family (ostensibly known as Westside Baptist Church) descended on Lake County to protest at the funeral of our hero, Lance Cpl. David Baker. It is a travesty of decency that this so-called pastor would ruin a family’s remembrance of their American soldier by connecting his honorable death to an unchristian hatred of homosexuals. Furthermore, as pastors in Lake County we find it a travesty of theology that the chants of bigots would drown out the hope of the Scriptures.

The problem with yesterday’s protest lies both in its vitriolic tone and its inaccurate content. God has punished and will punish nations for innumerable sins besides homosexuality—greed, disrespect for parents, extra-marital sex, lying, laziness, arrogance, drunkenness, and many others. God prohibits these self-centered behaviors because they ruin the world He created and destroy the love people should show to each other. Not all are guilty of all of these, but all of us are guilty of at least one.

Scripture is full of examples of God’s fair judgment on people for these sins. This is His world, and He is wise enough to make the rules. But Scripture is also full of promises by God to forgive those individuals and nations who would repent of sin and believe in His mercy. Now is the time of God’s mercy.

In unspeakable mercy God the Father chose not to leave humanity on a path to self-destruction. He demonstrated mercy when He sent His Son Jesus to our planet on a mission—live a perfect life so that He could die in our place on the cross, rise from the grave so that those who believe would be free from sin and its effects. The God who makes the rules and sentences the guilty is also the Rescuer and Savior! One portion of Scripture sums it up beautifully, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Because all humans bear the image of God all human life has intrinsic value, and this is why Lance Cpl. Baker’s death is a tragedy. God never intended life to end in this way! There is no reason for that tragedy to be compounded by an erroneous, disrespectful protest.

The solution is not screaming about sin. The solution is rejecting sin because of believing in the Cross. That—and undying gratitude to veterans like Lance Cpl. Baker—is a message that should be shouted from a bullhorn.

Pastor Chris Anderson

Tri-County Bible Church, Madison

Pastor Jim Lane
Faith Baptist Church, Perry

Pastor Doug Browning

Kirtland Bethel Bible Church, Kirtland

Pastor Tim Potter
Grace Church of Mentor, Mentor

Pastor Stoney Drain

Painesville Baptist Church, Painesville

Pastor Josh Scheiderer

Bible Community Church, Mentor

Pastor Kent Hobi

Grace Church of Mentor, Mentor

Pastor Ray Strimpel

Faith Baptist Church, Perry

Pastor Bob Ladygo

Bible Baptist Church, Madison

Pastor Joe Tyrpak
Tri-County Bible Church, Madison

How bad was it?

I’m not sure how much we will ever understand the conditions in Iraq before the war. Americans have flip-flopped from the 9-11 mentality of retaliation at any cost to “Bring our boys home!” mentality. The media has berated our former president for getting us into this mess, etc. and we’ve bought in to it. “The war was a waste of lives, money, and resources.” Whatever the case may be, there are some things about the war that only the soldiers brought home to share. One chaplain, Lt. Carey H. Cash, has recorded his thoughts in a well written book entitled, A Table in the Presence. His thoughts about the conditions in Iraq should be read by all.

…Our perceptions began to line up with the way things really were. Here the oppression was all too evident. Children and young men ran alongside our convoy, begging for any food we might throw to them. And when we did, it was a frenzy of violence as boys pushed aside girls to grab up the package, rip it open, and in a matter of seconds, gobble down its contents. … They wanted food, and from the looks of their slight frames, that’s what they needed the most.

Earlier, our battalion had passed through an intense firefight at the Saddam Canal, which saw dozens of Iraqi solders killed and dozens more taken prisoner. I had assisted our medical corpsmen and doctor while they labored furiously to treat an Iraqi soldier who had received a serious gunshot wound to the lower leg. … I will never forget the look on his face. He couldn’t understand why we were helping him. I watched as his abject terror gradually melted into a confused stare, and finally into the peaceable assurance that we were indeed trying to save his life.

Like other young men fighting in the Iraqi Army, he had no doubt been told that we would brutalize him as well as his family. Of course, it didn’t take long for the Iraqis who surrendered to see that we were not those kind of people. Yet it didn’t surprise us that they believed such lies at first. Why not? Their own army had in fact committed unbelievable atrocities upon their enemies, especially the Kuwaitis and Iranians, not to mention upon their own civilian population.

Lt. Carey H. Cash, A Table in the Presence, (Nashville,: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 139-40.