Thursday, February 21, 2013

In God We Trust



In Memoirs of the Second World War, by Winston Churchill, I recently read about how Adolf Hitler took control of Germany.  Hitler came to power completely legally.  The citizens, suffering from unemployment and trying to recover from hyperinflation, voted for the Nazis.  A few months later, the Reichstag majority voted 441 to 94 to give Hitler complete “emergency” powers for the next 4 years. 

It seems that since the famine in Joseph’s days, whenever there is an “emergency,” people sell themselves and their inherent, God-given rights to Pharaoh (Genesis 47:18-19).  The same scenario is repeated in the first book of Samuel.  God had delivered the Israelites from all their enemies, but when there was an “emergency”—when Nahash the king of the Ammonites came—the Israelites cried, “Give us a King!”  They did not realize that God was their King.  He was their banner, Jehovah-Nissi (Exodus 17:5) who fought their battles.  He is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.  He was the Lord their Healer, the Lord their peace, God Almighty.  But no, they wanted a Pharaoh of their own, an earthly, tangible, fallible king.  Samuel warned the people that they would lose their freedoms and become servants, slaves to their king.  The Israelites got what they asked for—King Saul.

History often repeats itself.  In 1932, the people of Germany were in trouble.  Who did they turn to?  God, their Father?  No!  They turned to their Pharaoh—their government.  Portraits of the Fuehrer (Father) were posted in churches, and preachers were ordered to praise the Fuehrer Hitler in their churches.  Most obeyed and became unwitting adherents to the reprehensible doctrine—unspoken but de facto—that “The state is God.”  They lost their liberties and got the “Fuehrer” Adolf Hitler, a tyrant.  

And yet even today so many people in these United States are completely blinded.  After every disaster or emergency, the government takes more power under the pretense of keeping us safe.  They forget the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  

During the Great Depression, many were unemployed, and some were going hungry.  Who did the people turn to?  The government, of course.  And in the 80 or so years since then, every time there is a little “Emergency” anywhere, they always do the same thing.  The nature of the people is predictable.  They forget “The Lord will provide” and demand that the government provide.  They have lost their strong, resilient, and independent spirit in a large part.  Like Esau, selling his birthright for a bowl of pottage, like the Israelites desiring a king, and like the Egyptians selling themselves to Pharaoh for food, many of the people are willing to sell their birthright of liberty for bowls of entitlements.  

On all of our coins, our motto is written, "In God we trust."  Do the people of these United States really trust in God?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Welcome to the Far North


     I don't get to walk on water every day, so yesterday was a pleasant change.  The temperature was pretty close to 40 F, and Pine Lake was still very much frozen.  We decided to take another hike around the upper lake.  This time of year everything is a bit tamer.  There are no mosquitoes and no living plants to get in the way (Although some dead thorn bushes did get in the way!)

   We started our hike walking on the lake, but found a place where the ice was shallow (Thankfully we didn't find out the hard way!) So we walked on land for a while.  The woods were pleasant, but the ground under the trees was frozen and in some places, slippery.  The swamp that always is incredibly unpleasant to walk through was also frozen and therefore gave us no trouble.

We crossed the lake on/near this dam designed to keep out silt, and resumed our walk on the other side, some of us on the lake, and some of us on the land beside the lake.  The "land beside the lake" turned out to be more slippery than the lake itself--and very steep!

Yours truly is usually sure-footed, but near the spot above I found a slippery spot, fell ( a little fall is nothing), and started sliding...down!!!  I started worrying about a bigger fall...The prospects for a good landing weren't exciting and after the little slope, there's pretty much a short 90 degree drop into the lake.  Thank the Lord, a protruding tree root was handy!  I grabbed it and pulled myself up to higher ground!  

It was not exactly a pleasure to meet this interesting tree; which seems common enough in the woods here in Iowa:


It wasn't long before we decided it would probably be easier and more pleasant walking on the lake...so once we found a not-so-steep place to descend, we "land-lubbers" joined the rest of our family on the lake.  


The ice in this area was very thick--probably close to a foot thick.  Although we weren't worried about it breaking, we walked single-file 15 feet from each other, and kept a rope handy just as a precaution.


Near the dam we returned to land.  The hiking trail was icy and in some places muddy, but beside the trail, the ground was good and easy to walk on.  The dam finally had some water flowing over it (a pretty site after such a dry autumn and winter.  We reached the paved trail and finished our 3 hour hike with a leisurely stroll.

     While this isn't exactly the far north, sometimes it certainly feels like it...but on cold winter days we do get to enjoy some pleasures folks in Southern California, Florida, and Hawaii never have a chance to enjoy...


...Like walking on water (frozen water, that is)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets 2013

     The past 3 years, my dad and I have participated in the Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets chess tournament expertly directed by Jim Hodina.  It's one of our favorite tournaments, and every year I enjoy some very good games.  This year was no different.

     The library at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids provided a free room for the tournament.  It was a very spacious and pleasant location.

     We live an hour and a half from Cedar Rapids, so we left home around 8 o'clock.  We were surprised at how nice and dry Highway 20 was, but unfortunately, the excellent road conditions did not last for long. Pretty soon we saw one SUV in the ditch...then  2 more.  Next were 2 semi-trucks wrecked together in the median--then another car!  We slowed down and drove more carefully.  I read a chapter from the Bible aloud, and Papa and I chatted for a while.  "I think I'll stop at McDonalds if we can find one," Papa said.  We found one sure enough, and was I glad!  At this time in the morning I was starving, and playing chess is difficult on an empty stomach.  We ordered sausage McMuffins--mmm...delicious! 

     Soon enough, we reached the mall and found the tournament room.  The first round started promtly at 10:00, and I found myself on board 3 playing Arshaq S.  I've played Arshaq before, and he's always been a very tough opponent.  The fact that his USCF rating is up to 1875 did nothing to help my confidence; nevertheless, I resolved to try my best.  Arshaq gained a positional advantage and utilized it to win pawns which gave him a winning edge in the endgame.


Well done, Arshaq!

After my game was finished, Papa (who had also won his game) and I walked over to Chick-Fil-A and ordered chicken sandwiches and a milk-shake.  I'd never had a sandwich from Chick-Fil-A before, so after all the news coverage the restaurant received, I was very curious how their chicken sandwiches tasted.  I also noticed that many other chess players were visiting the restaurant, so I was curious whether Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are good brain food.   I wasn't disappointed.


The chicken was extremely tender, and the sandwich was simply heavenly!  The milk-shake was delicious also; although I think the cherries atop McDonald's strawberry milkshakes are slightly better.

  We toured the mall.  It's a beautiful building and has several clothing stores (including JC Pennys), art galleries, eating places, the library, H & R Block, and PayLess Shoes; nevertheless, it is sadly reminiscent of a ghost town.  There are many empty, closed-off rooms.
  
     The second round I played white against David T., rated 1458.  I was happy to see him play the Sicilian Defense since I always play it (though a different variation) as black, and I have plenty of experience playing it as white.  The mid-game was as interesting to play as it always is when black and white castle on different sides of the board.


Papa's game was still ongoing, so I watched a few games and relaxed a while.   I was disappointed to see him lose.  Other games were still being played, so we walked over to the library and toured their collection of books.  There was a good collection of biographies, but we didn't have time to enjoy them all.

Round 3 started and this time I was black against Roger S. and (of course) tried to launch the game into a Sicilian Dragon.  My opponent kept the opening interesting with some unusual variations and traded down very early.

Pawns are essential!

Since Papa was still fighting it out over the 64 checkered squares, I returned to my position as a spectator.  After his game, we trekked the mall one final time, getting plenty of stress-relieving exercise before the final round.

Round 3 games progressing,
For the fourth game, I played Richard R.  He is a very challenging opponent whom I have played at various tournaments.  Most of our games have ended in a draw.  This game turned out to be pretty exciting.  Just as I  thought I was going to lose some of my pawns--which my round 3 game proved so important--I stumbled upon a checkmate.

  Finishing a game early means waiting and waiting and waiting for the other games to be completed...and I had committed the horrific peccadillo (hmm...not sure those two words are compatible!) of forgetting to bring a good book with me!  

So, I returned to my part-time Saturday job of being a spectator!  Several interesting games were in progress.  Papa finished his game, and then we left for home. 

This time the roads truly were treacherous.  A cold rain hit our windshield, freezing on impact, and glazing it with ice so we had to struggle to see.  Finally we reached an exit off the main highway and were delighted to reach the gravel roads that led to our home.  Home at last! 

 It was a real pleasure to spend the day at the Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets chess tournament.  Thanks to Mr. Hodina for directing and thank you to all other participants for making it a fun event!