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Friday, August 1, 2014


Welcome to this months installment of the "Shofar."  This month we feature a man who has had numerous commands with the Marines, but is now retired.  COL Barry Conlin (USMC-ret) has served in many facets of the military and has graciously offered his insight of being a Christian Commanding Officer while serving in the Military.  This article was originally written to stress the importance of why a moral or spiritual foundation is important in a military setting.  Keep in mind it is written strictly from a Commanding Officer's perspective and it gives insight to Chaplains and other believers serving in today's military.  In short:  It DOES matter what one believes!  Enjoy.

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God!
  Ps 20:7

By Col Barry Cronin (USMC-Ret)


    I enjoy many fond and happy memories from my childhood growing up in a large, rambunctious, Irish family near Boston.  Among my favorites, as incongruous as it may seem today, was the nightly ritual of cleaning up after the evening meal with the six-pack of noisy kids that was my brothers and sisters.  Curiously, one of the most prominent trappings of this evening ritual was a small ceramic plaque hung by my mother directly over the kitchen sink.  Inscribed on it was a simple little poem that went something like this…

Thanks God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well.
With home and health and happiness,
I shouldn’t want to fuss,
‘cause by the stack of evidence,
God’s been good to us!

Simple yet profound, is it not? We American do have so much for which to be thankful. Think about it.  Although there is hunger in this country and many poor children often
go without, as a general rule American expects three square meals every single days day.  We even complain about the dishes afterwards!
   But even with all those dirty dishes, we are seeing something disturbing.  For those who may not know, a troublesome Marine under restriction is limited for the duration to place of duty, billeting, messing the worship including direct transit from one to another.  That restriction is closely monitored with frequent checks and mandatory signing in.  To break restriction invites dire consequences.  Over the years after awarding restriction, I would always explain the process and then question the Marine to ensure he or she clearly understood what was expected.  Where do you billet?  Where do you work?  Where I the chow hall?  The Marine invariably answered these first three with little difficulty.  When it came to the fourth question, however, I discovered a rather disturbing trend.  Where do you worship?
  Over the years, only one of those entire many Marine to whom I have posed that question identified an actual location.  By the way, he turned out to be a very good Marine in the end.  The rest responded more along these line: 
  I don’t worship, I don’t believe in the stuff,… I used to a long time ago but not anymore…I think it’s a waste of time,… I sleep in on Sunday morning,…It’s all just a crock…” and so forth.  Some are downright arrogantly defiant in their responses.  Others are merely indifferent.  I thought it odd (and still do) when hearing that sort of stuff; so I always make it a point of suggesting that perhaps they may want to try it out in the upcoming weekend, if nothing else it’s, another opportunity to get out of the barracks for a while. Inspiring.  What struck home in my mind most of all was the concept of the MEPS pyramid.  MEPS stands for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  The two upright portions of the pyramid are the mental and physical aspects of life.  In the center, trying all the others together is the emotional side of our existence.  The base of the pyramid, the foundation for the whole thing, is the spiritual.  A balance MEP’S pyramid is absolutely necessary if we truly expect to live personal lives and lead Marines, guided and inspired by our core values, of honor; courage, and commitment.
  It is no coincidence that the base of the MEPS pyramid, the foundation upon which our existence stands, is spiritual.  Consider the obvious analogies.  The finest bridge in the world would quickly collapse were it not build upon a solid foundation.  The same holds true for any building or skyscraper.  The base of the structure must be solidly established before construction of the remainder of the building can ever commence.  Notice also that once completed, that critical foundation upon which the rest of the building stands is, more often than not, invisible – totally hidden from view.  We marvel at the wonder of the completed project, not even thinking about the massive and complex base foundation below. 
   Marines are not unlike those remarkable feats of engineering.  Without that solid spiritual foundation, they are at risk.  They wobble and sway when the winds of temptation blow.
  But even when those dirty dishes are we really getting all the nourishment we require? The shelves of our markets and groceries are full of the best food money can buy.  Restaurants and eateries of infinite variety are conveniently located within a short drive of just about anywhere nowadays, Ubiquitous vending machine flourish.  Food is everywhere.  The answer seems clear.  We have the dirty dishes to prove it, right?

  Wrong.  There is a famine of alarming proportions in our Corps today.  Marines are starving all around us.  Most of them don’t even know it.

  I see hungry Marines every single day.  Before the expiation, however, some background is in order.  I enjoyed the honor of commanding Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico.  I am told, per the number of personnel administratively assigned, it is the largest battalion in the Corps.  Whether that is in fact the case or not, it is nonetheless a very large organization.  Among my numerous responsibilities as the commanding officer is the necessary yet dreadful task of administering discipline.  Dreadful in the sense that punishing a loved one is painful business.  Ask any parent.  Don’t scoff now.  The analogy is a perfectly valid one.  Any commander who does not genuinely love Marines has no business in the job.  As for myself, I have had the genuine fortune of commanding and leading Marines throughout my entire career at every rank, years of leadership in both peacetime and conflict.  As a commander, more Marines thank I care to number have stood in front of my desk at several venues over the years for disciplinary infractions of one sort or another.  Accept this; the raison d’ etre for this particular article is solidly based on years of empirical evidence.  All of those many troubled Marines, with one notable exception, had one thing in common.  They were malnourished.

  Now to the explanation.  In my experience, one of the most effective punishments that can be awarded, short of confinement, is that of restriction.  For the……

  I am neither a chaplain nor a trained spiritual counselor.  As far as I am personally concerned, truth is truth and it can be found in more than one place.  Rather, I refer the Marine to the chaplain for professional advice and assistance in this matter.  What I do suggest to the young transgressor is that perhaps there may be a direct correlation between the absence of apparent spirituality and his or her current disciplinary problems.

  To illustrate the point, I usually take a few moments toward the end of the disciplinary proceedings to describe the human being as a complex creation of interdependent systems.  For example, the physical body requires regular sustenance to keep it functioning and healthy.  A body that is not fed properly begins to wither, languish and fail.  The same principle applies to the mental side of our existence as well.  To become and remain keen, the human mind must be regularly exercised with intellectual stimulation.  Daily reading is probably one of the best and easiest ways to feed the mind and keep it healthy.  Human emotions are another facet of our existence that must be fed to remain healthy.  Wholesome, regular human interaction is in my mind the simplest way to feed the emotions and stay balance.  And finally, there is the spiritual side of the human experience.  This is where you will find all of those starving Marines.  I tell you this, Anorexia of the spirit flourished within our Corps Today.

  I recently had the distinct pleasure of hearing  MGen. T. S. Jones, former commanding general of Training and Education Command, speak at a graduation ceremony for the Marine Corps. Martial Arts Program Instructor/Trainer Course.  Although the general covered a number of topics briefly, more than a couple of which involved humorous anecdotes, the principle focus of his talk was the subject of character development and its relation to MCMAP and the Corps as a whole.  Presented in the general’s altogether unique rapid-fire delivery, it was riveting, profound, and genuinely more likely to engage in wrongful behavior.  The finest physical specimen without a moral compass risks getting lost.  The same holds true for that exceptionally intelligent Marine or the emotionally healthy, popular, and well-like Devil Dog., Without that spiritual roadmap, they too can easily find themselves going in the wrong direction.  They are spiritually malnourished.  By the way of contrast, a Marine with a strong spiritual base is far less likely to engage is questionable behavior.  He or she is better able to discern between right and wrong.  He or she is less likely to do drugs, hurt others, steal, or violate the law.  He or she rarely visit the “old man” under adverse circumstances.  The bottom line is this:  Marines who sits in the pews don’t stand in front of the desk!

  All of that said, how exactly does one feed the spirit?  Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers on that particular subject, although regular worship, prayer, and contemplative meditation are probably good starts.  Acts of charity and kindness towards others are pretty good things to do, also.  Doing one’s best to live in accordance with our core values can certainly help.  Staying away from the trouble makers and malcontents will definitely reduce the risk. Instead, make a pint to hang around with good Marines.  Trust me.  There are plenty of them out there.  Their admirable qualities will soon begin to rub off.  I’m sure there is a lot more to it.  I am just an amateur on this.  For comprehensive personal guidance, the command Chaplain is the real expert.  Start your spiritual journey there.  Perhaps the greatest challenge facing us all however is getting Marine to even acknowledge the existence of their own spirituality in the first place.  That I don’t know how to do.

  Some readers will undoubtedly dismiss this entire article as idle conjecture, wishful thinking, or just plain crummy journalism on my part.  Where is the proof of this spiritual malnourishment, you ask?  They easy! Come visit, on any given day, it is standing right in front of my desk!      


Saturday, April 19, 2014


The Greatest joy and truth of the Christian life is the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that Easter morning almost two millennium ago.  It is the cornerstone of our faith and proof that God does have power over death and forgiveness of sin through our Savior.  It is with this in mind, we post and share this missive written by Maynard Belt about the journey of Christ during this most trying of times.  It is a time to reflect and contemplate all that God endured for us, which of course culminated in the greatest story ever told.  HE IS RISEN INDEED!
  The second portion of our blog is an article written by our AGC Chaplain George J. Jefferson on hypocrisy and the dangers of serving a false god. HAPPY EASTER!!! 

The Barnabas File
April - 2014
The Places along the Path – From the Upper Room to the Garden Tomb

As I reflect upon this Holy week preceding Resurrection Sunday, I see it in a new and fresh perspective having recently visited Israel for the very first time.  I stood in that place where John the Beloved leaned upon the Savior’s breast; where Jesus warned that one would betray Him; where all would say, “Lord is it I,” but Judas responded, “Rabbi, is it I?”  I stood in that place where Jesus picked up the bread and gave thanks saying, “Take, eat, this is my body.”  Then He took the cup and giving thanks said, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” I stood in that place where Jesus then said, “I say unto you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  I stood in that place where they concluded their gathering by singing a hymn and then went out to the Mt. of Olives where Jesus was found praying while the three disciples were sleeping. From the Upper Room to the Garden Tomb there were several places along the path Jesus must trod which would lead to the fulfillment of many O.T. prophecies as well as His own. 
I walked that path and I would like to share with you some of the events recorded in Holy Scripture that happened there some 2,000 years ago.  In Luke 9:51 it is said of Jesus that “He steadfastly set His face towards Jerusalem,” and that He certainly did! Jesus was to break a new path that had never been known to man and a path no man would ever again travel.  I have always thought that if I ever had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land, these places along the path, from the Upper Room to the Garden Tomb, I must see. And see them I did.  Now let me tell you about them.
I.                   The First Place along that Path is Called Gethsemane (The Place of Suffering)
Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ And He took Peter, James and John with Him.”  Mark 14:32-33
From the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane measures a mile or so winding down the southern part of lower Jerusalem upward on the eastern side over what I presume to be a pebbled path of stones and uneasy terrain. The Garden of Gethsemane is located on the Mt. of Olives over the Brook Kidron. Before leaving the Upper Room Jesus had prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times which Peter said he would never do.  There are at least four things about this Garden we need to know.
(1) Gethsemane was a place of prayer, a place that our Lord often visited.  He did not just come here on this night because of the urgency of the hour.  It was a regular part of His intimate intercession with His Father. But there is no question that this time would be a much more intense time of prayer for as He said to the three disciples being troubled and deeply distressed, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”  (Mark 14:33). “Gethsemane” means “Oil Press.”    Here took place the greatest spiritual struggle of all times. Our Lord’s date with destiny had arrived. His hour had now come. Here the reality of our sin crushed down upon His soul.  This intense agony actually brought beads of blood to His brow.
(2) Gethsemane was a place of temptation.  All through His life Jesus had been tempted and tried – by the devil, by sinners, and even by some who professed to be saints. Here the devil bids one more time for the soul of Jesus.  Satan knew his time was short.  He was well aware of Genesis 3:15, the very first prophecy of his ultimate doom. Luke 22:43-44 tells us that our Lord’s suffering was so extreme that an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen Him.  And with that strength He prayed even more earnestly! Ultimately, on the cross the victory would be won, but I believe that it was here in this lonely garden, in prayer, that Jesus overcame His enemy. Jesus knew that earnest prayer would give Him strength and power to ward off the devil.  We must not forget that truth.  “The Christian, who does not pray, may soon become the prey!”  If Paradise was lost in a garden (Eden), then paradise was also regained in a garden.
(3) Gethsemane was the place of God’s will“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). The cup that was raised in thanksgiving earlier in the Upper Room, represents Calvary and the blood which had to be shed.  As soon as the words were spoken, the victory was won!  It happens every time we say, “Father, Your will be done.” When was the last time you said regarding some struggle in your life, “Father, your will be done?”  If you are in a spiritual struggle even now, just say, “Your will be done.” God’s will was disobeyed in a garden, and it’s only right that it was also obeyed in a garden.  We all have our “gardens” of suffering.  Sometimes in life the cup is best, as it was for our Savior.   When you participate in the communion service which commemorates His death, and partake of the cup, are you saying “My will,” or “Thy will?”  We call this the Lord’s Table….you should not come if you cannot call Him, Lord!
(4) Finally, Gethsemane was a place of betrayal.  No sooner had Jesus and the disciples left the garden, when Judas appeared and planted the kiss of betrayal upon the Savior’s face, just as Jesus had said. Imagine, if you can, the scene in the bitter darkness of that fateful night.  Leaving the solitary place of prayer but still in the immediate area, the soldiers come marching with torches lighting the night and swords in hand. The curious crowds had begun to gather as Jesus, with Peter, James and John, stood face to face before the chief priests, scribes and elders.  I can only imagine that the hearts of the disciples were racing with anxiety. Then, Judas, for 30 measly pieces of silver, the price of a slave, $21.60 as one commentator has said, kisses the cheek of the Lord, and betrays the Friend who had called him, loved him, and trusted him for  three years. As I solemnly sat there in the garden called Gethsemane, I couldn’t help but think of all that our Savior must have experienced that dreadful evening and what was to happen next.
II.        The Second Place along the Path is Called Gabbatha (The Place of Scoffing)
John 19:13-16  When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"  15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!" 16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away.   
Gabbatha, in the Greek, means “paved with stones,” not an unfamiliar sight as we walked those rugged streets.  It also means “height,” for Gabbatha was a raised platform, on a high ridge paved with stones, where all could see the one who was being tried.   While the Sanhedrin was making their decision at the House of Caiaphas, Peter was outside denying the Lord three times.  If you recall, Scripture says that he had followed the Lord afar off, which is always the first step of backsliding which eventually leads to denial. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, the governor of Judea, he was about to preside over an unfair trial.  His crime was admitting to being the Son of God.  But really, it wasn’t Jesus who was on trial, it was the world!  Would they claim Him as the Son of God or not!  Pilate did not claim Him guilty, he just happened to be the one who succumbed himself to the wishes of the crowd.  They wanted Barabbas, already a convicted criminal. Pilate made a wrong decision, it was an unfair trial, but the world always makes wrong decisions when it comes to spiritual decisions.  Things have not changed even in our day! Not all trials are fair.  A few years ago in my city of Grand Rapids, a lady confessed she had lied in saying that a young man had seduced her.  He had been in prison for six years!  He was released when she testified to the truth.  The reason for her changed confession?  She had become a Christian! Here at Gabbatha we see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that Christ would be “despised and rejected.”   What a place to remember when we think that life has been unfair!
III        The Third Place along the Path is Called Golgotha (The Place of Shame)
            “And, He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where    they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”  John 19:17-18
To approach this holy site, we took the same street Jesus traveled, today called the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows).  For centuries now this trail has been the scene of long processionals with people bearing crosses. Bustling with shops, a tradition for centuries has been for people to bear a heavy cross upon their shoulders trudging up the pebbled path to that place just outside the city where Christ was crucified.  We actually saw this take place.  No doubt many think that making such a pilgrimage will provide salvation for them but salvation doesn’t come through a pilgrimage, it only comes through faith in Christ who bore our sins in His body on the Cross. In my mind’s eye I tried to imagine what it must have been like.  First, kneeling in the Garden; then standing on the high platform at Gabbatha; now being nailed to the Cross and lifted up on a hill called Mt. Calvary, or more appropriately, Golgotha. The Cross has always been the centerpiece of time.  The Cradle – the Cross – the Crown! Most centerpieces in our homes are beautiful but Isaiah describes our Lord’s appearance as disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness (Isaiah 52:14).  When Christ walked this path earlier in the week, the twelve were with Him.  At the gateway into Gethsemane, only three: James, Peter & John; at Gabbatha, only two, John & Peter, and Peter followed afar off; now at Golgotha, other than the two thieves by His side, and the three Marys, we read of only one, John the Beloved who stood at the foot of the Cross. As the song writer rightfully said, “He could have called 10,000 angels but He died alone, for you and me.”  The inscription on the Cross read, “King of the Jews,” but it was here that He earned the title, “Savior.”  Here the sacrifice of all sacrifices was made and here the ransom was paid in full!
IV. The Final Place along the Path was the Garden Tomb (The Place of Supremacy)
 “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid.” John 19:41
 I love happy endings! A little girl in Sunday School was asked what Jesus’ first words were after being resurrected from the grave. Her exuberant response was simply this – “Ta Dah!”  It was inevitable that Jesus Christ should be crucified and inevitable that He should rise again!  As someone has well said, “The biggest fact about Joseph’s tomb was that it wasn’t a tomb at all – it was just a room for a transient!  Jesus just stopped there for a couple of nights on His way back to glory!”    The tomb was Joseph’s tomb. Please read John 19:39-41, but I should mention the names of the two pallbearers of Christ. Joseph was a wealthy and devout Israelite who lived in Arimathea and member of the Sanhedrin.  Living in the immediate area of Jerusalem, he no doubt had heard Jesus speak many times. Nicodemas, a teacher, on the other hand, in all three references to him in the Gospels, came to Jesus at night.  He also was a member of the Sanhedrin. But up to this point, neither had publicly professed their faith in Christ.  I would have surely thought that some of the disciples would have been there to take the Savior down from the Cross. But standing in the shadows were these two “closet Christians” who could not contain themselves any longer, overwhelmed by the sacrifice of their Savior, the germ of faith that had been planted somewhere along the way was now bursting into sight! John’s gospel says that Joseph asked for our Lord’s body, but Matthew, Mark & Luke in the Greek says that he begged/craved to take the Savior down from the Cross!  He had to do it! Now in John 19:41 note something very beautiful…”Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.”   Golgotha was so ugly but here just a stone’s throw away, or less,  was a garden, a beautiful place.  Where there is ugliness often there is also beauty.  God has a way of putting the two together in our lives also (Romans 8:28). I found it interesting that, along the path our Savior trod, it was in a garden where He would begin His passion, and from a garden He would be raised and begin His exaltation. Matthew Henry said it well, “He that was born from a virgin womb must rise from a virgin tomb!”   
After decades of reading the words of the angel to the ladies at the tomb, “He is not here – He is risen!” -  I found myself standing right there. Though not positive truth that this was the actual site, it was close enough!  This Savior who had won my heart as a teenager and walked with me all these years was here…and then He was gone! And now He is within by means of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Upon entering the tomb I was reminded of the ground rules for salvation – “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved!”  (Romans 10:9).  You cannot be saved IF you do not believe that God raised His Son from the grave, just as He said He would!  When by faith you believe this promise, this truth, you can believe every other promise and truth spoken in all of the Scriptures!
Some Closing thoughts:
The places along the path – from the Upper Room to the Garden Tomb.  This personal pilgrimage will forever remain in my mind and heart.
The places along the path, the UPPER ROOM, where communion they did partake;
What a place along the way, where Judas His Savior did forsake.
The places along the path, GETHSEMANE, where Jesus wept;
What a place along the way, where God’s perfect will was kept.
What a place along the path, GABBATHA, where Jesus was tried;
What a place along the way, where “crucify Him” they all cried.
What a place along the path, GOLGOTHA, a cross upon a hill;
What a place along the way, where Jesus, sin did still.
What a place along the path, the GARDEN, not far from His foes;
What a place along the way, where UP from the grave He arose!   -MHB

By George A Jefferson
Rom 1:22:  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
  In Christian circles, one of the greatest mistakes the Christian Church at large has made is to try to become “relevant” to one’s culture.  In its attempt to reach out and accommodate itself to the new generation of American’s known as the “Millenials,” many pastors and Chaplains have traded in their heritage for 30 pieces of silver.  This has been a dead end because secularists have already changed the rules on how the younger generation sees life.

  Being relevant and accommodating only works if the foundation of a culture and society is based on truth.  In other words, a culture can only sustain itself if it has some truth claims which are universal to all.  This is not the case today because instead of truth being the center and focus of what it means to be an American, toleration has replaced truth as the ultimate goal.  Toleration implies at a minimum the intentional ignorance of error and falsehood, and at worst a syncretistic embracement of both.  There can therefore be little stability in a culture that exalts only toleration.  
  Never mind that acceptance of sin such as homosexual marriage, pornography or using the military for social programs is an acceptable social practice today.  These are now non-issues to the common American and the young Marine, Sailor, Soldier or Airmen.  Secular Social engineers have done their jobs well!  A new paradigm of reality has set into the mindset of the youngest generation.  They do not see life any longer through and in a Biblical prism of good and evil or even in a Spiritual vs material reality, but from a world view that all things and ideas have equal merit and value in the real world.  In short, all things are seen as social, economic or political.  Nothing is ever spiritual anymore.   Anyone espousing a different worldview is either an idiot, non-relevant or intolerant.

  Such is the world view of those espousing toleration.  However, be warned!
  Modern truth is being re-written to believe our historical Judeo-Christian ethic was wrong and hurtful.  This is why liberal churches and Chaplains are so ineffective.  They are nothing, but caring social workers without anything to offer to those who are hurting.  As Jude said, “they are clouds without rain” and have gone the way of Balaam who knew the truth, but chose to serve another god.  We all saw what happened to ancient Israel in the book of Amos when the people had all the trappings and appearance of religion, but embraced a new form of toleration for error.  They were eventually destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC.
  The same can be said of those people spoken of in the book of Romans when it talks about “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”   The blame is not on those non-professing pagans in our culture. They are just doing what comes natural.  The blame is on those who profess Christ, but deny Him and His ways.  While God is merciful and in His mercy will tolerate a lot of sin for the sake of the few as demonstrated by the principle found at the end of Gen 18, there is a reckoning for those who profess faith in Christ.  This is found in Matt 7:21-23 where Christ declares “I never knew you, depart from me you who work iniquity.”  A fitting end for those who want religion, but not the truth or the Savior.   
  So what is the answer one may ask?  With toleration arriving as the new truth, we as Christian pastors and Chaplains must still preach God’s Truth.  Isaiah promises it will never return void.  Ultimately, all truth is God’s truth!  So, we must tactfully and prudently use the few truths the world has embraced, and then clearly and passionately point them to the Truth-giver.   We must still be examples in holiness and righteousness.  Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego defied a king without knowing that God would deliver them in Daniel 3.  Repentance and fervent prayer are still the order of the day.  Perhaps God will see and hear and be merciful to us.   Amen


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