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The Day Benedict Arnold Was Court-Martialed

It happened this day in history – 1779. General Benedict Arnold faced a court-martial in Philadelphia on 13 counts of “misbehavior” involving schemes for war profiteering and expansion of his personal authority. He was cleared of most of the charges, but General George Washington issued a reprimand that angered Arnold, who had served the American Revolution well.

That anger and other perceived slights persuaded Arnold that he had never been properly rewarded or acknowledged for his military successes, which included service in the colonial assault on Quebec in 1775-76 and in the Saratoga campaign. Resentment over Washington’s rebuke – which spoke of “misbehaviors” that were “imprudent and improper” – would fuel Arnold’s traitorous plan to turn over to the British the fortifications at West Point, which he commanded beginning in August 1780. The plot was discovered, and Arnold defected to Great Britain, although his aide and fellow conspirator, British Major John Andre, was hanged in 1780 in New York.

Sin is always discovered, and it always comes with a price. Benedict Arnold was able to fun from America, but he could never outrun God.

Garry Kasparov’s Lost Chess Match

It happened 20 years ago today. The impossible took place. Garry Kasparov, widely recognized as the greatest chess player who ever lived, lost. The grandmaster resigned before official “checkmate” could take place. Even more amazing than his loss was the fact that Kasparov’s opponent had never won a single chess tournament in his life, nor was he world-ranked. He had never won a single trophy or beaten another chess champion.

Still, he beat Garry Kasparov on May 10, 1997.

Who was it? He went by the name of Deep Blue. And “he” was actually more of an “it.” Deep Blue was a supercomputer designed by IBM. It was able to calculate over 100 billion moves in three minutes.

Kasparov’s resignation to Deep Blue was his first ever. And for its victory, the computer was donated to the Smithsonian Institute. Kasparov retired from competitive chess in 2005, and is now a writer and political activist.

I can sort of relate. I used to play chess – a lot. In high school, I won the school championship and the Houston High School Chess Championship. I loved to play chess. But I didn’t win every match. Nobody does. The thing is, man is fallible. We make mistakes. We fall short.

But that’s okay. That’s where grace enters the picture. Where man falls short, God shows up.

Eradication of Polio

On this day in 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, began at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. Children in the United States, Canada, and Finland participated in the trials, which used for the first time the now-standard double-blind method, whereby neither the patient nor attending doctor knew if the inoculation was the vaccine or a placebo. As a result of successful trials, on April 12, 1955, researchers announced the vaccine was safe and effective, and it quickly became a standard part of childhood immunizations in America.

Millions of dollars and hours of research resulted in the eradication of polio. That meant that children of my generation no longer had to worry about suffering from this dreaded disease.

But there is another disease for which man still has no cure. It’s called sin. Fortunately, God stepped in and did for man what he could not do for himself. Through the death of his son on the cross, an eternal cure for sin has been provided. That is why Jesus could say, from the cross, “It is finished.”

Your children and grandchildren don’t have to worry about polio. And thanks to Jesus, we no longer have to worry about sin either.

Run!

Danielle Barnes is like a lot of 24-year-old women. She likes to drive fast. But unfortunately for Danielle, the police of Burlington, Vermont are a lot like other police. They like to stop cars that drive fast. And when those drivers decide a high-speed chase would be more fun, most police are happy to oblige.

Eventually, Danielle gave up. The kind officers wrote her up for excessive speed and for eluding the police. When asked why she was speeding and would not pull over, Danielle had only a moment to think of a good excuse. Did she claim illness or a family emergency? Nope. Give Danielle credit. She was honest.

“The reason I was driving fast,” she said, “was that I have some drugs here that I need to deliver. I am running late.”

Vermont law is pretty strict about speeding and dealing illegal drugs. In fact, in reward for her honesty, she was arrested for dealing drugs.

Before the judge, Danielle complained, “I was honest with the officer. Doesn’t that count?”

Of course, honesty is a good thing. But not doing anything that you may want to lie about later would be much better!

God is clear about holiness. He says we need to run from sin, even faster than Danielle drove her car.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

On this day in 1929, four gangsters dressed as police officers gunned down six of George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side Gang, as well as a mechanic, at the Moran headquarters on Chicago’s North Clark Street. The incident, known today as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, was another in an ongoing war between Al “Scarface” Capone and the North Side Gang, his chief underworld rivals.

In February 1929, Capone was ahead, having killed Moran’s predecessor, Dion O’Banion, five years earlier. On February 14, as Moran’s men waited outside their headquarters to take delivery on a load of bootlegged liquor, they were devastated by the arrival of the four “police officers.” Coming late to the gathering, Moran saw what he assumed to be an impending arrest and retreated to a nearby coffee shop. The disguised assassins gunned down the seven men undisturbed.

“Bugs” Moran learned what some of us never learn – actions have consequences. Unfortunately, he learned it too late.

Run!

Danielle Barnes is like a lot of 24-year-old women. She likes to drive fast. But unfortunately for Danielle, the police in Burlington, Vermont are a lot like other police. They like to stop cars that drive fast. And when those drivers decide a high-speed chase would be more fun, most police are happy to oblige.

Eventually, Danielle gave up. The kind officers wrote her up for excessive speed and for eluding the police. When asked why she was speeding and would not pull over, Danielle had only a moment to think of a good excuse. Did she claim illness or a family emergency? Nope. Give Danielle credit. She was honest.

“The reason I was driving so fast,” she said, “was that I have some drugs here that I need to deliver. I am running late.”

Vermont law is pretty strict about speeding and dealing illegal drugs. If fact, in reward for her honesty, she was arrested for dealing drugs.

Before the judge, Danielle complained, “I was honest with the officer. Doesn’t that count?”

Of course, honesty is a good thing. But not doing anything that you may want to lie about later would be much better!

God is clear about holiness. He says we need to run from sin, even faster than Danielle ran from the police.

Gambler Robs Bank & Returns to Casino

It happened last week in Charleston, West Virginia. A man stood up at a blackjack table in a local casino, drove to rob a bank, and then returned to the casino to continue gambling. Kerry Johnson, age 52, was then arrested.

Investigators say Mr. Johnson had been at the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro for several hours when he put down a $25 chip to hold his spot at the table. That’s when police say Johnson drove 13 miles to a Charleston bank, gave tellers a note saying he had a bomb, and robbed the bank.

Police say Johnson then returned to the blackjack table and kept gambling. He could face 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. As of this writing, it is not known if he has secured an attorney. It would seem he might need one.

Two lessons emerge from this crazy story.

1. Addictions escalate.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are at least 133 verifiable addictions. And most people have at least two of them. The problem with addictions is that they start small and lead us to places we would never imagine going. So it was with Mr. Johnson. He didn’t have a history of robbing banks; he did it just once – when his gambling addiction got the best of him. He just had to keep gambling, no matter the cost. Addictions escalate. If you are battling an addiction, you need to beat it before it beats you.

2. We all need an Advocate.

Mr. Johnson is toast until he gets an attorney to represent him. The Bible says, “If anybody sins [we do], we have an advocate with the Father – his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 2:1). Because we all have what Celebrate Recovery calls “hurts, habits, and hangups,” we need the Great Advocate to go before the throne of grace on our behalf. In Christ we have such an Advocate.

The Rushmore Report: Clinton Campaign – ‘This Is Why We Lost’

Why did Donald Trump pull the upset of the century? How did “the most qualified presidential candidate in American history” (President Obama’s words) lose to a television reality show star? Did she lose because of her positions on the issues? Was it that America wanted an outsider? No, says the Clinton campaign. She lost for one reason – and their assessment will surprise you.

Within hours of her loss, the Clinton campaign pinned the historic defeat on FBI Director James Comey. Navin Nayak, the director of opinion research on the campaign, sent an email to senior staff Thursday evening outlining what the campaign believed were the reasons for its loss. The email, first reported by Politico, was confirmed to Business Insider by a Clinton campaign staffer.

Nayak signaled in his email that the campaign believes the bombshell from Comey in the final days of the election swung the electorate toward Trump.

“We believe we lost this election in the last week. Comey’s letter in the last 11 days of the election both helped depress our turnout and also drove away some of our critical support among college-educated white voters – particularly in the suburbs,” Nayak wrote. “We also think Comey’s second letter, which was intended to absolve Sec. Clinton, actually helped to bolster Trump’s turnout.”

Say what? Where is the logic in that? It seems the Clinton campaign is ignoring two stubborn facts that are as obvious as Monday night’s super-moon in the sky. Let’s play Jeopardy. I’ll put this in the form of two questions.

1. How did a letter absolving Mrs. Clinton help Mr. Trump?

Let’s be clear. The Clinton campaign claims that by telling the world that the FBI found no further wrong-doing by Clinton, it hurt her and helped Trump. To anyone who finds logic in that explanation, it probably also seems reasonable that the baby about to be born is not a life, that America’s corporate tax rates, the highest in the world, are too low, and that ISIS has nothing to do with Muslim extremism.

2. Who was it that deleted 30,000 emails the day after a subpoena for their release?

Was it Mr. Comey that inserted an unapproved server in a hidden basement in Colorado? Was it Mr. Comey who destroyed 13 devises with a hammer, after claiming there was only one? Was it Mr. Comey who received 12 “Pinocchios” from the New York Times for lying to Congress under oath?

In their defense, the Clinton campaign is simply reflecting human nature. There are four words that seem impossible for most of us to say – “It was my fault.”

Some would argue that Hillary Clinton would be President-elect today, if she had only said, a year ago, “It was my fault.” Perhaps Richard Nixon could have survived Watergate had he said, “It was my fault.” Maybe Bill Clinton could have avoided impeachment had he said, “It was my fault.” 

The Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23). But that’s not the deathblow. It goes on to say that if we confess our sin God will forgive us for all eternity (Romans 6:23). But first we must confess our sin. We must learn the four words that have eluded the Clinton campaign and most of humanity – “It was my fault.”

Billy the Kid Arrested – The First Time

On this day in history, 1875, Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. He later broke out of jail and roamed the American West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw. His crimes earned him a bounty on his head and he was eventually captured and indicted for killing a sheriff during the Lincoln County War. Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang for his crime; however, a short time later, he managed another jail break, murdering two deputies in the process.

Billy the Kid’s freedom was brief, as Sheriff Pat Garrett caught up with the desperado at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881, and fatally shot him. Although his life was short, Billy the Kid’s legend grew following his death. Today he is a famous symbol of the Old West, along with such men at Kit Carson, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday, and Wyatt Earp, and his story has been mythologized and romanticized in numerous films, books, TV shows, and songs.

Here’s the lesson of Billy the Kid. You can choose your actions, but not your consequences. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:;23). We can run from our judgment, but we can’t run fast enough. God always catches up with us. And then, there is a price to pay. Sin always comes at a price.

Man Steals $135K from ‘Dear Friend’ Moments After She Dies

A man has admitted to stealing $135,000 from the retirement account of a woman whose obituary described him as a “dear friend.” Sixty-year-old Dennis Lordi pleaded guilty Tuesday in Superior Court in Morristown to theft by deception. Prosecutors said Lordi posed as Donna DiLullo to transfer $135,517 from her Prudential deferred compensation/retirement account into his own account just minutes after receiving word that she had died suddenly at age 55.

Authorities said the money was frozen after the theft was realized and is now being returned to DiLullo’s estate. Lordi had been accused by authorities of attempting to steal about $566,000 total in retirement and life insurance benefits from DiLullo, but he admitted only to the retirement fund theft. Prosecutors had alleged that Lordi also accessed DiLullo’s online benefit account and made himself her primary beneficiary of her insurance and pension benefits.

DiLullo, who worked as a probation officer in Somerset County for nearly 30 years, died in her home. Her obituary listed surviving family members and several “dear friends,” including Lordi.

One of the seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church is greed. Jesus said, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15). Paul called “the love of money . . . the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

There is a children’s story called The Greedy Mouse. A greedy mouse saw a basket full of corn. He wanted to eat it. So he made a small hole in the basket. He squeezed in through the hole. He ate a lot of corn. He felt full. He was very happy. Now he wanted to come out, so he tried to exit the small hole. He could not. His belly was full. He tried again. But it was of no use.

The mouse started crying. A rabbit was passing by. It heard the mouse’s cry and asked, “Why are you crying, my friend?” The mouse explained, “I made a small hole and came into the basket. Now I am not able to get out through that hole.” The rabbit said, “It is because you ate too much. Wait til your belly shrinks.” The rabbit laughed and went away.

The mouse fell asleep in the basket. The next morning his belly had shrunk. But the mouse wanted to eat some corn. So he ate and ate. His belly was full once again. He thought, “Oh! Now I will go out tomorrow.” The cat was the next passerby. he smelled the mouse in the basket. He lifted its lid and ate the mouse.

Nothing will eat you up like greed. Just ask the mouse. Or ask Dennis Lordi. He thought the $135,000 would buy him freedom. But now he lives in the jail of his own making.