Would I care this much?

May 31, 2010

In honor of Memorial Day, a very patriotic businessman we know sent all of his clients a letter that shared this story from John McCain.  I had heard it before, but it never fails to move me.

As you may know, I spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.  In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell.  In 1971, the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men in a room.  This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POWs 10,000 miles from home.

One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian.

Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama.  He didn’t wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old.  At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy.  He later earned a commission by going to Offi-cer Training School.  Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967.  Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country—and our mili-tary—provide for people who want to work and want to succeed.

As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home.  In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves, and other items of clothing.  Mike got himself a bamboo needle.  Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it into the inside of his shirt.

Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike’s shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed an impor-tant and meaningful event.

One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, discovered Mike’s shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it.  That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of us all, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours.  Then they opened the door of the cell and threw him in.  We cleaned him up as well as we could.

The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept.  Four na-ked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room.  After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting there beneath one of those dim light bulbs with a piece of red cloth, another shirt, and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian.  He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag.

He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better.  He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to pledge allegiance to our flag and our country.

So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage of thousands of Americans to build our nation and promote freedom around the world.  You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands—one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

If I, or you, were going to be beaten for displaying our country’s flag, would we be brave enough to do it anyway?  I hope so.

But today we remember and honor those who fought and died for our freedom so that we might never have to find out.



Know where you are going!

October 4, 2009

 

Sometimes I receive a forward on the internet whose title intrigues me enough to read it.  This is one of those that I would like to share:

Billy Graham’s Suit

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte , North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.  Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggled with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, ‘We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.’ 

So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the podium, looked at the crowd, and spoke,

“I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century.

“Einstein was once traveling on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket but couldn’t find his ticket.  So, he reached in his trouser pockets.  It wasn’t there either, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

“The conductor said, ‘Dr Einstein, I know who you are.  We all know who you are.  I’m sure you bought a ticket.  Don’t worry about it.’

“Einstein nodded appreciatively and the conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets.

“As he was ready to move to the next car, the conductor turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

“The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are.  No problem.  You don’t need a ticket.  I’m sure you bought one.’

“Einstein looked at him and said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am.  What I don’t know is where I’m going.'”

Having said that Billy Graham continued,

“See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit.  My family are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age.  I used to be a bit more fastidious.  So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.

You know what that other occasion is?  This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. 

But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing.  I want you to remember this:

I not only know who I am … I also know where I’m going.”

Billy Graham was a truly great man who was a powerful example of how a godly life should be lived.  And then, as he aged, a wonderful example of what our attitude should be when we are looking toward the end of our life.

On this Sunday, I wish for you the peace that Dr. Graham had of knowing where you are going.


Fighting Our Battles

June 28, 2009

 

 Chronicles 5:20  They cried out to God during the battle and He answered their prayer because they trusted Him.

Whatever our battle is — physical, mental, spiritual — God will help us with it if we just ask and trust.


Selective Memory

April 4, 2009

 

“Blessed are those who give and then forget, but receive and always remember.”

Happy Saturday.


Thanking Him in All Circumstances

March 29, 2009

 

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Dear God:

I want to thank you for what you have already done. I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking you right now. 

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am going to thank you right now.  I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am going to thank you right now. 

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank you right now.  I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive.  I am thanking you because I made it through the day’s difficulties.  I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.  I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better.

I’m thanking you because FATHER, YOU haven’t given up on me.

God is just so good, and he’s good all the time. THANK HIM.

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My blogging friend, Dawn at A New Day Dawns posted this recently.  She had gotten it from an internet e-mail (no author given)  and if I’ve seen it before, I’ve forgotten, so I asked her permission to share its powerful message here too.  The reminder it gives us to thank Him in all circumstances seems particularly appropriate in these uncertain times. 

Dawn also had another post recently that touched my heart.  It’s her personal thoughts about waiting for God’s decision about something you (or your child) really want.

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On this Sunday, may you be especially blessed and inspired by the faith of others!


Be a “Weaver”

March 8, 2009

 

I recently read the following quote in Guidepost, a little Christian magazine that I have received all of my married life.  For many years the subscription was a gift from my mother.  After she was gone, my daughter continued the gift. 

“Weave your beliefs into the very fabric of your day.  When you do, God will honor your good works, and your good works will honor God.”

~ A. R. Bernard, minister, from his book  Happiness Is … Simple Steps to a Life of Joy


“Good Works-ing” My Way to Heaven . . .

February 15, 2009
 
. . . ain’t gonna’ happen!

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.  10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Any good works I do should be a result of  my thankfulness for my salvation purchased by the blood of my risen Savior, not in an attempt to buy salvation for myself.