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Letters of Faith in Times of War

July 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Every once in a while you pick up a book that transforms your attitude and perspective on a subject. Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War did that for me. I’ve never considered myself to be overly patriotic. Now that does not mean that I do not love my country and am ungrateful for those who have fought to give me the freedoms I enjoy every day. On the contrary, I do…I just don’t get too emotional about it nor do I traditionally make a big deal out of holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day.

That is going to change and largely due to this book that I stumbled upon while visiting the library with my daughter. Grace Under Fire is a unique collection of letters written during the major wars in US history. There are letters representing the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the first few years after September, 11th of the War On Terrorism.

What is unique about these letters is that in them the writers all addressed the different thoughts and feelings one gets when they are faced with extreme situations and death on a daily basis. This gives us not only a glimpse into the world of hardships each generation of soldier faced but we also get to see how the war affected their family at home.

Many of the letters express regret or apprehension toward taking the life of another man even if they are the enemy. Others are wonderfully written expressions of love and strengthened devotion in the face of extreme temptation to stray from a spouse. To me, the most touching were letters from Chaplains or nurses who wrote to family back home on behalf of a dead soldier they had come into contact. They contained words of comfort and assurance that their son died courageously and that his life was not lost in vain.

As is often the case in times of war, many questioned the existence of God due to the atrocities they witnessed. I loved the conclusion they came to:

“I don’t know whether God goes forth with armies but I do know that His is in lots of our men or they would not do what they do.”
“He is in the Operating Room guiding the hands of the surgeons. He is in the will of the sergeants helping organize a blood drive as only they can. He is in the hearts of the soldiers who immediately rolled up their sleeves to give what they had to save a dying brother whom they don’t even know.”

They chose to look at the goodness of God when it would have been so easy to just blame all the bad things on Him as so many do today. We could learn a lot from these men and woman.

This book has drastically changed my passion for and interest in the lives of our service men and women that defend us each and every day. They live unique and thankless lives that few of us will ever understand. I found myself getting very emotional as I learned about the fears they faced and the friends they lost. I think everyone who has even the slightest interest in biographies or history needs to pick-up this book.

If you have war letters that you think others could benefit from or you are not sure what to do with them, please contact The Legacy Project. It is an organization that collects these letters to keep this amazing part of our history from being lost. Grace Under Fire is just one of the books that has been made from this compilation of letters.

“And so I bid you adieu. Christians never say goodbye. Sooner or later we all meet again.” – Corporal William Kiessel November 13, 1943 written while waiting for a pending invasion.

Categories: Book Review

You Are God’s Temple

July 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Every Thursday morning a group of men meet at 5:30 in the morning to spend an hour in deep prayer for our church. It is a powerful hour where God never fails to demonstrate his goodness and power. Last week He gave me a word that I feel I need to write about.

While blessing the LORD for who he is a passage of scripture came to mind. It was Exodus 34:5-7

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

This is God’s self declaration so this is something we should pay attention to. These are not just attributes associated with God but they are who he is. Each one is co-existing with the others in unison and never at a point of contradiction.

So here is the point. If we believe that we are now the temple of God and his Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16) than the declaration God gave about himself should now reflect who we are. These attributes should manifest themselves through us in our homes, church, workplace and community.

If God dwells in us and from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, we should be overflowing with compassion and grace.

Our anger should be righteous but as slow in coming as flowing molasses.

Loyalty and faithfulness should be at the core of who we are. We should stand firm in God and with family and fiends when times are good or bad. We should be dependable and trustworthy.

Love for others should never be lacking but we should have such a wealth of love that giving it away is more a pleasure than a burden.

And when wickedness, rebellion and sin come against us, Forgiveness should reign.
Forgive because you have been forgiven.

The idea of being the temple, the very place in which Heaven and Earth meet, is an amazing truth. It puts us as believers in The Way in a position to partner with God so that his glory, power and love can be shown to the world…one person at a time.

You are God’s temple. He lives in you but He wants you to open the windows so everyone else can see Him through you.

Categories: God, Grace, Testimony

Growing Impatient With God

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

For my family, the past few years has been a wilderness experience. That phrase “wilderness experience” carries with it a lot of meaning. To me it does not just mean a time of lack or testing. I see it has an experience that has allowed me to focus on and see God’s guidance and provision in our lives. That is not to say that it has not been a struggle to walk through areas that appear dead but I have found an amazing sense of contentment and peace during the process. Things I would have seen as horrible I now see as a blessing.

Some days are harder than others and on those occasions I tend to momentarily shake my fist at God asking in a not-so-nice voice, “Why are we going through this?” What is different in this season of our lives is that this outburst of frustration is quickly followed by faithful declarations of our trust in His plan and our willingness to walk out the path laid before us. We only see the next portion of the plan but we know that God is good and wants nothing but to bless and prosper us so we keep walking. When the next step is visible, we take it. Is it sometimes scary or frustrating? YES!

Here is where I am going with this. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness in preparation and anticipation of the promise of a choice land that lacked nothing which God prepared for them. In this time, they constantly complained about it, even wishing to go back to Egypt and slavery. Numbers 21:4-9 tells the story of one such time.

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

A few things stand out to me.

First, is that they were only focusing no what they lacked (bread & water) instead of what they had.

Second, what God did provide them (manna) they did not appreciate and complained about it saying they “detest” it.

Third, they clung to the past instead of looking to the future with hope.

I think it is our natural tendency to follow in the footsteps of the Israelites and grow impatient with God when he does not deliver what we think he should and when we want it. I know I am guilty of it.

I have to ask myself, if I do focus on the things I have, bless God for what he has already provided and stand firm in the promise given, is it possible to not grow impatient but instead wait with confidence, expecting great things?  YES!

Preston Morrison taught a sermon this past week where he said “a test is an opportunity with the goal of success…The wilderness is merely a test and His sincerest hope is that you would succeed and past that test.”

Like the people in Numbers, God will let us re-take the test if we loose focus on the right things.

I’m grateful for His guidance in these times either through his written Word or by his speaking through others. Each time we get to that point where our fists begin to raise and doubts creep in, He sends someone to let us know He sees us and is making a path before us even if we can’t fully see it yet.

This is a song that I keep on my heart for days at a time.

Categories: Uncategorized