Veteran’s Day

I heard at church this weekend that Veteran’s Day was coming up, and I’m embarassed to say I had no idea.  I mean, I’m sure I would have heard about it before Tuesday, but still….

Tomorrow is Veteran’s day.

I’ve never served in the armed forces, and am veteran of no war.  But there was always something about the armed forces that stirred something in me.  I remember learning the pledge of allegiance back when I was in elementary school, and turning toward the flag.  Sometimes it was hard to make it all the way through, even as a kid.

Now, it’s worse.  Now, when I see the flag somewhere, and think about the men and women serving overseas on my behalf, it’s sometimes almost overwhelming.  There is a war going on, and people are being killed.  Thanks to our military, they are not being killed in America.  This is because we are bringing the fight to the enemy. 

Yes, it is an unpopular war, and we currently have an unpopular commander-in-chief.  It was the same during Viet Nam.  Yet now, as then, people are being freed.  And also now, as then, our troops are often not afforded the respect and gratitude they deserve.

Think what you want about the war, and the decision to send troops overseas.  People talk about the war going on not being a worthwhile one, and that soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors are dying in vain.

I’m sure they don’t think so.  Neither do I.

The truth is that we have a volunteer armed forces.  They are not drafted.  They are not conscripts.

They volunteer.

They volunteer to serve, knowing that they could be sent to fight. 

They volunteer to serve, knowing that they could be killed, or maimed, or have to kill other people.

They volunteer to serve, so that I have the right to say they’re fighting an unjust war, and dying in vain

They volunteer to serve, so that I do not have to.

I think it’s fitting that Veteran’s day is so close to Thanksgiving.

Because I’m thankful.

Partakers in His suffering

November 5, 2008

Partakers of His Suffering

. . . but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings . . . —1 Peter 4:13

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. Because of this process, you will never be surprised by what comes your way. You say, “Oh, I can’t deal with that person.” Why can’t you? God gave you sufficient opportunities to learn from Him about that problem; but you turned away, not heeding the lesson, because it seemed foolish to spend your time that way.

The sufferings of Christ were not those of ordinary people. He suffered “according to the will of God” ( 1 Peter 4:19 ), having a different point of view of suffering from ours. It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. When it comes to suffering, it is part of our Christian culture to want to know God’s purpose beforehand. In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering— the way of the “long road home.”

Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings?

Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through— we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize— “God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!”

–Oswald Chambers

Deliver Me

I heard Jenny’s dad practicing this song over the weekend, and I had never heard it before–at least I don’t remember hearing it.  But it resonated in my heart.  Take this one lyric, for instance….

           “all of my life, I’ve been in hiding..”

There’s a Sarah Brightman version out there, but I think this is better:

Grrrrrrrrr…….

I was just thinking about something, and it got me a little ticked off.   Mostly, it’s that I’m tired of all the crap one has to put up with around election time, especially if you’re a conservative.  Which I am, and I will even go one step further and “out” myself as a Republican.  Though I will also say that I want what’s best for my country, and if that person is a Democrat, or Peace and Freedom person, or a Libertarian, then I will vote for that person.

But what I am tired of is the disgustingly liberal-slanted media bias that is so very prevalent right about now.  Not only do you not get a conflicting viewpoint, but if you so happen to find a forum to express one, you are at the least ridiculed, and in some cases nearly burnt in effigy.  People like Bill Maher do this.  And those MacBethian witches on “The View.”

They hate the war, they hate Bush even more. Yes, we know.  They talk about America like it is some third world dicatorship with a mentally-challenged despot at the helm, and our only hope for salvation is a first term senator from Illinois.

All you hear about are all the bad decisions Bush made as President, and all the good ones Obama will make after/if he’s elected.  Do they seriously mean to say that EVERY decision President Bush made was a bad one?  If that were true, how would he have been elected for a second term?  Or for that matter, do they mean to say that every decision Clinton made was a good one?  Or that the same would be true of any Democratic President once he or she is elected?

How would a sitting Democratic President have responded differently when the country was attacked?  We’ll never know.  But sometimes, horrible as it is, war has to happen to change things.  It’s happened in our country before, and it has happened again in the middle east.  It’s even happening here in a sense–though a different kind of war.

What if France had not lent us assistance during the Revolutionary war, when we were trying to win our independence?  What if we had not aided Europe during WWII?  That was not our war, either.  Is it different somehow because it the lives that were involved were prettier in some way, or more like the rest of us?  Because oil was not involved?  Because the person murdering his own countrymen was a little more crazy than the former President of Iraq, or Osama Bin Laden?

But what really gets my panties in a bunch the most is that these very people, the ones that are vilifying President Bush and really almost any other Republican, the ones who cry out for CHANGE, and to bring the troops home at a cost they really have only the most rudimentary of ideas about–these very people are afforded those rights, the right to say whatever the hell they want to by the very people they are in essence giving the finger to.

How many countries in the world can you say whatever you want to about the government without any fear of reprisal?  How many places on earth are you allowed to have an opinion, and tell others about it without having a bayonet or something like it stuck through your throat?

Not that damn many, and the ones that do afford that type of liberty to the people that live there do it because there are men and women out there FIGHTING, KILLING, and DYING on their behalf.  So they can have their opinions, and protests, and the right to burn pictures of their president, or even their own flag.

So when all I hear from the media around election time is that whatever party I happen to support, if it isn’t theirs, is wrong, that makes me angry.

When I am condescended to and more or less told have no right to an opinion, it pisses me off.  Sure, not every liberal lives in doucheville.  Nor is every conservative a saint. 

But I think the country deserves to hear the entire story.  I think the people that live here have the right to know what’s going on, and even a CAVEMAN (sorry, Geico) can see that isn’t happening now.

And what will happen if/when Obama gets elected?  If all the country is ever allowed to hear is a liberally slanted viewpoint?  The former is possible, and maybe even likely, given what I’ve been complaining about the past few paragraphs–and the latter is more and more evident with every passing day.

If all you are offered is pretty sounding rhetoric, and vague promises of change, how will you know the truth when you hear it?

If the media out there today has anything to say about it, you won’t hear the truth.

And that part doesn’t make me angry so much as depress me a little.  I just love my country so much, and I hate the way things have been going, and will likely continue to go, unless people pull the wool from over their eyes and are willing to see what is really going on around them.

Unless they truly want to take part in change, and not just listen to someone else talk about it.

Luke 15: 17-20

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
      “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

I was reading Luke yesterday morning in Yuma, and something about the preceding passage struck me.  Not so much the son’s apparent repentance–to me that smacked of forced contrition, not true remorse.  He’s broke, and hungry, and has nowhere else to go.   He’s just relating what he’s going to do, not baring his heart, or even seeking forgiveness.  He came to his senses, it says, but that’s all.  Could have just been talking about finding a meal at that point.

What impacted me most was the father.

His grace toward the son.

The passage mentions that he sees his son when he was still a long way off, so he had to be outside looking for him.  Scanning the horizon.  Desperate to see his son return.

Looking.

Waiting.

Hoping.

Not seeing.

It does not say how long he looked for his son.  Only that:

 “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

It kind of makes you think about the shepherd looking for his ONE lost sheep, rather than writing it off because he still has 99.  He will pursue the lost one, and he will be filled with Joy when he makes it back home with that one sheep across his shoulders.

That’s the same Joy God feels when we return to the fold.

How he felt when, like the prodigal, I came to my senses. 

He felt joy.  And scripture also tells us that angels rejoice.

But look again at the father’s reaction upon seeing his son.

“his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

He did not stand waiting with his arms crossed, brow furrowed with displeasure.  He did not grudgingly accept a tentative and awkward apology.

He was filled with compassion for his son, and he ran to him.

He ran.

He ran, probably forgoing all semblance of dignity. 

He ran, robes flying, probably with arms extended.  Running across the field to his lost son.

He ran, and he was filled with compassion.

He ran, and when he got to him at last, he threw his arms around him, and kissed him.

No condemnation, no judgement.

Just love.

And he threw him a party, killed the fatted calf. 

Yesterday, I read that passage and I thought about Jesus scanning the horizon for me, desperate to see me.  I thought of him running toward me with his arms outstretched, running across a field to get to me.  He’d been waiting for me all the time I’d been holding out, waiting for me to come to him.  Waiting for me to come burdened, and afraid, and encumbered by the world.

Me, in my dirty robes.

Me, dirty and starving, dripping with sin and unrepentance.

Me, covered in the filth of my journey home.

Me.

And there was rejoicing in heaven.