Monday, November 24, 2008


Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, old Eddie walked to the pier with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to him and he would feed them. Many years before, in October, 1942, this same man, then a much younger man known as Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.

But somewhere over the South Pacific his Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran out, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, weather, and scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five, the biggest shark, ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, the one proved most formidable was starvation. Eight days out, their rations were gone, and it would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle did occur. Captain William Cherry had finished Bible reading and a prayer for deliverance and they had sung a hymn of praise. With hats pulled down over their eyes to keep out some of the glare, the men tried to doze off.

But then something landed on Captain Eddie's head, and somehow he knew it was a sea gull. He and his men stared at the big bird, for it meant food. Captain Eddie caught the seagull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and they were all rescued because one lone sea gull, hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

Captain Eddie made it back and he never forgot. After he retired and until he died, every Friday evening, at about sunset, the old man filled his bucket to feed the gulls, and to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle, like manna in the wilderness, so all could live. And until he died, he never neglected to give them thanks.

Now that's something to remember on Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Now and then I enjoy watching a dog show on TV. Not a show with a dog who rescues a little boy, but a real dog show - where the impeccably dressed dog owners parade around polished pedigreed pooches to show off their unique canine quality. These dogs have been trained to stand confidently with chins lifted high, their shiny coats carefully brushed and styled, as they are poked and prodded by judges. To me, they all look like winners.

But when the audience is gone, I wonder what these dogs are really like? Do they ever relax and let their sleek fur get matted in the mud? Do they nip at each other, or even at their master? Do they ever get "doggie breath?" Do their masters let them have a little fun or is life always training for the show?

But a more important question is what are we really like when no one is watching. Someone once said "Integrity is what you are when no one is watching."  In Matthew 23:2-7, Jesus rebuked those who were interested in how they looked in public rather than how they were seen by God. Jesus wants us all to be obedient, faithful and committed to Him, even when nobody else is looking. The Pharisees focused on the way they were perceived by others. God's focus is on what we're like inside. His desire is for us to be like His Son.

We are not in competition with other Christians. God will never ask us to compete for "Best In Show." He measures us by the perfect standard of His Son. St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:13, "Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

And because we cannot ever measure up, He forgives us and by the Holy Spirit's power helps us do better. Jesus' whole life is for us. Everything He did was to make us perfect in God's eyes.

God loves us just as we are, but He won't let us stay that way for long.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It was Sunday morning in a small church in the south. About a hundred or so people were present to hear the Word of God, sing His praises and have fellowship together. Little six-year-old Tommy Jackson was full of vim and vinegar, squirming when he should be sitting and jabbering when he should be quiet. Pastor's sermon that day was on prayer and it was appropriate, for Tommy's Mom and Dad had been praying for him to be quiet all morning. But to no avail. Tommy would not sit still and would not be quiet.

Finally during the offering Tommy dropped a hymnal on the floor with a loud bang and he blurted out. "Damn!" His mortified Dad grabbed him by the seat of his pants, tossed him over his shoulder and headed down the aisle for the back door. Everyone, Tommy included, knew what was coming next. Just as he disappeared out the door, Tommy said loudly, "Y'all pray for us!"

It's time to pray for our country. We've been acting out and irritating each other when we need to be quiet and hear the voice of God. The economy has had us squirming and the election has had us jabbering nonsense. In general, we've become immature children who need to be taken to the woodshed. What we really need is to sit still and to pray for each other and for our country.

"Y'all pray for us!" I was encouraged last Sunday when my pastor, an Air National Guard chaplain, prayed for our president-elect. I know he didn't vote for him, but that didn't stop him from leading us in prayer for him. I was encouraged by several articles in the newspaper which told of churches praying for our nation and all its leaders. But besides prayer, I believe our elected officials need to be taken to the woodshed. Never have I seen so much self-centeredness and foolish talk coming from the mouths of those who should know better.

"Y'all pray for us!" Yes, pray a lot, and to the True God, not some idea that blends all gods into one. Pray for our nation and our leaders to grow up and stop acting like selfish children. Pray for churches to lead according to God's Word and not the latest opinion poll. Pray for courts to stop treating humans like throw-aways. Pray for the family to be protected from those who would destroy it. Pray for our soldiers to defeat the enemy and come home. Pray for youth to grow up and be the responsibile adults so many of us have failed to be.

"Y'all pray for us!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


On this National Election Day, I would like to give you this small poem to consider. It can help calm our hearts, and give us all hope for the future:

"GATE OF THE YEAR" (by Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908)

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!"
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God;
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."

So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night;
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So, heart, be still! What need our little life,
Our human life, to know, If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife Of things both high and low,
God oft hideth His intention.

Put your hand into the hand of God.