"Gomenesai, Lord Jesus, amen!"
Monday, May 27, 2013
Dr. Joe Morgan was speaking to a crowd near the Pearl Harbor Memorial, recalling the attack of the Japanese in 1941. Joe had been stationed on Ford Island, in the center of Pearl Harbor. At 7:55 AM, he heard planes as the bombing began. The nineteen year-old Texan, who had joined the Navy to "see the world", was confused as machine gun bullets rained down. As he watched his fellow sailors fall, bleeding and dying around him, his confusion turned to a fear and then to hatred as he saw the symbol of the rising sun pass overhead on plane after Japanese plane.
He first tried to hide, but seeing the other men around him scramble for weapons, he settled into a machine gun nest and managed to shoot down several Japanese planes. Although Joe was a Christian, he found himself hating a nation and its people that in the end, killed 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians, in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Joe and others stayed at their posts all night, in case of another attack, and during that night, Joe said a prayer that changed his life. He promised God that if he survived that war, he would become a preacher. Although he kept his promise to God, he never quite got over his hatred towards the Japanese people.
In 1954, fresh out of the seminary, Joe became a pastor of the Wailuku Baptist Church in Maui. Two years later, he heard that Mitsuo Fuchida, commander of the naval air forces that led the attack on Pearl Harbor, was coming to Maui, so Joe went to hear his speech. He listened with awe as Fuchida told of his conversion to Christianity. After Fuchida's talk ended, Joe went up and introduced himself to this man who had led the attack that changed his life. Mitsuo Fuchida immediately bowed low to him and said one word in Japanese. "Gomenasai." "I am sorry."
What happened next was as an important moment for Joe as any other in his life. The two former enemies shook hands, and Joe felt all the anger toward the man and his country leave. God replaced the rage of his anger with the peace of His forgiveness. Joe Morgan and Mitsuo Fuchida shook hands, now as brothers in Christ.
Forgiveness is a gift you give. It does not need the other person's contrition or sorrow, just your willingness to let go of what will hurt you more if you hold it inside. Forgiveness is thus a gift you give yourself, but it first comes from God who forgave us for our sins. We can do no less than to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is good for the soul. It helps our peace of mind as well.
“I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you.” (Matthew 5:44)
"Gomenesai, Lord Jesus, amen!"
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The Christian faith is given us for the benefit of all people, not just other Christians. Nothing illustrates this more than when disaster strikes, such as hit Moore, Oklahoma, yesterday, and Christians respond with assistance.
Children of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, want to help the victims in some way. So we pray for them, and we give them our money and other resources. We also rejoice when we see Christian agencies such as Orphan Grain Train immediately plan how they might assist with clothing, fresh water, medicines and even mobile kitchens for those who have lost their homes.
Orphan Grain Train began about thirty years ago through the efforts of Clayton Andrews of Nebraska who owned a trucking firm. He decided too many times his trucks came back from their deliveries empty, so he began finding things to bring back that will help people, used or new items, things that could be contributed to those in need.
Jesus' wrote to His disciples from John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans, but I will come to you." Thus, Andrews and other Lutheran Christians founded this highly successful and diverse ministry of procuring and sending items to people in need.
This summer I have been volunteering with sorting and packing used clothing at Epiphany Lutheran Church of Castle Rock, CO. Orphan Grain Train has become its primary social ministry, and for the past several years its members have sorted and packed over a million pounds of used clothing each year which is shipped all over the world to places in need, including places in the USA. Although their next container is scheduled to be shipped to the Ukraine, Epiphany people know that even now other Christians are packing items that will be sent to help the people of Oklahoma.
Our summer storm season is underway, and we know God will never leave us as orphans. He will bless us richly, providing our needs and providing ways for us to help others in their need. As you pray for and help the people of Moore, Oklahoma, remember with thanks the many ways Christians help each other, including also Orphan Grain Train.
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
Monday, May 13, 2013
One of the more difficult things about work is learning not to bring work problems home with you. How do you deal with your struggles at work? Or with your health? Or in your relationships?
A carpenter was hired to restore an old farmhouse, and he had a very rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him arrive an hour late, his electric saw quit, and then his ancient pickup truck refused to start so he could go home. The homeowner drove him home in stony silence. On arriving, the carpenter invited him in to meet his family.
As they walked toward the front door, the man paused briefly at a small tree, touching tips of the branches with both hands. Then he opened his door and underwent an amazing transformation. His face went from a frown to a gentle smile as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a tender kiss. The visit was brief, but the homeowner could see much love in their home.
As they walked to the car, they passed the tree and the homeowner asked him about his touching it earlier. He smiled and said, "That's my Trouble Tree. I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but my troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on that tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again as I leave. Funny thing, but in the morning there aren't nearly as many as I remember having the night before."
How do you handle your troubles? Where do you keep them? In your stressed voice, or on your face as you meet people? Do you carry them with you or can you put them aside when you come home or meet friends and family?
Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) I like that phrase, "tomorrow will worry about itself." Our Lord is our "Trouble Tree," the One we can mentally or spiritually touch and leave our worries with Him.
Jesus went to Calvary's cross, the greatest Trouble Tree on earth. There He left our sins, our guilt and our condemnation. By faith, we can do the same.
Can you reach out to your Trouble Tree to help yourself and others?
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." May 5 is my birthday. When I lived in California, I learned of the Cinco de Mayo celebration among Hispanics in many communities. It is a celebration of Mexican heritage and to commemorate the an unlikely victory of the Mexican army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
Jesus' Word from Matthew 11:28 is one of the most encouraging of all the Bible passages He has given us. If you are tired, come to Jesus. If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, come to Jesus. If the heaviness of life is crushing you, come to Jesus. Come to the Lord and He will give you rest.
Jesus said that all things have been handed over to Him by the Father. Because He is truly human, He understands completely bearing the burdens of our world. He understands the burden of human sin and the devastation it causes.
Sin has the power to destroy families, churches and the world itself. But Jesus has already defeated sin. Satan has been beaten on the cross! We do not have to carry the burden of our sins any longer. Jesus did that for us fully and completely on Calvary. And when God finishes something, it is truly finished! We do not have to do it over again. There is no burden Jesus cannot help us carry.
Several boys in a small town were playing on abandoned railroad tracks. One small boy was clumsy and the bigger boys made fun of him. They all decided to see how far they could walk while balancing on a single track. The big boys walked a long ways before falling off. The wobbly little fellow barely walked a few steps before he fell, so they laughed at him. But one of them said to the little guy, "Hold my hand!" And the two boys walked the tracks together, holding hands side by side, one on one track and one on the other. Together they walked three times as far as those who walked alone. Two together did what one could not do alone.
Jesus walks beside us too. He holds our hand when we are shaky and leads us when we are unsure or weary of the wald. He will even carry us when we are too tired. It's His promise, and Jesus never goes back on his promises.
Jesus, teach me how to help someone when they are tired and weary. Amen.
(Devotion taken from DAILY WORD FROM JESUS, my e-book of devotions for each day of the year)