Bible, Life's Moments, Uncategorized

The Ethos of a Navy Seal

The Navy Seals have been in the news a lot lately. They cause us to stand in wonder. And standing in wonder has caused me to wonder what drives these guys? Well, perhaps, the statement of the Navy Seal ethic can help. Here it is:

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time.  I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

Wow! Awesome! I am absolutely thrilled with the whole, but these words from the sixth paragraph are off the chart: I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity…if knocked down, I will get back up, every time… I am never out of the fight.

I believe the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write a similar motto for fully devoted followers of the Savior. You can find it in Philippians 3:7-16. Here it is:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Passion. Does anyone doubt that Navy Seals possess it? Does anyone doubt followers of Christ possess it? As Arsenio used to say, “Just something that makes you go hmmmm.”

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Bible, Life's Moments

50 Years of the Rolling Stones

Recently, I read a brief article regarding longevity. You know, the ability to stay the course for a long span of time. The featured evidence in the article? The Rolling Stones. That’s right, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards et. al. I found the article in the Bloomberg Businessweek. I know nothing of the magazine other than my nephew, Ricci, has a subscription.

Check this out…

In 2012, the Stones celebrated their 5oth anniversary. Other celebs not so fortunate (at least not yet):

The Beatles
Johnny Carson
Led Zepplin
Michael Jackson
Madonna
Michael Jackson (or any other Jackson)
U2

Even Tower Records came and went telling us the Stones have not only out lived and out-performed many, they have even out lived some technology.

When the Stones started out a 45rpm record (two songs for those too young to know about 45’s) would cost $1.00. In 2012 dollars that would be $7.60. Today the top iTune price for a single is $1.29. Stuff cost a lot in the good ol’ days!

The average age of a Rolling Stone is 68.75. The average age of a Supreme Court Justice is 66.11. While the Stones seem to get better and better, I’m not so sure about the other guys.

The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. My sons were little fellas then and my 21 year old daughter had not yet been born. Still, the Hall of Fame didn’t slow them down. Since 1989 the Stones have played live concerts in front of 25 million people. Do the math. That is over 10 million people a year.

The Stones most recent tour, A Bigger Bang Tour, pulled in $558 million dollars. The gross domestic product of the nation of Tonga is $439 million. One tour!

And just for the record (no pun intended) the Stones have 42 gold albums, 28 platinum albums, 12 multi-platinum albums, and a diamond album. Gold albums equal 500,000, platinums a 1,000,000, diamonds 10,000,000. Only Elvis, The Beatles, and Barbara Streisand have done better.

So what’s the point in all of this information? Well, besides just the sheer impressiveness of the Rolling Stones career, it tells us something about sustainability. Purpose, desire, attitude, and more can help a person or group overcome the odds, reach and maintain success, and achieve and sustain a vision. The Bible talks about this kind of truth. A person or a group literally can will something to come about. Determination and drive can propel us to great things. And they should…except for…

…except for salvation.

King Solomon learned this truth centuries ago. In his book, Ecclesiastes, he chronicled the pursuit of meaning through desire, profit, achievement, success, wealth, power, education, and fame all wrapped up in a package called longevity. Read it. It won’t take you very long. You will find that this “wisest man in all the world” discovered something quite sobering. He learned that no amount of short or long term success, not the pursuit nor the catch, could fill the hole in his heart. Somewhere deep down inside there would always be a severe sound screaming in his soul so long as he attempted to silence it with success.

In the end, God revealed to Solomon a wonderful truth: a person can only find real and lasting meaning in the source of his being…the Creator. Ecclesiastes 3:11 puts it this way: “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Did you get that? God has set eternity in our hearts. We long for it. We yearn for it…and God alone can give it, because God alone is eternal. Anything less will never fill that hole in the heart.

Now while I understand the specific nature of the Rolling Stones song, Satisfaction, I can also see how it reveals this biblical truth: I can’t get no satisfaction. Without the eternal God there will be no victory in the vacuum of our hearts.

Outside of his music, Mick Jagger has been quoted as saying, “The elusive nature of love… it can be such a fleeting thing. You see it there and it’s just fluttering and it’s gone.” Even love cannot sustain us.

He also said, “Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.” Even our dreams, our hopes, our vision will not satisfy the longing in our lives.

Statements like these might also be why he said, “I’d rather be dead than singing “Satisfaction” when I’m forty-five.” Mick sounds a lot like Solomon: “Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Longevity is not the measure of success. If it were than one might just as well attend church for fifty years without ever really knowing the Lord.

In fact, success itself is not the true measure of success. If it were than the person dying with the most toys really would be the winner.

Longevity and success, while not irrelevant, simply are not enough. They were not enough for Solomon. They are not enough for Mick Jagger or the other Rolling Stones. And they are not enough for you or for me.

Sure, work hard. Do your best. Be your best. Never give up. Never get old. Stop being childish, but never stop being child-like. Give it your all from start to finish with as much energy as you can muster. Don’t settle for empty houses or empty accounts. Do all of this, but not when it comes to the hole in your heart or the severe screaming in your soul. For this kind of emptiness you need the Eternal.

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Bible, Life's Moments

Brewer Road

Brewer Road. Douglas County. Georgia.

My sister married into a large family that came from Brewer Road.

The last name of that family is Camp. The family is even bigger these days. Included in the family is Jeff, my nephew.

Living so far away we do not get the opportunity to know one another very well. My loss.

However, a little less than a month ago, Jeff and his Mom, my sister Barbara, came to the great northwest for a short visit. The visit was prompted by the death of my other sister, Floria. Now, okay, not the best circumstances for a visit, but still the visit was sweet. I learned a few things on account of that visit. Barbara is a great Mom. Jeff is a great son. And I’m positive I can say the same kind of thing about the rest of that Georgia family.

Jeff could not contain himself. While I have met his wife, Amanda, only once (and that on their wedding day), and have never met his beautiful little girl, McKoy, I feel as though I know them well. Jeff simply spilled and gushed tid-bits and news regarding both of them. If Jeff has ever hit a home run, shot game while it was on the move, succeeded at business beyond the expectations of others, or any other way gained some small town fame, I would not know. He didn’t talk about himself. He talked about others.

His wife.
His daughter.
His Mom.
His Dad.
His brother.
His extended family.
His co-workers.
Even the former sheriff of Douglas County (if you ever meet Jeff, you will want to ask about the Sheriff).

And it was all positive. And sometimes what he shared was priceless.

One of those stories took place on old Brewer Road. If you can recall the song by Brooks and Dunn, “Red Dirt Road,” then you’ll have a good picture of Brewer Road back in the day. Now for just a few moments allow yourself to transport back to the early 50’s. That’s right, right back in the middle of the last century. Picture for yourself an old, red dirt road stretching and winding its way through the pine trees, kudzu, scupanon vines, corn fields, and cabins with nothing but dirt for yards.

Now imagine a young man walking that old dirt road with nothing but a duffle bag hung over his shoulder. Mixed in his heart were the expectations of joy for returning home and the exasperation of pain for remembering war. His name is Ernie. He was coming home from Korea. Ernie was one of seven boys born to Fred and Manie Camp.

Imagine also a mom, dad, and six brothers standing, milling around, kicking the dust, chatting, longing, looking for him to round the curve and enter into sight. Early in the morning they gathered. Eagerly they waited. On that day they waited. Think about that…that day, for them, today, their day, his day…an epic day…a day they had contemplated and anticipated…time stood still on that day. It stood still the way you want time to stand still. It stood still with the joy of life not the humdrum of life. Time is like that. When you are focused on the event, the celebration, the glory and the hope, time is inconsequential. Ernie’s soon and coming return produced this kind of hope. It was more like an eternal moment than minutes and hours on a slow southern day.

And then it happened. No confusion. No mistake. Recognition was perfect. The son and brother came into sight. He ran. They ran. The dust of the old dirt road churned. Whoops and hollers from deep southern drawls sang their way through the dark corners of woods and swamps spreading the light of their joy. Young legs carried young men toward one another. Older legs of Mom and Dad trailed behind, not for want of enthusiasm, but simply for age. Six brothers reached their brother. The reunion would be spectacular. One brother plowed right through them. Ernie’s eyes were on Mother and Father. Yes he wanted to rejoin his brothers. He wanted to hug them. Talk with them. Catch up with them. But first…first came Mom and Dad. He ran into their arms. The son was home. The parents were content. The brothers watched. Deep satisfaction paved old Brewer Road. Beautiful. Incredible. Fantastic. I can imagine Mother Camp whispering in the ear of her returned son, “Well done. I’m so glad you are home.” I can also imagine his tears of joy.

As Jeff told me this story, his eyes also filled with joy…not tears of joy. Instead, his eyes were afire with joy. Genuine excitement moved him body and soul. He recalled his Uncle Don telling this story now enshrined in their family hall of fame. His Uncle Don—the preacher—loved this bit of family history. It reminded him of His Story. It reminded him of heaven.

Heaven, where time stands still with the event of God’s glory.

Heaven, where every reunion pales in the light of our union with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heaven, where all the out-stretched arms of loved ones who have gone before must yet remain empty of our embrace as we thrill for the promise of the Everlasting Arms.

When one finally reaches the final destination, he or she does not run into the arms of anyone other than the most beloved. So, for a little while, can you allow yourself to be transported to your final destination? Does that destination look like the one described by Jeff and before him his Uncle Don? Does your destination sound and feel like this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 21:1-6

Will your destination find time standing still with joy and expectation? Will the glory of the never-ending event of the presence of God satisfy all your longings? Will you run past all the others into the Everlasting Arms? Will you hear the Savior say, “Well done. I’m so glad you are home?” Will you?

There is a road.
There is an old dirt road.
It is paved with memories.
It’s called Brewer Road.
There is another road.
There is a long narrow road.
It is paved with life.
It’s called Salvation Road.

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Bible, Life's Moments

A Glimpse of Heaven

glimpse of heaven 150

A dear friend of mine sent me a slide show of the magnificent statue “Christ the Redeemer” that stands atop Mt.Corcovado overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The statue—standing 38 meters from foot to head—was designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by Frenchman Paul Landowski. Their work not only stands as a testament to their genius, but to our Savior. In my friend’s email, I read, “I will hold this dream close to my heart to one day make this climb and see this in person. I can only imagine !!!!!”

I can not agree with her more. I believe I would stand in absolute awe if I ever had the privilege of visiting this monument to Jesus. The pictures she sent stirred my heart…but not simply for a visit to Rio de Janeiro. It was something else. The pictures made me wonder, so I answered my friend’s email. The words I wrote then are for everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus.

“I hope you will one day fulfill your dream. I can only imagine what standing at the base of that giant statue must be like…but how much more so walking into the out-stretched arms of our Savior Jesus in heaven. Can you imagine? He embraces you. You melt into his hug. Your eyes peer over his shoulder…and you behold the vista of heaven. Rolling on and on before you is the splendor of eternity. Inhabiting the landscape is Moses…Solomon…Deborah… Rahab… Peter…Gideon…angels, my oh my, angels… seraphim and cherubim…and look, there’s Michael.

Dotting the hills and valleys and plains and mountains are mansions prepared for each of the Savior’s followers. Almost overlooked, because you gaze upon this magnificence, are the loved ones who inhabit some of those houses of holiness. On earth, you missed them ever so greatly. Now they surround the throne of God with their hands reaching toward you. No, not you. They reach toward Jesus. And then, then—only after they have filled their eyes with the Lamb of God—they turn their eyes upon you and you glory in their welcome.

Nearly undone with the millions of sensory inputs cascading through your very soul, you glance down ever so briefly only to behold that upon which you stand. Could it be? A sea of crystal? You see into it. Down into it. Deep, deep, deep down…as if it might descend to infinity. It undulates with the rhythm of heaven. Yet it is more solid than any place you have ever before placed your feet.

Having witnessed infinity at the feet of Jesus, you think to look up. The glow of the light of Christ illuminates an expanse so vast no eye can penetrate its reach. At one and the same time you see worlds flickering in the distance as you once did on earth, but you also see them up close and personal as if you were walking upon them…and at once you realize you are no longer exercising earthly eyesight, but heavenly eyesight. Never again will you see as through a mirror darkly. All of this. All of this is yours, but not yours. It is the Lord’s—and he gives it to you without reservation. You see it. You experience it. You revel in it. You long to explore it…and then that wonder fades. You look no longer upon the vistas of heaven. You no longer peer over the shoulder of Jesus. You lift your head. You turn it ever so slightly. You lift your eyes…and they meet his…can you imagine…you look into the very eyes of love and compassion and sacrifice and wisdom and grace and peace and righteousness and mercy. Yet none of these compares to something else you see.

You see God. The eternal. The infinite. The Spirit. And you finally understand. The limits of time and space and matter have been stripped away. You observe the very mystery of creation and all that was eternal before creation. Your heart accelerates. The love you feel is overwhelming. If it were not for his hug, you would fall upon your face before him. Yet still you look into his eyes…deep into an endless gaze…and you see one more thing. You see something no other will ever see. You see into the heart of the everlasting second member of the Trinity. You see him spreading his arms out wide upon that old rugged cross. You see into his soul and mind…and you see you. There in that most important moment of history…in all of his agony…as he became a sin sacrifice for the world…you were front and center in his thoughts. As blood spilled upon his now unrecognizable face, the corners of his lips lifted, because…because he smiled.

Oh my God, my marvelous God, he smiled. He smiled for you. He did. He does. He always will.

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Life's Moments

Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 12, 2010. Silverdale, WA.

No humor today. No clever turn of phrases today. Nothing creative. Still, I hope these words make a difference…

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I pause to remember that my mother-in-law’s Jewish Mom was lost to her, her family, and their offspring forever during those terrible days of World War Two. My beloved and her brother never had the privilege of meeting and knowing their Oma. My children and their cousins can only wonder, “What must she have been like?”

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I pause to remember that my mother-in-law’s non-Jewish father was lost to her, her family, and their offspring as well because he fell in love and married a Jewish lady. During those terrible days of World War Two he endured the devastation of having her swept away from him never to see her again. In the tragedy and horror of those terrible events he was also separated from his only child, Elfrieda—my dear Mother-in-Law. It was not until he was near death that she discovered he was still alive… captive, along with millions, behind the Iron Curtain.  My children and their cousins can only wonder, “What must he have been like?”

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I pause to remember that throughout the land of Israel air raid sirens pierce the air warning that the world is still filled with Adolph Hitler’s. Hamas and Hezbolah, the leaders of Iran and Syria, the leaders of the displaced Palestinians (who themselves are unwelcome in all mid-east countries), and newspapers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt do not call for peace with Israel, but for the destruction of Israel. This ugliness against the Father’s chosen follows an unbroken historical line back to 70 AD and the destruction of the Temple and the Dispersion of the Israelites from their homeland.

God is still faithful and his faithfulness to the Israeli Nation will not be broken. From the moment he said these words to Abraham,

“I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you,”

until the New Heavens and the New Earth are established, Israel will be tied to the land they inhabit. Forgetting this is a frightful thing.

God loves his chosen people. So much so that the Apostle Paul once said he would be willing to give up his salvation and his place with God if only his Jewish brothers and sisters would turn their hearts to the Messiah. Check it out…

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I pause to remember that on one special Thanksgiving holiday back in the mid-eighties, my beloved Vanita had the privilege of introducing her Mom to her Messiah…and one more child of the Father’s scattered found her way home. I also pause to remember that they now find themselves basking in the Savior’s presence. And while I do not know the eternal disposition of Vanita’s Oma and Opa, she and her Mother do…and they are able to rejoice in a more certain knowledge of the Father’s wisdom and plans, because no matter how hard the enemy of God and the enemies of God’s people try to prevail, they cannot. God is on his throne and he still reigns.

Finally, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I pause to remember that while sirens pierce the air of the Israeli homeland, they call for not only remembrance, but for prayer. So, “Father protect your people. However, I do not only mean physically. Protect them spiritually. Should this mean more suffering, then I pray they will be receptive to your call. I pray also for those who seek their destruction. I pray that an onslaught of missionaries might be raised up to invade their lands with a strategy of eternal love found in the person and work of your Son, our Lord Jesus. I pray for our President. Let him surprise and shock the world. Cause him to turn his lectern into a pulpit. Cause him to live out the words he sometimes expresses regarding a Christian worldview. And I pray for your church around the world. Break us if you must, but please bring us to our knees that we might be swept up in your decrees more than we are swept up in our nationalities, politics, and economic dreams. Amen.”

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