December 7, 1941: A Day That Will Live In Infinity

War is horrific, war is destructive, war kills people and war affects lives.

The silence of the morning was broken with the exploding sound of bombs.

The clearness of the sky became colored in the bright reds of fire and the darken black of smoke.The lives of countless soldiers, sailors, and citizens were forever changed as they survived, or were injured or died on December 7 1941, a day that will live in infinity.

Seventy-Five Years has passed since the American naval fleet was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. However, as we pause to commemorate this day let us not forget the cost of war.

In the years since Pearl Harbor America has fought in seven wars with our best and brightest paying the ultimate price.   

World War II – 405,399

Korea – 54,246

Vietnam – 58,209

Operation Desert Storm – 284

The War in Iraq – 7,222

The War in Afghanistan – 20,049

Regardless of how the war is started, either when America was attacked as it was on December 7, 1941 in Honolulu.  Or when American is attacking as it was on March 20, 2003 in Baghdad.

War is horrific, war is destructive, war kills people and war affects lives.   

2,403 Americans died and 1,178 were wounded on

December 7, 1941.  A day that will live in infinity, as described by President Franklin Roosevelt as he spoke to the Congress asking for a delectation of war against Japan.     

The dead and injured came from all walks of life and from all over the nation.  Including my uncle, a young navy seaman from Gray, Georgia named William Bland.   

As this day comes to a close, I hope that everyone reading this post will take a moment before going to bed to remember what happened seventy-five years ago on this day.  December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infinity.

Knowing What Mary Knew

In a passage of scripture known as Mary’s Song of Praise (Luke 1: 46-56), the mother of Jesus tells the world that she knows the importance of the baby boy she is carrying,

One of my favorite songs of the Advent season is Mary Did You Know?  Written by Lamont Savory, Buddy Greene, and Mark Lowry, this wonderful song proposes to remind, or perhaps even tell Mary about the child that she has delivered.   

Scripture reveals that Mary knew all along that her baby boy would walk on water, give sight to the blind, make the death hear and the dead live again.

Shortly after being told by the angel of her divine pregnancy, Mary travels to Judah to see her cousin Elizabeth, who also was with child.  When Mary greets Elizabeth, the child in her – who grows up to become John the Baptist – jumps for joy.  Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaims to Mary, “Bless are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42, NRSV).

Mary is deeply moved by these amazing encounters – first with the angel and then with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary’s response can’t be contained in normal prose; her noble soul overflows in a song of praise.

In a passage of scripture known as Mary’s Song of Praise (Luke 1: 46-56), the mother of Jesus tells the world that she knows the importance of the baby boy she is carrying, when she says:

“I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened –
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten.”

Mary knew the importance of her baby!

However, the question is, “During this busy Christmas season, with shopping and presents, holiday parties and the like, do we know what Mary knew?”

Do we know the importance of Mary’s baby?

6 Ways To Be A True Covenant Friend

A covenant relationship can best be described as a promise. However, it is not a casual promise or a promise of convenience. The type of promise of a convenient relationship is “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this happen”-type of promise.

God wants us to have people in our lives that we can experience deep connections with.  God wants us to have people in our lives who can we have intimate communicants.  God wants us to have people in our lives where we can experience selfless sharing.

God wants us to have friends.

Proverbs 18:24 says: “A person who has friends must themselves be friendly”. Therefore, to be truly friendly a friend often has to take the lead going the extra mile to establish the friendship.

While God wants us to have friends, and God wants us to put in the extra effort to make friends. God also puts into our lives special people with whom we are to have a covenant relationship.

A covenant relationship can best be described as a promise.  However, it is not a casual promise or a promise of convenience.  The type of promise of a convenient relationship is “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this happen”-type of promise.

What’s more a convenient promise is a one-way promise.  It’s a promise that you make for the benefit of someone else. It is not a mutual agreement for mutual benefit promise. It’s a choice that you make to benefit someone else or a group of “someone-else’s” without concern about whether it may benefit you.

The relationship between David and Jonathan demonstrates many of the hallmarks of what a convenient relationship and convenient promise should look like.

It is clear from the biblical record that God put Jonathan in David’s life at a crucial time in his journey to the throne.  For if it were not for Jonathan’s covenant relationship with his friend, David would never have been able to overcome the obstacles he faced during the reign of King Saul.

God is a God of covenant relationships. A covenant is God’s promise of His grace to unite Himself with His chosen people. Examples of God initiating covenant relationship can be found with Noah (Genesis 9:9-17), Abraham (Genesis 15:18; 17:2), Moses, and the nation of Israel (Exodus 19). God’s very nature ensures and testifies of His faithfulness to always fulfill His covenant with us despite our weakness and failure to adhere to our faithfulness with God (Exodus 32).

Lee Grady is the former editor the Christian website called Charisma. He writes about six qualities that Jonathan brings to his covenant relationship with David. I share these qualities with the hopes that all of us should consider emulation

  1. Jonathan nurtured a spiritual bond. 

After David killed Goliath and moved to Saul’s palace, the Bible says “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David” (1 Samuel 18:1). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. All Christians should experience a sense of family connection, but there are certain friends you will feel deeply connected to because God is putting you in each other’s lives for a reason. Don’t resist this process. Let God knit you to people.

  1. Jonathan showed sacrificial love. 

Jonathan loved David so much that he risked his life to help him fulfill his mission. Jonathan even dodged Saul’s spear in his effort to help his friend. He lived in the spirit of Jesus’ words about friendship: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). The world says we should only care about our own success. But the best way to become more like Jesus is to help someone else succeed!

  1. Jonathan always offered encouragement. 

When David was fleeing from Saul in the wilderness, Jonathan traveled to Horesh to cheer up his friend (1 Samuel 23:16). There were times in David’s life when he had to encourage himself, but in this case Jonathan was God’s instrument. We need each other! If you allow the Holy Spirit to speak life and hope through you, your words can propel your friends into their destiny.

  1. Jonathan offered his friend protection. 

When Jonathan realized his father was plotting to kill David, he not only warned him of danger but he concocted a plan to deliver his friend (1 Samuel 19:1-4). Friends don’t let friends get massacred in spiritual warfare. If you see a friend making a foolish mistake, or if you sense the enemy is targeting him, God can use you to avert a disaster. Speak the truth in love.

  1. Jonathan kept his friend’s pain confidential. 

David confided in his friend Jonathan, and in some cases he poured out his heart in frustration. At one point he said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity?” (1 Samuel 20:1). When I’m going through a difficult trial, I sometimes just need to vent. And I have loyal friends who let me process my pain … and they don’t run and tell others else about my weakness. This is true friendship.

  1. Jonathan harbored no jealousy. 

At one point in David’s journey, Jonathan realized his friend would one day be king of Israel. This was actually Jonathan’s inheritance, since he was Saul’s son, but he acknowledged that God had chosen David instead. So he gave David his royal robe, his armor and his weapons (see 1 Samuel. 18:3-4).

Final Thoughts

This is a beautiful picture of how we are to prefer and honor each other. Jealousy destroys friendship. If we have God’s love in our hearts, we will want our friends to surpass us.

If you’ve been hurt in previous relationships, break out of your isolation and ask God to heal your heart. Then choose to be a Jonathan to someone else.

 

My Friday Night Dates With Gwen

I loved my Friday night dates with Gwen on Washington Week because there was no shouting, or grandstanding. My dates with Gwen were simply the best half hour of news and information to be found.

On most Friday nights regardless of what I was doing or who I happened to be dating I had a date with Gwen.

My date was with Gwen Ifill, who covered politics for some of the country’s premier newspapers before transitioning to broadcast journalism and making her greatest mark as the host of Washington Week.

Ms. Ifill who also served as the co-anchor the PBS News Hour died on November 14th after a yearlong battle with endometrial cancer, she was 61.

Lead by Ms. Ifill, Washington Week features intelligent reporting of the events of the day by the print and the electronic journalist who are coving them.

I loved my Friday night dates with Gwen on Washington Week because there was no shouting, or grandstanding.  My dates with Gwen were simply the best half hour of news and information to be found.

The only problem I had with the program was it was only a half hour.

–  The half hour was not enough for the difficult subjects the program tackled.

– The half hour was not enough for the depth of reporting that the show included.

– The half hour was not enough for the brilliance of Gwen Ifill.

And now my half hour dates with Gwen are over.   However, like the great reporters of my life, Water Cronkite, Helen Thomas, and James Baldwin her influence with me will live on.

All thanks to my Friday night dates with Gwen.

I Am Thankful for Forgiveness

Jesus said in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Across our nation this Thanksgiving, families will gather; there will be discussions, disagreements and debates stemming from the judgements we all made about the Presidential Election. Since the election, I have been doing a lot of judging. I judged the Democratic Nominee, I judged the now President-Elect, and I judged all their supporters.   

With the passage of time and the conviction of Jesus and his Word, I am thankful this Thanksgiving for forgiveness. I ask for forgiveness for judging all Trump supporters as racist. I ask for forgiveness for judging all Clinton supporters as incompetent losers. I ask for forgiveness for all the foul, cruel, repulsive things that I thought in judgment during this campaign. I ask for forgiveness from everyone I have judged. For in judging, I have often misunderstood, misinterpreted and misconstrued from where people were coming.

Therefore, should I vow to stop judging? No, but I will try! Nevertheless, like all sin, judging is in our human nature. However, I am praying for divine power to help me. I plan to stay close to Jesus this Thanksgiving, as I gather in discussion, disagreement and debate:

  • To consider and respect the point of view of the person with whom I disagree 
  • To work to find common ground          
  • To love my neighbor as myself, and to forgive.   

I am thankful for forgiveness this Thanksgiving. I am confident that if we exercise forgiveness, then our discussions, disagreements and debates over the election will carry less judgements.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,’” (Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV).

I am thankful for forgiveness!

A Thanksgiving Feast of Love

In just a few days Americans will gather for the feast of feeding, called Thanksgiving.  Before us, will be plates filled with turkey, dressing, vegetables and other good things to feed ourselves.   

I am a student at Columbia Theological Seminary.  Recently our President, Leanne Van Dyk, relayed this story about a Cherokee father and his daughter.

The father was teaching his daughter about life, and he tells her, “A fight is going on inside me.”

“It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he has anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and lies inside of him.  The other wolf has goodness – joy, peace, love, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith inside of him.  This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”

The young child thought about it for a minute and then asked her father, “Which wolf will win inside of you?”

The Cherokee Father replied, “The one I feed.”

If you spend any time watching our political discord, have seen what is going on in our streets, or dialog on social media, it seems as if we are not feeding each other much love.  This Thanksgiving, along with the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie, let’s feed ourselves some love.

Jesus tells us the second commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).  As a Thanksgiving gift, I would like to give you a serving of love for your feast.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (Mark 12:31), NLT)

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and let’s feed ourselves and those around us with love.

What Do You Do with The Mad That You Feel?

Brothers and Sisters,

Regardless of your political opinion, this week has been epic with the election of Donald Trump as our next president.

Many who supported Secretary Clinton are mad about the outcome.

Many who supported Mr. Trump were mad about the direction of the country, and voted for a different outcome.

Irrespective of why we are mad, the question today is, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?”

In 1968, America was mad!

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

The war in Vietnam was raging, with young Americans being killed by the hundreds weekly.

American Cities were aflame – there were riots in Detroit, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Wilmington.

Fred Rogers, the beloved host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, wrote a song that attempted to put the madness of 1968 into context for children of the day.

I present this song in hopes that all of us, regardless of our side of the divide in this election, we will learn what to do with the mad that we may feel.

Peace, Grace and Love

Your Brother In Christ

Marben  

What do you do with the mad that you feel?

Written by Fred Rogers | © 1968 Fred M. Rogers

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.