Monthly Archives: May 2014
The current issue of Decision Magazine, June 2014, has an article by Franklin Graham entitled, “Following Orders.” He tells the story of Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who did not surrender until 30 years after WWII ended. He was assigned a secret mission by his commanding officer and sent to the remote Philippine island of Lubang in 1944 and served faithfully until a Japanese adventurer told him the war had ended and the Japanese military located Onoda’s retired commander and sent him to the island to officially relieve Onoda of his duties. Graham explains that our battleground is life and that our commander left us here on earth to share the gospel and make disciples.
Followers of Christ are called by Him to continue in obedience to the Great Commission until His return. We are not to yield to the world, the flesh or the devil. Loyalty to the Savior and faithfulness to His commands are our supreme calling. We are holdout soldiers in God’s great army, wielding the sword of the Lord.
We ate our way through our last full day in SoCal. We started by taking Carol’s parents, Tom & Barbara, out to breakfast. Later, we joined Carol’s sister, Nancy and her husband Russ, for lunch in Seal Beach. There was even a seal looking for handouts by the pier. We closed out the day with dinner with Jonathan and Amanda in Downtown Disney. It was a full, filling, and enjoyable day.
On this Day of Memorial 2014, let me say, “Thanks!” to the men and women who have served, fought, defended, and died for our country to secure and protect our freedom. Thank you for your faithfulness and patriotism. In particular, I want to thank the ones I have known personally who have served in the military–Dad, Jack, Dave, Carl, Dan, Luke, Jarol, Alan, Harlow, Jerry, Bob, Ralph, Carol, Conrad, Chris, Jack, Joe, Dan, Josh, and many others whose names I’ve forgotten–in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and peacetime. Thank you. We’re in your debt.
Carol, Jonathan, Amanda, and I enjoyed the day at Sea World on Saturday. Prior to the killer whale show at Shamu Stadium, I observed two things that Sea World was doing that could be transferred to the local church. The first was their strategic use of preshow infotainment. The second was the importance of single minded focus.
When we pulled into the parking lot of Sea World this morning, there were a handful of protesters outside the park shouting about being kind to animals. One sign said that Sea World was an orca prison. Before the killer whale show, Sea World spent 10 minutes giving an infomercial about how they rescue animals, care for their physical and medical needs, and release back into the wild those who can survive. They were intentional about educating the public about their philosophy and values.
The church could learn much from Sea World about communicating philosophy and values. Our church uses PowerPoint slides prior to the worship service to communicate upcoming events. We should consider producing videos that highlight and explain what we are doing in our various ministries. We should think creatively how to better communicate not only what we are doing, but why we are doing it.
The second principle I learned from Sea World was the importance of single minded focus. Part of the infotainment included Bindi Irwin and Jack Hanna encouraging people to give to a project to help clean and maintain our oceans. They repeated the theme of one–one planet, one ocean, and that one person working with others could make a difference.
Again, the church could learn from this principle. Far too often, we allow people to set and follow their own agendas. We allow them to operate independently rather than encouraging them to fully engage with the rest of the body. The church needs a clear sense of vision and direction. We need to rally people so that the entire body is moving in the same direction and pursuing the same goal. We need a strong sense of one-minded devotion towards fulfilling our purpose and direction. Tying this with the first lesson, the leadership of the church needs to cast a clear vision and then continue to communicate it over and over until we move forward in unity to reach the goal.
It’s amazing what you can learn when you pay attention and learn from others, even from a killer whale.
Carol, Jonathan, Amanda, and I headed south and spent the day at Sea World in San Diego. We enjoyed the wonder of God’s creatures as we observed the dolphins, killer whales, seal lions, seals, gymnasts, and all the trainers. We enjoyed decent weather, good food, and time with family. It was a good day.
Today, Carol and Amanda and I visited the cemeteries in SoCal where my family members are buried. I’m fortunate that my father, mother, and brother knew Jesus Christ as Savior and are now in heaven. But their earthly bodies reside in three different cemeteries. Dad passed away in 1983 and his body is in Forest Lawn in Cypress, a few minutes from my in-laws home. Mom passed away in 2005 and is buried in Riverside National Cemetery along with my stepfather. My brother died in 1998 and is buried in Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside. The drive and visits allowed me to reflect on what each one meant to me and what they contributed to my life. It also allowed Carol and me to share some family history with Amanda.
Book Review: A short walk to the edge of life: How my simple adventure became a dance with death—and taught me what really matters, by Scott Hubbartt
Whenever I travel, I look for a novel or a riveting story to keep my attention and help pass the time while flying. Scott Hubbartt’s story of survival during a trek through the treacherous backcountry canyons of the Peruvian Andes captured my attention as I flew from Boston to Los Angeles recently. Once I started the story, I could not stop until reaching the end. Not only is it a fascinating story, but the author shares the valuable lessons he learned during his adventure.
The author was a military veteran with years of survival training. He was considered to be an expert adventurer. Yet he bypassed the advice of those closest to him, ignored some of the lessons he had been taught, and walked himself into a harrowing, life-changing adventure.
The adventure started when Scott went for a walk in the Peruvian puna, the high desert region of the Andes mountains characterized by dry, barren, windswept, and rocky terrain. He was searching for some of the cities and regions mentioned in his wife’s grandfather’s will. He set out on what he thought as a simple eight-hour hike. Missing the trail and hiking through a region with numerous minerals in the ground that threw off his compass, he became hopelessly lost for five days. As a result, Scott faced dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion.
Along the way, Scott came to the end of himself and called out to God for help. He began to pray fervently, “Whatever you want, Lord. I accept your will. Your will is my will, Lord. Whatever you want.” In his reflections, he said,
As a flawed and broken man, I knew that my stubbornness and selfish ambitions, not to mention my lack of wisdom, had landed me in a desolate and remote place, perhaps to die. I frequently turned to God for guidance. Before this experience, I don’t think I had been listening very well for what he was saying to me. I now know that he wanted me to ask him what his desires were. I needed to find out what he wanted. I needed to put him first; I needed to submit. I need to approach him on my knees.
When I was lost and spotted the first green grove of vegetation in the canyon below, then climbed down seeking relief from my torment, I used all my skills and training to search for water. I cut cane, dug into the rocky riverbed, and made solar stills—all to no avail. I squeezed moisture in the form of salty silt through my underwear. But despite all my knowledge, experience, and efforts, my situation only got worse. Then something changed. Instead of asking for, pleading for what I wanted—to have God rescue me—I submitted to God’s will. I asked him to make me his servant. I resigned myself and accepted his plan, even if that included dying in the canyon. Death surely wasn’t my first choice, nor was it easy to put my pride and self-sufficiency aside, but I knew that there was only one path left to me—simple trust. That’s when things began to change.
A very compelling and encouraging tale of how to survive the worst that life dishes out. Well worth an afternoon read.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.