Be Thankful in All Things

Thanksgiving will once again be celebrated this coming Thursday. It is certainly a holiday we look forward to every year. Yet, there are so many who take this word, Thanksgiving, for granted. Just what does it really mean to you? In contemplating this question I began by thinking of  the abundance of good things that have happened in my life. Now, that is something to really be thankful for.

But wait, the scripture says to be thankful in ALL things. Okay, let me think a minute. How in the world can I be thankful for things that are anything but good; the things that bless me? How can I be expected to be thankful for the things that hurt me? Do I just stop in my tracks and say, “WoW! Thank you God for this event in my life and all the misery and discomfort it has caused?” I don’t want to have a theological dissertation about this question. I will simply say that because we all experience bad stuff in our lives it makes us even more thankful when we have the good things happen to us. Those things are what we bring to the forefront of Thanksgiving.

However, today I want to share one of the negative things I am thankful for in my life. In 1988 my fifteen year son was chased by a gang, beaten, cut up and drowned in a nasty canal. I can hear you asking, “How can you EVER be thankful for that?” I wasn’t for a very long time. I carried a lot bitterness and hatred toward another race for what they did to my son. I envisioned them having a great time cutting and laughing at him while his screams exploded in a terrifying fear and tears ruptured forth in convulsive anguish down his face. Oh my God, my God, where are you? And then, they left him to float in that putrid, stinking canal until someone found his body. I hated God, I hated that race! I hated everything and everyone around me, including myself for letting this happen. I was supposed to protect him; I was his Dad and I let him down! I did not do my job! WHY GOD, WHY? For so long I was on this campaign of self-destruction. It affected my life, and my family.

“Thank [God] in everything

[no matter what the circumstances may be,

 be thankful and give thanks],

for this is the will of God for you [who are]

 in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”

I Thessalonians 5:18 – (Amplified Bible)

 Today, I am thankful for the tremendous pain I experienced. I can hear your mind spinning and asking, how you can be grateful for this heart shattering torment? Let me explain it like this. I gave my heart to God many long years before this event. I also took what God provided me for granted. When Thanksgiving came around each year I always gave Him a great big Thank You! Not until “I fell on my knees and cried holy,” asking God to forgive me for my failure that I began to heal. I had to accept that it was my failure. Not that I couldn’t protect him but that I did not place my sorrow, grief, and anger in the only One who could calm my spirit.  I couldn’t heal on my own. It took my Father and his arms around me, lifting me from my sorrow to begin the healing. The sorrow and pain of John’s loss is not gone, but that through the blood of Christ on the cross I am able to move forward with Him.

“Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows:

 yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:

 the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5 (KJV)

I couldn’t do it on my own. All God could do is step back in the field of my despair and watch me fail. He had to wait on me. For years He waited; for years I was alone.

Photo Credit to josephjpote.com

Photo Credit to
josephjpote.com

I hope you do not mind that I decided to share this story at such a happy time of year. You see, those who have lost loved ones are reminded of them when this season comes around. Though so many years ago this happened, I still love him and miss him. That never goes away. But with the grace of God I have a promise. Because John was a Christian, I will be with him again in heaven. I smile when I think of my arm around his shoulder singing praises to our Father, forever.

 Photo Credit by: Maranatha Devotionals

Photo Credit by: Maranatha Devotionals

Wait upon the Lord. He wants us to use our energy to praise Him and give thanks for the blessings we have and realize that like Job, we can lose them at any moment. My prayer for you is that if you are alone this season, or hurting, that you come to realize you cannot change what has happened. It may take a knee scrapping encounter of forgiveness but I assure you it is well worth it. Release of hatred and anger, through forgiveness, will bring forth peace. I promise.

That my friend is why I give thanks

to our Father!

Have a great Thanksgiving with your families this year. I will be on the road from Mississippi to Washington D.C. Know that I am so thankful for all of you who have not only liked my by blog but are also following it. God Bless!

Andy

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Remembering Stupid

Each of Us Is a Book

“Two things are infinite:

the universe and human stupidity;

and I’m not sure about the universe”

Albert Einstein

A fresh cup of coffee and a cool morning breeze, a push of the porch swing and heaven is a moment away. I love this time of solitude and reflection about special memories. I recall when I was nine and dad took a pastorate in a small country town. It was a little boy’s dream to have so much to explore. The best part was the fishing ponds.  Being the preacher’s kid given me the privilege of choosing anyone’s pond.

There was two things little boy’s wanted in the 1950’s. One was a pocket knife.  He didn’t feel like a man until he had a pocket knife just like his father and grandfather.  The other was a BB gun. One summer my younger brother saved his money and purchased a Daisy Model 111-40 Red Ryder .

He was excited and ready to shoot just about anything. Taking his invitation to place cans on the fence in exchange for a turn to shoot, I joined in his excitement. Dad gave us strict instructions not to shoot until he returned from the store. My brother poured little gold BB’s in the ammo hole. He scoped down the barrel and made peow, peow sounds with his mouth.

 “Far be it from me to ever let my common sense

get in the way of my stupidity. I say we press on.”

  Sherrilyn Kenyon

             I asked if I could try. He handed me the gun and I set the stock against my cheek. My eyes slid down the barrel to the tin can focused in the v-shaped site. Now, you know that stupid little saying we over use and no longer think is funny? The one that says, “You can’t fix stupid?” I was about to see it come in to play. Someone erased the blackboard of sensibility and pulling the trigger possessed my very being. I wanted to be first to hear the ping of cans flying off the post.

 But each person is tempted when he is lured

and enticed by his own desire.

James 1:14 (ESV)

I have no idea what came over me when I pointed and yelled, “Look!” My little brother’s eyes moved away and my deceit placed the barrel on top of his barefoot big toe and pulled the trigger.

Now, you may think that that was the dumbest most hurtful thing I could have done, and I agree, it was pretty bad, but let me continue. He screamed and he hollered and he cried and hopped around on one foot, for I don’t know how long.

“It couldn’t have hurt that bad,” I said.

The same power that possessed Moses to get angry enough to kill that centurion possessed my little brother that morning. He stopped hopping around, and his tear filled spirit looked me square in the eyes and said something that placed the fear of God, and of the devil all into one phrase.

“I’m gonna tell Dad.”

I don’t know about you, but with me, those words cut clear to the bone. Dad may have been a preacher, but the forty-four inch belt, called Old Joe, around his waist was more powerful than dynamite. When that belt hit my backside it moved me so much if the skin didn’t hold in the flesh it would splatter like a million stones off the side of a mountain.

“Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”

Judy Sheindlin—Judge Judy

Shooting his big toe was pretty dumb, huh? Conversely, it was not the dumbest thing I ever did. My next few words filled that hallmark.

“If you want tell Dad, I’ll let you shoot my big toe.”

I screamed, and hollered, and cried and hopped around on one foot. Stupid was not to be fixed that day. I felt like the biggest imbecile, I believe he called me, in the world. We didn’t hear Dad’s arrival and when he heard our story he was shocked, but not surprised. Dad agreed my stupidity and pain was enough punishment and Old Joe stayed on his waist.

There is more hope for a fool than for

someone who speaks without thinking.

– Proverbs 29:20-

Sometimes we don’t understand others feelings when we do stupid things. We see the outside and think, it looks OK to me. We sluff it off and assume it can’t be all that bad. Remember, when someone says they hurt, they really do, especially if you are the one who caused the pain. To be one who is complacent and non-caring is the worst thing you can do. Pay close attention to others, in particular those you love, and what they may be feeling.  Their suffering should be our foremost concern. You know, you may be the one who needs comforting someday. Oh, so that you will know stupid did get fixed and I have my senses back, I don’t own a gun to this day.

 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born

of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world,

so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. …”

  1 John 4:7-21 ESV

 

The Roaring 20’s

“The Roaring 20’s were more than just a fun time. The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated ‘modernity’ to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World War I. As such, the period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age.” (Copied from Wikipedia)

World War I was over and things changed in America, but not for long. It seems someone is always trying to take over the world. As you know World War II was on the horizon and when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the United States were force into war. I am not here to discuss all that transpired during WWII. Rather I am here to honor my Dad who fought in that war. It is Veteran’s Day and I cannot think of a better way to honor my children’s grandfather than to honor and thank him for his life and his service to our country.

Insignia of the 312th Bomb Squadron WWII

Insignia of the 312th Bomb Squadron WWII

Dad was a part of the Roaring 20’s. Oh, he was but a child when the change started after WWI. With the draft of WWII knocking on his door, he joined the US Army and was assigned to the 5th Air Force and then to the 312th Bombardment Group stationed in the Philippines. Here was his first deployment under enemy fire. The Roaring 20’s were given their name by the fact that they would fly the Douglas A20 Havoc Attack Bomber. Now I don’t know if you have ever been around one of these planes, but if you have you know that they roar with great volume. Consequently, the Roaring 20’s were born.

Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber -WWII (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-20_Havoc)

Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber -WWII
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-20_Havoc)

Sadly, I never took the time to ask dad about his days in the US Army Air Force. I wish I had so I could tell my children and grand children about them. I did pick up a few stories from him over the years that he would convey in brief conversation. One was a time when his assigned bomber had problems and he couldn’t fly a mission. His commander gave him his plane for the mission (how nice of him). When he returned to base a jeep promptly drove out to pick him up and take him the debriefing room. When the driver saw that it was not the commander, he put it in gear and drove away. Dad never understood why since the jeep was there he couldn’t go ahead and pick him up anyway. Instead he picked no one up. Dad walked from the tarmac to the debriefing as usual.

Commander of the 312th Bomb Group. He was 90 years old in this picture.

Commander of the 312th Bomb Group. He was 90 years old in this picture.

Before WWII was over Dad earned his Captain Bars

Before WWII was over Dad earned his Captain Bars

I remember asking him one time if he had ever been shot. He told me no, the closest he came was a shell about 6 inches behind his seat. He was thankful for that.

I was privileged in 1986 to go to the 312th Bomb Group Reunion in Brownsville, TX. It was a long and tiring drive, but worth every minute. I got to spend hours alone with my Dad. A time I will always cherish. After our arrival we were placed on a bus and driven to the local air field. It was such a special time. Here I am with my Dad, watching him and his war cronies’ fall in love with their plane all over again. You see, the next day there was going to be an air show on this field. The owner of the only known A20G Attack Bomber was going to fly in the show. He heard about the 312th reunion of men who had flown them in WWII and requested they come out and see it the day before. Below are pictures I took of some of them. The pilot flew around the base a couple of times and I heard the boys shouting like they had just come back from a mission.

I watched Dad as he walked around the plane and then walked the steps up to the cockpit. I wondered what he was thinking; what thoughts and memories he must have had about the war, and the missions, and this plane. Foolishly I never asked; one regret I will always have with me.

Dad looking in the Cockpit of the A20G

Dad looking in the Cockpit of the A20G

Cockpit of the Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber WWII

Cockpit of the Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber WWII

I have to say I was proud of him that weekend. I knew my Dad had been a special part of ending WWII. I grew in respect for his patriotism to America. He was proud of his country and being in the Roaring 20’s. I honor him on this Veteran’s Day along with all his buddies. Each was special and we owe them so much. They are all gone now, but they left their mark in the history of the United States of America, and in our lives.

Dad holding the propeller of an A20G

Dad holding the propeller of an A20G

One page of Dad's Flight Record and Log.

One page of Dad’s Flight Record and Log.

At the air show the next day the A20 Havoc crashed and killed the pilot. It was a sad day.  I watched his face as the news was given. A deep and solemn regret grew on his face. I know that Dad and the men who were blessed to see this A20G must have thought back to the many times they lost a friend who was shot down over the jungles of the Philippines. This was the only A20G left at the time. It is so hurtful to know someone you were flying next to is now gone. It is that way in every war. Now, I understand there are about 3-4 other A20G’s that have been pulled from the jungles of the Philippines and restored. After the war most were taken on a barge, chopped up and dumped in the Pacific Ocean for the fish to enjoy.

MEMBERS OF THE GREATEST GENERATION

These are some of the men Dad fought with in WWII. Dad is in the middle with pens in his pocket and his usual smile.

These are some of the men Dad fought with in WWII. Dad is in the middle with pens in his pocket and his usual smile.

ad on the lefft with a cowboy ht on. The men were his friends that he fought with and their wives who waited patiently for their husbands.

Dad on the left with a cowboy hat. The men were friends he fought with along with their wives who waited fearfully and patiently for their husbands.

My older brother is a disabled veteran; I am as well. We followed in Dad’s footsteps and served our country with great pride during the Viet Nam Era. And so it is that today, while I specifically honor Dad, I also want to honor all veterans who have sacrificed so much for our safety and our freedom!.

Thank You, Dad, For Your Service ! ! !

Thank you all Veteran’s for your service and sacrifice ! ! !

Front 4-Gun Turret of the Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber WWII

Front 4-Gun Turret of the Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber WWII

For more information on the

Douglas  A20G Havoc Attack Bomber 

follow this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-20_Havoc

 

 

When Fingers Teach

“Prayer does not change the purpose of God.

But prayer does change the action of God.”

Chuck Smith

Butterfly_edited-1

          One of the things I enjoy most is sitting on the porch swing at dawn spending time in my thoughts. This morning, prayer entered my mind. I start to get butterflies in my stomach when I think of God’s power in our prayers. The coffee is a little bitter this morning and the swing seems to groan and crackle louder than usual causing calm and quiet to have withdrawal symptoms. The wind blows a cool breeze across my cheeks and I find myself lost in thought. As I began to reflect on things in my life, feelings of my children surface and in particular one special moment when I realized I had to change my thinking on prayer and fathering.

             My oldest son was looking for calm in his little life.  He was born with Pierre Robin Syndrome, a birth defect, which presents a child with many craniofacial deformities.  At birth he was 29 weeks gestation and weighed only 1.7 pounds. We were told he would not live past his first birthday. We fought off death for many years. He died twice and was resuscitated. God had other ideas about his life; it was not dying.

            The age of six was the beginning of many years of cranial facial surgeries. One Sunday before we were to leave for one such operation in Dallas a guest evangelist came to our church and spoke on the power of prayer. Afterward, an invitation was given for those who needed special prayer. We waited at the altar with heads held in reverence as the pastor moved from person to person and prayed over their need. Our time arrived, but before I could express my request, my son raised his left hand and stuck it straight up in the air. Now that may seem cute to some of you, but I assure you it wasn’t. I was in shock when I realized that all of his fingers were folded down except for one; the middle one. Yes, it stood alone in prominent display for all to see. That’s right. My son flipped the proverbial finger in the face of the evangelist; in the face of God. 

            I was hurt and embarrassed. Everyone saw it.  How could my son perform such and act? I was waiting for lightening to strike me dead. I mean, my manhood was on trial. The failing ability to father a six-year-old child was on display for all to witness. The purpose for prayer was now unimportant. We were heathens and I was at the altar standing in judgment. I was going to hell!

The evangelist gently caressed his finger with both hands and began to pray. Wait, I didn’t tell why we are here! I thought to myself. I was astonished to hear him pray over his finger. He asked for quick and painless healing and thanked my son for his willingness to come forward.

Needless to say, I was confused. When we returned to our seat I looked at his finger. My face turned white, and the site of his hand unnerved me. His finger was smashed and his nail was about to fall off. I gave him a great big hug.

Be united with other Christians.

A wall with loose bricks is not good.

 The bricks must be cemented together.

 Corrie Ten Boom

I began to understand a few things about prayer that morning. First, I realized that even at six my son understood prayer, and what asking for God’s healing was all about. Secondly, I came to a real understanding that sometimes we don’t truly know the hurts and pains of those we love the most. We do love them, so we want to pray for them. We intercede with our own vision of their need and pray our way. My son’s need was his finger; my need was his surgery. While I should be in prayer for his surgery, it is also my responsibility as a father to discuss prayer with my son, giving him the opportunity to express his own needs before God. At that point we can agree together in prayer. For where there are two, so stands our Lord.

You can be so much more effective when there is unity in prayer and you go before God with specific concerns. The way you pray will determine how and when the answer will come. As our world continues to change you should always pray with unified and purposeful utterance.  Use the Word and His promises and, when you go before the throne, your prayer will not return void. Here is proof!

 I would like for you to meet my son Blake. He is now 28 years old!      

Blake                              My word goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty (void)

but will accomplish what I desire and achieve

the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)