3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Memorial Day

dad-franceThis was my blog for AnchorPoint Church this week, but I thought it fit here too. Before I get to the three things – I wanted to explain the picture. My Dad didn’t die in WWII, but I still remember him on Memorial Day. My sister found this picture after Mom died, with the writing on the back. They weren’t married yet, Mom was still attending school at Moody when Dad sent this picture to her during the war. OK, here we go, three things you probably didn’t know….

1: One of the first US Memorial Day services was organized by former slaves.

When the Civil War was winding down, the South had thousands of Union POWs. They made camps in South Carolina, and brought the men there. Conditions were so bad that, at one camp near Charleston, over 250 prisoners died. They made a mass grave behind the camp. On May 1, 1865, a few weeks after the war ended, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves, joined by some U.S. Colored Troops and some white folks from Charleston gathered to dedicate a proper burial site. They had one of the first memorial services, including hymn singing and readings.

2: Memorial Day didn’t become a Federal Holiday until 1971. 

For over 50 years, many individual states had a “Decoration Day,” to commemorate those killed in the Civil war. It wasn’t until WWI that the tradition extended to those in other wars, and it wasn’t until Viet Nam that Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday.

3: Memorial Day has ancient, even Biblical roots

The practice of honoring those who have died in battle is much older than America. The Greeks and Romans would hold public parties in honor of those who had died, especially soldiers. In Athens, they held public funerals for fallen soldiers after each battle. But, the Bible goes back further still.

In the Old Testament, Biblical memorials weren’t focused on those who died in battle, but on the God who did battle for them. Jacob makes a stone memorial in Genesis 28, and Joshua in Joshua 4.

However, the greatest memorial is our Communion Service, which is a bit of each kind of memorial above. Each communion service is a memorial to Jesus, who did battle with sin and won by dying for us – and who did battle with death and won by rising from the dead for us.

This Memorial Day, let’s give thanks for those who died to give us a freedom to worship – and, let’s give thanks to Jesus who is worthy of our worship.

Some facts were stolen from http://www.history.com.

I’ll give them back.

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Did God Move Us to Haiti?

20180510_195817We moved. Is God laughing?

  • We downsized, but not having enough room for kids to move back in with us wasn’t the main reason for moving.
  • I’m now walking distance to work (1.1mi), but I’m still so lazy I drive.
  • The new place has more land. I’m not sure why. How much sand without an ocean does one need anyway?

We moved for the view. The picture is from our backyard. Some days in February, we saw colorful sunrises over snow covered mountains. Yesterday we watched a monsoon come through the valley, and drop our temperature from 85 to 55 when it hit us.

I have to wonder though. What does God think about our view?

I think He’s laughing. We moved for the view. He moved us for the Haitian memories. I love spending time in Haiti – but there are reasons we don’t live there.

Before moving, we spent months looking at houses, yards, and views. We compared low prices vs expected repairs, wells vs city water, propane vs natural gas, pitched roofs vs flat.

We choose the worse of each due to wanting the view regardless of what was on the lot. We got a well, propane gas, mucho repairs needed – and a flat roof. Just like Haiti.

When we had the well inspected, the house filter was white. When we moved in it was brown. I put a new one in it, and when I turned the water on, it came out… brown. It was full of sand, just like Haiti.

Inside, the faucets kept plugging up with sand. So we lived on bottled water. Just like Haiti.

One toilet rocked. Late on Saturday night, got the bright idea to fix it. There was no bolt on one side to tighten, so I removed the toilet to install a bolt. The flange was broken. When I attempted to remove the flange to replace it, I found the complete assembly had been cemented in. Just like Haiti.

So I rigged it. Just like….

Two days ago, the power went out in our area of town for a few hours. I’ve no idea what happened – a cat fried in a transformer – one can only hope. Anyway, when I went to turn on the kitchen faucet, I realized that on a well, your water only works when there is electricity. Just like Haiti.

Only we have no generator.

Thus, we temporarily had no flushing toilets, showers, or drinking water. And, we had company. Just like…

I’d say we were to blame for the move, but according to this verse, is it God’s fault? Acts 17:26-27 From one man he [God] made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (NIV2011)

Actually, we love the place. The well is now fixed, the electricity is back on, the toilet is glued down with 10lbs of silicone, the roof isn’t leaking for now, and we still have a great view. Just like Haiti.

The verse is a reminder that we may move to downsize, get a deal, or for a school district, or the view, but God moves us so we will seek Him, and help others do the same. It’s all about Him, even our moves. He moved us for the people and His glory, not the glory of the view. But, we’ll take that too.

And the Haitian reminders.

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The Illegal Grad Speech

grad hatWhat is the world so afraid of? We have sex education, gender identity, and abortion on demand, but seem paranoid to let a High School Valedictorian speak the name of Jesus.

Me thinks they protest too much.

Below is a short, stunning speech by Jennifer Swadell, Valedictorian of San Diego’s Grossmont High School in 2015 2003. School officials deemed the speech illegal. She had to write a new one without references to God or Jesus. In typical teenage righteous rebellion she concluding by saying, “Most of all, I want to thank the One who has rescued me and made the greatest impact on my life. But I am sorry to say it is illegal for me to say His name for you today.”

Love it.

 With graduation coming up, I thought you would want to read her disallowed short speech in its entirety, quoted from Christianity Today / IgniteYourFaith

 “Greetings to all students, faculty, administration, family and friends.

 I want to begin today by telling you a story about a young girl who seemed to have it all: friends and grades, confidence, religion, and love. Yet, one day this girl looked in the mirror and hated what she saw. Her forehead was too big, her teeth too crooked. She wore big ugly glasses and clothes without expensive labels.

 Others seemed to ignore her, so she began to realize she wasn’t worth their time. In fact, she wasn’t worth anything. Many people let her down and she stopped trusting anyone. She gave up and let herself live only to spite others, while trying to gain their respect through ceaseless efforts to be the best at everything.

 This girl entered high school bitter at the world and its emptiness. She criticized people she didn’t know, yet held a façade of confidence and control.

 One day this girl met some people who tried to show her otherwise, people who shared with her a love she had never felt before. She tried to push that love away, but it only loved her more. She would cry herself to sleep night after night, in hatred of the world, those around her, and, most of all, herself. Until, one day, the love finally reached her shattered heart. It was a love she had met more than 10 years previously, but that she had doubted and disregarded for so very long, that she had never taken as real in her life.

This love, that of Jesus Christ and his truly amazing forgiveness and compassion, finally became real to her. And when she made him the center of her life, it actually held meaning and purpose; it was worth something again.

 I’m sure all of you already know that I am describing myself. Those of you who know me, I am sure, know that I could not get up here and tell you anything of importance to me whatsoever, without reference to the most central part of my life, my faith in the Creator of the Universe, but more personally and important to me, the Creator of my life.

 He has taken me, a broken clay pot, and shaped me to something more like him. I am certainly not perfect, but he knows that. In fact, he has taken me into his family to be his child, knowing full well that I will continue to do exactly what I know is wrong. But the beauty of it is that he loves me still.

I recognize that many of you come from various backgrounds with different beliefs and values, and I am not up here to try to convince you that you are all wrong and must believe what I tell you. I only know what God has done for me in my life.

 I want to encourage you to take a challenge as you enter college and continue the search to find your identity—exactly who you are. I ask you to seek the truth with all your heart. Never be satisfied with unanswered questions. For so many years of my life, I doubted the truth I had and sought instead what the world had to offer. The only place I ended up was hopeless, not wanting to continue on such a meaningless journey . …

 Maybe there are some of you out there who, like I was for so long, have to search for a reason to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. To you, I wish to say, you are loved beyond belief.

Mom’s Day

mom and grandpaMy mom was born Dec. 12, 1922 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Last week at church we talked about what Ecclesiastes calls “crooked days.” It’s Solomon’s way of talking about hard, suffering, difficult bad days, and my mom had a few of those. She was the youngest of seven kids, and the light in her dads eyes. The picture is one of my favorites – of mom and her dad. He died when she was 12, and my grandmother decided my mom was too young to go to the funeral. Grandma sent her to school that day instead. A crooked day.

Mom’s sister introduced her to Jesus, when mom was a teenager. Back in those days, you had to choose one of two High School tracts. You could take the vocational, work right out of High School tract, or the College tract. Mom wanted the College tract, but her mom said that wasn’t for women, so had her enrolled in the vocational tract.

Mom prayed and waited.

Upon graduation, my mother left home, and got on a train for Chicago where she enrolled in Moody Bible Institute. She met my dad there, who soon after became a solder in WWII. Another crooked time.

Mom prayed and waited.

Mom graduated from Moody in 1945, and married my dad just after the war in ’46. They were missionaries in France from 1953-’56, mostly in Dijon. While there my dad got severe Pneumonia, and the doctors said he needed to have a lung removed to save his life, but they did not have the facilities in France at the time. My parents would have to return to America. The mission board sent the plane ticket, but mom didn’t have the money for a train ticket for her, dad, and their four kids to get from Dijon to Paris. There was no internet. Money took time to travel.

Mom prayed and waited.

Finally, the flight was just one day away. When mom picked up the mail, she had a letter from one of her sisters, who had promised to support them when they were in France, the same sister who introduced mom to Jesus. However, she had not given anything for the last three years. Feeling guilty a month before, she wrote a check for the three years giving she had held back and sent it all at once. That day, the day before mom and family had to leave; the check arrived in the mail. This money that probably would have been spent, rather than saved, had her sister sent it in on time.

Only the bank wouldn’t cash it. Yet another crooked day.

As an out of country check, it would take weeks or more to clear. Mom, with kids in tow, walked home and prayed.

God gave her an idea.

She ran with kids back to the bank just before it closed and asked them, “Would you please call the American Embassy in Paris, to see if they will back the check?”

They did.

Years later I remember my brother, ten years older than me, going AWOL from Christianity upon leaving home after High School. They were hard times for my parents, especially mom.

Mom prayed and waited. Every night, every devotion, I heard my parents pray for all their kids, but especially for Dave.

David came back to Christ some years later, just before I left home after High School. But for all those years I heard lots of praying, saw lots of waiting, and it affected me. David came back.

When JoLynn, our four kids, and I moved to Winnipeg in 1998, someone from the church in Winnipeg had secured a rental for us. I’m sure their intentions were good; but… mercy.

It was a cool old house in a nice neighborhood, and would have been great for a newlywed couple.

We weren’t newlyweds.

The floor slanted over a foot from the NW corner to the SE. You couldn’t use a desk chair with wheels without blocking it in place. Pencils rolled off tables. Cabinet doors hung open. It was 1600 sq ft on 3 different floors, so it seemed to be 1000 sq ft of stairs and 600 ft of living space. The good thing was it had a basement to store our extra stuff – which worked well until the sewage backed up. I suppose the worse part of it all however was the landlady. Words fail me.

We moved in October 2. My mom came from Arizona to visit in November. She said, “Danny, you can’t live in this place!”

“Mom,” I replied, “I know that, but we signed a one-year lease, and we can’t get out of it.”

“Well,” she replied, “I’ll just pray that you do!”

Mom prayed. That was Friday. She flew back to Arizona on Saturday.

We waited. I believe it was Monday when our landlady called to say she had filed for bankruptcy and we had to vacate the house.

I could go on of course, but you get the point.

Happy Mothers Day. I’m sure grateful for mine, and that my kids got a mom much like her.