Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

by William L. (Bill) Fisher
Copyright © 2012. William L. Fisher. All Rights Reserved.

Today, May 28, 2012, is Memorial Day in the US. Sadly, for most Americans, this day represents a day to skip work and head to the mall for the “Memorial Day Sales Event.” In 2012, all around the world, special days of significance have been turned into a market place.

In the Gospels, there is a story of how the Jews in Jerusalem turned a Jewish celebration into an opportunity to set up commercial enterprises right in the Temple Courts. They were exchanging currency for travelers from foreign lands as well as selling animals and birds for sacrifices for the ceremony they were celebrating. So, it’s nothing new that people, or even whole societies forget the significance of the special days and get seduced into entering the basest treatment of such a holy day by commercializing it. In the Gospel, Jesus reminded them of the significance of the day and ran the merchants out of the Temple.

Today is a day set aside in the US to remember those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice of dying for the cause that is at the core and center of what America stands for — the cause of liberty and freedom. So, today, I wish to remind us all of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Today, there are sons and daughters of these brave patriots who died to set men free who are alive and remembering their fathers and mothers. Some of these sons and daughters are hardly old enough to even understand what this all means. At the same time, some of these sons and daughters are themselves old and nearing the time when they too will cross over from this life to the next. Whatever their age, can’t we for just a little while today, remember their loved ones and them? Are we so self-centered and self-absorbed that we can’t stop for a moment and remember?

I read an article today about Vietnam Vets. There was to be a ceremony in Washington, DC to commemorate their service and sacrifice. Following the article, there were comments from readers of this story, and one really stood out. This person virtually shouted his disdain for the Viet Nam war and anyone who had anything at all to do with it. It reminded me of the 60's and the war protesters. I am one of those forgotten Vietnam vets, and I find it amazing that after all this time some people in the US still hold onto their misguided and uninformed hatred for those of us who went to that war. Some of us volunteered (I did), but many did not. They just answered the call of the draft and went, and some died. That’s what patriots do.

Forgive me if I have little sympathy for the person who spewed forth his venomous diatribe against that war and those of us who went to serve our country. It was, after all, our country we went to serve. Yes, I know, it was way across the sea in a foreign land — just like so many other wars before and since. Communism was spreading, and the US was its chief enemy. It was our duty to stop its spread wherever it arose. Does that sound naive? Maybe, but for those of who were living then, it was reality.

For example, in 1962, there was a major event in American. It was called the Cuban Missile Crises. I was a sophomore in college, and the Cuban Missile Crises was very real to me and just about every other male in college but not in the military. We didn’t know if we were about to go to war with Russia, but if we did we knew it would be World War III, and we expected nuclear weapons would be used to annihilate millions. Every day, I lived with the thought that I may never finish college, may never live to be married and have a family, may never get to live out my dreams. Communism was at our back door in Cuba and threatening our very existence.

Then there was the build up in Vietnam that followed communist North Vietnam’s secret plan to take over non-communist South Vietnam, with whom the US had developed a favorable relationship. It took the US 5 years to get what was going on and to fully engage, and that 5 years costs us dearly. There were several mistakes that cost us dearly, and perhaps the worst mistake was how the main stream media wrongly reported the outcome of the Tet Offensive in early 1968. The reports in the US were that we had suffered a terrible defeat. The truth was we had attained a crushing victory that had pushed the North Vietnamese to point of reconsidering their war effort. If the US had pressed the battle against the North, the war would probably have been over in six months. But, our leaders then, as now, were weak and unprepared for battle.

Be that as it may, the actual people who slogged through the swamps and jungles of Southeast Asia showed up every day to do their job. And they did it with remarkable courage and competence. If you’ve never been in the situation of actual combat, you cannot possibly imagine just how creative and innovative the average soldier (I include Marines, Sailors, at al) can become when he is fighting for his life and the life of the people around him. It becomes very personal and very focused. I’ve seen people do things that they never ever thought of, much less planned out with great effort. They just responded to a situation and survived. They deserve our appreciation, regardless of what one may think of a particular war.

Today, is a day to remember those who did not survive. They gave the greatest measure of devotion known to mankind. They gave their lives so our lives can continue, so we can live on and follow our dreams. May we not screw this up by being ungrateful. They deserve better

For an experience of a lifetime, watch this movie about one of these who died for his country and how he was treated.

Taking Chance

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

He Is Risen - 2012

He is Risen!
Easter 2012 Meditation
Copyright © 2011, 2012 by Bill Fisher. All Rights Reserved

What is Easter? Some say it is the most holy day of the year. Others say it is one of the holy days on the church calendar. Still others say it is a secular holiday commemorating the arrival of Spring. Some Christians refuse to celebrate Easter because they believe it is associated with a Greek goddess of fertility rite celebrated by the Romans and adapted by the church in error. Whatever it is, it is important because it has such a wide influence throughout the world. Is that influence good? Yes, I think it is. On this day, the world is reminded that the Son of God died for the sin of the world, even if the world doesn’t quite get it.

I am struck by the power of Easter — the power of the resurrection itself. The stone was rolled away from the tomb, not so that our Lord could get out — clearly solid walls could no longer contain him — but so his disciples could see in and know that he had risen from the dead. That huge stone had to be rolled away, and there was no man who could do it. But the power of the resurrection of Jesus came from within the tomb. That was the same power that moved over the chaos of the void before creation when God spoke and the worlds were created.

Think about this. At the creation, everything happened because God spoke a word. Did God speak at the resurrection? Did he, like Jesus at the raising of Lazarus, say, “Jesus, come forth?” Jesus is the Word. John tells us that all that was created was created through him, the Word. So think about this: Jesus, the Word, spoke his resurrection into being before he died as he told his disciples that on the third day he would be raised from the dead. He had already spoken the Word of his resurrection before he died on the cross.

This Easter, our nation is faced with some mighty challenges. Our government is spending more than it has. Our leaders seem incapable of figuring out a solution. The price of gasoline is rising. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and homes. The government we have been depending on is running out of answers. People are getting worried about their future. Hope does not burn brightly in their breasts this Easter morning.

But we need not fear. Read Psalm 91:

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

The power of God is able to deliver us from this mess we find ourselves in. Has man ever made such a mess of things that God could not untangle it? No, and man never will, because man is simply not smart enough, powerful enough, or clever enough.

Starting sometime in the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century, Europeans and Americans began to think they had found a better way of doing things. The old, traditional ways simply would no longer serve the needs of the modern 20th Century world. So, as humankind is wont to do, they decided they could build a better world than the one God built and the one He maintained for their enjoyment. They reasoned among themselves that, in their view, everything was subject to change. Therefore, change must be an immutable law of sorts that they needed to harness for their own purposes. Then they decided that absolute truth, the kind God dispenses, was an obstacle to this new-found change principle, so they would need an alternative. Moral relativism was their solution. This led them to turn everything upside down, calling what had been accepted truth throughout the eons of time to now be passe and of no benefit. They threw out centuries of understanding and reliance on the beneficence of their Creator and replaced it with the beneficence of the State, which, of course, they controlled.

In the words of Stan Laurel “Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!” The problem is we have gotten ourselves in this mess by abandoning the truth for a lie. We have reached a point where now, finally, we are beginning to see that politicians are not to be trusted. If the polls are to be believed, the American people have become very distrustful of government and those who run it. Good! But what are they putting in the place of government as the object of their trust? Certainly not God. Church attendance is down. Religion, especially Christianity, is waning as influence over the morals of the nation.

The answer is right there in front of us. It is Easter! The resurrection power of Jesus Christ to resurrect us from our miserable attempts to become our own gods and rule our own lives. As Jeremiah writes in Jer. 10:23, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. “ We need God to direct our path, to show us the way out of the mess we are in. We have no power in ourselves that we should be gods. We are weak compared to the power of the creation, much less the power of the one who created it.

Have you ever stood in the surf and felt the awesome power of the water as it rolls in? Have you ever seen the power of a flood as it washes away everything in its path? Or the fury of a forest fire burning out of control? Or felt the earth tremble and shake during an earthquake? During Holy Week this year of 2012, 14 tornadoes hit the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex near where I live with such power that 18-wheeler trailers were seen being tossed 200 feet into the air and slung about like dust.. Our power, even in the machines and inventions of our most capable geniuses, pale into insignificance when compared to the power of nature and of nature’s God. And, yet, mankind still keeps believing he can come up with a better plan. How arrogant!

So, this Easter, I chose to focus on the Power of Easter. “He is Risen” is a powerful statement, and it is my power source. No matter what my eyes see in the coming year, I will remember “He is Risen.” No matter how large the challenge, how deep the hole, or how hopeless life appears, I will remember “He is Risen.” No matter what the world may throw at me, I will remember “HE IS RISEN!!!”

May this Easter be a breakthrough time for all of us as we ponder and digest the Power of Easter and as we confess “He is Risen” in our life anew this Easter.

Friday, April 06, 2012

good Friday

What could possibly be good about a Friday over 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross? How could death, and a terribly painful one at that, be good? Where did the idea come from to call this day in Holy Week “good?” The source is unclear. Some have suggested it is a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.” It is the title for this day among English and Dutch speaking people, but few others.

The liturgical title for this day in the Western church was “Friday of Preparation,” similar to what the Jews called Friday — paraskeue (getting ready) or “day of preparation.” Other names used are “Holy Friday” among the Latin nations, “Great Friday” among the Slavic countries, “Friday of Mourning” in Germany, “Long Friday” in Norway, and “Holy Friday” among Hispanics.

Good Friday is good because, on this day God reconciled the world to himself in Christ. For us it is “good” because we look back at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!

This is the starkest day of the Christian year. There are no adornments in the church. No gold is in sight. The Table is bare. No Bible is on the pulpit. Nothing but a simple wooden cross is present. Black is the theme chosen by many for this day, but the overwhelming consensus has been to use no color at all. In many churches, there is no music today, and in those where music is played, it is simple with only a keyboard, a piano, or a guitar. The ministers enter in silence. There are no choirs and no special music. Holy Communion is not to be offered at this service, nor at any time again until the Great Vigil or Easter Sunday morning. The service is ended without a benediction, but with a simple dismissal prayer and all depart in silence. This is the prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (page 282):

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen,

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Need To Stay Focused

The Iowa Caucus was last night, and the blogs went ballistic about the outcome. The media that reported on it went all out. This morning everyone was abuzz about whether Perry will stay in or quit, whether Bachmann will quit now. As the day went along, it seemed clear that Bachmann would quit and Perry would stay in. All of this is interesting, but the Iowa Caucus is not the election.

While the outcome of the race for President is important, indeed this is one of the most critical elections maybe ever, it is not the only race that is crucial to the future of America. Regardless of whomever is elected President, we absolutely must have a House and Senate that will protect the rights of all the people, not just the underdog, and which understands their highest prriority is to promote a free-market economy with a minium of government regulation and involvment. We need a Congress that respects the Constitution and the limitations imposed upon it by that Constitution.

We have an opportunity to take control of the Senate, and perhaps even an opportunity to elect a veto-proof majority or one that is close enough with a few right thinking Democrats to override a veto. Clearly, we must retain the majority in the House and even increase that majority. If we do these two things, we win regardless of which Republican is the next President, and especially if O should win a second term. Don’t get me wrong. I think O being elected to a second term would be terrible. I can think of nothing worse than having to endure him for another four years. But, we must remain focused on our goal. Our goal is to return our country to the one we started out with and not the one that the socialist agenda has been building for the last 100 years.

This mess didn’t just happen when GWB was President, or Clinton, or GHWB, or any of the Presidents of recent vintage. This has been building since the late 19th century and has been accelerating since the early 20th centuiry. Roosevelt’s New Deal was not the beginnnig but the culmination of a long record of socialist influence in high places in Europe and America. Most of us have known nothing but a gradual encroachment of socialism into our system of government for all of our lives.

It is time we got focused on the big picture. Iowa is not even a true blip on the radar screen. No delegates were commited last night to any candidate. In fact, delegates from Iowa won’t be selected until after almost all of the other true primaries. We have fallen victim to the mainstream media propoganda machine that Iowa matters. The Iowa Caucus system is no different from the usual precinct convention system most of us know in our own states. Delegates are selected at the precinct convention/Iowa caucus to go to the county convention, where delegates will be selected to go to the state convention, where delegates will be selected to go the national convention. Only after this process will delegates from Iowa be committed.

Watching the coverage last night on both Fox and CNN one had the impression that this was the big one, the election that will determine the Republican nominee. It was not the big one, except in the minds of the media pundits who needed something to do last night.

Let us stay focused on the truly important outcomes.