Monthly Archives: November 2016

Remembering My Dad on Veteran’s Day

USS Burton Island, Navy ice breaker, 1954.

USS Burton Island, Navy ice breaker, 1954.

Since my dad died earlier this year, I have corresponded several times with some of his old Navy buddies. My dad served as a Naval officer aboard the U.S.S. Burton Island, an ice breaker, along the Aleutian Island chain, during the Korean War. My dad formed some lifelong friendships with some of those men aboard that ship, a few of whom are still living strong.

Though my dad never saw combat, I am mindful on this Veteran’s Day of the contribution of those who have served in the military, like my dad. So many young people have sought to defend their country, whether it be the United States or some other nation, putting their lives on the line, honoring a sense of duty to their country, fighting for something they believed in.

Many have lived to tell about their experiences. Many others have not.

This is what I thought of today: I think of what happened 100 years ago this day, on November 11, 1916. It was just a few days before the end of the terrible Battle of the Somme, where British and German forces fought a battle of attrition over “No Man’s Land,” resulting in over one million casualties in this one battle alone, with no substantial gain from either side. The “Great War” was only about half-way over, with millions more dying, as it would be two more years exactly until Armistice Day, November, 11, 1918. The American version of Armistice Day was renamed “Veteran’s Day,” in 1954, the same year the above photo was taken of my dad’s ship.

I do not really understand what the whole point was concerning World War One. It is hard for me to grasp how all of that figured into the providence of God. But what I do know is that there were people on both sides who had stories to tell. These stories need to be told, and we need to hear them. This is true not just about World War One, but about any great human conflict, where different visions of morality, community identity, and faith come into dire conflict. Even if we do not understand why people were willing to risk their lives for something we do not “get,” we owe it to others to take the time to simply listen to their stories.

The week before my dad died, I read to him a letter from one of his Navy buddies. It was all about life aboard the ice breaker. My dad, who was suffering from dementia, brightened right up when I read to him these stories. My dad told me some of his own stories aboard the Burton Island. All my years growing up as a kid at home, my dad had never talked much about his Navy experience. But I frankly was not interested at the time, being more obsessed with getting along with the other kids in my school, worrying about my grades, and watching television. I only cared about what was in my “little world,” and never cared to know much about the stories of this man who raised me.

I am now glad that I took the time to listen… and to remember. I am so thankful now that in the last week of his life, my dad and I were able to share his experience of being a veteran, and what that meant to him. It made me realize that every veteran has a story to tell… a story that needs to be heard and remembered.

Thanks, Dad.

G. K. Chesterton on the 2016 American Presidential Election

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

O God of earth and altar,
Come down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die,
The walls of gold entomb us,
The sword of scorn divides,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches
From lies of tongue and pen
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword
From sleep and from damnation
Deliver us Good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together.
Smite us and save us all,
In an ire an exultation
Aflame with faith and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

—- G.K. Chesterton, wrote these lyrics in 1906.

(HT: Asbury Seminary New Testament scholar, Ben Witherington)

Jen Hatmaker and the Frustrated Evangelical Response to LGBTQ

The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire website, unloaded a clever piece on Jen Hatmaker today, expressing the type of dismay that many evangelical Christians are thinking. But are we really hearing the message underneath Jen Hatmaker's public pronouncement?

The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire website, unveiled a clever piece on Jen Hatmaker recently, expressing the type of dismay that many evangelical Christians are thinking. But are we really hearing the message underneath Jen Hatmaker’s public pronouncement?

Over the past week or so, Jen Hatmaker, the funny and vivacious reality TV star of the HGTV show, “My Big Family Renovation,” rocked the social-media world of evangelicalism asunder. Jen Hatmaker, a favorite in MOPS circles (that is, Mothers Of PreSchoolers, a very active group in our church), and popular speaker at various Christian women’s conferences, in an interview, publicly stated her affirmation of gay and lesbian marriages as potentially holy.

Well, this probably had the same effect as setting a stack of Bibles on fire.

Jen Hatmaker is but one in a steady stream of high-profile, evangelical celebrities and leaders to jump ship from supporting a traditional, evangelical view of human sexuality, to supporting gay and lesbian marriage in the church, over the past few years. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Rob Bell, Tony Campolo, and singer songwriter Jennifer Knapp, too. What was unthinkable ten or twenty years ago, is now becoming more common, as otherwise traditional “Bible-believers” are willing to discard 2,000 years of Christian teaching, particularly in the wake of the June, 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

What makes Jen Hatmaker a bit different is because she is not a pastor, or a theologian, or a super-talented singer. She comes across as a very down-to-earth, spunky, disarmingly honest and homespun happy mother, who has the same type of problems all of us have… and she has 109 thousand Twitter followers. That means that there are probably at least a handful of busy MOPS women in your conservative, evangelical church, who are probably a bit bewildered as to why Jen Hatmaker is making such a public stand on this topic.

These are not folks out there in liberal, mainline churches, who long ago dropped their commitment to biblical authority. Rather, they could be sitting next to you at your Bible-believing fellowship.

There is confusion in our churches.

What are we to make of this trend? How does someone with a high view of Scripture respond?  Continue reading

Why the Reformation (Still) Matters

Yesterday, Halloween, we also recognize (or “should recognize,” more importantly) that this year marks the 499th year after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. Does the Reformation that Luther’s hammer triggered all those years ago still matter today? Pastor/teachers Don Carson, John Piper and Tim Keller answer that question.

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