Saturday, July 28, 2018

"I Want To Be A Fireman!"

One of our grandsons was among the millions of little boys who was fascinated by firetrucks.  I recall clearly the private tour our firefighter friend set up for us so that Wil could sit try sit behind the wheel of the big red truck of his dreams.  Trying on the firefighter’s hat, he had this almost dazed look on his face, as if it was more than he could fully comprehend. If asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he would join the chorus of children declaring, “I want to be a fireman!” 

The early life fascination with the ‘uniformed’ professions, especially those who get to drive big, shiny vehicles, passes away in time as the same boys and girls instead dream of becoming famous athletes who get their pictures on the cover of video games. Yet some of the little boys and little girls do become ‘protectives’ as adults.  They do this, not because they get to wear cool hats and ride in shiny trucks, but because they care about saving people from danger.  Firefighters, police officers, first responders, they and so many more accept danger every day because they can make society a safer place, literally saving people from burning buildings.

People devote their careers to protecting others not for fame or fortune but because they love humanity.  As we are so tragically reminded every week, firefighters die fighting fires, police officers die taking the bullet which otherwise would kill someone else.  They accept the fact that in an effort to save others they expose themselves to giving up their own lives.

Why? The love of God spills out of the hearts of people called to protect society.  Thank God today for the little boys and little girls who grow up to become, to borrow Henri Nouwen’s phrase, ‘wounded healers’ for God’s children.
“Who can save a child from a burning house without taking the risk of being hurt by the flames? Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: Who can take away suffering without entering it?” -Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (Source:

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Exodus of the Wild Boars, Part 2

The rescue of the Wild Boars was not without tragedy. But it is in this tragedy that we find the definition of ‘courage’ and the meaning of ‘hero.’

Saman Kunan was a former SEAL who volunteered to return to duty in the rescue mission. In what turned out to be a prophetic moment, as he waited to board the airplane which would take him to the cave, he promised, “We will bring the kids home.”

The world was saddened to learn that he died after he was returning from placing air tanks along the roughly 3.2km route to the boys, the method for replenishing the air supply in the cave.  He died from a lack of oxygen, showing the necessity of his mission and the danger that lurked in the cave for the team and the rescuers.  He death could have served to frighten or discourage the rest of the rescue team.

Instead, as news of his death became public,  Arpakorn Yookongkaew, Commander of the Navy SEAL Unit was seen declaring, “I can guarantee that we will not panic, we will not stop our mission, we will not let his life be in vain”, as he sharply raises his right hand, piercing the air thickened with grief, an emphatic exclamation point on his resolve to bring the kids home. Still more prophetic words.

To Saman Kunan’s family, of course, he is still lost too young.  But, as with all those who carry in their being the courage to go where others would not go, to truly risk life for the sake of others, we pray that his family will see that, indeed, his life was not in vain. His life will live on forever in the memory of a world which witnessed prophecy become reality.

For reasons we cannot understand, sometimes sacrifice is the necessary factor to the success of a life-giving mission. Miracles often come at a great cost to one for the sake of the many.  While we cannot explain the ‘why’, we can continue to honor those who have the courage to ‘bring the kids home’, by remembering their sacrifice. These heroes model life’s perfect example. Romans 5:6-8.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"The Exodus of the Wild Boars", Part 1

“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave.” Thai NavySEAL Facebook post (July 10, 2018, 7:11 a.m.)

I clicked the ‘heart’ symbol, along with 343 thousand others from around the world.  This was an event which captured the minds and hearts of people, truly, ‘from every tribe, tongue and nation.’  The act of saving a team of boys and their soccer team coach from a cave literally took the cooperation of humankind in a way which is rarely seen. What was not to love about this story of human beings acting to save other human beings just because they are members of the human race. If we could capture the spirit which led to this act of international cooperation and sprinkle it like dust over the leaders of the nations perhaps peace would prevail perpetually.

The picture of the helpless boys floating through the cave toward the light at the end of their journey, with one diver before them and one behind them, is a modern-day reminder of the moment when God’s people, the Israelites, are passing through the waters with the ‘pillar of cloud’ moving in front and behind them. The LORD, Yahweh, was in the pillar of cloud and fire which protected the people day and night. The lesson of the Exodus was and is, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

To people who can see with the eyes of faith there is no question. Our God, the God of the people of Thailand and the world, still carries people through the waters.

What remains for the people of God to do?

“They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” (Ps. 22:31)


Saturday, July 7, 2018

The 'Wall' Still Stands

Paul was afraid to speak.  The religious folks wanted him beat and imprisoned, if not killed. The local courts heard the case against Paul, but they dismissed the case because the complaints were about religious laws, not civil laws.  As far as the government was concerned, if Paul wanted to say that Jesus was God, well, that was of no concern to the city of Corinth.  And so the gospel spread. The freedom to speak religious ideas without government interference helped Christianity spread from cult status across borders and oceans.

Not to be missed was that though Paul was afraid to speak, he overcame his fear because the Lord told Paul, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9-10)

What should the church celebrate at the birthday of the United States? That the famous ‘wall of separation’ still protects the ‘church’ from the ‘state’.  The President cannot make a rule telling me, as a Minister of God, what I may or may not preach. The Congress may not pass a law restricting the manner in which any religion practices its faith.

The phrase originates with Thomas Jefferson’s writing,  “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” (Source: Wikipedia, quoting Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802)
Do not be afraid to speak, friends. Love God. Love your Neighbor. Praise the Lord! No one can stop you from speaking the Truth.

The Wall is still standing. Now, that is something worthy of fireworks.