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CLOSURE

 

 

On February 28, 2012, I posted a blog titled “A True American Hero Comes Home.” The hero was Captain Nicholas “Nick” Schade Whitlock, the son of a dear friend of mine whose military plane crashed in Africa. He, along with three other servicemen, died in that crash. He came home to a hero’s welcome—as well he should have—and it was amazing to see. If you haven’t read that blog, here’s the link: https://musingsofedwina.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/a-true-american-hero-comes-home/ .

The family had the option to have Nick buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but the thought of him being so far away and not being able to visit his grave whenever they needed or wanted to was difficult. Still, Jimmy, Nick’s dad, said that Nick deserved to be buried at Arlington. It was a statement he repeated quite often.

A few weeks ago, the Whitlock’s received a telephone call. The military voice on the other end explained that more remains had been discovered at the crash site. Unfortunately, the remains were so badly damaged they could not be identified, even through DNA testing. Thus, the military planned to honor all four servicemen who lost their lives that fateful day. The family was invited to attend the service and, of course, they were all present. Parents, wife, grandmother, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, —all lined up behind the casket holding the remains of this particular Unknown Soldier. The flag-draped casket, on top a caisson, was pulled by four horses—one without a rider.

The families were seated and the silence was almost tranquil. Silence was not for long. In the background a low buzz rapidly became a roaring sound as The Missing Man Flyover raced across that plot of ground in Arlington.  Military guidelines authorize flyovers for “dignitaries of the armed forces and the federal government.” This was the military’s way of paying honor to four men who truly deserved it.

Quiet reigned again. Until, in a clipped voice, the Honor Guard Leader barked, “READY!” and seven members of the Honor Guard raised their rifles. “AIM!” Seven rifles were readied into position. “FIRE!” Seven rifles fired three short rounds. It was the Twenty-One Gun Salute, the nation’s official national salute of the highest honor to military men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving on behalf of America. Before the ceremony was over, the Honor Guard gave three more Twenty-One Gun Salutes—a total of four—one for each man.

This service was heart-wrenching, emotionally draining. The Whitlock family, along with the families of the other three servicemen, had relived the days of February, 2012.

Yet, there was a sense of closure. A feeling of peace. And Nick’s dad, Jimmy, got his wish.

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This was such an interesting, eye-opening article, I wanted to share – with permission. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

the gospel side

Unintended Consequences: How the “relevant” church and segregating youth is killing Christianity.

I recently spent six-months doing a rotation as a hospital chaplain. One day I received a page (Yes, hospitals actually still use pagers). Chaplains are generally called to the rooms of people who look ill: People gray with kidney disease, or yellow with liver failure, discouraged amputees, nervous cancer patients. In this room, however, was a strikingly attractive 23 year-old young lady sitting up cheerfully in the hospital bed, holding her infant daughter and chatting with family and friends.

Confused, I stepped outside and asked her nurse, “Why did I get paged to her room?”

“Oh, she looks fabulous. She also feels great and is asking to go home,” the nurse said.

“…And you are calling me because?” I asked in confusion.

The nurse looked me directly in the eye and said: “Because we will be…

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Ashamed to Pray by Guest Blogger Jennifer Slattery

I am delighted to have Jennifer Slattery back as my guest blogger today. Jennifer writes with the gentleness of the Holy Spirit, yet her words will convict, inspire, motivate and encourage you. Be blessed as you read today’s blog!

August 30, 2012 by Jennifer Slattery

Each day, we are engaged in a cosmic battle, a battle over self. It is a war between entitlement and sacrifice, between self-love and sacrificial love. And each day, God gives us a choice–to squelch His Spirit, His love, His still small voice as we fight for our rights, or to lay it down, allowing Him to reign and love others through us.

Are we aware of the consequences–of what’s at stake? When we’re consumed with self, we don’t even notice the woman in the grocery aisle, the man at the gas station, or perhaps our spouse coming home from work discouraged and exhausted.

In each encounter, God is whispering, tugging, urging us on as His embassadors. If we’re not careful, if we’re not continually focused on our Savior, our inner voice of self-love may scream louder.

Two weeks ago, our family took a trip to Odenton, Maryland to visit family. It was a wonderful time of fun and exploration–a time for me to see my brother, whom I hadn’t in over five years. But amidst our fun, I soon found myself on a cosmic battleground.

All week, God had impressed on my heart the need to lay myself down, to seek not my own glory, not my will, but His. To be like a wildflower tucked in a nook in the valley, ever-growing, reaching for the sun, even if no one notices.

And then Friday came–our last day in Maryland. I started the day at a surrender zenith, ready to die to myself and be an active instrument of God’s mercy and grace. I was determined to live out the truth God had showed me one morning in 1 Peter chapter four.

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2, NLT). (Emphasis mine.)

As I read the passage, I thought of a dear sister in Christ dying of brain cancer. She’s going through a rough time. She’s lost her sight, and her speech has become difficult. But through it all, her heart remains centered in Christ. Each day, her life shouts out His praises and points everyone around her to the cross.

I wanted to be like her! To praise God regardless of what I faced, to be so surrendered to Him, so focused on His love and purposes, that my life radiates His love and glory.

My determination was quickly undone, not by a fight against cancer but instead, something as trivial as crab cakes. And because of my quickly rising self-love, I tainted Christ’s name.

That afternoon, we decided to begin a search for crab-cakes. My husband had heard Baltimore was famous for them. This was the one thing he’d been looking forward to, the one thing he longed to do before we headed home. Being the loving, supportive, self-sacrificing … (uh-hem. I shift uncomfortably and avoid your gaze) wife I … long to be, I wholeheartedly agreed, and we all climbed into vehicles and headed downtown.

Stepping out of the van and into a dingy and smelly parking garage, my grumble meter sky-rocketed. When we reached street level, things–and the smell–got worse. A quick glance told me we weren’t in the best part of town. I clutched my purse to my chest, and my sister and I exchanged glances.

“Can we go somewhere else?” I’m sure my voice held a pleading tone.

All the women agreed. So, we clamored back into our vehicles and drove to the harbor, filled with numerous clean restaurants–any one of which would mesh well with my germo-phobe preferences. Yes, I was pleased. This would do quite nicely.

But unfortunately, we kept walking, leaving the trendy harbor area with its cute shops and alluring smells far behind. Memories of the area we’d just left still fresh in my mind, I watched the clean–did I mention clean?–restaurants fade behind us, my agitation growing. Snippets of my morning devotion came to mind, calling me to die to myself, embracing each moment (bacteria and all) in full surrender. Relinquishing all rights and expectations.

But I wasn’t listening. I was too focused on me.

The restaurant we ended up at was anything but five-star. The bathroom smelled as if it had been doused in urine. The carpet looked as if it’d been splotched with car grease, and the menus needed to be soaked in sanitizer. It was three o’clock, well past lunchtime, and I was starved, irritated … and a bit queasy, as my germo-phobiness waged war with my hunger.

Sitting with a firm scowl, arms crossed, nose wrinkled … Okay, so maybe I didn’t behave that badly–on the outside, but my heart was pretty grungy. Grungier than the floor, and needless to say, I didn’t hide my disgust well. Oh, what a role model I was for my daughter!

Then it came time to pray.

The reality of my witness–or lack there of–hit me in the gut. I thought of the waitress who watched me, frumping, longing to be anywhere else but there. Did I want her to know I was a Christian? Or would it be better, for Christ’s sake, if she didn’t?

Last Thursday, Nikki Arana asked a powerful question: Would you share your faith if it cost you your life. (You can read her post here.)

I’ve often wondered about that–how I would respond if I lived in a country filled with persecution. If, because of my faith, I faced unemployment, physical pain, or even death. I don’t have an answer, but I do know, in the day-to-day when I am called to *live out* my faith as Christ’s ambassador, I often fall short. Not in the face of extreme danger, but instead, in the face of self, over something as trivial as crab cakes.

Lord Jesus, help me to die to myself, not just in the big, courageous moments, but in those day-to-day encounters–standing in line at a grocery store or eating at a dirty restaurant. Help me, in all things, to be alert to my witness. Help me to radiate your sacrificial love–the love that drove you to a cross, for me.