HOLD THE LINE PART TWO

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Most Americans can tell you that George S. Patton was a military leader. In fact he was a four star general credited with leading the U.S. to victory over the German army. Patton was loud and basked in the glory of achieving. His achievements included the following medals: Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal.

But the greatest action that he took did not involve getting a medal. The greatest act he took was realizing that he needed help. He was faced with a quandary. He needed to move 100,000 men and over 1000 vehicles and artillery units 125 miles in the snow and mud.  This was, to say the least, virtually impossible.

Patton was charged with reinforcing the 101st Airborne Unit, in the key town of Bastogne, which was under siege from 200,000 Germans. He also knew that if he could not get to Bastogne in a few days the German army would break the line and possibly turn the war in the enemy’s favor. This is known, by most, as “The Battle of the Bulge.”

Patton knew he needed good weather for his troops to advance, which would permit close ground support by U.S. Army Air Forces tactical aircraft. Patton ordered Army chaplain, Colonel James Hugh O’Neill, to compose a prayer to ask God for a stoppage in the weather. This is what Colonel O’Neill wrote:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

When the weather cleared soon after, Patton awarded O’Neill a Bronze Star Medal on the spot. The rest is history. Patton arrived with reinforcements and the German Army was defeated at Bastogne. In doing so the Allies held the line. The Germans retreated. Within 45 days Patton entered Germany and a surrender shortly followed.

Before the intense fighting began, the Commander in Bastogne Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, knowing reinforcements were on the way, relied on his faith and visited the frontline troops. After a brief discussion with the officers, all Gen. McAuliffe could say was, “Hold the line; close the gaps.”

We are in a spiritual battle much like Bastogne. Conditions are tough. Our world is rapidly deteriorating both morally and spiritually. We are encircled and isolated. We are constantly under artillery fire from Satan. How can we win our spiritual battle?

We must follow the same faith that Gen. Patton, Col. O’Neill and Gen. McAuliffe had. We must give the order; “Hold the line, close the gaps.” Prayer always works. We just have to believe.

 

 

 

 

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HOLD THE LINE: PART ONE

There is a song “Hold The Line” from the group Toto. If you know the song it will stick in your head for a while. I have never really paid too much attention to what the title meant, but loved the tune and the sound. I’ve been that way for all of my life. Unless something either draws my interest or tugs at my heart, I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to it.

I heard the phrase in a movie the other day. It was a military flick about a Seal team that was sent into Africa to extract an American doctor and if possible three missionaries who were threatened by a rebel army trying to perform an ethnic cleansing against Christians. The Seal team was trying to move 25 plus refugees to the neighboring border. As the rebels were advancing on the Christians the Seal team leader ordered his unit to “hold their line.”

This caught my attention. Rather, this got my attention. The film was fictional but based upon real events that had happened a few years before. The country was Nigeria and the Seal team was from the U.S. Navy. It matched 300 rebel soldiers against a team of eight Seals. Eight highly trained soldiers stepped up to “hold the line” to allow 25 some odd people a chance for freedom.

Sadly, while I write this, what is happening in Nigeria is not fictional. Today 27 Christian farmers were killed by the rebel group “boko haram”. They were killed because of their faith. In fact, over the past year over 1000 have been murdered. And tragically, 200 girls were kidnapped by the group, more than likely sexually assaulted, and then forced to convert to another faith.

The movie broke my heart. As I sat in my beautiful little home, drinking iced tea, I was not giving a rip about the Christians in Nigeria. I don’t even think I had prayed for them. And sadly, I know I am in the majority by a landslide.

There is one scene in the movie where the church was burned and all those left behind were savagely murdered. Right after this horrible scene the Seals are charged by the rebels and the lieutenant orders his men to “hold the line.”

This is where God started doing open heart surgery on me. You see I got it. We, as fellow Christians, are to “hold the line” for other believers by hitting our knees daily for those in dire situations. It could be for Nigerian missionaries, Ugandan orphanages, a pastor jailed in Iran or for food ministries in Denton Texas. Our job is to hold the line for all of them in prayer.

The writer of Hebrews stated that we are to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” Hold fast. Hold the line. It’s more than a song title.

A BOY AND HIS CANE POLE, A MAN AND A HOOK…

imageI took my son Luke on his first fishing adventure today.  We also were joined by my father.  Allow me to take an inventory of whether it was a success:

1) did not fall in water ( that includes Luke as well ).

2) did not catch any fish.

3) ate chips, cookies, brownies.

4) got sunburned and muddy.

I would say, SUCCESS! Actually the day was about beautiful weather, a beautiful little boy and a beautiful opportunity where three generations converged to soak in a wonderful pastime.

This was the first time in Luke’s five-plus years that the three of us did something like this. At one point I looked up and vividly flashed back to a time when I went fishing with my heroes, my Dad and my Granddad.  A cool déjà vu moment, that almost did not happen.  You see old man Parky tried to take this moment away from me.

Parky is a SOB!  He is a joy kill. He loves to create apathy, defeat and missed opportunities.  I really noticed this when I tried to do something that had always been so simple to me.  Something so elementary that I jumped right into it without even thinking about it. But, Parky got into the way.  I could not put the worm on a hook.

Hello my name is Defeat, let me introduce myself to you. This was the lie from Hell that entered my mind. As Luke stood there and watched my hand shaking so that I couldn’t bait his hook, I noticed he was watching my every move.  I had a choice.  Give into Parky and his friend Defeat, or turn this into a memorable moment.

Luke has grown up with seeing the tremors.  In fact, that’s all he knows when it comes to Daddy.  He knows that I have Parkinson’s. He doesn’t fully comprehend it.  But he sees it.  At this point I ask God just to take away defeat and make this a joyful moment. Luke, as a five-year old is apt to do, turned and skipped off to Granddad who had already cast his line into the water.

Oh I still struggled baiting that hook.  But slowly I got it done and Luke was along side his hero, Granddad and got his pole in the water.  At that point I didn’t care if I baited my own pole.  I watched the joy of my life standing next to my Daddy fishing.  I did what any proud dad would do.  I grabbed my cell phone and took pictures.  I truly had a Facebook moment.

Hello my name is Joy, I would like to introduce myself to you!  This is who I wanted to show up.  When Joy comes old man Parky disappears for a while. Oh I know he will return, but I can enjoy a few moments of life.

I didn’t catch any fish.  Granddad caught two hands sized fish that were immediately tossed back in.  But Luke thought it was awesome. So did I.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When a man is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something.”

King David of Israel had a life of dysfunction.  In one his writings (Psalm 30) I summarize his thoughts; I will exalt you, O LORD, for you spared me from going down to the pit. I cried to you for mercy. You turned my mourning into dancing.

Thank you God.