Tag Archives: patriotic

A Day of Infamy

The day began much as any other weekday—get the family out the door to school, finish dressing for the day, and stop at the office. This day would also include a drive to Taylor (MI) for a meeting with pastors from across Michigan. Typically, the truck radio was tuned to Detroit’s WWJ all-news radio. Although that Tuesday, September 11, 2001, may have begun routinely, it was about to change.

I muttered about the rush hour traffic along I-96, unaware of the events transpiring in the skies over New York. Governmental agencies were scrambling, trying to locate American Airlines Flight 11 on radar—to no avail—until it crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At 8:48a, the first live pictures broke in New York City on WNYW-TV. In horror, New Yorkers watched a live feed as more than 100 people, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jumped to their deaths. But this is only the beginning of horrors.

In the span of less than two hours—before anyone could really grasp what was taking place—thousands of lives had been lost. Let me ask you—Where were you when the world stopped turning on the morning of September 11, 2001?

As we watched in stunned horror, we could not help but recall (Psalm 9:17 KJV) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Could there be a man or woman alive who witnessed these horrific scenes who was not wondering, “What is happening to America?”

Surely, such a series of tragedies should serve as a clarion wake-up call for Americans to soberly contemplate—“God, what do you want us to see, to understand, to learn from these attacks?” Although man may have meant it for evil, is there some good that God can bring from this?

Just before midnight & just before retiring 16 years ago tomorrow night, President George W. Bush penned into his journal these words: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today … “

Indeed, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his speech to Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked … “

Today—11 September 2017, we are commemorating a day of infamy. Let us never shy away from the searing memories of that September day, lest we forget the price that was paid by innocent people who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they were just doing their jobs.

Let us never forget the price paid by the heroes who risked and gave their lives in an honorable attempt to save as many lives as they possibly could before they themselves paid the ultimate price. Neither should we forget those brave men and women who risked their lives in service to their fellow man, and who will live with the haunting memories and physical handicaps for the remainder of their natural lives.
BTW, do you pray? If so, wouldn’t right now be an appropriate time to thank God for those Americans—both living and deceased—who performed beyond their natural abilities during this crisis which has changed and challenged America?

Today, we are also considering a nation in decline. Sadly, the warning signs are everywhere; the caution flag is out. However, the child of God should not be shocked as we review the events of the last sixteen years, especially in light of 2 Timothy 3 as a prophetic template.

This know also that in the last days, perilous times shall come … For men shall be lovers of their own selves … Covetous … Boasters … Proud … Blasphemers … Disobedient to parents … Unthankful … Unholy …

Without natural affection … Trucebreakers … False accusers … Incontinent (or lacking sexual control) … Fierce (meaning aggressive and violent) … Despisers of those that are good

Traitors … Heady (impulsive and rash in behavior) … High-minded … Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God … Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof …

These also resist the truth … Men of corrupt minds … Reprobate concerning the faith … But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived …

Those of us who know the Word of God and the God of the Word must understand two critical things. First, these are the last days and the human picture will not be a pretty one, but rather a scene that declines from bad-to-worse.

Secondly, as believers, we’re called upon to remain faithful, fervent, fearless, and fruitful. Faithful does not mean a fatalistic outlook on life; neither does it mean that we resign ourselves to thinking that our lives cannot or will not make a positive difference on the world in which we live.

Faithfulness does mean that we fearlessly set our sights toward the future, believing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us for His cause. Faithfulness does mean that we throw ourselves into the battle for eternal souls throughout our world, since God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Again, I ask, do you pray? If so, today is an excellent time to renew our commitment to God, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices in His service, that by all means available to us, we might save some. Why not pray that kind of commitment prayer to God, wherever you are today?

Finally, on this sixteenth anniversary of 9—11, I am not only commemorating a day of infamy, and considering a nation in decline, but I am also calling a people to action. At 7:24 pm, September 11, 2001, members of Congress joined together on the steps of the United States Capitol and sang, “God Bless America!”

While I firmly believe in that great song—made famous by vocalist Kate Smith—Congress should have been leading this nation in prayers of repentance, giving God a viable reason to bless America. They did not do so, and based on the track record of the last 16 years, they apparently had no intention of doing so.

However, my question is this—even if Congress will no longer truly embrace the principles and precepts that our founding fathers held dear, will you? Will the people who claim to know God choose to live like we know Him?

(2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble
themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear
from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

While we may sing of God’s blessings on America, “obedience is better than sacrifice!” … how much pressure from without and from within will it take to bring America to our knees in repentance? We need leaders whose character runs deeper than the latest photo op.

Has sixteen years laden with disasters not captured our attention? If the vicious attacks of 9-11 didn’t turn our nation to God, what will it take? How many Hurricane Katrina’s, Harvey’s, and Irma’s will be enough wake-up call for us? Are we even listening?

God will not force us to obey and follow Him, whether as individuals or as nations. However, throughout history the bitter consequences of disobedience traditionally do one of two things—either lead us to repentance or further harden our hearts in further resistance.

A wise young leader of a nation once stated, (Joshua 24:15 GWT) But if you don’t want to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve … (but) … my family and I will still serve the LORD.”

My appeal to you is simple: Make a fresh commitment to God today to become a man or woman if influence for Christ. With Elijah of old, I say to you, (1 Kings 18:21 KJV) How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

It is insufficient for modern believers to drift along ambivalently or complacently in these closing moments of time, considering that the eternal destiny of millions of people is at stake. We must be sober and vigilant and, as I stated earlier, fearless, fervent, faithful, and fruitful.

BTW, do you really pray? If so, then now would be the best time. Here’s my prayer today:

Heavenly Father, I come to you this morning with sober heart, mind, and spirit—sober because of my own sin, because of the sins of our nation, and because I recognize that your spirit will not always strive with us, and because you have given us ample opportunity to repent.

I come into your presence at this very moment realizing that as a nation, we have forgotten you as our God, realizing that you would much prefer that we repent voluntarily of our sin than for us to be judged by your righteousness for it.

As best as we know how, we humble ourselves before you now, praying, seeking your face, and determining to turn from our wickedness. We also come, throwing ourselves upon your mercy—that you will hear our prayer from heaven, that you will forgive our sin, and that you will heal our land.

We pray for those who lead us at every level of government—that your spirit might move mightily upon their minds, that your hand would turn the king’s heart where you desire—that your people might have rest and enjoy peaceable lives, even in a world filled with turmoil, wars, and rumors of wars.

We especially pray for the families of our nation who have an empty seat at their mealtimes because a loved one paid the ultimate price, honorably serving the people of this great nation.

Further, I pray that this date of infamy will lead many to newfound faith in Christ and believers to a renewed commitment to standing firm in their faith, as well as becoming proactive as citizens at the ballot box—voting the principles and precepts that they profess to believe. And, God, we want to live in such a way that our lives give you reason to bless this nation once again, and our prayer will always be God bless America!

In the name of the One who saves to the uttermost, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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We Need Another Patrick Henry!

Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For this very reason peoples of other faith have been afforded asylum, prosperity, & freedom of worship here.”

Henry & our Founders believed in absolute morality, teaching that “the eternal difference between right & wrong does not fluctuate.”  Needless to say, much of Washington, D.C. is the antithesis of Patrick Henry!

No, we do not have Patrick Henry’s leading us today, in part because Christians have been careless.  Even though we may say “God Bless America!” with our lips, our lives are too often a rejection of God & His principles.  For too long we have elected men & women who have ousted Bible-reading & prayer  from our schools, who place a low value on human wife, and a growing disrespect for the law.

We have put in office those who adhere to the “right” to abort unborn babies—at the rate of one every 30 seconds, 24-7!  We have elected men & women who uphold lifestyles rejected by God’s Word & repulsive to Americans as a whole—that is until we began parading them on television and in movies as “normal” until they have become acceptable, even to some in the clergy-world.  It is still sin in God’s sight.

It’s easy to become discouraged by the moral trajectory of our nation today.  Marriage and gender have been redefined; gender has become a “choice” for those who can’t get enough attention.  Euthanasia is gaining momentum.  Genetic manipulation of human embryos has become a reality.  Jihadist terrorism dominates our news.  American politics is in shambles.

However, one great certainty today is this—God is still on His throne, folks!  Another certainty—God wants to use you to make a difference in the world.  The Old Testament writer gives us great hope when he penned 2 Chr 7:14.  While some may debate whether or not its application was for Israel alone, those who know God personally understand that the principle is applicable to America today:

(2 Chron 7:14 KJV) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, & pray, & seek my face, & turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, & will forgive their sin, & will heal their land. 

Let me ask—what part of that verse is NOT applicable to us today?  Are you NOT one of His people, or do you NOT call yourself a Christian?  What Christian should NOT humble him or herself before God, especially given the condition of America today?  Who amongst us should NOT be seeking God’s face?  When God’s Spirit reveals to us our wickedness, who of us should NOT turn in repentance from that attitude or behavior?

With that said, which of us would audaciously proclaim God to be a liar—that He would NOT hear the prayer of a penitent, that He would NOT forgive our sin, or that He would NOT heal our land?!

In addition to our repentance & petitions, we must also pray that God will send again leaders like Patrick Henry, who will hold fearlessly to God’s hand while leading this nation.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in praying for our nation like never before.  Since God’s Spirit will not always strive with man, it behooves us to seek Him today while He may be found.

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There Is Hope

For more years than I can remember, I’ve spoken somewhere on weekends surrounding America’s patriotic holidays.  Sunday, 03 July 2016 will be no exception, but will be one of those rare occasions when I will speak at the church that Debbie and I call “home”—North Auburn Hills Baptist Church.

Approaching America’s 240th birthday, reflecting on the current election cycle, and considering the condition of our country, I must confess grave concern for the country that has been my home base for 66 years and counting.  So as not to discourage you, let me quickly disclaim that I believe there is hope!

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah opens one of the Bible’s most horrific chapters with a ray of hope this way—Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  However, he then proceeds to describe the dark days in which America … er, Israel, was living.

Skipping from the opening verse, we find a summary description of America today—a parallel—that should arrest the attention of thinking citizens, sober our thoughts, and lead us to petition the God of Isaiah 59:1, as described in Isaiah 7:14!  Consider just four common characteristics between Israel of some 700 years before Christ and America today—highlighted in four critical words.

Justice

(Isa 59:14a HCSB)  Justice is turned back …  In the vernacular, we would say that justice has been turned on its head, upside down, everything is backwards.  America’s victims of crime watch a never-ending stream of criminals going free, restitution never paid.  Be strong and of good courage, my friend, for God the Righteous judge rules over all the earth.  Remember verse one—He hears and He can save!

Righteousness

(Isa 59:14b HCSB) … righteousness stands far off …  In a practical sense, righteousness is simply “morally good.”  A deep study is not necessary, when a casual glance at television, a movie screen, or newspaper reveals daily that America increasingly is anything but morally good, choosing rather to trust in vanity. Take hope my friend!  There’s still hope in verse one—only one call away!

Truth

(Isa 59:14c HCSB) … truth has stumbled in the street … (“fallen” in the KJV).  The meaning is the same—truth doesn’t matter in our culture today!  History is being rewritten.  Truth is being hidden, while falsehood is being paraded as though it was the truth, in order to accomplish someone’s agenda.

The truth is, God’s agenda will be accomplished in the end.  By the closing chapter of this world’s history, all liars (those who refused to live truthfully) will find the burning truth forever in the horrific abode of the father of lies, yet eternally separated from the truth, the way, and the life!  That is not something in which one should glory, but rather with broken heart, fear and trembling, choose to be a living sacrifice, that others might hear the truth while there is time!

However, if you are reading these words, be encouraged!  As long as we have breath, we have hope—and it still stands back in verse one!

Honesty

(Isa 59:14d HCSB) … and honesty (or equity) cannot enter …  At the end of the day, honesty is a proper dealing with the three aforementioned qualities—truth, righteousness, and justice.  You see, it is possible for one to know truth, but be dishonest and unjust, thus missing the boat on righteousness as well. That’s why in our courts of law, a witness swears an oath—hand on the Bible—to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The purpose is to bring about justice, making something that was wrong right again.

That’s also why sinful man needs the hope back in verse one, a hope ultimately found in God alone.  All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, but He is near and willing to give to us His own righteousness.  Justice for our sin was served some 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ willingly made an in-full payment for us.  His death was not about His own sin, but rather your sin and mine—which brings us back to the hope in verse one!

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in asking God to draw America back to Him, that we as a nation might become a country of justice, righteousness, truth, and honesty once again?  Or perhaps you feel like God is far, far away.  Not so, my friend—He is only one prayer away!  Call on Him today while He is near!

Finally, in spite of all the woes of our world and country, my fellow Americans, let’s celebrate the freedom that we enjoy and for which much of the world longs!  Happy 240th Birthday, America!

(2 Chron 7:14 HCSB)  (If) my people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Veterans Day Thoughts

Normally on Veterans Day I reminisce and blog, often using the occasion to highlight family members who are veterans. I am extremely, and justifiably proud of my oldest son USMC Capt Justin Peterson, a Marine whose life was cut short in the sands of Iraq, my youngest son USMC Sgt Joshua Peterson, who was also deployed in Iraq at the time his brother was killed, and my oldest son-in-law USN Lt Brandon Geddes, who is still active and stationed in Norfolk.

However, today I want to highlight a rather quiet, unassuming veteran who calls San Diego home.  Two years ago, while in Chula Vista presenting the patriotic program A SALUTE TO AMERICA!, I was privileged to meet and spend almost an hour with Joe Hutchins at the real estate office owned by Joe and his wife Pat.

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

Joe spent most of his first career in the United States Navy as a SEAL.  We sat on a sofa in the reception area of Hutchins Realty on Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach, as Joe, a retired Air Force friend of Joe’s, and I talked.  I turned to this quiet tower of strength and said, “Joe, you know what’s different about your generation and today’s generation?”  Not sure where I was going with that question, he simply said, “Go on.”

“You have deeply buried stories of years of special ops—stories which have never been uttered, and probably never will be.  Today, guys go on a couple of missions and then write a book about it!”  Joe smiled, his USAF brother-in-arms chuckled, and I was satisfied that Joe’s smile was speaking volumes.

While I’ve seen many of Hollywood’s action movies and read several books each year written from the arena of combat experience, somehow—even unintentionally—they tend to glamourize the blood, sweat, tears, agony, and pain.  Conversely, many civilians seem to make every combat veteran a “victim” who suffers from PTSD.

Off all the possibilities that Veterans Day can bring to America, perhaps the one that should capture the imagination is this—let’s allow this annual day of remembrance remind us of the price that is being paid by approximately 1% of our nation’s citizens—men and women who are heroes merely because they stepped forward and serve or have served the other 99%.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not spend some quiet time alone sometime during this Veterans Day, contemplating our veterans, especially the ones you know personally, and pray for them, thanking God for these men and women of courage, honor, and commitment, and asking God to minister His goodness to them as they provide our nation safety and freedom?

And Justin, Joshua, and Brandon—thank you for your service to our nation, and for making your father very proud of you!

1385421_10151889694186558_1258647658_n JOSHUA PETERSON 2014 994817_10151705932916558_412695339_n

dale

Memorial Day 2014

The country music group Alabama, led by Randy from Fort Payne (AL), got it right in one of their old songs, “I’m in a Hurry.” Let me explain my meaning momentarily.

It’s still early morning on this Memorial Day 2014. My morning walk was quiet, sunny, and with no breeze to even stir the American flags hanging limply from several of the condominiums.

Adding to the solemnity of this day, was a small detail  to many people perhaps, but one that hits close to home to this guy—only a few of the colors were properly posted at half-mast. Yes, I understand this is a minute detail; however, I think it represents something larger, though subtle, in our current country and culture, that deserves consideration on this most solemn of American holidays.

Perhaps in the busy-ness of our lives, we take too little time to slow down (another song from another genre—“Slow down, you’re going too fast; we’ve got to make the morning last.”) and think—reflect on life–which leads me back to the Alabama song.

I’m in a hurry to get things done, Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really got to do is live and die, But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Please don’t misunderstand—I’ve lived the majority of my adult life in a hurry, so this essay isn’t about perfect writing, hoping that imperfection will get it together! Quite the contrary—it’s about each of us taking time whenever possible to actually reflect on life and the things that really will matter in the end.

Yesterday, Debbie and I were at CrossRoads Church in Columbus (OH), where I performed my patriotic show SALUTE! for their Memorial Day weekend service. The program includes another country song that draws one to reflection—“Little Folks,” by Charlie Daniels. After walking the listener through childhood, the song conclude with these words:

Little folks slip through our hands like so many grains of sand; We’d best enjoy them while we can—so soon they slip away.

In the show, SALUTE!, the closing visual of that song is a photo of my oldest son Justin and I, walking across a public lawn in Washington DC, with then-one-year-old Jayden (Justin’s second son) between us, holding his dad’s and Papa Pete’s hands. That photo is always a personal reminder that life is fleeting. According to the Bible, life is a vapor that vanishes ever so quickly.

I have no clue what your plans for the day might be for this Memorial Day 2014. However, I hope you will take a few quiet moments somewhere along the trail to think. Think about the countless numbers of lives img050sacrificed for your freedom. One of those lives was my son Justin, a career Marine, but also a husband to Patty and a father to Jared, Jayden, and Caitlin.

BTW, do you pray? If so, while you’re meditating on the price tag of freedom, why not offer your gratitude to God of the freedom and manifold blessing that are ours as Americans? Perhaps you could appeal to the Lord, asking Him, the God of all comfort, to provide a special measure of comfort to those families who observe this somber holiday with an empty seat at their table.

Although Justin Dale Peterson (or JDP2, as he is affectionately known in the family) is missed beyond description by his extended family, it’s safe to say that we understand to some extent that this is the price of freedom. Freedom is not free.

Debbie & Dale Peterson

Debbie & Dale Peterson

Pondering our Past, Present, & Future 9-11s

Dale on Coronado (CA)

Dale on Coronado (CA)

September 11 … has become one of those defining moment days for America. Most of us can share where we were and what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, as America’s—yea, the world’s—attention turned to their radios and televisions to follow the unthinkable events unfolding in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

Yes, Americans’ lives were changed in moments, to be sure, but the ripple effect has changed the world … but not always for the better. For example, I much prefer the “good old days” when air travel was (for the most part) a pleasure rather than a hassle … when passengers’ spirits were somewhat carefree and their focus was on their destinations and the activities in which they would engage.

However, I sometimes wonder if the greatest impact has been lost in the shuffle for many people, and that is the impact on families who lost a loved one or friend. While busy travelers mutter and complain about luggage content restrictions (not to mention the insane charges) and security lines in airport terminals, scattered around the world are 3000 families with an empty seat at their tables and holes in their hearts. If America does anything each year on September 11, we in the land of the living should spend our day remembering those who lost their lives.

However, I am not convinced by the politicians, especially those inside the Beltway, that it is much more than a photo op for many of America’s politicians—and the higher to position, the more I believe that is true. “Why would you say such a thing?” you may be asking. I respond with two basic words—attitudes and actions.

When one is sincere, other perceive it from their attitudes—if not immediately, then certainly over a period of time. Further, sincerity is reflected in our actions. For example, on 9-11-01, I first heard the news on my truck radio as I drove to a meeting for ministers in Michigan. However, upon our arrival to hear 2-3 men speak to our organization, we instead followed the events on television for a little while, then spent the remainder of our conference time in prayer.

BTW, do you pray? If so, let me encourage you to consider how we pray … as individuals, as leaders, and as a nation.

America doesn’t need an encouragement from the White House lawn for a “moment of silence.” We need authentic prayers of repentance, and what better way to secure the future of America and Americans than by appealing passionately to the same God that William Bradford and the Pilgrims of the Mayflower knew, asking His provision and protection? We need God in America again—and that is more than a nice song by Carman!

Our nation has come a long way (and in the wrong direction) from our first president George Washington, who knelt in prayer with broken and contrite heart, to our current president who barely musters a moment of silence for political correctness! “Oh, but Dale, you can’t judge the president’s motives!” you may be thinking. I don’t have to—I can see his actions—the fruit of the decisions that he has been making since taking the highest office in our nation and bringing it to shame.

Since America is in trouble—academically, financially, morally, and spiritually—let’s come back to the signature question of my blog posts. BTW, do you pray? If so, are you praying for God’s Spirit to move mightily on our nation? Are you pleading … daily … with Him for a spiritual awakening in America?

All human attempts at freedom and security will falter and fail, while prostrating ourselves before God in repentance and petition leads to total freedom and eternal security (yes, play on words intended)! Cheers!

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day is one of my favorite patriotic holidays, along with July 4th and Veteran’s Day.  However, as I endeavor to focus my attention this weekend on the true meaning of Memorial Day, I find myself distracted.

Frankly, America has become a mess from the top down, beginning in Washington, D.C.  As a nation that has experienced freedom at levels unprecedented perhaps in human history, it is because from the beginning, we have been ruled by laws.  Early on, these laws were modeled after the Great Law-Giver.   However, modern political leadership apparently has little regard for law—and this in spite of the fact that many of them are lawyers!

No matter how many degreed attorneys may hold political and bureaucratic offices, they apparently lack good character at the very core of their being.  Modern America continually arrives at new lows where leadership without godly character has taken us.  I sometimes wonder if there are any men and women of honesty left inside the beltway, or many state houses, for that matter!

Before you disagree, consider what is at the core of the current scandals in our country’s capitol, oval office, and treasury department—each of them reverberating with dishonesty.  One does not need a law degree to understand that anyone sworn into these offices has taken an oath to uphold the laws of the land and the sovereignty of the United States of America.

When those elected deliberately vote contrary to our laws or best interest, it is a violation of their oaths and, in my opinion, treasonous.  One example of this—any senator voting in favor of a United Nations treaty that infringes on the Constitutional rights of American citizens, as Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow recently did.

When America is subjected to scandals like the IRS debacle, our citizens should expect a housecleaning, not excuses, buck-passing, pleading the fifth amendment, or token terminations of a few.  Is there anyone left in Washington who understands and exercises personal responsibility?

Then there is the colossal screw-up of Benghazi.  If grassroots America could know the truth about what happened surrounding that fiasco, the decisions, the events, and the motivations behind it all, I’m guessing there would be such outrage that all of Washington would be cleaned out.  (Hey! Not a bad idea!)  But when leaders are dishonest, they are never forthcoming with the facts and the truth.

But what should we expect from politicians and bureaucrats whose egos and insatiable appetites for power have rendered them little more than addicts of the same?  Many of them run dishonest campaigns to get into office, why should we think they will suddenly become honest once in office?

Perhaps the greater question is this—when will grassroots America stand in sufficient numbers and say enough is enough?  The Tea Party—you know, the movement that the dishonesty of the IRS is making famous—is trying to do this.  Then enter a lot of dishonesty from main stream media and the distortions they toss out in daily doses, and the confusion continues until many amongst grassroots citizens virtually throw their hands in the air and cry out in despair, “What’s the use?!”

Thankfully, a holiday like Memorial Day, properly used, becomes a valuable tool in the thinking and decision-making of those committed to maintaining a strong America—requiring our focus on important things.

Thankfully, our military has historically provided an example—of honor, or courage, and of commitment.  Focusing our minds and hearts on the true meaning of Memorial Day 2013, let’s ask, “For what have they all given their lives?”  Shall their deaths be made vain by our failure to be ever vigilant in defending the freedoms they secured for us?

Thankfully, thousands of airmen, sailors, soldiers, and Marines still do today.  Of my three sons, two are Marines—one works honorably in North Carolina for U.S. Cellular, while the other Marine rests in the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.

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Of my two sons-in-law, one is currently deployed aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69).  Their character speaks well of our military.  Shall their service (and the sacrifice of their families) be made vain by the dereliction of duty of politicians of lesser character or by an ambivalent citizenry?

Thankfully, there is still a truth in this world that could rescue a faltering nation.  It is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14—If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (NJK)

BTW, do you pray?  If so, shouldn’t the cares of our country concern us and compel us to pray?  But the appeal of that verse, which reflects the very heart of God for you, me, and our country, entails more than pray.  It entails turning from our wickedness and turning to Him in repentance—brokenness over our wickedness.

The scary part of that process may be this—we can’t pretend repentance before God.  So, while you’re flipping your burgers and brats this Memorial Day 2013, remember those who have paid the price for our freedom; reflect on personal responsibilities as American citizens; and resolve to be a man or woman of character and principle.

ONE SOBERING SUNSHINY DAY

ONE SOBERING SUNSHINY DAY

Today was sort of a “Family day” for Debbie and me.  We set no alarm, but casually dressed for a leisurely day that began with a mid-morning breakfast in a small café in Clarkston, Michigan.  Soon after breakfast, we enjoyed the sunshine and hints of the changing colors of the trees as we drove the nearly restored 1965 Olds Cutlass up M-15 to our grandson Jayden’s football game.

After the Oakland Christian School Lancers’ 26-6 rout of their opponents, all family present dispersed only to gather a few miles away for a cookout with additional family joining us for food and laughter.  Watching the mannerisms of another grandson who found a special place in Papa Pete’s heart twelve years ago when he was born, I was once again reminded of how much like his late-father Jared is!

About mid-afternoon, Debbie, Jared and I headed toward Fenton to drop him off, before making another leisurely, brief, but very special visit at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly (MI).  That’s always a sobering time for me personally, whether I make that stop alone or with my wife Debbie or my daughter-in-law Patty—the only two people with whom I’ve ever made the visit.

Today’s visit, although brief, was nonetheless sobering.

It was sobering to once again be reminded of the brevity and uncertainty of life.  No one lives forever.  We all know that.  Yet, we tend to be shocked when death knocks at the door of family or friends.  I was reminded that our times are in His hands.

It was sobering to think of the powerful influence that one young man had on his world in 32 short years.  My son Justin, killed in Iraq the morning after his 32nd birthday—which is tomorrow—left not only a legacy in the lives of three children, but also in the lives of family, friends, and an untold number of Marines.  I was reminded that we only have today, and we should make the most of it, spending it wisely.

It was sobering also to think of the hundreds of other families who have loved ones buried in that cemetery, as well as the national cemeteries scattered around the country that each of them loved and served.  Great Lakes National Cemetery is one of the newest veterans’ cemeteries, and I am always sobered by how quickly the number of white grave markers grows with each visit.

 

If these men and women were willing to die for our country, honoring their oaths to uphold and defend our constitution and country, why can’t our elected officials in Washington, DC at least be willing to live for it.  (But don’t get me started on that subject today!)

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you pause for a few minutes to pray for our country?  Increasingly we are a country turning its back on the principles—biblical principles—we once embraced.  Whereas the Bible instructs that judgment must begin at the house of God, it behooves the people, who know God personally, to call on Him, repentantly and repeatedly, petitioning Him to draw America back to Him and to His principles in obedience.

Celebrating Freedom

Of all the patriotic holidays on the American calendar, July 4th is perhaps my favorite—and 2012 will certainly guarantee that to be true for at least three reason.

First, for the first time in six years, I’m back on the road presenting A SALUTE TO AMERICA!, a 55-minute non-stop patriotic message in music and narration—all with visuals.  Since its 2012 debut in Adrian (MI) on May 6, it’s been to Springfield (MA), Enfield (CT), Thornton (CO), and last weekend in San Diego (CA).

Second, I’m spending a few days with my wife Debbie getting some much needed R & R, while celebrating this memorable holiday in San Diego, which is one of my favorite spots in America, and with friends Jim and Pat Baize.  Because of numerous military installations making southern California their home, this entire region became special years ago, and to spend the 4th of July 2012 here makes it exceedingly special.

In fact, Debbie and I spent a half day touring the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that served America nobly from World War II through Desert Storm.  Everywhere each of us set foot, our thoughts were turning to another carrier—the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which deployed on June 20, 2012—and on which our son-in-law LT Brandon Geddes serves.

Third, and perhaps the highlight of my time here this trip, was meeting one very special veteran and enjoying 45 minutes interacting.  Joe Hutchins is retired Navy, which is noteworthy in and of itself, since Joe is 83 years of age, but there’s more to Joe’s story than that.  You see, this retired Senior Chief served in three wars while in the United States Navy—World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.

Celebrating Freedom with a Hero

During WWII, Joe was one of the Navy’s elite, serving as a tadpole.  Most Americans have little if any clue what that strange title might even mean.  Not even the troops who were tadpoles liked the title, so by the Korean War, the nomenclature had been revised, and these elite forces were then referred to as frogmen.  By Vietnam, they were being referred to by yet another title—one that is still respected globally to this day—SEALs.

Perhaps to many passersby, Joe Hutchins would just be another old man on the street, since he is a rather quiet, soft-spoken man.  However, to me, Joe is a hero for whom I have the utmost respect.  But as I endeavored to teach my five children, “You never know who you’re meeting when you meet an ‘old person,” therefore, respect them all!

So as we celebrate this wonderful America holiday, let’s reflect on the high price that has been paid for the freedom that we enjoy in this nation that has been blessed by the hand of Almighty God for more than the 236 official years.  Let us also reflect on what we who enjoy such freedom are doing to further guarantee that it is available for our posterity.

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you also pause at some point during your own celebration of freedom to thank the One by whose hand our nation has been blest?  The Good Book says, Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”

Dale on Coronado (CA)

 

A DAY OF INFAMY

The day began much as any other weekday—get the family out the door to school, finish dressing for the day, and stop at the office.  This day would also include a drive to Taylor for a meeting with pastors from across Michigan.  Typically, my truck radio was tuned to Detroit’s WWJ-AM 950 all-news radio.  Although that Tuesday, September 11, 2001, may have begun routinely, it was about to change.

Even as I muttered about the rush hour traffic along I-96, unaware of the events transpiring in the skies over New York, governmental agencies were scrambling, trying to locate American Airlines Flight 11 on radar—to no avail—until it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At 8:48a, the first live pictures broke in New York City on WNYW-TV.  In horror, New Yorkers watched a live feed as more than 100 people, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jumped to their deaths.  But this is only the beginning of horrors. 

Before these details can be understood, American Airlines Flight 77 is hijacked at approximately 8:50a.  At 8:51a a flight controller at New York Center notices a problem on United Flight 175 from Boston to LA.  Attempts to establish contact are futile.

At 08:52 F-15s are scrambling from Otis Air National Guard Base.  By 08:56, the transponder for Flight 77 is turned off and primary radar contact is lost.  The aircraft travels undetected for 36 minutes due east toward Washington, D.C. 

At 08:58, United Airlines Flight 175 takes a heading toward New York City, where at 09:02 the plane and its passengers crash into the south face of the South Tower of the World Trade Center at a speed of 590 MPH. 

While early news coverage by at least three major networks is focusing on the first plane crash, millions of Americans see the impact of the second plane live.  Parts of the plane leave the building from two sides, falling to the ground up to six blocks away.

By 09:08, the FAA has banned all takeoffs nationwide.  At 09:26 the FAA bans all civilian aircraft regardless of destination—a national groundstop is in effect. 

But at 09:28, hijackers storm the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93, commandeering the flight.  Meanwhile, at 09:37 American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon.  All 64 crew and passengers onboard are killed, as are 125 Pentagon personnel. 

At 09:42, Ben Stiley of the FAA grounds all air traffic over the United States and diverts incoming international traffic to alternate destinations.  US airspace is shut down.  All aircraft in flight are ordered to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a few civilian heroes on Flight 93 begin a passenger revolt at 09:57, less than two minutes before the South Tower of the World Trade Center begins to collapse—56 minutes and 2 seconds after the impact of United Flight 175. 

At 10:03, United Airlines Flight 93 is crashed into the rural terrain of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. 

Back in Washington, D.C., the west side of the Pentagon collapses, followed by the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 10:28.  This collapse is also viewed on live television. 

In the span of less than two hours—before anyone could really grasp what was taking place—thousands of lives had been lost.  As country singer Alan Jackson asked in song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?  

As some of us watched in stunned horror, we could not help but recall (Psalm 9:17 KJV) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  Could there be a man or woman alive who witnessed these horrific scenes who was not wondering, “What is happening to America?”

Surely, such a series of tragedies should serve as a clarion wake-up call for Americans to soberly contemplate—“God, what do you want us to see, to understand, to learn from these attacks?”  Although man may have meant it for evil, is there some good that God can bring from this? 

            By the time President George W. Bush retired just before midnight ten years ago, he had penned into his journal these words:  “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today … “

Indeed, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his speech to Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked … “

            And today, September 11, 2011, we are commemorating a day of infamy.  Let us never shy away from the searing memories of that September day, lest we forget the price that was paid …

… by innocent people who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they were just doing their jobs  

… by the heroes who risked and gave their lives in an honorable attempt to save as many lives as they possibly could before they themselves paid the ultimate price

… by those brave men and women who risked their lives in service to their fellow-man, and who will live with the haunting memories and physical handicaps for the remainder of their natural lives

… by the thousands of nameless men and women around the globe who, in the first few hours of multiple tragedies were scrambling to make intelligent and fast decisions to avert further disaster

BTW, do you pray?  If so, join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for those Americans—both living and deceased—who performed beyond their natural abilities during this crisis which has changed and challenged America.   

Today, we should also consider that, sadly, our nation is in decline.  The warning signs are everywhere.  The caution flags are waving.  The child of God should not be shocked as we review events of the last decade, while using 2 Timothy 3 as a prophetic template for understanding. 

Those who know God and His Word must understand two critical things: 

First, these are the last days and the human picture will not be a pretty one, but rather a scene that declines from bad-to-worse.  Second, as believers, we are called upon to remain faithful, fervent, fearless, and fruitful.

Faithful does not mean a fatalistic outlook on life, and neither does it mean that we resign ourselves to thinking that our lives cannot or will not make a positive difference on the world in which we live.  Faithfulness means that we fearlessly set our sights toward the future, believing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us for His cause.  It mean that we throw ourselves into the battle for eternal souls throughout our world, since God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Therefore, we should determine on this occasion, that we will renew our commitment to God, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices in His service, that by all means available to us, we might save some. 

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not pray–right now– that kind of commitment prayer to God?   

            Finally, on this tenth anniversary of 9—11, we are not only commemorating a day of infamy, and considering a nation in decline, but we should also be calling our nation to repentance. 

At 7:24p, September 11, 2001, members of Congress joined together on the steps of the United States Capitol and sang, “God Bless America!”  While I firmly believe in that great song—made famous by vocalist Kate Smith– Congress should have been leading this nation in prayers of repentance, thereby giving God a viable reason to bless America.  They did not do so, and based on the track record of the last decade, they apparently have no intention of doing so. 

My question is this—even if Congress will not truly embrace the biblical principles and precepts that our founding fathers held dear, will you?  Will the people who claim to know God choose to live like we know Him?

            (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

While we may sing of God’s blessings on America, “obedience is better than sacrifice!”  How much pressure will it take to bring America to our knees in repentance?  We need leaders whose character runs deeper than the latest photo-op.  

Has a decade laden with disasters not captured our attention?  If the vicious attacks of 9-11 didn’t turn our nation to God, what will?  Hurricane Katrina wasn’t enough wake-up call?  When Irene came knocking recently, were we listening?  Do current crime statistics and news reports of violence not arrest our attention?  Will prolonged unemployment rates not help us to consider our ways?

God will not force us to make decisions to obey and follow Him, whether as individuals or as nations—but often throughout history, the bitter consequences of disobedience traditionally do one of two things:  lead us to repentance or to further harden our hearts in defiant resistance. 

A wise young leader of a nation once stated, (Joshua 24:15 GWT) But if you don’t want to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve … (but) … my family and I will still serve the LORD.” 

            My appeal to you is simple:  Make a fresh commitment to God today to become a man or woman if influence for Christ.  With Elijah of old, I say to you, (1 Kings 18:21 KJV) How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.   

It is insufficient for modern believers to drift along ambivalently or complacently in these closing moments of time, considering that the eternal destiny of millions of people is at stake.  We must be sober and vigilant, fearless, fervent, faithful, and fruitful.

 Let us pray and serve to that end.