Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pearl Harbor = “Amazing Grace”?

On Sunday, December 7, 1941 America experienced what has come to be known as, “A day of infamy” - a term coined by the President at that time. It was a gruesome act of aggression that had no equal until the terrorist attacks of  9/11 and was followed by years of carnage on a level that few would have ever imagined possible.

At 06:05 on December 7, six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 aircraft against the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor. Overall, 9 ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged. The overall death toll reached 2,402 with 1,282 being wounded. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from the battleship Arizona alone.

The horrific war to follow the Japanese surprise attack was, of course, one of the greatest blights in the history of mankind. The brutality, destruction and death figures are unfathomable even some 67 years later. Death toll estimates reach as high as 52 million including military and civilians together. Those numbers are hard, if not impossible, to truly grasp. Lost in these massive figures is the sickening aspect of the individual human suffering involved in  its many terrible forms. Just the holocaust brutality from the infamous Nazi death camps alone staggers the imagination and sickens the soul.

But along side of the horror and suffering that took place in the great war, there were other lesser-known, but positive, stories hiding under the brutal surface. One such event includes the miraculous salvation, reunion and eventual ministry of two of the war's great combatants and most bitter of enemies. It is a story for the ages and became literally history altering. It is an amazing illustration of the incredible power and grace of God despite all the odds. That story, “The Amazing Grace of World War II.  can be found at our ministry website at this address:  

The article is beyond worth reading and sharing. It will encourage, inspire and renew your perspective on true forgiveness and the amazing grace and power of God, again, even in the midst of life's most terrible and paralyzing circumstances.

"If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." (Col. 3:13)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks – The Complete Package

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left England carrying 102 passengers. Aboard was an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith. The treacherous and uncomfortable ocean crossing  lasted some 66 long days.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn feast that is acknowledged today as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. But it wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

There are many verses that reveal the absolute importance and critical nature of praising God. But few do a finer job than do the words found in the book of Hebrews and chapter 13. Verses 15-16 read,  "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

These verses remind and exhort all Christians to ‘continually’ offer thanks to God and to do so through what is termed there the 'fruit of our lips'. That obviously includes approaching God both verbally and outwardly and in public.  It is also declared there that this should al be done 'sacrificially' clearly revealing the level of thanks expected by the Creator from His redeemed and highly blessed people.

But even more striking is what is conveyed in verse 16. While still in the context of thanksgiving the author also adds,  "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." These words provide a vivid, and maybe enlightening, reminder that part of giving adequate praise to one's Savior is to do good to others on His behalf. This too is to be accomplished sacrificially by actively caring and even sharing of our material things to meet the needs with those less fortunate.  Galatians 6:10 indicates that these actions be primarily directed to those who are “of the household of faith”. And again it is interesting that this that the writer says is 'well pleasing' to God.

A Christian’s praise to God in all of its forms should not be limited to a day, a season or just in the good times of life. It is rather to be a continual, sacrificial and comprehensive lifestyle both verbally and practically. It is to be the complete biblical package!

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two Coinciding Storms

The end of October and the start of November brought two huge events that will impact our nation for years to come. One was the end to on ongoing political storm and the other a blast from nature that rocked nearly 25% of the nation’s citizens.

The first was Hurricane Sandy, called by many ‘The Perfect Storm’. Her fury was fueled through a rare merger with two other weather systems that drove the monster ashore with ground zero being New Jersey and New York City. Typically a coastal Hurricane will drift out to sea before striking the most densely populated part of the country. Not this time. Sandy, which was also dubbed by some experts as ‘Frankenstorm’, caused some eight million people to lose power and for long periods of time. There are actually some who are still without. The devastation was immense even farther inland, but especially along the coast where the damage figures could easily rival or exceed that of Katrina.

A week after the historic storm hit the U.S. coast, a long time political storm also finally came to an end when incumbent Barak Obama defeated Mitt Romney to gain another 4 years in office. The President won convincingly in the electoral vote. But the popular vote was evenly split revealing what most already knew to be true. America is, and has been for some time now, a divided nation in their views and dreams for the present solutions and for the future course of their country. But regardless of who won the White House, the challenge remains the same. The large and lingering economic, and other, national problems have taken a toll on multiple millions and caused many to lose hope and almost dread what lies ahead for them and their families.

Enter the holidays. Just as the death toll becomes finalized and the damage figures more clear, so do the plans by the President to fix a very broken, divided and somewhat depressed nation. For scores under his extended leadership daily life remains depressing and hope seems distant. And yet, for those who reside, not just in America, but who are also citizens of the heavenly realm via Jesus Christ, joy, victory, peace and hope all remain and are real. But there is a catch.

Christians are susceptible to problems and pressures just like those who know not God in a personal way. But where they part company is in their ability to face whatever life brings with a “peace that passes all understanding” according to the truth seen in Philippians 4:17. This great blessing and benefit is part of the salvation in addition to the forgiveness of sins and a certain future with God forever in heaven some day. Peace in good times or in the bad is something money cannot buy but is something all men desperately crave. It has been long known that many of the most depressed and lonely people alive are many times those possessing far more materials things than they can ever use.

Then too is the greater issue found in question form in Mark chapter 8 by very one who Himself bought and paid for redemption by His own sacrifice for all. In verse 36 Jesus posed the greatest inquiry that can be asked and answered. He asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul ? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Possessing and enjoying that special inner peace, hope and confidence promised by God comes with certain conditions. One primary one is closely related to the coming holiday. Paul, in Philippians 4:6 stated, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with ‘thanksgiving’, let your requests be made known to God.” Thankfulness is no small matter to God, and is something He desires for believers. The degree of importance of this mindset and action is seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. We read there, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

If you find yourself today in a joyless or fearful state of mind with the cares of this world strangling the peace and hope of being united with Christ, take a careful inventory on the blessings and opportunities you have with and through Him. And make a serious attempt to follow the admonitions seen in Philippians 4:8-9 and the result of doing so. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

And then offer Him serious and continual praise. If this really is the “will of God concerning you” you will soon find the power and the peace to fully contend and even rise above the minor and mega-storms that will always come ashore in life in this fallen world.

“But THANKS be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

Bill Breckenridge