Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Courage of Our Heroes

"Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB

"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." —John Stuart Mill

Today is Memorial Day. I just heard the testimony of Col. Leo Thorsness. He was an Air force pilot shot down over North Vietnam. He was held captive in the Hanoi Hilton for 6 years. For 18 days he was tortured non-stop before being held in solitary confinement and intermittent torture for 3 years. Then he was put in a group cell with 42 other American POWs. They tried to hold a church service by gathering together and reciting the Lord’s Prayer. They had just started when the guards came in and violently broke it up. The next week their highest ranking officer asked the men if they were committed to having a church service. He asked them all individually if they were committed. (Each one knew what it was to be tortured so they were aware of what was possibly in store for them.) Each one made the commitment. Their commanding officer said that when they hauled him away then the next ranking officer was to take his place leading the prayer until none of them were left if necessary.

The next Sunday they gathered with the commanding officer leading them in prayer. They barely got our “Our Father,” when the guards broke in and violently snatched him away. Immediately the next ranking officer took up the prayer with “who art in heaven,” and he was beaten and dragged away. In all the confusion the 3rd officer took his place “hallowed be Thy name.” By this time the prisoners were shouting the prayer over the violence and commands of the guards. When they laid hands on the 5th ranking officer suddenly out of the chaos came a deep stillness and the guards stopped beating and dragging them away. They decided what they were doing wasn’t working. From that Sunday forward those men held their church service without interference. That privilege came with a cost they were willing to pay. I have to ask myself am I made of such stuff. The Apostle Peter thought he was but his flesh failed him. Through the love, example and power of His Lord he did become the man he thought he already was.

I get a glimpse of why the Apostle Paul asks us to, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3 I believe the church of Jesus Christ is in desperate need of good soldiers. I was made free spiritually by the exertions of the Lord Jesus Christ who laid down His life for me. I have been kept physically free by the exertions of the American servicemen and women who have laid down their lives. I am profoundly grateful for both. Their examples inspire and humble me to stand and if necessary die for what I believe in.

MY PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Son to set us free. Thank you for the men and women who have laid down their lives for our liberty. Help us to follow their example and help us to thank them at every opportunity.

MY CONFESSION: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

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