Holocaust Remembrance Week

Reagan quote at Holocaust MuseumOne of the more sobering times of my week in Washington, D.C., was the afternoon we spent at the Holocaust Museum. The dehumanizing atrocities perpetrated by one group of people on another group of people is almost unimaginable.

And yet there it was—all the nauseating evidence of man’s evil right before my eyes. It was so overwhelming that I had to hurry past the final exhibits.

Commander of the Allied Forces Dwight Eisenhower wrote to George C. Marshall, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief Of Staff—

…the most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.” (emphasis added)

A statement from President Ronald Reagan, from 1988, is etched on the wall of the Holocaust Museum—

We who did not go their way owe them this: We must make sure that their deaths have posthumous meaning. We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face … and only then can we be sure that it will never arise again. (emphasis added)

The rise to power of the Nazis was swift. Their evil was initially unopposed. Few voices spoke out, and even few were heeded. We must never allow this to happen again!

As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As revolting as it is, we must learn from this lesson. You must look this evil in the face. You must allow your children to look this evil in the face. If we don’t, we will be doomed to live through these unthinkable atrocities all over again.

Re-remembering

The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth, ran off when the battle began. …They forgot what God had done—marvels He’d done right before their eyes. (Psalm 78:9 & 11)

Forgetfulness breeds fear.

Even though the Israelites/ Ephraimites had seen what God had done for them, they forgot. And when they forgot, they ran away.

How do I keep re-remembering?

  • I keep “souvenirs” around me. Things that remind me of times God did miracles right before my eyes.
  • I keep telling and re-telling those God-moment stories. I tell them to myself and I tell them to my kids.

If you feel fearful, it may be because you have forgotten what God has done for you. If you want to win the battle you’re facing, keep re-remembering what God has done.

What are you going to do to keep re-remembering?

Remember And Respond

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. For my parents’ and grandparents’ generations, this was their “9/11.” I’m still saddened when I think of the unprovoked, cowardly attacks on both December 7 and September 11. But I am grateful that we have only had two such attacks within our borders.

Today is a great day to remember, to mourn, and to thank our military personnel who responded so courageously in the aftermath. These, I believe, are appropriate responses.

But every day is our day to respond appropriately.

Let’s show our gratitude for the safety we have in this country every day.

Let’s find ways to live out our thankfulness every day.

Let’s show our thanks to our servicemen and women and our law enforcement officers every day.

Remember … and then respond appropriately every day. God bless America!

Obey─Remember─Teach

I see this pattern of instruction repeated throughout the Bible, but especially as the Israelites are getting ready to enter the Promised Land:

  • Obey God’s commands
  • Remember what He has done for you
  • Teach His commands to your children

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He quoted a passage from Deuteronomy, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” And He added, “And love your neighbor as yourself.” These, Jesus said, were the fulfillment of all the law.

  • Love God
  • Love yourself
  • Love your neighbor

This Great Commandment corresponds with this pattern of obey-remember-teach.

  • I obey God because I love Him.
  • When I remember what He has done for me, I can fully appreciate my own value in His eyes.
  • I teach others because I love them and want them to experience the same blessings from God that I have experienced.

This is what I need to be constantly evaluating:

  • Am I obeying God out of fear of what may happen, or out of love for Him?
  • Am I finding ways to continually be reminded of His blessings? Do I realize how valuable I am to Him?
  • Am I expressing true love to others by passing on what I am learning?

Obey [love God] … Remember [love myself] … Teach [love others].

What a great way to live!

Ultimate Devotion

Usually I awaken each morning with some song echoing in my mind, but this morning was different. This morning I heard the last lines of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address resounding in my mind—

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

America is still an unfinished work. She is a work which has been nobly advanced by the blood of patriots who believed in the work which had been birthed on this soil. These honored dead gave their last full measure of devotion to this nation “conceived in Liberty” by the guiding hand of God Himself.

Just 87 years earlier the Founding Fathers closed the Declaration of Independence with these words—

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Today is called Memorial Day, and it is right and proper that we memorialize the last full measure of devotion given by our fallen soldiers and patriots. It’s also a day to reflect on why they died—they were willing to shed their blood for this country conceived in Liberty under the watchful care of Divine Providence.

May we continue to honor the memory of our honored dead by upholding the values for which they died to preserve and protect. And may God continue to bless the United States of America as we remember and honor Him!

God Bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America, My home sweet home.

A Cup Of Tea

Green. Black. White. Red. Bagged. Loose. Hot. Iced. Home-brewed. Starbucks. I really enjoy all sorts of tea. Every day my morning routine includes sitting down with a nice cup of fresh tea. Not only am I sipping a cup right now (in my Life Is Good mug), but I will probably have a few more cups throughout today.

In large part because of the British Empire’s presence for so long in so many places around the world, their love for tea is still prominent in most of the world. Outside of the USA the favorite household social drink is tea.

Big deal, right? For me, it is. I use tea as an important reminder.

It all started with some great friends who are missionaries to Africa. Jayne, a lovely British woman, sent me some tea from the country in which they were serving. So naturally every time I brewed a cup of tea from Mozambique I thought of my friends. And prayed for them.

Now tea and prayer are inseparably intertwined—

  • Malawi tea = prayer for missionary friends in Malawi
  • Tea in a Western Michigan University mug = prayer for a Chi Alpha pastor
  • Indian tea = prayer for a dear friend who pastors in India
  • Loose tea = prayer for my cousin who serves as a missionary in an Arabic country
  • Apricot tea = prayer for my Mom & Dad who gave me this tea
  • Tangawizi tea = prayer for some other special family members
  • Chinese green tea = prayer for a family in China who tell people there about Jesus

You get the idea.

Paul wrote to his dear friends at the church in Philippi, “I thank God for you every time I think of you.” The key is to use something we do as part of our regular routine as a reminder to pray. It’s not hard. It’s not even taking time to bow your head and close your eyes.

Whenever you think of someone, pray for them. Use pictures, a piece of jewelry, a cup of tea, a bookmarker, special coffee cups, or anything else you handle every day as a reminder to pray.

Mother Teresa said, “Prayer enlarges the heart.” If you want to love others the way God loves, pray for them. If you want to love someone more deeply, pray for them more often. Prayer is one of the best habits we can develop.

Now, I must get back to my tea and my remembrances. Oh, by the way, if you have any tea recommendations, I would love to hear them!

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