Saturday, November 22, 2014

PSALM 145 - The Feats of the Father

One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works will I meditate.  They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
(Verses 4-7)

What has God done for me lately? Let's see. I am healthy today, with a beautiful roof over my head. I live near enough to the Pacific Ocean I can walk there in five minutes. My husband and children are healthy and know Jesus. They are well taken care of, as are my grandchildren. We have enough...and enough to share. We have cars to drive, food to eat and meaningful work to do. In the worldly realm, we are blessed beyond what I can even articulate.

The thing God did yesterday, though, was give us an opportunity to remember all He has done for the many years we have been married in terms of taking care of us. Bill's long-term contracting job that has been our mainstay for the past three years was terminated suddenly at the close of day yesterday. The rug magically pulled out from under our feet. It took me back many years to a day when Heather was a baby and I was pregnant with Vanessa. I heard the garage door go up too early in the afternoon, so Heather and I went to the back door to see why Daddy was home so early. "I've been let go," he said as he opened the back door of our orange VW and began unpacking the carload of work stuff that filled our Bug to the gills.

"What?" was my incredulous response. "Don was going to make you a partner! Why did he fire you instead?"

A million things ran through my mind, but primarily I couldn't see how we were going to be able to afford to have a new baby...or eat, for that matter. I was a stay-at-home mom, so I wasn't going to be helping any time soon.

"I think he changed his mind about that and thought I wouldn't work as hard for him if he broke his promise." Bill looked weary for a thirty-one-year-old man. Like he'd been kicked in the stomach. When he came inside, we did what had become a habit for us by then. We held hands and thanked God in this situation...not for it, so much, but acknowledging to God that He knew what happened.

Within two weeks, Bill had another engineering job. However, he was let go of that one before we had Vanessa because he didn't feel he was qualified to do a job they asked him to. Again, what would we do about the baby? I had to have C-sections. At that time, four to five days in the hospital. A second time, no insurance. Within two weeks, Bill had another job. He'd also just finished his master's degree in civil engineering. They loved him so much at UT Arlington that they gave him a night teaching job that paid him almost exactly what we needed to pay the medical bills for Vanessa's birth. Our faithful Father had prepared the way for us long before we needed it.

I don't want my children to remember me for the woman who was always stressed out and wondering how in the world God was going to work some circumstance or issue out. I've spent some time stressing, and I'm ashamed they've seen me that way. Today I am remembering all of the times, like the one above, that my Father has made a way when there was no way. Has worked things out in the nick of time...the very last minute. The wisdom we can hand down over the generations is what we've gleaned from years and years of seeing our God do mighty feats. Yes, sometimes it feels like a shoot-out in a soccer game, down to the wire and we wonder if He'll pull through. The answer to that is a resounding YES!

In this time when I could be convinced by the enemy to cry and moan and wonder if it's all going to work out, I choose to meditate upon all the times the Lord has taken care of us. How wonderful He is to interpose Himself in our lives, knowing all we cannot possibly know, in order to guide us into our destinies and provide for our needs. I know He will continue to love and care for us. I thank Him in this circumstance and look forward to watching my God make all things work together for His glory and our good.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PSALM 145 - Just Scratching the Surface

I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.  (Verses 1-3)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
Isaiah 40

Search all you want, but you'll never come to the end of knowing God's greatness or His understanding. That's why I think the atheist's claim that there is no God is such foolishness. Go ahead and say you don't know whether there is a god or not, but don't claim that you know everything there is to know about everything, because inherent in the assertion that there is no God is the assertion that one grasps and understands everything.

God's greatness. We can only scratch the surface of what that means. He is the hub of everything that is anywhere. The power that propels the planets from the tiny particle of matter that existed before the big bang blew it apart and created the universe. The universe began with a particle the size of a period. (.) That big. And it blew up into all the stars and galaxies and everything that exists...all matter was inside of that tiny particle. Who can even conceive such a thing? God set the moon in just the right place and ringed his finger around Earth to give us gravity. This isn't just fantasy. Scientists who'd rather not give a god credit for the order of the universe, are still stuck on trying to give some reasonable explanation for DNA, the code encrypted very specifically into almost all the cells of our body. Each strand of DNA is a mini-computer replicating itself every time a new cell is created. From the time of conception, it is the code my body used to build me into who I am. It dictates not only what we look like, but it tells every cell what its purpose is. For instance, it tells a liver cell how to do its job. My DNA is one of the things that makes me special. Not like someone else. A snowflake in the human population, set apart as me. Each of us has DNA that designs our bodies. From conception. The blueprint for the human that is growing in the womb is the same as when the human is born. I was set to be me the moment I was conceived. This coding is so very specific and obviously well thought out that it smacks of design...a Designer. Saying it just happened that way is like saying computers build themselves. The tides of the oceans are set to balance nature, too. Like they are on a clock. If they were to falter even the tiniest bit, the world would be under water. Our God is able to design and create all of this. In fact, it's much easier to believe in His greatness than to believe with many scientists that such appallingly intricate design is possible without a mind behind it. God created us in His image, too. To love even know there is such a thing as beauty or truth--to write poems about love or paint landscapes or sing songs with lyrics to express our hearts. What science is discovering isn't how smart the scientists are, but how unfathomable the Creator is. There is always a new frontier to explore. A new galaxy to wonder at. Those who believe in science as the last word look only at the smallest piece of evidence, forgetting the obvious greater scope. There is too much to know. They will never understand more than the smallest part of our universe--the unsearchable depth and width of all there is to know about everything. Our God actually does understand His creation. Even the tiniest atom. Because He dreamed it all up and holds it all together.

God's understanding. Here is what God knows. Everything. The pre-existent, all powerful God of All sees time stretched out before Him as a whole. God isn't wondering what will happen next. He is working a plan that He's hinted at in the Bible, but the scope of which we will never comprehend. We all fit into it in a specific place and time, and God is intricately involved in each one of us as He is also guiding the events of history and time. He knows what He is doing. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55)." Instead of being frustrating to us, the fact that God knows everything about everything should be a comfort. We don't have to "lean on our own understanding (Proverb 3:5-6)". The One Who conceived the plan loves His children and knows our way. Our place in the trajectory of history. And is committed to guiding us in this life and into the next. Through Jesus, God also understands our predicaments and has solved them. Sent the Word Who spoke it all into being to us to change the course of history forever. Jesus bought our hearts for Himself in excruciating compliance with the plan that was from the beginning--the seed of the woman would crush the head of our enemy. Jesus wasn't surprised one day when God said it is time. There was a work to finish and the Godhead understood it. In His great wisdom and prescience, God knew how to make salvation accessible to everyone. Since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe...for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (I Corinthians 1). The wise of this world are confounded by the gospel because God knows it's not through our brilliance we know Him, but with our hearts. There is an unfathomable depth to understanding Him, knowing Him. We will never, ever plumb the depths of knowledge about our God. But He has given us an amazingly sharp image of Who He is. For what can be known about God has been made plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1). Just as we don't go to the Louvre and think, "Wow, isn't it great that this Picasso just evolved the way it did?" So we shouldn't be able to look at the sunset, the mountains, the stars and the variety of animal life and say, "Hmm. Don't think I want to believe in a God, so I'm just gonna say those things appeared over millions of years out of nothing." It is a foolish conclusion in the face of wondrous design.

There is a God Who is involved in His world and with all of His creation. God wants us to participate with Him in all He made with us in mind. To trust Him and to marvel at His greatness--a greatness that He uses on our behalf every day now, and forever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

PSALM 144 - Take Joy

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace. May our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce. May our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields. May our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing. May there be no cry of distress in our streets! Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!  (Verses 13-15)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer's; He makes me tread on high places. Habakkuk 3

Naghmeh Abedini spoke up recently about life without her husband, Saeed, who is languishing in an Iranian prison because he is a Christian. It's been two years now that she and her children have been without their husband and father. Every day she wakes up without him, a single mom who knows her husband is suffering. But the astounding thing is that she has found a fearless faith in this situation. When Saeed was sent to the exile prison, Naghmeh cried out to God, "Why, Lord? Why is he in this place where he is tortured with murderers and other hard core criminals?" Then she heard of the reports of prisoners coming to Christ. "It was worth it, then," she said. "Even if one person came to Christ through Saeed's suffering, it's worth the price we pay."

When Naghmeh came to Christ, she said if this is true, the life changing power of Jesus, then she was willing to give her life for it. Though she isn't in prison with her husband, she is paying the price with him in her loneliness and grief. What she said she has learned from suffering, though, is that when things are not going as we hope, when the fields look dried up and prosperity seems to vanish, it is then we discover how much we need to be attached to Jesus. Freed from fear, Naghmeh said she found herself attached to the Vine, the Source of life, and she knows now how to connect to that source of strength. If she feels down, she doesn't stay there. She knows how to run to Jesus for life support. "We thrive in the storms. We must dig deeper in the suffering and when we do we find Him there." In the eye of the storm. Her husband is missing birthdays and Christmases, but our lives are short, and if our lives are spent in glorifying God, then it's worth it to both of them.

It should be easier to rejoice in God and not be afraid when our cupboards are full, our car is in the garage, our clothes are up to date and our children are thriving. We all want our sons to be wise and strong, men of courage and integrity even when they are young. Our daughters should grow up with dignity and grace, lovely enough to be pillars in a cathedral. But the reality for many of us is a different story. And when all is good and life rocks along in our prosperity, it is often then we actually forget our need for God. Our singular destiny to proclaim the wonder of His grace and power in our lives. For the Abedini family, life is pared down to trust. The choice is to despair and fall apart or to nourish their hearts and lives with the absolutely necessary sap from the Vine. Food that sinks our roots deeper and deeper into solid ground, like trees planted by a river. We become oaks of righteousness because we need living water.

We are blessed both ways. When God chooses to fatten our flocks and bless our family. When God chooses to pour us out in offering. When things hold together or when things fall apart. It's easy to think that life is all about our own personal happiness so that we doubt God when things go wrong. But it is in Jesus we rejoice because He is our eternal portion, now and later, in every season. It is our privilege to, with fervent intent, take joy from its Source and trust in the One Who is our ultimate salvation.

 Indeed we felt we had received a death sentence. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.   2 Corinthians 1

Monday, November 17, 2014

PSALM 144 - Number One Hit Song

I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to You, Who gives victory to kings, Who rescues David, His servant, from the cruel sword. Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.  (Verses 9-11)

I waited patiently for the Lord. He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.   Psalm 40 1-3  Italics, mine

What was the old song? The one that played over and over in your head? What does pit dweller music sound like? A mournful dirge. How dry I am, how dry I am. It's plain to see just why I am. At the bottom, our songs dry up. Stuck and alone with the tape recorder in our heads. We all have one. And most of us could recite verbatim the mantra looping our condition: You'll never get out of this mess because you deserve what's happening to you. Or...God doesn't care or you wouldn't be here in the first place. Or...I might as well stay here, because God will never have me now. Or...fill in the blank. You aren't good enough, no one really gives a flip about you, things never work out for you, or you can never give up whatever it is that keeps you in the pit. Sing, sing, sing.

Some of us are trapped in a dungeon built of the circumstances of our lives. The right hand of the enemy of our souls beating our lives down with illnesses, financial difficulties or relationship woes. We didn't cause any of the problems, but we are still in the pit created by them. Like someone drowning in waves too strong for us, we sing a rescue song when we can take a clear breath. Without a lifeguard, we drown.

It's hard to patiently wait for rescue. The refrain of many of our songs is more a cry for help. I have been in a pit so deep that I could barely whisper, "God help me. Jesus save me." All songs quieted in the struggle. Dungeon walls echoing only my breathing. Barely able to hope for His hand reaching into my space. My feet set in the quick sand of the miry bog, trapped in a noiseless vacuum. It'd been a long time since I'd heard the music of my God. And because my song had been about another love, an idol, for a time, I couldn't remember exactly how to sing love songs to my God. But there came a day when Jesus knew it was enough. And, wonder of wonders, a tiny ray of light peeked through the crevices and spread enough light on me that I hoped. Its rays showed me the pit for what it was. My slavery exposed so that I knew my predicament. Understood the lies. "Jesus." It was all I could say. But it was music to His ears. His right hand reached down into the pitiful, filthy place where I sat mired by the muddy grime of my circumstances and pulled me up out of the joyless prison.

At first the light hurt my eyes. And the shame of my clay-soaked clothes made me hide my face from His. I spent many days prostrate. Still no songs. Just weeping out my repentance. Hating that He had to come and get me there, this child of His Who believed the lies and was trapped by them. Jesus let me...cry, that is. Let me feel the heartache of the breach. Not for my punishment, but so that I'd never, ever, ever want to be away again. So that the next time the enemy spews his lies, tries to trick me into going into a foreign land not ruled by my King, I know not to go, because I can't sing the Lord's song in a foreign land (Psalm 137:4).

There came a day, though, when I awoke with the strains of a new song whirring in the recesses of my heart. It is the song of one who is finally free! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I sang as I danced around the room. Water washing off the debris, running through me like a pristine river, taking with it my shame. Cleansed, restored--it made my feet stomp and my heart beat, the rhythm of this love song. Jesus gave me the words for it, showed me how to play the melody that transcends the lies of my enemy. "Sing it loud!" my Savior cried. And He danced with me far away from the edge of the pit.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

PSALM 144 - "Only God" Prayers

Bow Your heavens, O Lord, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out Your arrows and rout them! Stretch out Your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
(Verses 5-8)

When You did awesome things that we did not look for, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence! From long ago no one has ever heard of a God like You. No one has ever seen a God like You Who helps those who wait for Him.   Isaiah 64: 3-4

Three months after the Jewish nation left their captivity in Egypt and arrived at the base of Mount Sinai in the desert, God gave Moses three days to prepare the people to be in His presence. They had to be clean, physically and spiritually. And there were parameters set around the mountain so that no one could come near it or touch it. God's holy presence made the mountain itself holy. "On that day I, the Lord, will come down on Mount Sinai and all the people will see Me," God told Moses.

On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning on the mountain and it was covered with a thick smoke. Suddenly a trumpet sounded, loud and long, and the noise of it came from within the mountain. Trembling with awe and fear, the people followed Moses to the base of the mountain where they all stood waiting for God. An earth-splitting shaking made Mount Sinai swoon and groan as God came in fire and power to settle on its peak while smoke rose ever thicker from the mountain as if it were coming from a furnace. The sound of the trumpet was deafening, unearthly and unsettling. God called Moses up into His presence and there spoke with him. With His finger, God inscribed the Law onto tablets of stone, prefacing the giving of the commandments with these words: "I am the Lord, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves." The Law was the "therefore" immediately following the declaration of His power. I have bought you out was His point. Now you belong to me.

It is this God to Whom David prays. The Mighty One Who plants His foot on the orb He flung in order to bring us out of bondage. David needs a miracle. Something he can't define. A way out that the king can't conceive. Only God can do what needs to be done. And it is the all-powerful God Who needs to show up in thunder and lightning and prescience and the smoke of His glory. David needed his God to reach down from beyond the universe where He lives in vibrating power and brilliant light and do a thing the king can't even describe or imagine. An only God thing. The miraculous. Like the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, gushing water, enough for thousands, from a rock. A rescue that is out of paradigm.

I have some only God things to pray about today. I can't even imagine how to work out the predicaments I pray over. Mary found herself at a wedding in Cana with Jesus one evening. Before any but she knew He was the spawn of her flesh and the seed of God planted on Earth. The miracle of miracles grew up in her home and was standing beside her when the wedding wine ran out (John 2). She turned to her Son. "There isn't any more wine." Stating only the need. Not the solution. She didn't say, "Maybe you and the boys should go to 7-Eleven and get some." She didn't stress and worry that the wedding was now a complete mess and everyone would gossip about what a bust it was. No. All she did was tell God, the Son, what it was she needed. And there it was. The reluctant beginning of the ministry of God come to Earth in an obscure Bethlehem manger instead of in earth-shaking smoke and fire. Jesus did NOT go to the local grocery. Mary told the servants: "Do whatever He tells you to." Still she didn't know. She trusted that her boy, God's boy, would do it in an unexpected way she couldn't imagine. "Fill up the ceremonial washing jars with water." Each of those jars held over twenty gallons. The servants obeyed the directive, and filled the jars to the very top. "Now take some out and give it to the master of this feast," said Jesus. "This wine is the best! Top of the line!" said the host to the bridegroom. "Most people serve wine this good first, but you saved the best for last!" Gallons and gallons of it. Who would have thought?

It won't be what you think when you get your miracle. Only God answers to prayer defy our imagination. Make for stories no one's ever heard before. If we are stuck praying within our human parameters, we might not even get an answer or we'll be disappointed when the answer comes...because God didn't do it our way. The way we told Him to. We would live with a lot more joy if we followed Mary's example and just gave the problem to Jesus. He already has the answer.

But as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him"--these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  I Corinthians 2

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

PSALM 144 - Whatcha Thinking About?

Oh, Lord, what is man that You regard him, or the son of man that You think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.   (Verses 3-4)

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.  Psalm 40:17

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the Lord. "Thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you an expected end."  Jeremiah 29:11

I didn't wake up today thinking that God is thinking of me. My heart begins praying pretty much every morning as soon as my eyes pry open and I take in the fact that there is a new day ahead for me. I know I'm thinking of Him. It melts me to know He's considering me--meets me in this new day like I met my children when they were young and first awakened in the morning. Sleepy-eyed, hair tousled pit-patting into my arms. I was not only glad to see them, but anxious for them to wake up so I could hold a warm little body close to my heart. Is my Father waiting for my eyes to open in just the same way? He's thinking thoughts about my life, its direction and purpose. Psalm 139 says His eyes saw our unformed substance. Pre-womb. A thought become Kay. And you. My Father thought me into being, so of course He's interested enough in me to consider me now.

I have had a struggle recently about a heart-felt project removed from my hands and given to another. It was changed without my input into a form that only vaguely resembles what I had intended. In my desire to reconcile what happened with the will of God, I have spent many hours in prayer, talking with my Father on long beach walks. Wanting clarity. I put the project out of my thoughts for the most part nowadays. Think of it only when it's brought up. I'm working on something new and that takes my time and imagination. But the other day, my God gave me a wink. There is a thing that most people say about what I've written. It's universally the same phrase. And I heard it regarding the work I set aside. Exactly as has been said before about other works. And I knew then that though it didn't turn out the way I imagined, God was telling me it would get the same results. He was thinking about my heart. Spoke to me in a code only He and I understood.

My good friend's husband was having health problems. When he went to the doctor to be checked out, he was told he almost certainly had cancer. A biopsy followed then days of waiting. The couple has had such a struggle recently with jobs and heartache. Friends prayed. We all trusted God for a different outcome, though the doctor's words seemed certain. What my friend desperately needed to know is that her God loved her and thought about her circumstances. Hope has been thin in recent months. When the tests came back, there was no cancer anywhere. The surge of faith and hope that visited my friend after that announcement was as much about God loving and hearing her--His thinking about her and her husband--as it was about the actual healing. It's a powerful thing to know, for certain, that God is looking our way and planning our rescue.

A young couple we've known for several years has been struggling with things within their marriage and with their finances. Lost jobs, lost trust, a rocky, rocky road. At the end of their wits, with no money for rent, they prayed. And intentionally trusted. Not the kind that glibly says, "Oh, God will take care of us." No. This was a faith that comes from deciding that God would provide though there was no possible way for that to happen in the natural. Right before the rent was due, a Christian man offered the husband an hourly day job...and offered to pay their rent in advance of his work. The joy of having the rent paid was not as deep as the knowledge that the Father was thinking of them and planning their rescue. To know they are loved by Him despite their issues and needs--or maybe precisely because of them. The young woman's eyes sparkled as she told me about how Jesus met this need. "He loves me." That's what she got from the experience.

So what are we that God should regard us? His dear children. Before the foundations of the world, before stars were flung and moons were hung in space, we were on His mind. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Look! I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 49:15-16


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

PSALM 144 - Hooah and Thank You!

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle; He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in Whom I take refuge, Who subdues peoples under me.  (Verses 1-2)

Sergeant Alvin York served in the United States Army in World War 1. A conscientious objector when he was drafted into the military, York was opposed to killing anyone. He'd become a Christian in his mid-twenties and believed God didn't want him to shoot the enemy. York's commander gave the young soldier leave to go home to the hills of Tennessee to think and pray. There, Alvin spent several days praying and fasting about his decision to go to war. Because he'd grown up poor, foraging and hunting for food, Alvin honed his skills as a marksman. His aim was exceptional, even among his peers. He knew how to crouch and wait, how to run after the fox or deer. He'd been trained for war and didn't know it. On the last day of his fast, a brief gust of wind blew his Bible open to
Mark 12:17: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." Alvin York took this as a direct word from God that it was right for him to fight for America. Though he didn't know what that would entail, York's decision, he said, was to trust God to show him the rest.

York's unit is shipped to Europe to fight in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. On October 8, 1918, the troops are ordered to run toward a nest of machine gun fire that felled most of the soldiers. When York's sergeant is ordered to take a group of men and try to attack the nest of German gunners from behind, they receive such a hit that York discovers he's the only unwounded non-com left. In a miraculous run on the machine gun nest, York winds his way through carnage and gunfire to reach the entrenched gunners, and with the accuracy he learned in the hills of Tennessee, kills them all. Behind the nest is a regiment of German soldiers standing in the trenches with their backs to him, shooting at Americans. Because they are unaware of York, he begins shooting them one at a time, like picking off a line of ducks in the air, rear to front, so that they don't notice the man behind has been shot until it's too late. Within a few minutes, the entire German regiment throws down their guns and lifts their arms in surrender. York had taken 32 machine guns, killed 28 Germans and ultimately captured 132 German soldiers. One man pulled the whole thing down.

When asked later if York did this because he so hated the Germans, his answer was surprising to his commanders. "No. I did it to protect the men who were being slaughtered. I couldn't let that happen to my comrades." Of this battle, York, who became a Medal of Honor winner and garnered over fifty military decorations for his valor, said, "A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do."

I know many men who were Christians died that day. There is no guarantee that because we are know Jesus we won't be killed in physical battle. But God's particular choice to use Alvin York to save the lives of others who might have died is significant. Trained up in the woods of Tennessee to do just what he did in battle, Alvin's encounter with Christ and subsequent love of God and the Bible trained him also for the broader war. A destiny unimagined while the boy was hunting for food in the hills of home. And the reason the one who didn't want to kill anyone was able to was because he knew he was saving the lives of others in doing so.

God is also training us for war--the broader one. And part of that warfare is accomplished on a battle field close to home--on our knees. Today there are Americans still fighting for our safety and our freedom. Giving their lives so we might keep ours. May we fight with them as we cry out to the One Who trains our hands for war and calls us to our knees: "If My people, who are called by My name, 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." May we pray for peace. May we humbly ask forgiveness. May we trust the same God Sergeant Alvin York did to show us what our place is in the process of freedom and then do it.