Archive for January, 2014

A Hero’s Welcome

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Whenever I feel down or fearful of the world around me, something inside my brain recalls these verses; Heb 11:36-40  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  (37)  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–  (38)  of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  (39)  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,  (40)  since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.  I must not let them down! I must not make light or have little regard for our Savior, which is exactly what God provided, and is immeasurable beyond comprehension, better.  It is therefore so important for me to not faint or whine and cry about my circumstances, for they are far better because of His sacrifice.  For each and every moment that I am grateful to God for the sacrifice of His Son and obedient to His will, is a moment that I also give honor and thanksgiving to those who lived and died faithfully.

                I have never seen the Golden Gate Bridge from the Pacific Ocean but for 272 men aboard the USS General Anderson, on March 8, 1945, the first sign that they were home was this engineering marvel, piercing the morning fog. Overcome with joy and sorrow, these men wept as they passed under the span above. Most of San Francisco turned out to welcome these heroes, and lined the bridge tossing notes, flowers, beads and jewerlry to the boat deck below.  These 272 men were Ex-POW’s and had endured perhaps the most horror of any war. They were what was left of 8000 men who were sentenced to torture and imprisonment in one of the worst Japanese POW camps, Cabanatuan. These men had survived the  horrors of the ill fated Bataan death march, after the fall of the Philippines in the first part of 1942. They had endured the worst of diseases such as malaria, diphtheria, dysentery, beriberi, cholera, dengue fever, just to name a few. A lot of the men suffered from combat wounds and were neglected treatment for gunshots, mortar shrapnel, and dismemberment and bayonet impalements. For the 8000 men that were brought into Cabanatuan, only 500 would be liberated in January of 1945. The tortures and malnutrition they received are not even appropriate to tell here in this format.   They were so mistreated that for many, upon their liberation, died, not able to make the journey across the rice paddy fields of Luzon.  (See poem at bottom)

The Hebrew writer continues the thought from above in the very next chapter; Heb 12:1-3  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  (2)  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (3)  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

At certain times men and women have been called on to endure terrible and oppressive circumstances.  Like all the men and woman who have suffered and given their lives for our country, are men and women who have likewise, suffered and died for the kingdom of God.  In either case, we are the recipients’ of both fortunes.   In times of distress and petty misfortunes, let us remember the great sacrifices made on our mortal, physical behalf’s. Much more, give thanks to God above for the greatest sacrifice on our spiritual behalf.  It’s time to go to the bridge and send up prayers of thanksgiving for the ones who have suffered so.

Darryl Fuller

Westward we came across the smiling waves,

West to the outpost of our country’s might,

“Romantic land of brilliant tropic light”

Our land of broken memories and graves

 Eastward we go and home, so few

Wrapped in their beds of clay our comrades sleep

The memories of this land are branded deep

And lost is the youth we knew.

 One of Lt.Lee’s poems recovered from Cabanatuan

A long road to paradise

In the latter part of 1934 and the first of 1935, 300 veterans of World War 1, desperate for work during the depression, set out for the Florida Keys to build a road/bridge to Key West.

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 This was a project that had several twist to it, one of which was the government’s promise to war veterans. After World War 1, Congress in 1924 approved an Adjusted Compensation Certificate, also known as the “Soldier’s Bonus” to be paid veterans in 1945 or upon death. When the time came, each veteran was to receive $1 for everyday served at home and $1.25 for days served overseas. Then the depression came and as a result one of the ways to pay the veterans was to put them to work in various project camps. The veterans that got to go to the Keys and work would receive $1 a day (in lieu of their bonus) and would live in makeshift cabins (barely able to hold 4 men). When construction first began, many had to live in tents, just like the days of life during WW1. I can tell you from firsthand experience that working in the hot sun by the ocean is not what appears as glamorous or fun. Heat in the keys is awful during the summer, the sunlight reflecting off the water, humidity that will suffocate mosquitoes, sand flies, and hard coral rock beaches, all for $1/day. Their objective was a road that would connect the mainland of Florida to Key West, a small fishing hamlet, considered by many at the time to be like paradise. These men had a lot to overcome to have the opportunity to work with their hands and provide for their families back home. It should give us pause and consideration to remember the words of our savior in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation. ‘He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’Rev.2:7

 To each of the seven churches, Christ rebukes and exhorts with these same sentiments, “To him who overcomes”.  Now things were very hard and tough for our brethren in the 1st century. Our Savior knows of their suffering, I am also aware that you have persisted steadfastly,endured much for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. 2:3; ‘I know the distress you are suffering  and your poverty (but you are rich). I also knowthe slander against you 2:9. Who else can appreciate the hard and difficult times Christians will have in this difficult world, than our Lord and Master. His words to us, then and now, OVERCOME! The toughest thing to do some days is just getting up. GET UP! Life is too hard, too many bills, too much heart ache, children suffering, people doing drugs, killing one another, fighting, cursing spitting, railing, protesting, it makes me weary. QUIT CRYING! Each and every day we should get up and pray to God, “God help me overcome,” then at the end of the day we can pray, “God, thank you for helping me overcome”. Tougher days may lie ahead, but each day I pray and obey His voice is a day I will overcome.

The veterans that went to work in that camp in 1935 had overcome a horrific war in which more than 117,000 U.S. men died on the battle fields of France. They came home only to endure a disease that killed more than 650,000 American citizens (which was approximately the same amount killed during the Civil War). They were in the midst of enduring tough economic hardship. These men had overcome a lot, but on September 2, 1935, the worst Hurricane to hit the USA up to that time, had arrived at the Florida Keys. 259 of the 300 men who went to work on the road to paradise, perished in that storm. 41 men survived! There’s just one road to the real paradise, and it’s paved with the blood of our savior. He’s promised passage there with this word of advice, OVERCOME!

Darryl Fuller

The Rock that is Higher than I

The first contract awarded by NASA for the moon project was oddly enough not to a rocket or spacecraft facility but to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in August of 1961.  Their assignment; a navigation system that would allow men to fly to the moon and back safely.  gyroThe reasoning behind this decision was due to MIT’s development of an onboard guidance system for aircraft that enabled a plane to navigate from Boston Airport to the Los Angeles airport in 1951, without pilot assistance.  The device that achieved this remarkable feat was called an Inertial Guidance Platform.  A fellow by the name of Charles Draper invented this rather sophisticated yet simple device.  Basically, it was a gyroscope and computer that utilized a stable point or level platform in which the plane or space ship could always rely. It was in essence a rock, unmovable, forever in the same position no matter how much the craft moved or wavered from its fixed point. In regard to the moon, men drew a line from the earth to the moon and back, and then fed this information into the guidance computer. Once the mission began, the guidance system was the stable rock and no matter how turned around the spacecraft became, it could always count on the rock to mark where up was, and where down was, where the earth was and where the moon was.

It fascinates me to no end how men, using their God- given abilities, can devise instruments and machines that mirror His eternal glory. The Inertial Guidance Platform of any plane or spacecraft is built on the principle of a steady unmovable rock. David long ago acknowledged what kept him on course. 1Sa 2:2  There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.  Through all the trials and heartache, the constant pursuit by his enemies, David always recognized a solid platform to which he could return 2Sa 22:2-3  He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,  (3)  my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.”

It neither mattered how badly David messed up, nor how far he wandered. If he trusted in the Rock and obeyed its true command, he could return to the proper course.  Psa 61:2  From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Occasionally, along the route to the moon, corrections would have to be made to get back to the rock.  The system was designed so that the astronaut could take measurements of the stars and figure out where they were in relation to the rock or line. Once he knew where he was in relation to the line, he could then make adjustments and return to the rock.  The rock platform on the Apollo Spacecraft was so accurate that very few corrections were necessary on all 7 missions, including Apollo 13.  It was a steady and reliable platform, one that could be trusted.  How much greater and faithful is our Rock who made the stars and has guided our steps and kept our ways?  Psa 62:2  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psa 92:15  to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Not one Apollo astronaut, who flew beyond earth’s orbit, was lost. In all, 9 missions went there and back. 27 men put their trust in the guidance system built by MIT and came home to tell about it. Now, imagine if we would trust in our Rock and adhere to His line and His guidance.  If we would just trust in His way no matter how far we think we are off course. If we would just believe in that true platform and not try to pilot the ship ourselves.  Whatever corrections we need to make, let’s make them. Let’s look to the Rock that is higher than I, and come home.  Psa 95:1  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Darryl Fuller

1st Day of the 1st Month

Today marks the 3rd day of the first month, 2014. I began a lot of new things today. I pulled down and stored away seasonal decorations (as per Beth’s instructions). I got rid of all the leftover sweets and junk food.  I got back on my bike and rode 10 miles.  I paid bills, began paper work for filing taxes, cleaned out some old files. I started a new daily  Bible reading program this morning and interestingly enough came across this passage; Gen 8:13  In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. Seems the first day of the first month for Noah was a day to start anew as well.shutterstock_62795851

We do this every year at this time– start anew. We try our best to reinvent it somehow.  I’m going to do better this year!  I’m going to save more, lose less, give more, spend less, laugh more, cry less, walk more, watch less, listen more, talk less, diet more, eat less, throw away more, horde less.  For the first month of the year and maybe even into the second month, we are successful, but somewhere around the end of the second month we begin to lose our resolve.  We slowly and inevitably, like a car battery in really cold weather, lose our cranking ability.

Even for Noah and his family, starting anew must have been intoxicating; a new world, a new start, fresh clean air and a new life. There surely was the feeling of freshness after being in a closed up environment for over a year. God gave them new duties, a new covenant, a new home with new rules and regulations. He provided them with new freedoms and in return Noah gave to God new sacrifices and a renewed commitment. However, as God’s word tells us, it wasn’t long before the newness wore off, and sin returned to deter him of his commitment and trust in the One who does not change. Our Father needs no rejuvenation; He is eternally glorious and everlastingly new.

God provided for man the very thought and process of this rejuvenation.  In the Old Testament we see its manifestation through the yearly remembrance of the Passover (Lev.23:5).  It was for the Hebrews a perpetual event that was to be celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month, every year. It was to remind the people of their rescue from the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians, which occurred in the first month (Num.33:3).  Shortly after their rescue, God directed them to set up the Tabernacle in the first month (Ex. 40:17). Then, when the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land, it also occurred in the first month (1 Chron.12:15).  These all were of course shadows of the rejuvenation we now receive through Christ our Lord. We celebrate and remember our rescue from sin every first day of the week (1 Cor.11:23-25; Acts 20:7).  We get to start everyday anew, if we are willing to repent of our sins and seek His loving favor. (2Tim.4:18; James 5:11).

Since God has provided us with this wonderful opportunity, to start anew, maybe we should think and plan more on what sacrifices and commitments we’ll make to Him this New Year.

This year I’ll give to God more of my time in daily devotion to study His words. I’ll seek to read from His scriptures every day.  It only takes fifteen minutes to read six or seven chapters, and within a year you’ll have read the entire Bible.

This year I’ll commit to being at every service, not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

This year I’ll commit to having a Bible study in my home, with a friend, neighbor or kinfolk. Not for the purpose of “proselytizing”, but simply sharing the hope within me and letting God do the rest.

We can indeed do more in 2014 of giving more of ourselves to God and less to ourselves.