Cardboard Swords

May 27, 2009

By: Dennis Bates

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with you feet fitted with the readiness that comes  from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” EPHESIANS 6: 10-20

 How many sermons do you suppose an average pastor could preach on this passage? For that matter, how many can you remember hearing? It is literally packed with theological principles and great images. I remember when I was a kid that we made armor in Bible School and labeled it. Of course being 10-year-old boys we put on our helmets decorated with our own artwork and the word “Salvation”  and battered each other’s shields of faith with our swords that said Spirit. As I recall, very few of us had much of our armor left to take home at the end of the week, but we sure had fun, although our teachers were less than amused with our antics.

Amazingly, however, I remember that armor 50 years later, and I know the verses, so maybe letting us play around with  the construction paper armor and the cardboard swords wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

Today, those are still some of my favorite verses. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my youth when I could jump up on a chair and down again without a step ladder…fall down and hop right back up again grinning and ready for more. I can still fall down; it’s the hopping back up part I can’t seem to handle anymore. Maybe I remember them because my dedicated teachers knew how to channel our wild enthusiasm and into something worthwhile.

 Or perhaps I’ve finally learned what Paul meant in that final paragraph when he talked about being an ambassador in chains. What a great image that is. Paul literally was in chains when he wrote it, but he was talking about more than iron chains when he asked for prayer so he could use his situation to declare the Gospel fearlessly. Instead of using his situation an excuse to do less, he used it as a reason to do more.

 As I get older and slower, I have to remember Paul’s words and use that to do more, not less. And all that from a cardboard sword.


2 Guys, 9 Kids, 4 Days

May 26, 2009

By:  Staci Stallings

Camping is not my thing.  Let’s get that clear and out of the way first.  I know. I know.  I should love everything my kids and husband love, but I gave up shoulding myself into things a long time ago.   It’s not that I’m out to upset anyone, just that I’m not going to please them at my expense unless it’s my idea or God’s.  So, my husband who LOVES camping and my children who also love it often go camping without me.  That’s great by me because the kids and I spend practically every waking hour they are not at school together, and it’s nice to have a break.  Plus, my husband who often goes to work early and comes home late doesn’t get to spend much one-on-one time with the kids.  So it works out for everyone.

Well, this past weekend my husband and brother-in-law decided to go to the lake with the kids (our three; their four).  My sister, feeling sorry for me, decided to stay home and watch movies with me.  Before the trip started, my nephew from my husband’s side and my nephew from my side decided to join them.

Now this takes bravery on everyone’s part.  Think about it.  Two guys, nine kids (oldest was 14, youngest 6), four days.  At the lake in a tent and a small camper.  Talk about an adventure!

They brought food and ate half of it the first night.  Can you say, “36 hot dogs”?  Hey, it takes a lot of energy to be that excited, load everything up, drive an hour, unload everything and get the whole camp set up.  My husband even strapped a refrigerator into the pickup so they wouldn’t have to deal with coolers, which everyone thought was hilarious until they realized it was very practical as well. (Don’t worry, they had plenty of food for the rest of the weekend!)

Yes, they swam too.  A LOT.  One nephew brought his canoe, and the kids paddled all over that lake.  They brought fishing rods and a big inflatable island.  The kids explored, the guys did too.  At night my husband and my nephew (godfather and godson) spent an hour out on the beach, looking at the stars together.  How cool is that?  My nephew told my sister-in-law, “You know, that Damian is one cool guy.”

I’m of the opinion that too often in this life we just don’t spend enough time together.  We rush around and rush around, going to this, that and the other thing.  But we never just sit and be together.  I’m so glad the two of them had that time.

The other cool thing I noticed when my sister, my mom and dad, and I went on Sunday for a few hours was how the kids played together.  There as no set pattern at all.  Youngest would go canoeing with the older ones and then come back and play with the younger ones.  Cousins played with cousins and then with brothers and sisters.  Girls went fishing with the boys.  Boys went fishing with each other.  One guy would go with a set of kids; the other would go with a different set.  Everyone got along with everyone, not because there was a rhyme or reason but just because.

Last week I read a piece about “free-range children” and how much more happy and well-adjusted they are.  Well, this weekend was about as free-range as you could get and still be in some control.  The kids went to the island, around the island, to the camp site, down to the beach.  As long as the adults knew where you were going, have fun.

My husband told me last night after they got home that the people in the campsite next to them were really impressed.  The wife said, “You’ve been out here two days and none of the kids are sunburned or whiny or have gone hungry.  They are all happy and playing with each other.  There’s not screaming or tears.  That’s impressive for two guys.”

Then another camper commented on how good the kids were.  “They help.  They are polite.  They stick together.  They help each other.  That’s impressive.”

I’m happy to say that is my family.  They don’t need me every second of the day, and that is a very good thing.  I’m thrilled that my husband can go spend time with them, that they can learn to depend on Dad too, that they can have fun with each other and with cousins for four days without everyone coming home mad and hurt.

Two guys, nine kids, four days.  One hugely successful weekend.

Impressive.


Hearing Test

May 26, 2009

By: Dennis Bates

This morning I am scheduled for a complimentary hearing test, compliments of my wife and the local hearing specialist, whatever he’s calling himself. It’s another one of those signs of age. First the print on just about everything got too small to read anymore; now, even though I can see it, I have trouble hearing someone read it to me. 

It’s not so much that I can’t hear; it’s just certain frequencies. Some people’s voices are very clear to me; others, not so much. I have trouble hearing what’s being said by some people up front in church. That’s not always such a bad thing, but I at least want to know what I am disagreeing with, instead of assuming I disagree just because of who’s saying something. 

You know what I mean? 

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if we sat a little farther toward the front of the church, but my wife would rather not hear than move forward. Hmm, there must be some kind of appropriate metaphor there somewhere. Oh well, it’s probably a good idea if I just leave it alone. 

Anyway, I had a hearing test once before, and as I recall, you get placed in a small soundproof booth, handed a headset and asked to indicate by raising your hand which ear or ears you hear the sound coming from. It’s kind of like being told to look up the correct spelling for a word in the dictionary. Exactly how do you do that if you don’t know how to spell the word in the first place? You have to have some idea how to spell the word or can’t look it up. 

Right?

How am I supposed to tell the clinician which ear I hear the sound in, if my problem is that I can’t hear in the first place? So maybe I’m making this too hard, or too simple. I’m not exactly certain which it is. And maybe I can hear just fine; maybe it’s listening I have trouble with. There is a difference, you know. 

Maybe I don’t understand what’s being said because I’m too busy trying to figure out whether I agree with it or not. Maybe I don’t want to hear what’s being said. My wife calls it selective hearing, which is a euphemism for “You hear only what you want to hear.” 

Me? I would never do that. However, I do find myself a lot more interesting than a lot of people, and I never have trouble hearing myself. I wonder if that means anything?

I used to think that people who insisted that God talked to them were…well…people I didn’t want to spend too much time with. Sorry, I’m just being  honest. After all, I’d felt God, seen Him in action, and believed that He was completely in control, and it was better for me when I followed his lead. I even believed in the power of prayer when I talked to Him. But Him actually talking to me…just a little over the top for me. Again, sorry, just being honest. 

Guess what? I’m not so sure of that anymore. As the sounds from the world blur, or at least take more concentration to follow, I have started hearing God’s voice more and more clearly. It’s actually kind of freaky. You mean He’s been talking to me all these years and I didn’t hear Him? Or was it that I just wasn’t listening?


Lessons For Life

May 22, 2009

By:  Staci Stallings

I’ll be the first to admit that some lessons are more fun to learn than others.  Tonight was not one of those kinds of lessons.  Tonight was one of the tougher kind–the kind you would rather not have to learn, the kind that breaks your heart and remakes you into a different person, a person you didn’t know how to be before but one who understands just how much God loves each of us win or lose.  Admittedly, those are the hard kind.

So you can understand how tough this lesson was, you have to understand that for ten games in the fall, our fourth grade girls’ volleyball team was virtually perfect.  They won every game, though they dropped a couple of sets along the way.  So we went into this season with a lot of expectations.  The first two games only bolstered those expectations.  The third game, we lost one set, but hung tough and won the next two to take that game as well.

And then we got to tonight.

The other team was orange, and they were good.  At the end of the game, they chanted, “Eat, play volleyball, eat play volleyball, eat, play volleyball, sleep!”  So you can see this was no casual, play for fun and learning team.  They were serious.

In no time they had us down that first set though we never completely fell apart.  We fought, we volleyed, we fell and slid across the floor.  It wasn’t that we weren’t playing, but the breaks were not going our way.  If our point had been out, it was barely in.  If to break their serve we needed to be in, it was barely out.  It was a frustrating game.

But our girls held together, trying their best the whole way.  We didn’t hit every serve, and some serves we hit, we didn’t get the volley that came our way back over.  We fought and played as hard as we could, but it simply wasn’t enough.  By the end the strain was beginning to show.  Oh, no.  We might lose all three.  The world will indeed end if we do.  But here’s the thing.

We did in fact lose all three, and the world did not end.  After the game I went around and hugged every girl.  Some were crying; some were angry.  Some would hardly look at me, a couple melted into me because they were just devastated by the loss.  Here’s the thing.  I know how they feel–just on a different court.

When I was in fifth grade, I couldn’t hit a volleyball to save my life, but I had straight A’s in school.  That was my thing, the thing I thought I had a real gift for.  Then in fifth grade the unthinkable happened–I got a B!  An 89 to be exact.  I was one stinking tenth of a point from maintaining my A average,  and for the first time, I didn’t quite make it.  I, too, was devastated.  In fact, I cried for three weeks (if you don’t believe me, ask my sister or my dad).  My family didn’t understand why I was so upset and in truth, I didn’t understand it until years later.

You see, those A’s had become ME.  People knew me because of those A’s.  People liked me and said nice things about me because of those A’s.  If I didn’t have them, where did that leave me?

That’s what I saw in some of those girls’ eyes tonight, and as heartbreaking as it is to lose, sometimes it’s not a bad lesson to know that you can lose even a tough, heartbreaker, and the world keeps spinning, and people still love you, and you’re still okay.  Winning is fun, but it’s not everything.  The lessons in life come in all shapes and forms.  Some are fun.  Some are not.  Tonight’s was not fun, but it was valuable.  As a parent it is my job to help coach them through it and help them to see that the A-honor-roll or winning every game doesn’t determine if we are loved and cherished.

That determination was made by God a long time ago, and sometimes… sometimes losing a game or getting a B is the only way we can begin to understand that it’s not WHAT we do or even how well we do it that matters most to Him.  What matters most to Him and what should matter most to us is that we got in there, we played the game honorably and to the best of our ability.  Sometimes even when we do that, we’re going to lose.  That’s just going to happen.  It’s one of those lessons of life, but when you finally understand that lesson, even losing a game or getting a B doesn’t kill you.  It helps you to learn to accept love even when to the world the win went to someone else, and when you do that, you finally learn what it’s like to win all the time–no matter what the scoreboard or the report card happens to say.

My best to all of the girls on TEAM PINK!  You’re awesome… not because you win or lose but just because YOU ARE!


Sound Familiar?

May 21, 2009

By:  Staci Stallings

Today’s post will be a little different.  I write the VBS plays for our VBS (Vacation Bible School) week at our church.  I wrote this play the other night and couldn’t help but think how familiar it sounded to my life.  See if you agree…

Libby (from behind the gate):  God is good…

Everyone:  All the time!

(Keep chanting this as you come through the gate.  Moses & Aaron lead.  When you get to the steps everyone stops.)

Moses:  Okay. Okay.  That’s enough.  You’re hurting my ears.

Aaron:  Come on, Moses. You can’t blame them for being excited.  I mean when God split the Red Sea, that was AWESOME.

Moses:  True, but I’m tired, Aaron.  We’ve been walking all day. I think we should camp here for the night.

Aaron:  Okay, everyone.  Pick your place.  We’re stopping here.

(General:  Great. I’m tired.  What a day…. Everyone finds a place and goes to sleep.)

Libby:  Okay, but just so you know, God really IS good.

Everyone:  All the time…

(Pause.  Megan comes out with the ONE WEEK LATER sign.)

(Everyone wakes up slowly.  No one is in a good mood.)

Libby:  UGH! How long are we going to be out in this desert?  I’m tired.  I haven’t slept right since we left Egypt.

Audry:  Yeah, whose dumb idea was this anyway?

(Start to get up.)

Regina:  Come on, guys.  It’s not that bad.  Remember?  God is good…. All the time.

Libby:  Yeah.  Yeah. Yeah.

(Start off to the center steps.)

Chester:  Blah. Blah. Blah.  If God is so good, then why am I so hungry?

Everyone:  Yeah.  We’re hungry!  Starving!  I want McDonald’s.  There’s no McDonald’s out here.  There’s nothing out here but SAND, SAND, and MORE SAND!

Chester:  Everybody’s hungry, Moses.  What are you going to do about it?

Aaron:  They really ARE hungry, Moses.  And I don’t blame them.  We’ve been walking out here in this desert for days with nothing to eat and no shelter.

Moses:  What do you want me to do about it?

Aaron:  I don’t know.  Talk to God.  We could sure use a miracle right about now.

(Nearing the steps)

Michaela:  I’m tired of walking.

Seana:  Yeah, my feet hurt.

Audry:  YOUR feet?  I lost one of my shoes three miles back.  And my back is killing me.  I’ve got to at least sit down and rest.

Seana:  Please, Moses.  Please can we stop and rest?

(General moaning and groaning until you’re at the steps)

Aaron:  Maybe we should make camp here tonight, Moses.  It wouldn’t hurt to rest.

Chester:  Or to EAT.  Did I mention I’m HUNGRY?!

Everyone:  Yeah.  We’re hungry.  (more general complaining and whining)

Moses:  Okay. Okay. Okay. Take it easy.  Just go to sleep.  I’ll talk to God and see what He can do about it.

Chester:  God?  God doesn’t care about us.  Don’t you get it? We’re out here, starving to death in the desert, and it’s all God’s fault.

Regina:  It is not God’s fault.  God’s the One who got us OUT of slavery.

Chester:  Yeah, so we could come out here and DIE.

Aaron:  Hey!  That’s enough. Moses said he will talk with God about it.  He’ll talk with God.  Now let’s all just get some sleep.

(Chester goes off grumbling.  Everyone lays down.  Moses goes a little ways away.)

Moses:  God, I know you brought us safely out of Egypt, not to mention across the Red Sea, and that parting it thing really was cool.  But God, the people, Your people are hungry.  Please, Lord.  Please help us find some food.  Thank You for all You’ve done for us.  Amen. (then Moses lays down)

(The angels come out and put “manna” on the Israelites.)

(A beat and everyone starts to wake up.)

Libby:  What?  What’s this?

Audry:  I don’t know.  (She tastes it.)  Hmm… It’s kind of like… bread.  Kind of.

Seana:  Is it good?

Audry:  Yeah, try it.

(Everyone starts eating.)

Allison:  It’s food!  It’s really food!

Regina:  We’re saved!

(Everyone jumps up and starts dancing around all happy.)

Libby:  God is good…

Everyone:  All the time!

(Continue the chant down the sidewalk.  When you get to the railing (in front of it)…)

Chester:  I’m tired.  Can’t we rest?  We’ve been walking for like… YEARS.

Audry:  Yeah, and now I lost my other shoe!  I’m so tired.  I don’t think I can take another step!

Libby:  Me, too.  I’m so tired I could go to sleep and meet myself coming the other way.

Aaron:  We could make camp here, Moses.  It’s not like we haven’t done ten miles or better today.

Moses:  Okay.  Okay.  We’ll rest.

(Everyone lays down and falls asleep.  Angels come out and put more “manna” on each person.)

(Megan:  ONE WEEK LATER)

(Waking up.  They eat the manna through the next scene.)

Libby:  Oh, man.  Manna… AGAIN.  I am so SICK of manna.

Audry:  You’re sick of manna?  I can’t even look at the stuff anymore.

Regina:  Come on, guys.  God sent it, we should be thankful for what He’s done for us, feeding us out here in this God-forsaken desert, with the sun beating down, and the sand for MILES, going around this same mountain… say, is it me, or does this place look familiar?

Michaela:  You know, now that you mention it.  It DOES look familiar.  Haven’t we been here before?

Chester:  I don’t know about that.  What I DO know is that I AM TIRED OF EATING JUST MANNA all the time.  Manna.  Manna.  Manna.  Every stinking morning.  That’s all we get.  I don’t know WHY God can’t send us some protein.  I need my protein!  I’m going to lose my muscles I’ve been working so hard on building if I don’t get some protein and SOON.

Seana:  Oh, yeah, we wouldn’t want THAT.

Moses:  We’d better go.

Audry:  Go?  Go where, Moses?  To see more sand?  Haven’t we seen enough sand?

Michaela:  We’re probably going to see the OTHER side of the mountain.  Because I’m sure it looks way different than this side.

(Let the kids go first. Start walking up and around the ramp.)

Aaron:  Stop complaining for once, and you might see what God has done for us.

Chester:  What God has done?  Oh, good grief.  Are you going to start that again? (sarcastically)  God is good… all the time. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Libby:  Yeah! What has He done for us lately?  That’s what I want to know.

(General moaning and complaining going into the hut)

Aaron:  Moses we should stop here for the night.  The people are really getting restless and tired.

Moses:  They’re getting restless and tired?  I’m getting restless and tired… OF THEM.  Do they have to complain all the time?  Can’t they see what God has done for them and be thankful for once?

Aaron:  Moses, calm down.  Listen.  I know.  I get it.  I do.  But they need some rest.

Chester:  And protein!  Don’t forget protein!

Aaron (to Moses):  Just say some prayers to God.  Maybe He’s got a plan we just can’t see.

Moses:  Okay.  (to everyone)  We’ll camp here tonight, and I’ll talk to God… about the protein issue.

(Everyone lays down.  Moses goes off to the side.)

Moses:  God, I don’t know if you’re getting tired of these people, but I sure am.  All they do is whine and complain about everything even when You take good care of them.  (sighing)  Please, Lord.  Please send us something to go along with the manna.  Oh, and thanks for the manna.  Amen. (He goes to sleep.)

(Angels bring out manna and quail.)

(A moment and the Israelites begin to wake up.)

Libby:  Hey, what’s this?

Chester:  PROTEIN!  Woohoo!  God is good…

Everyone:  All the time!

Chester:  Let’s cook it.

(They sit around the campfire and play eat.  Pass the quail back to the back.)

General:  This is good.  Excellent.  It tastes like chicken.  God is AWESOME!  Yeah!  Go God!

Moses:  It’s getting late.  I think we’ll just camp here tonight.

(Everyone lays down.  Angels come out and put manna and quail back out.)

Megan:  ONE WEEK LATER

(Waking up)

Libby:  Ugh.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  This is like a bad nightmare that NEVER ends!

Allison:  More quail?  More?  What I wouldn’t give for a salad.

Seana:  With blue cheese dressing.

Michaela:  And olives.

Audry:  Olives?  (sighing as if that’s a beautiful dream)  I would love some olives.

Chester:  You can have the olives.  What I need is some WATER.  I’m so thirsty if I tried to spit, I couldn’t!

Allison:  Yeah. How long have we been out here anyway?  I lost track like 42 days ago.

Audry:  Ah, dude. Why’d you have to go and say water?  I was doing just fine until you mentioned THAT.  Now I’m thirsty too.

(General:  Yeah, me too!  I’m SO thirsty.)

Regina:  I’m sure God would provide if Moses would just ask Him to.

Seana:  Then what are you waiting for, Moses?  Us to dehydrate out here?

(General:  Yeah, we want some water.  What are you waiting for?)

Moses:  (Shakes his head):  You have GOT to be kidding me.

Aaron:  Moses, please, just ask God.  He’s taken care of us this long.  I’m sure He won’t let us down now.

Moses:  I don’t know WHY He wouldn’t. I’d have thrown the whole lot of them overboard six months ago.

Aaron:  Just ask.  Please.

Moses:  Fine.  (He goes over to the side and kneels down.)  God, it’s me again, Moses.  Listen, I know You’re probably sick of hearing from me, but we’ve really got a situation down here.  We need some water, but there’s a little problem with that.  We’re like out in the desert, and like there’s no water around.

God:  Moses.

Moses:  Yes, God?

God:  Go strike the rock with your staff.

Moses:  Strike the rock with my staff?  What good is that going to do?

God:  Moses, stop listening to the doubts of the people.  Listen to Me.  Strike the rock with your staff, and watch the power of the Living God.

Moses:  O…kay.  (He gets up and goes back to the group.)

Aaron:  What did God say?

Moses:  He said to strike this here rock with my staff.

Aaron:  Strike the rock with your staff?  What good is that going to do?

Moses:  That’s what I said.  (He goes to the rock, stands over it, and exhales as the doubt leaves.  Slowly he lifts the staff and then lowers it and touches the rock. Instantly water comes out.)

Chester:  Water? Do I hear water?

Audry:  From a rock?

Michaela:  I don’t believe it.

(Chester goes over to it and starts splashing it.)

Chester:  Well, believe it!  It’s for real.

Regina:  All right!  Go God.

Libby:  God is good…

Everyone:  All the time!

I don’t know about you, but that sounds WAY too familiar!


Do You Ever Disagree?

May 20, 2009

By: Dennis Bates

Do you ever disagree with somebody? Ever argue, maybe even have an heated exchange of words? I wish I could say no to those questions, but if I did I’d hear laughter and then screaming from my Amarillo counterpart clear up here in Iowa, and my hearing isn’t nearly as good as it used to be these days.

 

To be totally honest I am one of those people who was born on the other side of almost any issues you could think of. If I’m not on the other side of that issue, I can flip to it almost without giving it any thought. And I frequently do. That’s not always a good thing.

 

Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” That’s one of my “go-to” verses, especially when I’m feeling particularly ornery. I’ve been going to it a lot lately.

 

But what do you do when somebody’s just wrong? Do you sit idly by and not respond just so you can be at peace? Do you look the other way, or agree, just so you won’t be contentious. And what if they attack you personally or they disparage someone you love? Do you sit and do nothing? To be candid, I don’t. But it’s how we respond even when we disagree that sets us apart as Christians. And I’m afraid I fail here more than we succeed.

 

We all know that Jesus told us in Matthew 5:44 that we should love our enemies, because even the pagans love those who love them back. We also know that Jesus demonstrated that love when he prayed for the soldiers who mocked him and killed him. He even asked God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing.

Our duty is greater than that. Jesus didn’t provide us with a new set of laws that we had to follow to receive salvation; he provided us with an entirely new way of looking at things. He didn’t want blind obedience; he wanted changed hearts and he gave several examples about turning the other cheek and going the extra mile. But those were examples of the type of thing we needed to do to have the changed hearts he sought.

 

When people who call themselves Christians call the President of the United States stupid, is that love? For that matter, when we call anybody stupid, is that love? When we argue constantly about who is right or wrong when it comes to specific church doctrine, is that love?

 

I may be guessing here, but I think Jesus would prefer that we love someone we disagree with instead of converting that person to our particular doctrine. I think he would prefer us to love our enemies more than overcome them with brute force. That only makes the hate run deeper.

 

Violence does beget more violence, but sometimes the violence of our words and unloving thoughts and comments is the worst kind of violence there is. A changed heart is not a violent heart, but a heart at peace, no matter what the other guy does or says.

 

 

 

 


Our Hearts Swelled Shut

May 19, 2009

By: Dennis Bates

Tom Brokaw wrote a book entitled “The Greatest Generation” in 1998.  In it he argued that the generation that grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II was the greatest generation that any society ever produced. Coming from nothing, that generation’s sacrifices saved the world as we know it, according to Brokaw, and also rebuilt the United States industry turning it into a military and financial superpower.

 

He was quick to point out that the generation was not perfect and pointed to racism and other types of discrimination as evidence of those imperfections, but he contended that, those issues notwithstanding, the generation when taken as a whole, was still the benchmark for all past and future generations.

 

Brokaw’s arguments have their critics. One of the major criticisms has been that his sweeping generalities which are based upon personal observations and interviews with members of that generation are overly simplistic and not based upon a significant scientifically verifiable sampling. Those criticisms probably have some validity. I don’t think he cares. His book was as much a thank you to his parents and their contemporaries as it was an historical treatise.

 

Another criticism suggests that the Baby Boomer generation’s social values were far superior to the values of the Greatest Generation. As a Baby Boomer myself, I would take some issue with that criticism. Granted, discrimination based upon race was and is reprehensible. The unfair treatment of women also needed to be rectified. Take those two topics out of the equation and I wonder just what it is about we Boomers that is so superior. In fact, tell me what Baby Boomer social values really were. Show the value systems that are in subsequent generations too. It’s hard to argue they are either better or worse since their moral basis appears to be ubiquitous at best. Morality, to be worth anything, has to have some basis, some permanence and some redeeming social value.

 

To put it  bluntly, there are absolutes, and any so-called moral system that is built upon a premise that there are no absolutes, only personal opinions, is neither moral nor a system. It is a life driven by who can shout the loudest and pay the most to promote their personal agenda. That’s why Hollywood personalities have such a strong voice today. They have both the platform and the money to see that the platform is marketed to the fullest extent.

 

So I suggest Brokaw may be right by about half. The Greatest Generation was noble and selfless for the most part, but it isn’t that it was more noble than generations that followed; it’s more that the following generations weren’t as noble. There is a difference.

 

Our parents knew about the number of hairs on their heads; they knew that the birds neither sowed or reaped; and they knew that the lilies of the field didn’t labor or spin but still dressed better than Solomon in all his glory. Our parents didn’t worry about tomorrow; they merely tried to survive today, and they knew that where their treasure was, there their hearts would also be.

 

Did they forget. Yes, but not before they showed us in the generations that followed what an open heart and a willingness to go where God leads can do. The biggest pity of all is that after they showed us that, our hearts swelled shut. They need to be opened again so that God can use them and us.


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