Truth Warrior

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Night Before Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
"I'm out here by choice.
Im here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a very joyous Christmas,
And a new year filled with warmth, cheer and well being.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Time to Wake up!

Time to Wake up! I just recieved the following in an email. It seems like a blessing, but I find it to be very distressing. Can you see any reasons why I would make such a bold statement?

Rethinking Church
By Chuck Colson

Where Is Willow Creek, and Where Are We?

December 5, 2007

Willow Creek Community Church, one of America's biggest and most prominent churches, recently released a short book called Reveal: Where Are You? The book contains the results of a comprehensive study that Willow Creek conducted among their own members and among members of other churches that use their model. Pastor Bill Hybels has said that the results of that study are "earth-shaking," "ground-breaking."

In a nutshell, the survey results showed that heavy involvement in the church programs and activities of Willow Creek did not necessarily translate to spiritual growth and maturity. Findings like these have caused the church leaders to stand up and admit, "We made a mistake."

I have to tell you, that is historic. Can you remember the last time a church leader said anything like that? I can't, and I am very proud of Bill Hybels. He and his leaders deserve a Christian profile in courage award, and I will nominate him.

Bill Hybels understands the problem that the Church is in today. It is into therapy, but it needs to teach doctrine and grow people in the faith. That is why, by the way, I have written a new book to be released in February titled The Faith Given Once, for All, a book Hybels has enthusiastically endorsed.

We have discovered the same thing here at Prison Fellowship—that we cannot just lead inmates to Christ and then not see their lives transformed. So, we have looked hard at what we are doing and whether we are really making disciples—are we transforming people? We, too, have confessed that we could be doing a lot better. And so, we have revised our vision statement and made fundamental changes in the way we work.

I think the lesson that the Willow Creek leaders have learned, and the courage they are showing, constitute a challenge and a warning for all Christians. We cannot let ourselves get caught up in a "just-get-'em-in-the-doors" mentality, no matter how attractive and effective it looks. It can too easily lead to the watering-down of the Gospel, to a "feel-good" faith, and to believers having little impact in society. As the authors of the book, Willow Creek staffers Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson, put it in their introduction: "The health of your church is not just about the numbers. It's about the movement of people toward Christ, toward deep love for God and genuine love for others." Amen.

Bill Hybels's example should challenge us all, especially pastors and those in positions of leadership, to take a long, hard look at what we are doing and ask whether it is really changing lives. We all need to improve. Christians today are just like the culture. We need to be transformed and then turn around and transform the world around us.

During the Reformation, the reformers had a phrase for this spirit. It was called semper reformandi, or always reforming. The more we continue to understand that we have not arrived, and the more willing we are to adopt the humble approach that we and our churches are in need of continual reformation, the more our churches and lives will come to reflect the God we preach.

I am cheering Willow Creek on. Think what could happen if, instead of tickling ears, all the churches gave the people real meat. Then there might be hope for America after all, as serious disciples are equipped to defend their faith and take their places in our communities.

Time to Wake up! I just recieved the above in an email. It seems like a blessing, but I find it to be very distressing. Can you see any reasons why I would make such a bold statement?


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