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Get Off The Beach…

Today is June 6th, 2012.

68 years ago today 156,115 men from the British Commonwealth and the United States of America stormed the beaches of France.

Their goal was to liberate that nation from the terror of Nazi Germany.

The overwhelming majority of them survived the day.

Roughly 12,000 did not.

Of those 12,000 men, more than 5,000 of them died on one stretch of land.

We call it “Omaha Beach.”

For much of June 6th Omaha Beach looked and felt like a disaster.

And it didn’t look much better on June 7th.

The entire operation involved the assault of 6 beaches.

We called it “Operation Overlord”.

Despite what happened at Omaha, Overlord was an overwhelming success.

Less than three months later the city of Paris was liberated from the Germans.

Victorious soldiers poured through the streets in parade formation.

That overwhelming majority enjoyed the fruits of that overwhelming victory.

But it wouldn’t have happened without the sacrifice of the 12,000 on June 6th,

12,000 who would never know about Paris.

That exuberant city must have been a sharp contrast to the slaughter at Omaha.

It must have also been a tremendous relief:

A relief to the war-weary soldiers.

A relief to the beleaguered Parisians.

What kind of relief was it to the strategists who planned the Operation?

What about the corpsmen and litter bearers who cleaned up the mess at Omaha?

The typists who dispatched the wretched telegrams to the middle-American mothers?

What about the parents of the 12,000?

The freedom of France didn’t return one lost son,

But it gave purpose to their deaths.

It gave an honorable reason for the loss.

A purpose three painful months in the coming.

What were those three months like?

A June of anguish.

A July of doubt.

An August of second-guessing.

The unfathomable grief of purposeless pain.

If you are alive, you have an Omaha Beach.

You have a day of pain and suffering.

You have a June 6th.

and you also have a July,

and an early August coming don’t you?

Today may be fraught with havoc,

and many of your tomorrows a mid-summer of misery,

But IN CHRIST there is a true Liberation that brings purpose to our suffering.

What would have happened if the Allied Forces had quit at Omaha?

They could have fled from the pain of June,

Self-medicated through July,

And ignored the pangs of August.

Running from that pain would have enslaved the heroes,

and left the French captive in their own nation.

In the same way that their pressing on brought purpose,

Pressing in to Christ brings both relief and freedom;

Not just for us,

But for those that we are fighting for.

Don’t lay on the beach.

Don’t waste your summer on bitterness.

Don’t spend your pain in blaming.

Don’t second-guess where to turn.

There is no Liberation with battle,

There is no battle without pain,

There is no pain that Christ can’t put under his purpose,

And there is no purpose more

freeing,

fulfilling,

healing,

or

victorious

than His.

Don’t lay on the beach.

Christ’s overwhelming success is still in front of you.

“You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:1-7

It’s Not Discipline. It’s Love

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I’ve struggled with self-discipline all of my life. Because I wouldn’t do it on my own, my parents spent a lot of time pushing me to finish tasks I didn’t enjoy, like homework or chores.

This week I attended the Catalyst conference in Orange County, California. There were a lot of singers singing, dancers dancing, and speakers speaking.

One of them was pro-skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

Tony was interviewed about the work he is doing among at- risk kids through community skatepark initiatives.

During the session, the interviewer asked him to tell the audience about the self- discipline it took to become the greatest skateboarder of all time.

Tony Hawk replied, “Oh, I didn’t do it because I was disciplined, I was all over the map back then, I did it because I loved it.”

While this sounded both obvious and insipid, his explanation actually revealed a bit of understated genius.

“I’d think about a new trick… I want to learn how to do this, and I don’t care how much time I have to spend or how much it hurts.”

He also didn’t hesitate to reveal that he pursued skateboarding because doing so was its own reward.

“I didn’t do it for what the pay was.
I didn’t do it for the audience.
I didn’t do it for acceptance.”

“I just loved riding.”

This love meant that he wasn’t spending his days forcing himself to start “practicing”, it meant that he just got to go out and skate.

“I did it wherever I could, I did it in sad parking lots for 100 people with whatever terrible set-up the local skate shop owner had put together.”

Then he tied it all up with this gem of a ribbon…

“That determination to ride and learn just turned out to be discipline over time.”

Discipline grew out of a love indulged over time.

When I think about it, I realize that the things that I’m good at, I also enjoy doing.

The things I love, I do.
Doing them is practice.
Doing them a lot turns into a lot of practice.

Which makes me wonder if the reason that we struggle to read our Bibles and pray is because we don’t love interacting with Jesus?

Sometimes I only pursue Jesus because I think something good will happen, or because I will benefit in some tangible way.

In those moments I’m not doing it because I believe that pursuing him is its own end, I’m not living like knowing Jesus is its own reward.

I’m “me focused” not “God focused”.

This only changes when I’m willing to pursue Jesus no matter what it costs or how much it hurts.

To not follow him for approval,
To resist performing for the audience,
To not follow him mindful of “pay”.

Wouldn’t this translate into a determination to grow and learn?

Wouldn’t this determination turn into discipline over time?

I believe that it can truly happen…

If I’m willing to love Jesus the way that Tony Hawk loves skating.

A Different State Of Mind

Throughout much of the 1930’s the people living along the border of Oregon and California found themselves mired in a fairly frustrating existence.

The borderland wasn’t just timber country, it was still quite literally a frontier.

The loggers, miners and farmers who worked the land did so with very basic services and government infrastructure.

If the Great Depression ensured that America’s cities foundered in their desire for growth, it guaranteed that the Northwest had a better chance of snaring bigfoot than getting the traction needed for forward progress.

Consistent electrical service was rare and, aside from the major interstate highways, most roads were merely packed gravel and oil pathways which quickly turned to mud during the abundant seasonal rainstorms.

By the late 1930’s the region’s wood, mineral, and agricultural industries began to recover from the effects of the depression.

The state taxes that flowed into the coffers of Salem and Sacramento began to improve conditions just about everywhere in the state….

…except in the borderlands.

(more…)

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