A Day of Infamy

On this day in history – December 7, 1941 – the Japanese Navy Air Service launched a surprise attack against the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The day, coined as a “day of infamy” by President Franklin Roosevelt, thrust the United States into the Pacific Theater of the second World War.

American losses were massive: 2,403 deaths, 1,178 wounded, 188 aircraft destroyed, 159 aircraft damaged, and 19 ships destroyed.

There were numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action by Japan, but the lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations of military action in Asia were still ongoing, led our President to his famous “infamy” characterization of the date. Because the attack commenced without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was later judged in the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.

“A date which will live in infamy.” There have been other dates like that – in each of our lives. For me those dates include December 15, 1979 (dad’s death) and September 28, 2008 (mom’s death). On a national level, those dates include November 22, 1963 (death of John Kennedy) and September 11, 2001.

We attach significance to specific dates. These dates serve as reminders of past crises and events. They remind us of things we need to avoid. They teach us lessons of the past that guide us into a better future.

So on this anniversary of the Second World War – 76 years ago – may we all resolve to be a better nation and a better people. This “date of infamy” only defeats us if we fail to learn its lessons.

17 Days

Two young blonde women were sitting in a coffee shop in a celebratory mood. A man drifted over to buy them something to drink. When he got close, he heard one lady say to the other, “Here’s to 17 days!”

Smiling, the man said, “Congratulations! But what’s so special about 17 days?”

Eyes twinkling, one of the blondes explained, “Well, we’ve been spending our evenings working on a jigsaw puzzle! And we finished it in just 17 days!”

“What’s so good about that?” asked the man.

The lady responded, “On the box, it said 3-5 years.”

A famous Christian author wrote a book a few years ago. His premise was, “It all goes back in the box.” He said that whatever you have in life, when this life is over, your toys all go back in the box.

A little boy stunned his dad by putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the world in just ten minutes.

“How did you do it?” asked his dad.

“It was easy,” said the lad. “I turned the pieces over, and they formed the image of a heart. And when I got the heart right, the world fell into place.”

Get your heart right today, because when it’s over, it all goes back in the box.

Initiative

General William Westmoreland was once reviewing a platoon of paratroopers in Vietnam. As he went down the line, he asked each of them a question. “How do you like jumping, son?”

“Love it, sir!” was the first man’s answer.

“How do you like jumping?” he asked the next.

“The greatest experience in my life, sir!” exclaimed the paratrooper.

“How do you like jumping?” he asked the third.

“I hate it, sir,” he replied.

“Then why do you do it?” asked Westmoreland.

“I want to be around guys who love to jump.”

That’s good initiative!

Here’s a story of bad initiative. A store manager was walking through the packing room when he saw a man lounging on a shipping crate. He asked how much he was paid. The man said, “$500 a week.”

At that the manager paid the man $500 and said, “Here’s a week’s pay. Now get out!”

The manager went to the department head and asked why he had hired the man in the first place.

“We didn’t, sir,” he replied. “He was here to pick up a package.”

Initiative can be good or bad. I’d go with the first kind. Find a group going places. Don’t hold back. And at the right moment, jump! But don’t jump alone. Find a church full of believers worth jumping with.

Advice from Charlie Brown

Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “You know what I don’t understand? I don’t understand love!”

He says, “Who does?”

She says, “Explain it to me, Charlie Brown.”

He says, “You can’t explain love. I can recommend a book or a poem or a painting, but I can’t explain love.”

Lucy says, “Well, try, Charlie Brown. Try.”

Charlie says, “Well, let’s say I see this beautiful, cute little girl walk by.”

Lucy interrupts. “Why does she have to be cute? Huh? Why can’t someone fall in love with someone with freckles and a big nose? Explain that!”

Charlie: “Well, maybe you are right. Let’s just say I see this girl walk by with this great big nose.”

Lucy: “I didn’t say GREAT BIG NOSE!”

Charlie: “You not only can’t explain love, you can’t even talk about it.”

Let’s talk about it. The ancient Greeks had three words for love, meaning sensual live, friendship love, and sacrificial love. God has one word for love – the sacrificial kind. The most famous verse in the Bible begins, “God so loved.” God loves with a sacrificial love that cost him his son. He loves us all, including those of us with a big nose.

This Day in History

It all happened in a day . . . November 30. How many of these events do you remember, that all occurred this day in history?

  • Earliest eclipse on record (3340 B.C.)
  • Second siege of Pensacola, ending with Britain’s failure to capture Pensacola, Florida (1707)
  • U.S. Senate begins impeachment trial of Federalist Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase (1804)
  • Civil War Battle of Franklin, Tennessee; the South lost six generals (1864)
  • Lucille Ball marries Desi Arnaz in Greenwich, Connecticut (1940)
  • Civil War begins in Palestine, resulting in creation of the State of Israel (1947)
  • Only documented meteorite to hit a human directly, crashes through house in Sylacauga, Alabama (1954)
  • Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” is released; becomes best-selling record in music history (1982)
  • Official end of Operation Desert Storm (1995)
  • Exxon and Mobil merge to form ExxonMobil, the largest company in the world (1998)
  • Jeopardy Show champion Ken Jennings finally loses, having won a game-show record $2.5 million (2004)

Yes, a lot can happen in a day. How ’bout these for good days – the resurrection of Christ, the creation of the heavens and the earth, the Sermon on the Mount, the parting of the Red Sea.

It’s amazing what God can do in a day. And only heaven knows what God plans to do in your life – today!

The Rushmore Report: The 20 Richest Americans

2017 has been another good year for the wealthiest people in America, as the price of admission to the country’s most exclusive club jumped by nearly 18 percent. The minimum net worth to make The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans is now a record $2 billion, up from $1.7 billion a year ago. The group’s total net worth climbed to $2.7 trillion, up from $2.4 trillion, and the average worth rose to $6.7 billion.

Here is the list of the 20 wealthiest Americans, along with how they made their money. Try not to be jealous!

  1. Bill Gates – $89 billion (Microsoft)
  2. Jeff Bezos – $81.5 billion (Amazon)
  3. Warren Buffet – $78 billion (Berkshire Hathaway)
  4. Mark Zuckerberg – $71 billion (Facebook)
  5. Larry Ellison – $59 billion (Oracle)
  6. Charles Koch – $48.5 billion (diversified)
  7. David Koch – $48.5 billion (diversified)
  8. Michael Bloomberg – $46.8 billion (Bloomberg LP)
  9. Larry Page – $44.6 billion (Google)
  10. Sergey Brin – $43.4 billion (Google)
  11. Jim Walton – $38.4 billion (Walmart)
  12. Robson Walton – $38.3 billion (Walmart)
  13. Alice Walton – $38.2 billion (Walmart)
  14. Sheldon Adelson – $35.4 billion (Las Vegas Sands)
  15. Steve Ballmer – $33.6 billion (Microsoft)
  16. Jacqueline Mars – $25.5 billion (candy, pet food)
  17. John Mars – $25.5 billion (candy, pet food)
  18. Phil Knight – $25.2 billion (Nike)
  19. Michael Dell – $23.2 billion (Dell Computer)
  20. George Soros – $23 billion (hedge funds)

The Rushmore Report: Just Released – New Eyewitness Account of JFK Assassination

On Wednesday, the Secret Service agent who jumped onto the back of John Kennedy’s car seconds after he was shot published his personal notes describing his eyewitness account. As the man with the closest view of the actual events, Clint Hill’s record is astonishing and raw. Following are some of the notes he wrote within moments of the assassination of America’s 36th president.

On that fateful day 54 years ago, Hill was standing on the lip of the vehicle driving behind President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Hill heard Lee Harvey Oswald’s first gunshot, and immediately saw the president “grab at his throat.” Without thinking, he bolted toward the president’s car from behind, but was unable to reach the president before the fatal shot was fired. He then used his body to shield the First Lady as the car sped toward Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

This is the exact account of Kennedy’s assassination in the words of the closest eyewitness.

November 21 (4:00 pm)

“Couldn’t transport Secret Service cars from San Antonio to Houston in time, so we had leased cars on 11/21/63. Rather uncomfortable, and not ideal for protection, to ride straddling the door in follow-up car.”

November 21 (4:09 pm)

“We saw a few protestors in Houston on 11/21/63. But nothing violent. No specific threats.”

November 22 (10:12 am)

“President and Mrs. Kennedy held hands at Carswell Air Force as we prepared to depart Fort Worth for Dallas. They were thrilled with the reception they’d received thus far in Texas.”

November 22 (10:58 am)

“Seemed ridiculous to fly Ft. Worth to Dallas, but political staff wanted arrival of Air Force One in Dallas. An exuberant crowd greeted President and Mrs. Kennedy at Love Field.”

November 22 (11:29 am)

“They were supposed to get directly into the car, but President Kennedy went to the fence line to shake hands. Mrs. Kennedy followed. The press went crazy.”

November 22 (12:19 pm)

“As we proceeded down Main St. in Dallas, the crowds grew larger. 15-20 people deep on each side of the street. People hanging out of windows, on fire escapes, anywhere they could get to have a view of President and Mrs. Kennedy.”

November 22 (12:27 pm)

“There were 2 motorcycle cops immediately to my left. The noise of the engines very loud, mixed with the screams and cheers. As we came to end of Main St., turned onto Houston, the crowds suddenly dropped off.”

November 22 (12:30 pm)

“The cars had to slow way down as we made the sharp turn from Houston onto Elm. Suddenly, I heard an explosive noise over my right shoulder, from the rear. I turned toward the noise. Notice the other agents are turning back toward the noise, too.”

November 22 (12:32 pm)

“As I turned my head toward the noise, I stopped when I saw JFK’s reaction. He grabbed at his throat and lurched to the left. I realized it was a gunshot. I jumped off the running board and ran toward the presidential limo.”

November 22 (12:35 pm)

“As I was running, two more shots were fired. Unfortunately, I was not faster than the bullets.”

November 22 (2:55 pm)

“The other agents and I carried the casket up the stairs to Air Force One as Mrs. K watched. We got to the door, and it was too wide to fit through the door … we had to rip the handles off to make it fit.”

November 23 (6:41 am)

“After the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, we returned to the White House around 4:30 am 11/23/63 with President John F. Kennedy in a new flag-draped casket. Mrs. Kennedy & me still in our blood-stained clothes.”

November 23 (8:35 am)

“The casket was placed on a catafalque in East Room & surrounded by Honor Guard. I went home @ 6:30 am. Shaved, showered, returned to White House. No time off. All other agents were w/LBJ. Only Paul Landis & me w/Mrs. Kennedy. There was no one to replace us.”

Banks

A farmer who had experienced several bad years went to see the manager of his bank. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news to tell you. Which would you like to hear first?” asked the farmer.

“Why don’t you tell me the bad news first, and get it over with?” the banker replied.

“Okay. With a bad drought and inflation and all, I won’t be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest.”

“Well, that is pretty bad,” said the banker.

“It gets worse,” the farmer continued. “I also won’t be able to pay anything on the loan you gave me for that great machinery I bought.”

“Wow, is that ever bad!” said the banker.

“It’s worse than that. You remember I also borrowed money to buy seed and fertilizer and other supplies? Well, I can’t pay anything on those things, either.”

The banker said, “That’s enough! Tell me what the good news is.”

“The good news,” replied the farmer, “is that I intend to keep on doing business with you.”

You and I have the greatest Banker in the universe. Despite our defaults and faults, debts and moral bankruptcies, he still does business with us.

The Great Portuguese Discovery – 497 Days Ago Today

Okay, let’s take a shot at a history question. For whom did they name the Strait of Magellan? I’ll give you a hint. We have his picture here. Was it . . .

A. Columbus

B. Magellan

C. George Strait

I’ll go ahead and remove the suspense. The correct answer is Magellan.

Born to a wealthy Portuguese family in 1480, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer. He would eventually be picked by King Charles I of Spain to lead a search for a westward route to the Spice Islands. Commanding a fleet of five vessels, he headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia, passing through what would become known as the Strait of Magellan.

What he found on the other side, he called the “Peaceful Sea.” We call it the Pacific Ocean. Despite a series of storms and mutinies, the expedition reached the Spice Islands a year later, and returned home via the Indian Ocean. This completed the first trip around the earth.

Unfortunately for Magellan, he did not complete the voyage himself, as he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines in early 1521.

It was on this day in history – November 28, 1520 – that three of Magellan’s ships passed South America into the Pacific Ocean. Was this by design? Of course not. Magellan had little idea what lay ahead when he set out across the Atlantic Ocean. But his was an exercise in vision and perseverance.

Magellan did what no one had done before. For that he has a strait named after him. Not many of us can say that. But it came at a high price. Magellan would not live long enough to see his name on an elementary school globe. Nor would he live long enough to make it back home.

Life is a lot like that. As with the great Portuguese explorer, we often don’t live to see the fruits of our labor. But if we pay the price of vision and perseverance, results will come.

We aren’t called to know what lays ahead. But we are called to set sail. You may never discover an oceanic passageway. You may not even have a strait named after you. But you will go places you never imagined.

It’s time to set sail.

A Matter of Perspective

Sugar Ray Leonard was one of the greats of boxing. He was asked to speak to the intellectual crowd of Harvard.

“I consider myself blessed. I consider you blessed. We’ve all been blessed with God-given talents. Some of you have the talent to create rockets that will inhabit the universe. Others can cure disease. My God-given talent happens to be beating people up.”

That’s an interesting perspective.

Agatha Christie once offered this perspective on marriage. “An archaeologist is the best husband a wife can have. The older she gets, the more interesting she will be to him.”

The great Picasso once asked his friend Rodin if he liked Picasso’s latest painting that was yet unsigned. Rodin studied the painting from all directions and, only after careful deliberation answered Picasso. “Whatever else you do, sign it. If you do that, we will know which way to hold it.”

God has signed his handiwork with a sunrise, a rainbow, a gentle breeze. But until you recognize the hand of God, you will never know which way is up.

The Old Testament tells us of a man named Ahithophel, who killed himself simply because he never discovered the right perspective. Only a close walk with the Creator can give you the perspective you really need.