Benghazi… as it really happened

Benghazi… as it really happened.

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We Need Heroes

My sons are both young still – the oldest is not yet school age and the youngest is not yet two.  Both are enamored with superheroes – Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America, Superman, Thor, and others.  I’m not surprised though – these fictional characters do astounding things and neither boy is old enough to yet distinguish reality from fiction, which means that they sit in awe through Marvel’s Super Hero Squad show or a DVD from the library with their favorite heroes in it.  My wife has said before that she feels surrounded by it at times as they play as their favorite heroes together.

Now some part of me says that they are too young to really grasp the heroes and to watch the cartoons and in many cases they are and we try to limit which ones they get to watch for age appropriateness, but as I thought more about this fascination, I saw something in each of these characters, something that few mediums in today’s society are capable of teaching.

Just think about the messages that these characters can convey to young impressionable minds with their words and deeds.  You can even see instances of scriptural truth in the words of these creations of the mind.

I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.

Spiderman

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:14

If anyone knows what it’s like to be on the outside, I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m out there fighting all alone. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But, then I remember that what I stand for is more important than anything else.

Superman

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”

Captain America

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 your 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.

Ephesians 6:13-17

So when my boys run around with their play Captain America shields or acting like they’re Superman and flying about, or Spiderman leaping and running and fighting “bad guys,” I smile a bit knowing that these seeds of truth are finding their way in piece by piece.

Ultimately, I know that they will learn that these characters are fictional.   Hopefully the truths that they learned will remain.

Strength and might must be tempered by compassion and justice.

Liberty deserves and requires sacrifice.

Truth must never be abandoned or denied.

Courage is acting in spite of fear rather than a complete lack of it.

In the end, I hope that they one day learn the most important lesson of all though – that each of us has the opportunity to be heroic because it is the character behind our actions that make us heroic, not the actions themselves.

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Christopher Reeve

Easy

Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.

President John F. Kennedy

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:10-11

While I am not Catholic, I pray for Pope Benedict and for the wisdom of the Cardinals in their selection of the next Pontiff, that it not be the wisdom of men, but that of God.

The Measure

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Pray on it.

Firm

One of the most well-read and God-loving men I know has as one of his guiding principles that when phrases or concepts are repeated in the Bible, there is a distinct and incredibly important reason.  For instance, the combination of “Fear not,” “do not fear,” “be not afraid,” etc are in the bible hundreds of times.  Why is that?

Simply, if God, the eternal, all-powerful, Creator of every last subatomic particle and ampule of energy in the entire universe and beyond, is on your team, then really, what does it matter what is arrayed against you?

Something I have heard a lot of late amongst conservatives and patriots is a lament, a deep-seated concern that perhaps we are outnumbered.  To this I say what does it matter?  Does it matter if we philosophically outnumbered?  Does it matter if we are physically outnumbered?  Does it matter whatsoever how many people attack us verbally, disrespect us publicly, or assault us physically?

Even in the most dire of circumstances where you are being hunted or persecuted for your beliefs, you have one amazing thing on your side if you have the Lord of all in your corner.

So what should you do?  Should you cave on your principles in the face of a numerically superior enemy?  Should you compromise on your principles?  Should you do whatever it takes to survive?

Stand firm.

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

2 Chronicles 20:17

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.

Exodus 14:13

We rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:8

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
    but the righteous stand firm forever.

Proverbs 10:25

Stand firm, and you will win life.

Luke 21:19

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks.

James Lawrence

What does it look like to stand firm?

Imagine a shield wall.  Tens, hundreds, thousands of foot soldiers with interlocked and overlapping shields arrayed and shielded on both sides by something immovable, like a rock wall.  You hold fast, assured that your sides are protected just as well by your comrades in arms… but as a Christian, that faith does not need to be in men, but rather the God of the universe.

I read a book not long ago that spoke about “the covering” as something God bestowed on David and his mighty men (Benaiah, etc) in combat.  They did not understand it, but when they were under “the covering,” they were invincible.  Standing firm, or standing fast, in faith is much like that… you are within that shield wall and you are untouchable.

Senseless

Sometimes there are situations in life where the solution to the problem at hand is much easier to comprehend if you have a certain perspective.  I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback every little thing that happens in life, but frankly, sometimes there is so little common sense anymore in society that it becomes necessary.

In Pittsburgh, a toddler was mauled to death in a zoo exhibit after falling in.  There is a lot that happened here which if done differently would’ve prevented the situation from ever unfolding.  I want to look at what happened after because evil will happen in this life.  You cannot shield yourself or your children from it.

Looking back at my post about Duty I feel like I need to say things another way.  As a father, my job is to protect my children.  My duty is to them.  If either of my sons were in the same situation, I would be failing to discharge my duty to them if I did not immediately jump into the pit and fight those dogs to protect my son, even if it meant holding his body under my own to provide myself as a shield for them.

As an onlooker, what duty do I have though?  In the post I mentioned above, I said that I would come to someone else’s aide in terrible circumstances, not because I know them or care for them, but because it is the morally right thing to do as a man.  To throw yourself into the maw of death and hold it open long enough for innocent life to be plucked from it’s grasp is about as Christ-like as one can hope to be in a crisis.  In these situations, you must be willing to sacrifice your perceived safety, rush into the fray and hopefully save a life.

Ultimately, I have no duty to that other person in today’s culture.  I would not be looked at differently for failing to act.  We have become so insulated from each other that we fail to recognize our fellow men and women as potential brothers in Christ whom we are called to love and honor as blood relatives.

So what should someone do in those circumstances?  If you saw someone’s child fall into that pit, would you act?  Would you run to their rescue or would you stand by an abject horror?

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Proverbs 24:11

People need to wake up and stop waiting for someone else to help.  You are that someone else.  Draw your sword, take up your shield, and go fight for your fellow man.  By your example you might inspire a lost soul to find Christ.

Duty

There is a misconception in our society of what constitutes a hero.  I don’t want to detract from our soldiers, sailors, airmen, fire fighters, and police officers.  These men and women daily volunteer to dive head first into danger for a multitude of reasons.  The one chief reason in my estimation is duty.  Duty to what?  It varies from person to person.  Consider though that hero is a strong term; it carries a reverence and nobility with it that elevates it above just adhering to one’s perceived duty.

I believe that a hero is someone who rises above and beyond their charged duties.  They throw caution to the wind because someone must.  In the last few months there have been two stark examples of men who have earned the title of hero in my opinion, but there are also an untold number of moments where the call went out for a hero, and no one answered.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods ignored direct orders to not go to the aide of the Benghazi consulate.  Because of his actions and those men that accompanied him, they were able to rescue dozens of Americans from the consulate and bring them back to the nearby CIA annex.  Woods was not acting within his duty as a CIA officer.  He bravely set aside his own personal safety and literally ran toward the sound of gunfire.

In contrast to this, and I am deeply saddened by this, consider the story of Connor and Brandon.  Conner was 2. Brandon was 4.  Both were swept away from their mother in the midst of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island.  Their mother went door to door screaming for help to find her children… I can imagine the sounds of her pounding on the doors and windows trying to get people to help her find her young children in the midst of the hell of that storm.  How desperate she was she probably screamed herself hoarse.

I question whether I would answer her desperate pleas for help, throw my own safety aside, and charge out into the maelstrom to help search for two young children barely older than my own.  Would I have the courage to do what is necessary?  To do my duty as a neighbor, a friend, a man, an American?

I believe that I would.  I believe that I must.  If I would ever expect someone else to do the same for me, my wife, or my sons, then I must be willing and ready to do the very same for them.

Could you set aside your own earthly cares long enough to help someone in dire need?  Could you charge into a burning building?  Could you rush headlong into a hurricane?  Could you run toward the sound of the guns?

What takes greater faith?  Trusting that God will come to their aide?  Or trusting that God will be at your back as you put your faith into action?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Mark 12:31

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1

Hope

Hope.  It is one of the most strange of thoughts and feelings. It is sometimes completely unjustifiable and sometimes it is all that is left.  You find the concept of hope alive in all of mankind wherever you might look.  Hope lives in the breast of a poor goat herder in the mountain passes of Afghanistan, and the breast of the richest man alive today.  It drives the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick.  It drives the slave to dream of freedom.  It drives our dreams.  It girds against our fears.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.

Dalai Lama

Hope is so quintessential to our survival, that it is found in the simplest of things.  It provides strength when we are weak.  It provides warmth when we are cold.  It is the promise of a new dawn.  It is the light at the end of the tunnel.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Why is hope so universal?

I could take the easy way out and say that it is a gift from God.  While this is completely true, let’s think about hope a little bit.  To answer why it is universal, maybe we should look at why we hope.  To think about why we hope, we should consider what we hope for as that might be more illustrative.

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.
Lance Armstrong

Hope for each person is different.  You might hope for recovery from an illness or an injury.  You might hope for improvement in your marriage.  You might hope for financial security.  You might hope for a restoration of liberty and justice in the world.  You might hope to see Christ return before you die.  Or you might simply hope to hand the world over to your children and grandchildren a little better off than you received it yourself.  What you hope for can vary and change over time even.

Hope is a uniquely human trait as far as we know, (although I swear my dog hopes that my boys eat messy so she gets to help “clean up.”).  What makes it even more interesting is that, even in the worst of circumstances, we find people clinging to hope.  Hope is a life raft on the turbulent seas of life.  Could God have given us hope to enable us to live?

Courage is like love, it must have hope for nourishment.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Imagine a world without hope.  Why would we bother waking up in the morning to go to our jobs?  Why would we bother having children?  What purpose would there be in freedom and liberty?  Without hope, without the innate dreams of improvement and betterment for ourselves and others, there is nothing.  Everything would be utterly meaningless without hope.

What makes this even more paradoxical is that we truly are without hope.  The human race is divisive, destructive, warring, jealous, vindictive, and ultimately, savage.   But at the same time, the hope that God has blessed us with shines His light on us.  It brings out the best in us.  The divine spark that He gives so that we might live ignites an inferno within us when we have hope.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25:5

We dream of impressive works of art, beautiful passages of music, poetry, and literature.  We tame the wilderness.  We creatively destroy in order to create, in imitation of our Maker, in order to improve the world for us.  We conceive, we create, we repair, we rebuild, we inspire, we live.  We hope.  We dream.  We launch ourselves toward our dreams, whatever they may be.

Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

2 Corinthians 3:12

The same vicious nature inherent in us as humans is an amazing source of power when coupled with hope.  Instead of warring for material gain, we make war so that we might have peace.  We fight against absolute evil incarnate so that we might have security in this life and provide it not just for ourselves, but for all mankind.  We charge into burning buildings to save a stranger who is trapped.  We throw ourselves in the path of moving cars to push a child to safety.  We sacrifice ourselves, sometimes even our very lives, so that others may live.  These are not logical actions by themselves, but they are driven by hope and love.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

As far gone as this Republic may seem to be, we can not lose hope.  Hope drives us to be strident and defiant of tyranny.  It drives us to confront oppression and the loss of liberty confident and calm.  It will keep us warm in the cold to come.  By God’s infinite mercy and grace, it will see us through to the restoration of this Republic, once more founded and centered on the Truth and the Hope of the Lord.

You will be secure, because there is hope;
    you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Job 11:18

Hope.  There is always hope.

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