I receive emails all the time. I also receive my share of forwarded emails. A good portion that I get, I’ve received previously. It is extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely, and exceptionally rare that I forward any of those emails to those in my address book. Perhaps I have forwarded one in the past three or four years (oh, did I mention extremely rare?). Today I received one that I may have seen before, and though I haven’t forwarded it to any of my family friends or blog readers, today it actually struck me as something I’d like to post here at Justification by Grace.
Now, these days I’ve grown into a rather apolitical kind of guy. Truly, the only government I’m interested in is the one that is ruled and reigned by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in His new heavens and new earth: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6).
Although I seek a city built without hands, perhaps it might surprise some to think that I still consider myself a patriot. I am, and I make no apology for it. I am a disabled veteran, a former U.S. Navy deep sea diver, having served my country with decorated honors for a decade and a half before I was discharged with a medical disability in 1993. While I served I would have gladly bled and died to protect our borders and coastlines from all enemies, foreign and domestic (and I believe I am still laying down my life for our nation, only in that I am even more zealous to give my life for my Lord, whose nation is His people made up of Jew and Gentile whom He has bled and died— because I still live in this nation and have given my life for Christ’s sake and His gospel’s, in that, does it serve this nation for good).
Yet, as patriotic as I still consider myself to be, I stand for truth above my patriotism; and stand upon God’s truth, the Holy Bible, above all. Sometimes we forward emails that sound pretty true, but often are mere embellishments of some true things. When we exercise caution and discernment in little things, such as emails, we develop disciplines that will, by God’s grace and enablement, help us to exercise caution and discernment in more important matters, such as doctrine, devotional truth, and practical faith.
I post this email (with no offense intended to my readers in other countries— I pray that you are as delighted in our sovereign God to place you where you live as I am thankful that He has given me an opportunity to face every situation and circumstance I have been blessed to face by His providential hand).
NOTE: Some corrections have been made to some of the original stories: John F. Kennedy was cited in the first incident, whereas, it was Lyndon B. Johnson that prodded Dean Rusk, &etc. One story has been eliminated altogether because it’s just too general to have any truth in it at all; and the three hospitals mentioned on an aircraft carrier (though it has a pretty large medical facility for a warship, I’ve never seen one on an aircraft carrier or under one— As the old salts would tell the kids fresh out of boot camp, “It must be across the flight deck from the pool, next to the swing sets and jungle gym.”).
* * *
At a time when our president and other politicians tend to apologize for our country’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our country.
In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.
Rusk responded, “Does your order include the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”
DeGaulle did not respond.
Originally sent to me with JFK (John F. Kennedy) as the president in office during this Rusk exchange.
* * *
When in England, during an address at the World Economic Forum, Colin Powell was asked by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush (though he never used the words “empire building” or the name of George Bush in his last question to General Powell. This was what he asked:
“And would you not agree, as a significant political figure in the United States, Colin, that America, at the present time, is in danger of relying too much upon the hard power and not enough upon building the trust from which the soft values, which of course all of our family life that actually at the bottom, when bottom line is reached, is what makes human life valuable?”
He answered by saying (by saying several things first, and following the applause He said,) “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”
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The next one in the email cannot be corroborated as it is so vague and contains an unidentified French engineer asking an equally unidentified American engineer why President Bush sent aircraft carriers to Indonesia after the tsunami. This one is more than likely made up in order for Americans to thumb their noses at the French.
Perhaps a conversation like that did take place. More than likely it did not. As unverifiable, it seems rather ridiculous to pass it off as truth. Let’s use a little bit better email etiquette in the future; especially if we are Christians. We have the truth of the eternal, almighty and living God in holy writ; do we really need to embellish to get a point across?
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The next story in the email could have taken place but is probably more urban myth than anything. This cannot be corroborated because naming the U.S. admiral that said such a thing would not be career enhancing.
There were certainly a few outspoken U.S. Navy admirals in the history of the U.S., but predominantly, the only ones that were outspoken, and were able to attain the rank of admiral, were the ones who made their bones during wartime; or they were only outspoken when it came to dressing down the fleet (and I’ve seen that with a visiting 2-star coming on our dive station and he didn’t know enough to keep his mouth closed to hide his stupidity). They get to be admiral, not by their outspokenness, but their savvy (and pulling a few political strings might help some of them as well).
Though it’s probably an urban legend, the truth behind this parable is well worth including. Don’t take it as actually having happened. It probably didn’t.
A U.S. Navy admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”
Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”
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Finally, this last anecdote rounded out the email with the heading:
AND THIS STORY FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE ABOVE…
Mr. Robert Whiting, the elderly gentleman of 83 in the story below, may or may not exist. One version of this story identifies him as Canadian (online source). This story may or may not have happened. It is probably, once again, merely urban legend. It sounds so good to some people that they want to pass it on. Is there truth behind it? There could be, but it seems that it may have been spun just to raise American esteem above that of the French during much of the American-French backbiting from a couple of years ago. We’ll go ahead and include this though it probably didn’t happen:
Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on.
“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”
The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”
“Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!”
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate your country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchmen to show my passport to.”
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May your day be blessed. May you find reflection in the first two true stories and humor in the last two “parables.” May you, in all things, cleave to Christ, cling to His cross, and embrace His amazing grace according to God’s inerrant Word.
If you’re reading this and you sent me the email, please don’t feel badly, several people sent me this email in the past two weeks and most of you are not connected in anyway, except perhaps in knowing me. I truly do not mean this as an assault upon you. I actually rather enjoyed this email.
We will refrain from posting Sunday and Monday, and there will be only a few posts during the week of July 12th-16th as Lisa and I will be attending the annual meeting of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship in Lima, Ohio. It will give you a chance to catch up on some of the other articles.