Saturday, July 9, 2016

Night Light for Couples - I’m Third

from the Denver Post

Out of the sun, packed in a diamond formation and flying as one that day, the Minute Men dove at nearly the speed of sound toward a tiny emerald patch on Ohio’s unwrinkled crazy quilt below. It was a little after nine on the morning of June 7, 1958, and the destination of the Air National Guard’s jet precision team was the famed Wright‐Patterson Air Force Base, just outside Dayton.

On the ground, thousands of faces looked upward as Colonel Walt Williams, leader of the Denver‐based Sabrejet team, gauged a high‐speed pull‐out. For the Minute Men pilots—Colonel Williams, Captain Bob Cherry, Lieutenant Bob Odle, Captain John Ferrier, and Major Win Coomer—the maneuver was routine, for they had given their show hundreds of times before millions of people.

Low across the fresh, green grass the jet stream streaked, far ahead of the noise of the planes’ own screaming engines. Judging his pull‐up, Colonel Williams pressed the microphone button on top of his throttle: “Smoke on—now!” The diamond of planes pulled straight up into the turquoise sky, a bush tail of white smoke pluming out behind. The crowd gasped as the four ships suddenly split apart, rolling to the four points of the compass and leaving a beautiful, smoky fleur‐de‐lis inscribed on the heavens. This was the Minute Men’s famed “flower burst” maneuver. For a minute the crowd relaxed, gazing at the tranquil beauty of the huge, white flower that had grown from the lush Ohio grasslands to fill the great bowl of sky.

Out on the end of his stem of the flower, Colonel Williams turned his Sabre hard, cut off the smoke trail, and dropped the nose of his F86 to pick up speed for the low‐altitude crossover maneuver. Then, glancing back over his shoulder, he froze in terror. Far across the sky to the east, John Ferrier’s plane was rolling. He was in trouble. And his plane was headed right for the small town of Fairborn, on the edge of Patterson Field. In a moment, the lovely morning had turned to horror. Everyone saw; everyone understood. One of the planes was out of control.

Steering his jet in the direction of the crippled plane to race after it, Williams radioed urgently, “Bail out, John! Get out of there!” Ferrier still had plenty of time and room to eject safely. Twice more Williams issued the command: “Bail out, Johnny! Bail out!”

Each time, Williams was answered only by a blip of smoke.

He understood immediately. John Ferrier couldn’t reach the mike button on the throttle because both hands were tugging on a control stick locked in full‐throw right. But the smoke button was on the stick, so he was answering the only way he could—squeezing it to tell Walt he thought he could keep his plane under enough control to avoid crashing into the houses of Fairborn.

Suddenly, a terrible explosion shook the earth. Then came a haunting silence. Walt Williams continued to call through the radio, “Johnny? Are you there? Captain, answer me!”

No response.

Major Win Coomer, who had flown with Ferrier for years, both in the Air National Guard and with United Airlines, and who had served a combat tour with him in Korea, was the first Minute Man to land. He raced to the crash scene, hoping to find his friend alive.

Instead, he found a neighborhood in shock from the awful thing that had happened. Captain John T. Ferrier’s Sabrejet had hit the ground midway between four houses, in a backyard garden. It was the only place where he could have crashed without killing people. The explosion had knocked a woman and several children to the ground, but no one had been hurt, with the exception of Johnny Ferrier. He had been killed instantly.

A steady stream of people began coming to Coomer as he stood in his flying suit beside the smoking, gaping hole in the ground where his best friend had just died.

“A bunch of us were standing together, watching the show,” an elderly man with tears in his eyes told Coomer. “When the pilot started to roll, he was headed straight for us. For a second, we looked right at each other. Then he pulled up right over us and put it in there.”

In deep humility, the old man whispered, “This man died for us.”

Looking ahead…

A few days after this tragic accident, John Ferrier’s wife, Tulle, found a worn card in his billfold. On it were the words “I’m Third.” That simple phrase exemplified the life—and death—of this courageous man. For him, God came first, others second, and himself third.

True to his philosophy, John Ferrier sacrificed his life for people he had never met. If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, would you do the same? In the coming week we’re going to ask how one develops the attitude of a servant.

- James C. Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“I’m Third,” retold by James Lund. This story originally appeared in the Denver Post in the late 1950s.

Today God is First

by Os Hillman

Do not let the business of today's workplace sidetrack you from the importance of God's agenda for you.

"...Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel...." Zechariah 4:10

As children in grammar school we often played pick-up football. Two captains would alternate making the best choices among schoolmates to make up the two teams. I was often chosen first because I was a good athlete. It felt good to be valued by others for what they perceived I could contribute. Conversely, it must have felt crummy to be the last chosen or not chosen at all.

Such was the case for Zerubbabel. He was a man chosen by God to rebuild the temple. God saw something in Zerubbabel that He could use for His purposes. The people also recognized that Zerubbabel was a man in whom they could place their faith. So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people (Haggai 1:14a).

Are you part of the remnant of workplace believers whom God is calling out today? Do not let the business of today's workplace sidetrack you from the importance of God's agenda for you. Can you recall the day God's Spirit rested on you? Have you walked in that anointing since that day? Satan's strategy is to keep us distracted with the urgency of the moment versus the importance of eternity. Ask God what your priorities should be today. Make His priorities your priorities.

Give God The Control

I know that I am being repetitious - but this needs to be said again and again: our Lord will not save those whom He cannot command! The lifetime God has given us down here is a lifetime of decisions. Each person makes his own decisions as to the eternal world he is going to inhabit. We must decide to take Jesus for what He is - the anointed Savior and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of all lords! He would not be who He is if He saved us and called us without the understanding that He can also guide us and control our lives. The root of sin is rebellion against God, and hell is the Alcatraz for the unconstituted rebels who refuse to surrender to the will of God. There are many arguments about the reality of hell. A man might endure fire and brimstone and worm - but the essence of hell and judgment for a moral creature is to know and be conscious that he is where he is because he is a rebel! Hell will be the eternal domain of all the disobedient rebels who have said, "I owe God nothing!" 

A. W. Tozer

NIV Devotions for Couples - Growing Through Conflict

1 Corinthians 1:10–17

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.1 Corinthians 1:10

During the first year of our marriage, my husband and I were good friends with a young couple. They were at that do-we-break-up-or-get-married crossroads, and we did what we could to support them as they struggled with their relationship. One evening, they stopped by our apartment to tell us they had decided to get serious about marriage. “Thank you for helping us with this,” they said. “You’ve been a great example of people who fight all the time even though you really love each other.”

It sounded like a backhanded compliment. But they came from homes in which arguments escalated into shouting matches, and parents left in anger and didn’t come back. We had shown them a marriage in which two opinionated people managed to work through their differences—and differences are inevitable when two people try to make a life together—and still hold on to their connection.

A certain level of conflict in marriage means both partners feel free to speak their minds, can be honest about what they think and feel, and trust each other to stay committed despite occasional disagreements. First Corinthians 1:10 helps us understand the fine line between healthy conflict and hurtful discord.

Paul told the people in the church at Corinth to be perfectly united in mind and thought. But seriously, who could ever pull that off? It’s important to understand that Paul wasn’t suggesting that they agree on every detail of their lives. We see proof of that later in this letter; chapters 8–10 deal with gray areas such as whether or not it was OK to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. Rather, Paul was talking about the big picture. “Look,” he was saying, “you’re never going to agree on all the details, but those details don’t matter as much as you think they do. What matters is that you love God and that you help each other follow the way of Jesus.”

Working out the details of married life naturally generates conflict. Why would we expect it to be otherwise? You take two people who grew up in different families with totally different sets of life experiences, expectations, hopes, ideas and beliefs, and, well, eventually someone’s going to load the dishwasher the wrong way.

But the big picture of a healthy marriage is a different story. Two people, despite all the ways they differ from each other, have decided they want their lives to follow the way of Christ together. On that path the details and differences fade into the background to reveal the beautiful mystery of two becoming one. It doesn’t mean their minds meld together. Or that only one person gets to have an opinion. Or that we pretend we don’t argue. Instead, our unity comes as we, in Christ, daily and persistently strengthen the common bonds of love, respect and faith that make a marriage thrive.

Carla Barnhill

Let’s Talk
  • What conflicts come up in our marriage? Which ones are big-picture issues? How do we manage those? Which are detail issues? How can we work together to avoid getting caught up in details that don’t really matter?
  • Do people think of us as a unified couple or as a couple who constantly argue? Which perception is accurate?
  • Do we have too much or too little conflict? Let’s talk about ways we might keep these things in balance. Could a Christian counselor help us develop better conflict management skills?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25

A young Romanian Christian was called in to the secret police for interrogation. He had dreaded this moment. Fear gripped him throughout and he was unable to give a categorical rejection to the police offers of good treatment and security if he would only inform on his fellow-believers. He did not accept the offer either, but his inability to reject it unquestioningly brought personal agony.

He could not sleep that night because of his fear and guilt. The next morning led of the Holy Spirit, an older Christian came to visit the family. He was unaware of the young man’s dilemma. Being a former prisoner for his faith, he was able to counsel the young man from Scripture about his situation. He built up the young man in fellowship, training him for the next ordeal.

It came the same afternoon when the youth was taken in for his second interrogation. The same thing happened and the young man was still upset by his answers. Again the older believer came to encourage him.

Three days of more interrogations passed. Eventually the young man was able to reject the police offer completely. With no further hold on him, the police let him go. Counsel, prayer and patient caring had brought him through and trained him in righteousness.

To maintain biblical integrity, let us consider training as a prescribed course in righteousness in which each individual is disciplined through practice to be obedient to God’s direction for mankind and able to withstand the schemes of the devil.

People who commit themselves for a cause have a right to expect training in the job for which they have been selected. In some of the trades, this is called “apprenticeship.” In medicine, it is known as “internship.” In the military, it is referred to as “basic training.” In scripture, it is referred to as “discipleship.” However, in our modern day, training is often by-passed due to the pressures of time, need and a low value placed upon the office to be filled. This was not the case with Jesus in His selection and training of His disciples.

After calling His men to be with Him, he challenged them to commit themselves to following after Him—to be “fishers of men.” Jesus then began to train them to become His kind of “fishers of men.” 

RESPONSE: I want to be a trained disciple of Jesus Christ. I will submit to His guidance and discipline.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to realize and accept Your “training” process as I follow You today.

Verse of the Day - July 09, 2016

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Read all of Ephesians 3