NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
June 30, 2002
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and
do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery . . .
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your
freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in
love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your
neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:1 and 13-14
Two hundred and twenty-six years ago, men fought a war because they
believed in their right to be free. They took a stand for freedom
against the tyrant king of England and paid the ultimate price for
what they believed. Upon the foundation of their faith, tyranny was
defeated and we regained our right to be free. This coming Thursday,
on Independence Day, we will celebrate their victory.
Two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus fought a spiritual war
because He believed in the right God had given all men to be free.
He took a stand for freedom against the tyrant Prince of this World
and paid the ultimate price for what He believed. Upon the
foundation of His faith, tyranny was defeated and we regained our
right to be free. At Easter, the Christian world celebrated His
Any student of history knows that the Revolutionary War did not make
this nation free. Any student of the Bible also knows that the
spiritual war Jesus won did not make all God's children free. There
is a wide canyon of difference between the right to be free and
actual freedom. That canyon is only bridged when we reach out to
claim what is rightfully ours. And once that bridge head is
established, it must be held on to, maintained and defended against
the elements of tyranny that will inevitably come to tear it down.
Since the revolution, the men and women of this nation have fought in
a civil war, two world wars, and numerous "regional" conflicts to
defeat a variety of earthly tyrants. Since the first Easter, men
and women have fought a continuing spiritual battle against the one
who prowls "around like a roaring lion looking for someone to
devour" (1 Peter 5:8). The history of this planet bears witness to
the truth that wherever men and women are free there will be tyrants
enough seeking to take that freedom away. But it is equally true
that tyrants (earthly and spiritual) will never find a victory as
long as there are people who share the same selfless faith first
demonstrated by Jesus on the cross at Calvary and then mirrored by
the patriots at Valley Forge.
I hope all of you have a wonderful Independence Day. As you watch
the fireworks light up the night sky, please join me in a heartfelt
prayer of thanks to our Father. Thanks for our freedom. Thanks for
those who have defended it in the past and those who defend it
still. And most of all - thanks for His Son and the love that sent
Him to this world to set us free.
Your brother in Christ,
Sheltered under His wing and
overwhelmed by His love,
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
(Received from Kimberly at HeartStrings - Author Unknown)
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea;
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom isn't free!!
(Contributed by Mia of Daily Encouragers)
Walking along the long abandoned airfield's runway, Pastor Robert's
mind was flooded with a river of memories. Not all these memories
were bad, after all this was were he received his calling to the
ministry from the Lord. As he stepped onto the cracked pavement, he
gazed at the small flowers and tall grass that had grown between each
of the cracks and his memories sharpened like it was only yesterday.
Once again he saw the powerful B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft sitting
in wait ready to conquer the German strongholds of Europe. This
England of today was much different than the England in his memories.
Pastor Roberts mind began to run the frames by him like a cinema
presentation. Once again he was Major John Roberts of the United
States Air Corps waiting for 134 Bomber Squadron to return from their
bombing run over Frankfort Germany. That November day in 1944 now
seemed more real than this July 4th day of 1999.
He heard the sound of a voice from behind him yell "Here they come,
they look pretty shot up", as he spun around and saw the tower
looking brand new with soldiers scurrying around. As he turned back
around to face the run way he counted fourteen B-17 bombers heading
his way on a landing approach. He quickly ran back toward the tower
and watched in awe as the giant four engine fortresses sped toward
them. Several were billowing smoke from feathered engines while
several others had visibly had parts shot off. They were crippled
perhaps but such a welcome sight to see coming from the Dovers.
As the aircraft began to land, the joy was quickly turned to horror
as the skies again began to rumble with sounds of other aircraft. It
was a squadron of German Stuka's. They're engines' whine had a
droning sound that was like no other. They're aerodynamic design was
reminiscent of a fearful dragon as they swooped down from the skies
dropping bombs on the aircraft below that had just now come to a
stop, not yet unloading their precious cargo of men. Eight wild cats
managed to get off the ground and into the air to attack the fearful
Stukas, but they were no-match for the dark winged grimaces. Major
Roberts heard the screams from the men in the burning aircraft as the
multiple explosions caused him to duck again and again from the
exploding armaments still aboard. Three of the 17's just circled the
field with their guns blazing hoping to just stay alive long enough
to out last the Stukas so they could land before the last precious
drops of fuel could be expended. One of the large war birds lost
it's bet and plummeted to the ground in a fiery ball of flames.
Major Roberts knelt there on that field and began to pray. "Father,
you have been the deliverer of your people throughout all the history
of man. Father, I ask you once again to be our deliverer. We need
your help Lord, we can not do this alone. Lord Jesus deliver us from
the Philistines again Lord" the Major prayed.
Just when all hope seemed to be gone twenty-two knights in shining
armor appeared out of the sun. Corsairs coming in with guns blazing
like the cavalry coming to rescue the wagon train. The Stukas seemed
to have been caught off guard, because those Corsairs had them
dropping out of the skies like flies. The fire crews scurried to the
downed aircraft and burning wreckage as quickly as they could.
Major Roberts, still somewhat in shock at what his eyes had beheld,
had been praying the whole time. "Lord thank you for our deliverers
that you have sent to us this day. Lord I feel your calling and I
will follow you all the days of my life. Amen", he said with shaken
voice. As he counted, there were six aircraft and two crews destroyed
in the raid, but some twelve crews survived thanks to the valiant men
of the Corsairs. As the corsairs began to land, Major Roberts ran
out to the runway to greet the Victors. Major Dick Rice came down
from his blue shining bird of victory wiping the sweat from his
brow. Major Roberts saluted him, shook his hand and even embraced
him with tears in his eyes. "Major, we thought we were goners for
sure. How in the world did you and your men get the message so fast
that we were under attack?" cried the visibly shaken Major Roberts.
"Major you are not going to believe this, but we got here by
accident. You see we were on a routine patrol when my compass froze
up. I called to my wing-man who also said his compass had frozen as
well. For forty-five minutes we wandered aimlessly until we came up
on this base. Sir not only did we not come here on purpose, I still
do not know where we are." Major Roberts took a ground crew and went
to each of the Corsairs to check the compasses. Each one read north,
each one was frozen and each one had to be replaced. Major Roberts
knew that day who sent those aircraft.
Now looking once again at the grass growing between the cracks,
Pastor Roberts wiped the tears from his eyes. He walked over to the
exact spot were he had prayed that prayer over 55 years ago and once
again knelt down. "Father, once again I kneel here and recommit my
life to you as I did fifty-five years ago. You have been faithful to
me all these years, and I will continue to trust in you. Thank you
Lord, for You have always been my deliverer."
Pastor Roberts arose to his feet and slowly walked off the field
across what had once been a trash pile. He stumped his foot on
something that almost made him trip and fall. He reached down and
took hold of an object that was half buried in sand. As he lifted it
to his eyes to examine it, he was filled with joy once again. It was
an old aircraft compass. He took out his handkerchief and wiped away
the years of dirt from it's face. The needle was still sitting on
north. How wonderful of the Lord to remember the anniversary of
Pastor Roberts' deliverance. Once again he lifted his eyes upward
and thanked his wonderful Redeemer.
Copyright © 1998 - 2002 by Stephen J. Hall - Weekly letters of
encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless
otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley
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Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
your love . . .
(Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies
and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army
besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)