Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Stories that have a lot in common


Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all other conveniences. The estate larger than an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education.

Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.

So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But he gave his son the greatest gift he could offer, at the greatest price possible.

Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once,
and no man has the power
to tell just when the hands will stop,
at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.
There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.

He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.

His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.

Original Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

So what the heck is Ash Wednesday!?

So... What is it!?  

- "Not positive but I know you're supposed to eat fish on Fridays"

- "It's a time where you pray and fast all day for over a month"

- "Seems like an out of date ritual for Catholics"

- "A specific time to focus on what's most important to you"

- "Is that the day after Mardi-Gras starts!?"

Ask five people and you might very well get five different responses on 'What is Ash Wednesday'.  Though many folks have differing opinions and experiences in regards to this day most view (religious or not) as something special.  I thought, since it only happens once a year and it just so happens I typically blog on Wednesdays, I'd take today to break it down and even give some fun ideas for families!!  I also realize that many in different Protestant denominations just have no clue about just how significant this time can be to any follow of Christ.

Ash Wednesday (according to Wikipedia):
"Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar, directly following Shrove Tuesday... According to the gospels, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence... Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes) on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday."

*In short... Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a 40-day fast, where we give up something to focus on the upcoming resurrection celebration (Easter)!

As a youthworker over the past ten years one of the most important jobs I felt I had was to teach students "the Why" we believe what we believe.  Ash Wednesday has some cool history to it from burning the palm leaves from palm sunday to create ash to an intentional time of fasting, just like Jesus! Why wouldn't all followers take this season (40 Days) spending a little more intentional time with our Savior.  

Last night during dinner my kids and I (Court had a "girls night" whatever that means :)) were able to discuss "Fat Tuesday" and that the more important thing was Ash Wednesday starting today.  I asked if there was anything they felt they could and would like to give up to be closer to God.  To my surprise each thought very intentionally and two of them came up with some incredible sacrifices.  Jackson said to "not be lazy... this month I will get up off the couch and do some burpees with you" (Yeah, I've been FINALLY working out again).  Creighton said she would like to give up her dolls.  Though I will probably talk her into something else I was touched by her thoughfulness that "I talk to them more than God."  And finally the cherry on top, Charleigh said "I wodt thenk abot Mi--- Mouse." Me: "YOU'RE NOT GOING TO THINK ABOUT MICKEY MOUSE!?" (Knowing this would be a HUGE deal).  Charleigh: "No Dad... Not thenk abot MiNNIE Mouse."  So there you go...  If you're wondering about mine, I'm committing to being spiritually AND physically healthy (consistent reading, prayer, exercise and eating right, I'm sure there will be more to come on this).  

How about you?  What will you and  your family be doing this holy season!?

4 Questions to Ask Yourself
 as you get started (taken from Rachel Evens)
  1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?

  2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that habit over the next 40 days?

  3. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation?
  4. Begin my Lenten fast with asking God what He wants me to "pick up" from Him, and that will help me discern what I should "put down" for Him
Some practical ideas for you and/or your family:

  • Here's some 'Adding' ideas: 
    • Tutoring a child at the school
    • Giving food to a shelter
    • Praying 3-5 specific times each day
    • Reading through one or two gospels 
    • Walking by yourself or with your family

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ancient Olympic Games

In 776 BC, all of the known world began getting together to see who was the very best athlete among them.  Every four years all of the cities that made up Greece would put aside wars, disputes and essentially everything else to travel to Olympia to celebrate.  This went on for just over a 1,000 years finally concluding in 393 AD.  During this time many stories and even legends began to be told from the games... My favorite was about an old man looking for a seat.

In those days, the games were held in a grass area with a stone and sod amphitheater surrounding it by three sides.  Crowds from all over Greece would come early to find the best seats to view the athletes.  The event lasted all week and consisted of many ceremonies to honor the athletes and religious services to worship the many Greek gods.  Most would not only celebrate in their spot but eat and, in some cases, sleep.  One day after the event had gone on for several days an older man wandered into the arena.  Since several days had passed every spot was taken.  The old man walked the outside of the field looking up and down the arena for a place to sit.  After walking passed thousands of individuals he found himself standing in front of a group from Sparta.  At that instant, one young man stood up and moved out of his spot in the front of the group.  As he moved, the entire group stood up and squeezed together to make room for the young man higher up on the hill.  The old man, without saying a word, slid into the newly vacated spot and took a seat.  As the large group of Spartans took their seats the rest of the crowd began to jeer.  Whispers and even mocking began to erupt the amphitheater: "Who was this man", "Why would they move for him", "But why would they move for an old man?".  Just then, the old man stood back up and waved his arms to calm the crowd.  As the arena quieted he began to speak: "All Greeks know the right thing to do... BUT ONLY SPARTANS DO IT!!"

It wasn't that the man was a king or "important".  It was that he was worthy of respect as a old man in the spartan community and thus a seasoned warrior.  Everyone in the arena knew the right thing to do, show respect and move but the small nation of Sparta raised their residents to always honor no matter the sacrifice.