Take Both Knees
As a retired Army General, I am absolutely amazed at the amount of time we have dedicated lately to addressing the NFL and a handful of football players who are “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem. We are a Nation at risk. We have active, external threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran and ISIS. We also have internal threats: from domestic terrorists, from a general lack of respect for law enforcement personnel, and from what seems to be an epidemic of divisive people trying to pit Americans against one another. With all of these problems affecting the Nation we love, why in the heck would we give so much of our attention to a few peaceful protesters?
I can only come to one conclusion: We have lost our focus as a Nation.
So how do we begin to regain that focus?
I would recommend that we forget about “taking a knee” and instead concentrate on “taking both knees.” What I mean by that is I think it’s high time that we, collectively, as a nation, turn to our God in prayer.
I happen to be Christian, and I spend some time every morning reading the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells us, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways I will hear them from heaven and I will heal their land.”
Isn’t that what most of these protesters are after? Don’t they want to “heal the land?” The Bible gives us an answer as to how we can go about that. So let’s do it. Let’s pray. Because frankly, we need all the help we can get.
Denzel Washington, in one of his public presentations, recommended that we all put our bedroom slippers deep under our bed at night, so that first thing in the morning we have to get down on our knees to retrieve our slippers—and since we are down there anyway, let’s pray. I like that advice. For those who don’t pray regularly, it’s an easy way to start.
In all of the most difficult times in my life I have dropped to my knees and turned to my God in prayer. When commanding Soldiers in combat, I found myself praying continuously. When my family or friends are facing difficult times, I drop to my knees and pray for them.
And guess what? It works. God answers all prayers, and he’s certainly answered mine. Sometimes his answer is, “No!” Sometimes his answer is, “Not right now.” I won’t say it’s always easy to understand the choices God makes. But my prayers have all been answered one way or another, and the more of us He hears from, the more effective our collective prayers will be.
If you aren’t exactly sure how to pray, try this: First, thank God for all He has done for you, individually. If you are a professional athlete, thank God for all the God-given talents you are currently using to make a living playing sports. Thank God that you live in a country where you are free to worship as you like, and can enjoy all sorts of other profound freedoms on a daily basis. Then, commit to God to use your talents and privileges to help those less fortunate. And finally, ask God to heal and protect our country. Pray to God to step in and address whatever it is you might be otherwise complaining about on Facebook, or protesting on the football field. Believe me, prayer is a whole lot more effective than dropping to one knee and making people upset for what just may be the wrong reasons. Because truly, all this “taking a knee” business is doing now is taking everybody’s eyes off the ball.
After all, no football team ever won a game without focus. And as a nation, we aren’t going to win the battles of any of us is fighting for unless we regain some focus, too.
The last thing I have to say about this is the next time you hear our National Anthem, I would ask you to remember our obligation as American citizens to respect our laws. After all, the law on this matter of what we’re supposed to do when the National Anthem is played is clear. It’s black and white. It’s addressed in the U.S. Code. (For those of you who are unaware—as far too many Americans seem to be these days—the U.S. Code is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States.) In Title 36 of the U.S. Code, paragraph 301, it reads: “During a rendition of the National Anthem… all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over their heart.”
Focus, people. Focus on what matters. And if you need help figuring out how to do that, I suggest you take both knees—and ask for it.
We are finite, but God is infinite. We must always remember that. There are things that have happened, and will happen, that we just don’t understand. That is OK. We should just trust God and know that everything is happening for a reason. God has a plan, we just don’t know what that plan is.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
That is the essence of inner peace. Just “Let go, Let God”. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Turn it over to God and trust Him, knowing that He will make sure things happen the way he intends them to.
When I was in Iraq, I had a picture under the plexiglass on my desk. It was a picture of two penguins facing each other. One of the penguins had a paper sack over his head. The caption read, “Relax, God is in charge.” That little cartoon gave me a smile every time I saw it. Whatever the circumstance it gives me peace knowing that God is indeed in charge.
With God, all things are possible. Nothing is too big, or too small for God. He wants you to pray and tell Him what you need / want (even though He already knows it). Remember that God always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no, or not now.
Matthew 14: 29-20 “Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out ‘Lord, save me!’ If you see an opportunity, go for it. Get “out of the boat”, and trust in God. He’ll be with you.
God speaks to us everyday, through the people He has put in our path, and the situations we encounter. Take the time to realize that. Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
Living the Faith of the Centurion is an action, not a destination. I wrote my new book Work Hard Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action, to highlight that very fact. Everyday God expects us to do our very best. Work hard in whatever you do. He also expects us to pray hard, and ask Him to be with us. When we do that, things are so much easier.
My book becomes available on 4 April 17, but is available now on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. I hope you enjoy it.
Growing Beyond One’s Sinful Nature
March 12, 2017
As it says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. “ We all have sinned, are sinning, and will continue to sin. Paul laments in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”. I find myself thinking those same thoughts everyday.
I am convinced that no one is perfect, and we all have our frailties and shortcomings. I myself hate being around the “holier than thou” crowd. They pretend that they are righteous and always without sin. That is just not true. 1 John 1:8 tells us “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Why do we sin when we don’t want to and know that we shouldn’t. The answer is obvious. It is our very nature to be sinful. To combat that, we must always work to grow beyond our sinful nature. I know I struggle with that everyday, and you probably do as well. Here are a few ideas that help me, and might help you as well.
One way to that is constant, fervent prayer. Always turn to God and ask Him for his forgiveness, and for His help. I use the acronym ACTS to guide my prayer life. First, I Acknowledge that God is all knowing and all-powerful. C in the acrynonm stands for confession. I turn to God and tell Him (even though He already knows) of all the times I have fallen short of His Glory. T is for Thanksgiving. We all have so very much to be thankful for. Daily, I thank God for all the blessings He has sent my way. And then there is the S for supplications. I ask God to forgive me for my sins and to please remove me from any and all temptations.
Another way to grow beyond one’s sinful nature is to remove all temptations. Get rid of anything that would allow you to sin. Don’t even make it an option. That would include too much idle time on your hands. An idle mind is the devil’s playground. Keep working on doing good as it says in Galatians 6:9 “let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Let’s all admit that we are not nearly as close to God was we would like to be, and that we fall short of the mark daily. Don’t allow that to get you discouraged however. Grow beyond your sinful nature everyday. Be the best you can be. And, as it says in Matthew 5:16 “In the same way let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
February 27, 2017
Humility is a virtue that we should all have, and practice everyday. I like both kinds of music……both country and western. Tim McGraw’s song says it best…..always be humble and kind. I wish we all did that. Just imagine what a wonderful world this would be.
The line in Tim McGraw’s song sticks with me “When you get where you’re going, don’t forget- turn back around and help the next one in line”. Our role is to ensure that we always focus on helping others. Their success is our success.
Humility is mentioned 33 times in the Bible. God tells us, many times, the importance of being humble. Here’s a couple of examples: Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility values others above yourselves.” In Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
But my favorite verse is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
We have many humble folks out there that we should respect and emulate. President George H.W.Bush is a perfect example. His mom told him at an early age “George, never brag”….and he doesn’t. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 3 Air Medals as a pilot in the US Navy in WWII, he never bragged. Holding key positions in our government, he never bragged. Even as President of the United States, he never bragged. He tells us “I am guided by certain traditions. One is that there is a God and He is good, and His love while free has a self-imposed cost: We must be good to one another”. Amazing.
Another example who happened to also be President of the United States is Ulysses S. Grant He refused to humiliate the Confederate Forces upon their surrender; he allowed them to retain their horses and side arms; and when he learned that Confederate Soldiers were starving, Grant sent them rations.
I had the privilege of hosting Tom Landry at a prayer luncheon when I was a Brigade Commander. The banquet hall was packed to hear Landry the coach, but they heard Landry the Christian. He told the audience that “Becoming a Christian was easy, but being a Christian is hard”, and “Being a Christian is not about who you are, it’s about what you do”. Words to live by.
So let’s all commit to do a better job at being humble. Always remember that it is not about us….it is about everyone around us.
February 20, 2017
The world is a scary place. Our Nation is at risk. There are external threats (Russia, Iran, North Korean, ISIS……) and internal threats (domestic terrorism, divisive people, lack of respect for law enforcement personnel…..) It would be easy to spend each day cowered in fear, just waiting for something bad to happen. I can’t imagine living a life like that. Everyday I turn to my source of courage which is my personal relationship with God. I pray to God for the strength, courage and wisdom to do the things that He wants me to do. And He grants me that. He never lets me down.
God tells us in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I think about that everyday. And as it says in Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Just think about that. No one can defeat us, because God is with us (if we ask Him to be).
There are many folks, both in the Bible and in American history, who turned to God for strength and courage.
Stonewall Jackson, the American Civil War General, is quoted as saying “ My religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that, but to always be ready whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and all men would be equally brave.” That is so very powerful. Why should we be afraid, when we know that God has a plan? There is great comfort in know that.
George Patton was frustrated with the weather that was stalling his operations during the Battle of the Bulge. He asked his Chaplain to craft a prayer asking God go stop the adverse weather. He had 250,000 copies of that prayer distributed throughout Third Army and urged his Soldiers to pray. They did, and the adverse weather stopped. He then had his chaplain draft Training Note #5 to focus his troops attention on the power of prayer.
Here’s another great example. Turn in the Bible in the Book of Judges and read about Gideon. God directed Gideon to lead the Israelites against the Midianites. In Judges 6:15-16 God told Gideon that “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Gideon assembled a force of 22,000 men, but God told him that was too many. Eventually Gideon went into battle with a force of 300, and prevailed.
You must take the time to assess where you are in these difficult times. Are you constantly afraid and concerned? Are your circumstances depriving you of the true joy of life, freedom from fear? If so, turn to God for strength and courage. Ask Him to be with you on a daily basis. And He will.
February 13, 2017
I enjoy watching Clint Eastwood movies. One of my favorites is Dirty Harry. At one point, Eastwood’s character Harry Callahan looks at the camera and says “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I believe that is so very true.
I know that I have many, many limitations. Everyday when I look in the mirror (the most important piece of furniture in your house) I remind myself of those limitations. Then, I drop to my knees and ask God to give me the strength, courage and wisdom to do the things that He wants me to do that particular day. I know that God will help me overcome my limitations.
I always turn to the Bible for insights and wisdom. In Mark 10:27: “Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I know that, because of my many limitations, I would be struggling to accomplish anything. I also know, that with God, all things are possible and that gives me both courage and strength.
Moses is the perfect example of acknowledging ones limitations. As outlined in the Book of Exodus, Moses was chosen by God to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses knew that he would be struggling. In Exodus 4:10-11 the Bible tells us: Moses said to the Lord: O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” God made it clear to Moses that He would help Moses speak and teach him what to say. And He did.
Many historical figures also knew of their limitations and asked for God’s help. Robert E. Lee once responded to a well wisher praising him for being such a strong leader by responding “I sincerely thank you for that, and I can only say that I am a poor sinner trusting in Christ alone and that I need all the prayers you can offer me.”
Harry Truman became President of the United States after the unexpected death of Franklin Roosevelt. In his inaugural address in 1949 he told the American people “In performing the duties of my office, I need the help and the prayers of every one of you.”
Let’s all make it a point to “know our limitations”. Most of the time, we are not nearly as good as we think we are. Ask Family and trusted friends what they think you need help with. Listen closely. We all enjoy being praised, but that is not how we get better. Once you have a pretty good handle on what your limitations are, go to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you overcome your limitations, and He will.
Searching for Inner Peace
February 5, 2017
There is so much anxiety across our nation, and our world, these days. Everyone appears to be unbelievably anxious and concerned. The results of our national elections caused many folks to be happy, and many much less happy. These days there are protests in the street on a daily basis. Every time you turn on the TV, or read a newspaper, there is something going on that causes us all to be even more anxious. We need inner peace, individually and as a nation. Where can we find it?
Many folks turn to exercise, meditation, food or drink to attain some level of inner peace. Those things work to some extent. Some folks even deny that there is any anxiety at all. They think they are living a stress free life. Interestingly, sometimes in life we are so consumed by things that we aren’t even aware of.
I find my inner peace from my personal relationship with God. Philippians 4:67 tell us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I try to follow these Biblical instructions all the time.
Everyday I start my day in prayer, and I ask God to be with me over the course of the day. I ask Him for the strength, courage and wisdom to do what He wants me to do. I know good things will come my way, but also there is always the possibility of bad things as well. I take solace knowing that God will be with me in whatever happens, good or bad. As instructed, “ I present my requests to God” and then I “Let Go, Let God.”
In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are told “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Sometimes we forget that we are finite, but God is infinite. There is no way that we are going to be able to understand why things are the way they are, but God does. We need to stop trying to figure everything out. Just work to strengthen your relationship with God, and it will all be OK.
I write about all these things and more in my new book Work Hard Pray Hard: The Power of Faith In Action. It will be released 4 April. You can preorder it now on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I hope the book helps you in your search for inner peace.
The Future of our Nation
I just completed watching the inauguration ceremony for President Trump. I was very impressed by the event itself, as well as the comments made by our new President. I was particularly happy with the number of times that he asked God to help him, and all of us, as we move forward.
We as a Nation are very anxious. We are concerned (as we should be) about our Nation’s security, about our economy, about our borders and about our children’s education. As I was told by one of my mentors “You can’t roll up your sleeves while you are wringing your hands”. We as Americans must put aside our differences and work together for the common good. We must emphasize the fact that we are Americans first…..and then Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals etc after that. Let’s do what is right for America. As President Trump said, let’s place America first.
In addition to that we must turn to God on a daily basis and ask Him to be with us. We must ask Him for the strength, courage and wisdom to always do the right thing, the right way. My new book, Work Hard Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action focuses on just that. I am convinced that God wants us to work hard, to do our very best in everything that we do. I am also convinced that He wants us to pray hard and always ask for His assistance in these difficult times.
In my book I highlight seven ways that I believe we can use to strengthen our relationship with God, and as a result be less anxious day to day. These include:
Searching for Inner Peace
Growing Beyond One’s Sinful Nature
Developing Spiritual Fitness
The book will be released on April 4, 2017. It is available now for preorder on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.
I do believe we are at the dawn of a new beginning. We must include God in everything that we do, both as individuals and as American citizens. I do not that is my personal relationship with God that gets me thru difficult times.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells us that “If My people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear them from heaven and I will heal their land”. Those are our “marching orders”. Let’s follow them closely and it will all by OK.