Thank you I.T., and good morning gentlemen.
This is the seventh year in a row
that I find myself at this podium on the first Saturday
in April, and it is my pleasure to be here again to
address you this morning.
Every time I have stood before you, I have included
a prayer for our troops, and that’s how I would
like to start today. So if you would, please, bow
your heads and join me.
Today there are about half a million , American men
and women –
stationed in 150 countries around the world.
We pray You keep them safe,
we pray You keep them strong,
we pray You send them safely home ...
Bless those who await their safe return.
And Bless the friends and relatives
who mourn the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan:
The MIAs, the 33,872 (31,135 + 2737)
wounded, and the 4,934 (4,265 +669) Killed In Action.
In Jesus name we ask ...Amen.
And BTW, I mentioned 4934 KIA …
That’s about 500 more than the number of patriots
who died during the Revolutionary war, (4,435).
(wounded & KIA numbers)
Recently, my daughter sent me something
which I am going to read to you this morning. She
did not write it - I don’t know who did –
but I thought it was worthy enough for me to share
with you, and that’s what I’ll do in a
moment. But first, a bit of humor to lighten the mood.
This is called “Balance.”
God was missing for six days.
Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting,
on the seventh day.
He inquired, "Where have you been, Lord?"
God smiled deeply and proudly pointed
downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael.
Look what I've made."
Archangel Michael looked puzzled,
and said, "What is it?"
"It's a planet," replied
God, "and I've put life on it. I'm going to call
it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance."
"Balance?" inquired Michael,
"I'm still confused."
God explained, pointing to different
parts of earth. "For example, northern Europe
will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while
southern Europe is going to be poor.
Over here I've placed a continent of white people,
and over there is a continent of black people. Balance
in all things."
God continued pointing to different
countries … "This one will be extremely
hot, while this one will be very cold and covered
The Archangel, impressed by God's
work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's
"That is the state of Washington,
in the American northwest. The people from Washington
State are going to be handsome, considerate, dependable,
intelligent and humorous. They will be fair, helpful,
industrious, dutiful, hardworking, high achieving,
and they will be known throughout the world as honest,
reliable, respectful, sensitive, sincere, thoughtful,
humble, virtuous and trustworthy.
Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, then asked,
"But what about balance, God? You said there
would be balance. What balance will there be to the
people in Washington state with all those wonderful
character traits? "
God smiled, “Ah yes. Well, there
is another Washington. Washington, DC, … (and
wait until you see the characters I put there).
- -- - - - - - - - -
B way of introduction to the item from my daughter,
which I am about to read, I would like to mention
that, quite coincidentally, Pastor Clarence Drummond’s
Pastoral Ponderings in the March 8 Mt. Zion Church
bulletin focused on the same topic where he wrote,
“Content, not length, is the key to the meaning
- - - - - - - - - -
And now, the item from my daughter. It is titled,
Two Memorable Minutes.
Depth, not length, is important. Not
how long you take to talk but how much you say. Not
how flowery and eloquent you sound but how sincerely
and how succinctly you speak … that is what
is important … that is what is remembered. Two
memorable minutes can be more effective than two marathon
Step into the time tunnel and travel
back with me to a field in Pennsylvania. The year
is 1863. The month is July. The place is Gettysburg.
Today it is a series of quiet rolling hills full of
markings and memories. But back then it was a battleground
… more horrible than we can imagine.
During the first days of that month,
51, 000 were killed, wounded, or missing in what would
prove the decisive Union victory of the War Between
the States. Anguished cries of the maimed and dying
made a wailing chorus as the patients were hurried
to improvised operating tables. One nurse recorded
these words in her journal: “For seven days
the tables literally ran with blood.” Wagons
and carts were filled to overflowing with amputated
arms and legs, wheeled off to a deep trench, dumped,
and buried. Preachers quoted the Twenty-third Psalm
over and over as fast as their lips could say it while
brave soldiers breathed their last.
The aftermath of any battlefield is
always grim, but this was one of the worst. A national
cemetery was proposed. A consecration service was
planned. The date was set: November 19. The commission
invited none other than the silver-tongued Edward
Everett to deliver the dedication speech. Known for
his cultured words, patriotic fervor, and public appeal,
the orator, a former congressman and governor of Massachusetts,
was a natural for the historic occasion. Predictably,
In October, President Lincoln announced
his intentions to attend the ceremonies. This startled
the commissioners, who had not expected Mr. Lincoln
to leave the Capital in Wartime. Now, how could he
not be asked to speak? They were nervous, realizing
how much better an orator Everett was than Lincoln.
Out of courtesy they wrote the President on November
2, asking him to deliver “a few appropriate
remarks.” Certainly Lincoln knew the invitation
was an afterthought, but it mattered little. When
the battle of Gettysburg had begun, he had dropped
to his knees and pleaded with God not to let the nation
perish. He felt his prayer had been answered.
His sole interest was to sum up what he passionately
felt about his beloved country.
With such little time for preparation
before the day of dedication, Lincoln worried over
his words. He confided to a friend that his talk was
not going smoothly. Finally, he forced himself to
be satisfied with his “ill-prepared speech.”
He arrived at Gettysburg the day before the ceremonies,
in time to attend a Large dinner that evening. With
Edward Everett across the room, surrounded by numerous
admirers, the President must have felt all the more
uneasy. He excused himself from the after-dinner activities
to return to his room and work a bit more on his remarks.
At midnight a telegram arrived from
his wife: “The doctor has just left. We hope
dear Tad is slightly better.” Their ten-year-old
son Tad had become seriously ill the day before. Since
the President and his wife had already lost two of
their four children, Mrs. Lincoln had insisted that
he not leave. But he had felt he must. With a troubled
heart, he extinguished the lights in his room and
struggled with sleep.
About nine o’clock the next
morning, Lincoln copied his address onto two small
pages and tucked them into his coat pocket …
put on his stovepipe hat, tugged white gloves over
his hands, and joined the procession of dignitaries.
He could hardly bear the sight as they passed the
blood-soaked fields where scraps of men’s lives
littered the area ... a dented canteen, a torn picture
of a child, a boot, a broken rifle. Mr. Lincoln was
sized by grief. Tears ran down into his beard.
Shortly after the chaplain of the
Senate gave the invocation, Everett was introduced.
At sixty-nine, the grand old gentleman was slightly
afraid he might forget his long, memorized speech,
but once he got into it, everything flowed. His words
rang smoothly across the field like silver bells.
He knew his craft. Voice fluctuation. Tone. Dramatic
gestures. Eloquent pauses. Lincoln stared in fascination.
Finally, one hour and fifty-seven minutes later, the
orator took his seat as the crowd roared its enthusiastic
At two o’clock in the afternoon,
Lincoln was introduced. As he stood to his feet, he
turned nervously to Secretary Seward and muttered,
“They won’t like it.” Slipping on
his steel spectacles, he held the two pages in his
right hand and grabbed his lapel with his left. He
never moved his feet or made any gesture with his
hands. His voice, high-pitched, almost squeaky, carried
over the crowd like a brass bugle. He was serious
and sad at the beginning … but a few sentences
into the speech, his face and voice came alive. As
he spoke, “The world will little note nor long
remember …,” he almost broke, but then
he caught himself and was strong and clear. People
listened on tiptoe … then suddenly … he
No more than two minutes after he
had begun, he stopped. His talk had been so prayerlike
it seemed almost inappropriate to applaud. As Lincoln
sat down, John Young of the Philadelphia Press whispered,
“Is that all?” The President answered,
“Yes, that’s all.”
Almost a hundred and fifty years have
passed since that historic event… And few people
can recall even one line from Everett’s two-hour
Gettysburg address. Depth, remember, not length, is
important. Lincoln’s two minutes have become
among the most memorable two minutes in the history
of our nation…
Over the last year, some of you may
have felt an inner nudge to spend more time talking
to your heavenly Father. Even as you’ve considered
that need, however, you may have convinced yourself
that “you just don’t have the time.”
After all, you’re probably not a spiritual giant,
and what could possibly be accomplished in the ten-,
five-, or two-minute blocks of time you have to spare?
It might surprise you. With God, the possibilities
History won’t let us forget
the day when one man accomplished more in two minutes
than another did in two hours. How much more should
we not underestimate the power of a minute or two
with God. So what if you find yourself with only minutes
to spare? Invest them in conversation with your Lord.
Give your heart in full devotion! time is like character;
it’s depth that counts in the long run.
And if you can’t think of anything specific
to pray for if you have only a moment or two, I recommend
you take a line from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address
... the last line … Pray that “ government
of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people.
. . shall not perish from the earth.”
Thank you for your attention, and
God willin’ I’ll be back up here again
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