Christian Men's Breakfast

Presentation by Chuck Esposito

April 4, 2009

Click here to return to Men's Breakfast Index.



“Depth, not Length..."

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.

Dear Lord,
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. (090402)

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 in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that ?"

"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 of time.”
- - - - - - - - - -
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 hours.

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, he accepted.

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 approval.

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 was finished.

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 are limitless.

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 next April.

Click here to return to Men's Breakfast Index.