I just attended the funeral of a dear friend in Kansas City. He was my brother-in-law, a dedicated husband, a faithful Christian and a fireman… specifically, a fire chief.
It wasn’t too long ago that this robust outdoorsman was diagnosed with ALS, a horrible disease that relentlessly destroys the body’s motor functions. It attacked his muscles until he was confined to a motorized wheelchair, maneuvered with the little mobility he had left in his right hand. He needed a hoist to get him from his chair to bed at night.
Yet, through all of this, he didn’t complain.
He was excited and looking forward to being with the Lord, but he was never focused on himself. Instead, he was always interested in the well being of others.
A woman attending the funeral came because Dennie had once saved her life… carrying her out of a burning building. What was remarkable about this was that no one in the family had ever heard the story.
Dennie never told it.
I think if I had saved someone’s life, I would probably find a way to bring it up in conversations. I would want people to know that I had been a hero, courageously charging into an inferno, risking my life, searching for the desperate, and valiantly fighting my way out carrying a helpless woman from sure death to fresh air and the breath of life.
I would probably tell people all about it. Over and over again.
But not Dennie.
He talked occasionally about the baby that he failed to save, but not the ones he did.
You see, from his perspective, life wasn’t about him. It was always about the other person.
Dennie and I married sisters and they both love to shop in the kind of stores that have the most detailed, intricate, artsy, craftsy doohickeys. You know the places I’m talking about. There are thousands of little trinkets in these stores… maybe hundreds of thousands or millions.
These are places that I can walk into and be done in less than a minute. If I stay in them any longer I get some kind of a sensory overload. My heart begins to race, my breathing gets shallow, and my vision begins to tunnel. It’s akin to rabid claustrophobia or morbid water torture.
I remember the first time the four of us were out together and we happened upon one of these horror chambers. The girls went inside and within a minute Dennie and I were sitting outside on the benches that every proprietor of these stores provides for husbands. I said something like “I hate these places.” And then I looked at Dennie and he had one of the biggest smiles on his face. He said,
“Oh, I love them!”
“Sure, because Elaine loves them and I really enjoy seeing her happy.”
Happy making other people happy. Happy taking them to a trinket store or happy saving their life from a burning house.
Just another day living life right.
No big deal.
Dennie and I sat outside of doodad shops from the Caribbean to Alaska and he was always consistent, always thinking of Elaine, always thinking of the other person.
There were five fire engines outside the funeral home. Inside, a fireman guarded Dennie’s remains. A host of firemen were present, paying their respects to a highly respected man. They read the fireman’s creed and then rang the bell for the last time.
Well done good and faithful servant.
See you soon.
I recently returned from a trip to Idaho. This was where I grew up. I still consider it my home state.
While there, we visited a museum containing an exhibit on the Japanese Internment that occurred shortly after Pearl Harbor. Following an Executive Order by Franklin D. Roosevelt, nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent were moved into interment camps. It was a shameful moment in our history, but there was a lot of fear… and hatred… for what had happened in the surprise attack that left 2,403 dead and most of our Pacific fleet at the bottom of the sea.
In a hallway of the museum, there was a tribute to famous Asian Americans of the 20th Century. There were astronauts, TV stars, movie stars, politicians, Nobel Prize winners… but as I read it, I knew that they had left the most important person off their list.
His name was Hero Shiosaki. And he had just passed away.
Hero was 22 years old, interviewing for a job in Blackfoot, when Pearl Harbor changed his life. He was an American citizen, but now reclassified as an "enemy alien". Soon after, many of the Japanese young men, even in the Internment Camps, volunteered to enlist and go to war. The Army formed a special unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised entirely of Japanese soldiers, including Hero. When Hero entered the war, his father, who had immigrated to America from Japan in 1896, told his son, “You go fight for America. And if you have to die for her, so be it.”
And die these Japanese soldiers did. The official casualty rate was 93%. They were the most decorated unit for their size in the history of American warfare. About 14,000 men served, earning over 18,00 medals, including 9,486 Purple Hearts, 52 Distinguished Cross medals, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legions of Merit, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Medals plus 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters.
And… 21 Medals of Honor.
The 442nd would later be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Their motto was “Go for broke!” and their fight song included these words: “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo…”. All of this even though most of their families were confined in the internment camps back home.
Hero was one of the 442nd survivors. He returned to Blackfoot where he became active in the American Legion, eventually serving as Commander. He was a successful businessman, but he spent a lot of his time speaking and encouraging young people to love this country and her ideals.
This is where Hero and I intersected. I was a Junior in High School and was nominated to be one of the attendees at a program called “Boy’s State”. It was sponsored by the American Legion and consisted of bringing together young men from around the state to “take over” the legislature for a week while the real Legislature was on recess. They taught us how state government worked, the principles of freedom and liberty, and gave us a chance to put it all in practice by crafting our own bills, arguing them before the “legislature” and eventually passing them into law or defeating them. It was a tremendous learning process. We even campaigned for political positions and had our own elections. I was elected Lt. Governor and eventually elected as one of two senators to attend Boy’s Nation later that summer in Washington D.C. where we did the same thing, but now at the federal level.
This was a Kairos summer for me. I will not go into all the details, but suffice it to say that it radically changed me and I believe it was critical for what the Lord wanted to do in the rest of my life.
But, it almost didn’t happen. In fact, the odds and circumstances were dead set against it.
When I was nominated, I was evidently close to the top of the list, based on my qualifications, but the selection committee wasn’t going to pick me… primarily because my family was an “outsider” in the community. It isn’t necessary to talk about why we were outsiders, but that was just the case. And that meant I was not going to be selected to go. But Hero weighed in so strongly and so forcefully, that they eventually gave in. And the Lord used it to transform a clinically shy kid into something He could eventually use.
You see, Hero knew what it meant to be an “outsider”. His family and friends had been thrown into internment camps because they were “outsiders”. But he didn’t let that dissuade him. He didn’t let that embitter him. Even after the war, with the “No Japs” and “Japs Go Home” signs, he loved this country and the principles upon which she had been built. In fact, he became, from my perspective, one of the greatest voices for this country and the freedom and liberty for which she stood. He believed in the American Dream even though he had felt the brunt of racism by some of her people.
And when he saw an “outsider” being thrown out, he stood with the same bravery that he and the other Japanese Americans showed when the fought and died for this country on foreign soil.
That is why Hero is my hero. He always will be.
I am looking forward to our reunion some day.
God bless you, dear sir.
Hero Shiosaki, August 8, 1919 - June 26, 2017
Not too long ago I was struck by two incidents that measured how we as a culture are increasingly losing the mettle to stand for our convictions.
The newly crowned Miss USA was asked if she believed that health care was a privilege or a right. She was also asked if she were a feminist. Her answers were contrary to the power of the new beast in our culture and within 24 hours she was forced to bow the knee and recant.
A West Point graduate, Army flight surgeon and war hero was nominated to be the Secretary of the Army. Shortly thereafter, the beast forced him to withdraw because of his stated beliefs. In this case, he didn’t recant, but it is becoming clearer that we are entering a period in which convictions contrary to the beast’s are going to come under fierce attack and possibly disqualify one for significant positions in our culture and even inhibit the commercial right to buy and sell.
Thankfully, the founders weren’t so squeamish. Thankfully, they had a backbone.
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today. The beast in their day was the mighty power of King George and his supreme army and navy. Though the founders believed in their convictions, they knew that the beast would consider it treason, the penalty for which was death. This provided for a most somber and solemn pause in the assembly. It was in the gravity of that moment that Benjamin Franklin quipped something like: “Well gentlemen, we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
There was no doubt in their minds that to stand up to the beast would prove costly. And cost them it did.
Of the fifty-six, five were captured, tortured and put to death. Twelve had their homes burned down. Two lost sons. Nine died in the ensuing war with the beast. Carter Braxton signed as a wealthy trader and died in rags. Thomas McKeam and his family were driven underground and ended up in poverty. Eight had their properties looted. Thomas Nelson directed the cannon fire on his own beautiful estate, which the British General Cornwallis had converted into his headquarters. After destroying his own home, he died bankrupt. Francis Lewis’ home and property were destroyed and his wife captured and thrown in prison where she died. His son died in British captivity as well. A few months after signing, John Hart was driven from his home where his wife lay dying. He was hunted and hid in caves only to finally return to find his fields and grist mill laid to waste, his wife dead and his thirteen children gone. He died shortly thereafter of exhaustion and a broken heart. Richard Stockton died a broken man after being betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, and beaten, returning eventually to find his home gutted. Only days after signing, Lewis Morris found his 2,000-acre farm ravaged, his cattle butchered and his family driven away. Similarly, Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward were captured while their estates were burned to the ground. Heyward’s wife died, watching it all.
These men had backbones. They did not recant. They did not retreat. They pledged their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” so that a nation built on new foundations might provide liberty to its people. They lost their lives and their fortunes, but not their sacred honor.
Today we fight a new beast. Do we have the same resolve? Are we willing to pledge our lives and fortunes, our sacred honor? Or will we capitulate, bow the knee and take the easy road?
This week, the beast was attempting to force a university in Oklahoma to bow the knee and remove the crosses and Bibles from its chapel. In Denver a baker still battles the beast over his Christian convictions. No question, the beast is huge, his claws are sharp, his teeth are lethal.
But so, too, was King George.
Do we have the backbone to stand?
The Remnant remains for a reason.
Sometimes things occur so quickly that you barely have time to register what is happening.
I was sitting on my deck, enjoying the Colorado blue sky, sparkling air and the butterscotch smell of the ponderosa pines. I had a turkey sandwich in my right hand and in my left I was reading an email on my red smartphone.
Out of nowhere, a hummingbird appeared, hovering in front of my nose. I could feel the wash of air from its wings and hear their familiar buzzing… louder than usual because we were eye to eye. It then darted to my sandwich, hovered for a second, then back to my nose. Pausing only briefly, it then flitted to my red phone, hovered, and then in the blink of an eye, thrust its beak down the earphone hole. Just as quickly, it pulled out and was gone.
I sat there with my mouth hanging open.
I am sure I will never see anything like that again. It couldn’t have taken much more than five seconds from beginning to end, but it will last forever in my memory.
These are times you just have to thank the Lord for the experience. There are no photos, no video, no witnesses… just the humming bird and me brushing up against each other in a moment in time in a creation that defies explanation.
I have often thought of the exquisite design of the hummingbird. They are remarkable in their flight capabilities. Not only can they hover, but they can dart up, down, left, right, forward and backwards (the only bird that can do so). They can fly just as easily upside down. They can spot potential food targets and zoom in, pull up, hover, sample, and exit in the blink of an eye. They remember every flower (and phone) they’ve every sampled and they seem to know how long it takes the flower to rejuvenate the nectar they’ve taken. They have a third set of eyelids that act as flying goggles to protect them as they zoom around, sometimes as fast as 65 feet/second, which is about 45 miles per hour. Now you may not think that is not all that fast because you can drive faster than that, but they reach those speeds almost instantly… and they can stop almost instantly, hover, and then zoom off in another direction. They have been clocked at 60 mph while diving, with the same ability to stop on a dime. They beat their wings up to 200 times per second… that’s why they “hum”.
They are the tiniest bird in the world and they can flash their colors or hide them at will. Their hearts beat up to 20 times per second and while at rest, they breathe four times per second.
Their wings can rotate in a full circle.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird has been known to travel across the Gulf of Mexico to breed…. 500 miles and 20 hours of flight time.
Job 12 counsels us to ask the birds and they will explain it all to us.
“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breathe of mankind?” Job 12:9
The hummingbird’s favorite color is red.
Buy yourself a red smartphone and go sit on your deck and learn from the creation.
If you have stayed connected to Dr. Tackett over the past few years by reading his blogs, visiting www.DelTackett.com and/or www.TheTruthEncounter.com, or catching him at one of his many teaching engagements, then it is no surprise to you that theaters sold out last week for the showing of "Is Genesis History?"
In fact, organizers scrambled last minute to add theaters, increasing the number from 400 to over 700, and then in an unprecedented move, held the movie over for 2 more weeks, scheduling showings for March 2nd and 7th.
In this beautifully produced two-hour documentary, Dr. Del Tackett serves as the viewer's guide—hiking through canyons, climbing up mountains, and diving below the sea—along the way interviewing scientists and experts in the areas of biology, archeology, geology, astronomy, and ancient biblical texts to investigate the scientific evidence for Creation and the Flood.
It is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at what the Bible reveals to us about the earliest days of earth's history.
Here is where you and I come in. Would consider supporting Del in 1 or more of these 3 practical ways--
Thanks ahead of time for your support. The Truth Project community from the beginning has been known as a group of motivated, enthusiastic, and determined leaders who extend themselves out of love for God's people.
What a blessing for us to walk more closely together in this season, as we pray and look forward to the new things God is doing in our midst!