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.
I am writing to let you know about two very important updates for our Truth Encounter Community.
As you know, it has been my vision to continue the biblical worldview work that God began in my life years ago, beginning with New Geneva Seminary, Summit Ministries, the Truth Project, Cross Examine, Who Is Jesus and other worldview teaching, including the new release February 23 of the film, “Is Genesis History”. Launching this site was a big step in our ongoing work. And now, we are taking another big step. Let me share the details.
I'm very excited to announce that Marc Fey, who led The Truth Project team with me at Focus on the Family, has joined me full-time to help us realize the dream God laid on my heart in 1992. As the team leader, Marc was instrumental in developing and launching the project, including our work with Cold Water Media to produce the DVD content, develop website resources and conference trainings and manage our relationships with Truth Project leaders, partners, and key organizations.
This is indeed a pivotal time for us, and I am thrilled to be reunited with Marc to build what we pray will be God's movement in the hearts and minds of His people--on His terms and for His glory.
Second, with Marc's addition to our team, you should expect regular communication from Marc and me, updating you on our progress with The Engagement and The Restoration, the next two series to follow-up the worldview teaching we have done up to this point. After many years of stops and starts, it appears God is moving people and resources into place for us to resume in a more concentrated and strategic manner the work of The Truth Encounter.
So, with me please welcome Marc back to the team. And more importantly, please consider renewing your prayer efforts for God's work through each of us, for we all have an important role to play in realizing this God-inspired vision-- a movement in and through God's people in our generation.
On Election Day, at lunchtime, I was at a park in Colorado Springs. On one corner of the park sits one of our big high schools. It was a nice day (normal for the Springs) and the students filled the park, several making out lying on the grass. On the opposite corner stood a young man, conservatively dressed, holding an American flag and a Trump sign. He had a radio on the ground, not very loud, but playing a conservative talk show. I sat at a bench near the young man because I was curious about what I saw happening.
As the students walked by, they shouted obscenities at him and Trump. I am not willing to repeat any of it, suffice to say it was as filthy and vile as you can get. Some spit toward him. As it was getting close to the end of their lunch hour, a group gathered in front of him and pummeled him with profanity and obscene gestures. One girl was screaming at him. I suppose even worse was that after they would shout their obscenities, they would then howl in laughter pointing at him as if he were a joke. Of course, in the world of child-like behavior, this is considered the cruelest of all taunts… to make another seem like a worthless outcast… insignificant scum.
Although I couldn’t hear what the young man was saying, he remained calm and would sometimes turn and wave at cars that would supportively “beep-beep” as they drove by. As I write this, I’m not sure if I was right or wrong to not jump into the middle of it. I was committed to offer help if it looked like it was going to escalate beyond words, but for now it was free-speech being played out, though admittedly disgusting.
After the lunch crowd had returned to their classrooms, I approached the young man and our conversation went something like this:
“Students were pretty rough on you.”
“Yeah. A lot of nasty stuff.”
“I’m impressed you remained calm through all of it.”
“Well, I kept telling them that obscenities didn’t add to the conversation and just encouraged any of them to simply enter into a civil discussion with me.”
“I’m sorry they didn’t do that.”
“Me too. I really wish we could just talk about the issues like adults.”
I think it was the “adult” word that helped frame some of this for me. I had, indeed, witnessed deep immaturity, with its pure emotional spewing and little to no rational thought.
I don’t go to the park all the time, but I’m there enough to occasionally hear their conversations. I remember one of the first times, next to a group of high school girls, in which I was dumbfounded at the filth of their language. I spent over 20 years in the military, and I’d never heard anything that matched it.
Where does this come from?
My heart sank as I experienced what was happening Tuesday. It was quite scary, actually, because I was not only looking at such deep expressions of hate and loathing, but I was also looking at the generation that is going to replace us all. It didn’t look good.
We woke this morning to the continued news that there are protests all around the country. Some have become violent and destructive. Interestingly, the chants of the protestors are much like those I heard in the park… quite childish, selfish and filled with hatred.
Where is all of this coming from? In the park, my first thoughts were to put the blame on the high school that was right on the corner, thinking that this was coming from their classrooms. But then something dawned on me after reading the list of “tweets” that went out from Hollywood and TV and music “stars”. They were all saying the same things, in “star” lingo, of course, but just as childish.
This is Cher’s mature tweet on the election:
“Trump will never be more than a toilet…”
Andy Cohen (along with all the other late-night talk show hosts):
“Did we just elect a snake oil salesman and his wicked court of terror…?”
“The worst day in America: 9/11. The second worst day: 11/9.”
Really? Worse than the Civil War? Worse than the trail of tears? Worse that Kennedy’s assassination… or Pearl Harbor or the stock market crash in 1929?
This is the mindless mantra of our “entertainment” empire. And it is here we find the prime tutor of our children.
The average teen consumes 9 hours a day of entertainment on their smartphone or TV. You may want to reread that or say it over to yourself: 9 hours per day of smartphone/TV entertainment. This domain of music, rap, video, shows, comedy, movies and gaming is cultivating a mind that is filled with sex, violence, obscene language and destructive ideas. It numbs them towards a true reality. It strips them of common sense. It erects in their heart, mind and soul a virtual world of all-about-me and my pleasure.
And if things don’t go my way, I throw my tantrums. I call people names. I stomp my feet and chant emotional non-sense.
And I demand. Like the 3-year-old girl I saw the other day stomping her feet, screaming at her mother, demanding her own way.
For 9 hours a day, our youth live in a non-real world where lyrics and scripts and rap words rhythmically and cinematically draw them into believing that the virtual world of the entertainment empire is the world we all ought to live in… the world we WANT to live in. It seduces. It hypnotizes. It frames a worldview that is totally self-centered and hedonistic.
And it is totally irrational.
It spews out the most hateful and vile stuff. It beats up people, destroys property, flips off the world and then smugly chants “love trumps hate”.
It is the la-la land of infants demanding to get their own way in their self-defined, virtual world.
The problem is that the infants are increasingly in adult bodies with lots of power.
Our addiction to entertainment will continue to stunt our culture's maturity. We must wean ourselves and our kids.
Here is what troubles me most, however. Immaturity, when it doesn’t get its way, will often erupt into a “make you pay” rage. I sense that is what we are seeing. But I fear it is only the beginning. We are going to be treated to a host of "See what you made me do!" and "This is all your fault!" and "You'll be sorry!" acts and situations and new stories and personal stories, ad infinitim.
Brace yourselves, for the revenge of self-centered infants who live in adult bodies and carry great wealth and power can, and will be, be scary.