Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kennedy Assasination Remembered

November 22, 1963 will be forever etched in my mind, along with millions of others of my generation.  Many hopes and dreams died that day when Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down President John F. Kennedy in downtown Dallas, Texas.

I remember sitting in sister William Marie's fifth grade classroom at St. Michael's Catholic school in Olympia, Washington. The mother superior came into the room, pulled sister aside and the color drained from her face. She told us there was terrible news. The president had been shot and he was being taken to a Dallas hospital.

The sister then had had everybody kneel on the floor, and we began reciting the rosary. Approximately 45 minutes later mother superior came back in and told us the president had died. Our teacher began weeping and others in the class didn't quite know what to make of it. School was suspended for the rest of the week and we went home.

Three days later I was watching the news on black and white television (Disney and color was about a year away) and saw Jack Ruby gun down Oswald as Oswald was being led by sheriff's deputies. It was almost too much to take in and process.

That week was just a portent of what was to come in the next several years. The country was in upheaval. The Vietnam war was escalating and four years later we would lose Kennedy's brother, Robert and Martin Luther King, Jr. to assassin's bullets.

John Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic president, good looking, a war hero and the country believed in this young energetic charismatic leader of the free world. In reality, Kennedy was likely no better than most politicians but because of the assassination, the unrealized dreams and aspirations of America's royalty dubbed "Camelot"  have given Kennedy a larger-than-life status in the minds of most Americans.

It is good to remember such events for they can be life changing. I was discussing the 50- year anniversary of the assassination with ladies at the bank. Their parents hadn't even been born yet but they wanted to know what it was like. They knew about 911 but that was all. The younger generation does want to know perspectives on the past.

Those who have been born again and have become followers of Jesus Christ are in a unique position to share individual  before  and afters. Each Christian can share his or her own personal experience in dying to self, repenting from sin and then following the only source of truth and life, Jesus Christ who gives us new life, joy and hope. 

They will listen because and far too many have not heard the good news of Jesus.

As I reflect on this anniversary leading up to the traditional Thanksgiving holiday, I am mindful that the Word of God says we are to remember the Lord in everything we do for all we have is from Him. I am reminded to pray for our leaders even when I don't like them, but they are still positioned by God for His purposes. I am thankful for gainful employment, my wife, children and grandchildren and siblings and cousins and aunts. I am thankful I can worship publicly without fear of recrimination.

Most of all, I am thankful for  Jesus dying on the cross 2,000 years ago for my sins.  Unlike our heroes such as the Kennedy's and King whose lives were snuffed out without their consent, Jesus voluntarily gave up his life for each and every one of us. To know Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, God in the flesh, you only need to acknowledge you will never be good enough on your own to merit heaven.

You can't do anything to satisfy God's wrath for sin and that only by repenting of doing things your way and accepting what Jesus did on the cross for you will you ever be right with God and free from the  wrath to come. The Father completely and totally forgives you when you come to Jesus. That decision is not a magic pill or heavenly fire insurance. Once you accept Jesus and what He did, you are then required to live for God as spelled out in the word God gave to us in the Bible. You either live for God or live for yourself. You can't have it both ways.

It's not about rules and regulations, but a love relationship with the God Himself living in you by faith. That's the difference between religion and relationship. When you begin walking out loving God and your neighbor as yourself you will do those things God asks of you. Your heart will be filled with praise and thanksgiving as God continually shows you how much He loves you regardless of what you have done.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(John 3:16-18 NKJV)

May you embrace the cross of forgiveness this Thanksgiving season and may the Father, Son and Holy Spirit richly bless you with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.