I don’t fully understand why, but this Thanksgiving 2011, I am particularly and very emotionally thinking of and deeply thankful for our American servicemen and women who are fighting so valiantly in Afghanistan and Iraq. They bravely walk with danger, look death in the face, and often lose life and limb so that Americans like us can celebrate Thanksgiving Day in freedom and peace.
We are so indebted to those who have come home dead or alive, and have served with highest distinction if not outright heroism. We can’t thank God enough for them, and we cannot ever show ample gratitude to them and their families. Not every American family hears the indescribably wonderful and golden words of their son or daughter when they return from battle, “I’m home.” Many will never come home again.
When it comes to the time of our death, we would want those we truly love and who truly love us to be with us if possible. GI Joe doesn’t have that blessing, for when he or she dies in battle they do so without those most dearly beloved ones around them. Instead, they give their lives and often are left to and are surrounded by the savagery of bloodthirsty terrorists, as their dying cries become more and more muffled and then are finally extinguished.
Today, we do honor not only the COURAGEOUS FOUNDERS of our nation, but this Thanksgiving we specifically honor the GALLANT DEFENDERS of our nation.
MILITARY SERVICE PERSONNEL – OUR BEST FRIENDS
Jesus Christ said about friends and friendship in John 5:13,
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down
his life for his friends.”
Jesus implied the question anticipating His own death for our sin, namely:
“WHAT MORE CAN ONE DO FOR ANOTHER THAN TO LAY DOWN
HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS?”
Our servicemen and servicewomen every day of our lives are in the highest sense therefore the most precious friends that any of us have. I thank God today for my military friends, and I pray that our brave soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines will find Christ as their greatest and best friend of all.
It was Ben Franklin who once observed:
“YOUR BROTHER MAY NOT NECESSARILY BE YOUR FRIEND, BUT A TRUE
FRIEND IS ALWAYS YOUR BROTHER.”
Jesus Christ is our ELDER BROTHER and our BESTEST OF FRIENDS! When I first became a Christian, I didn’t have the sense that Jesus Christ was my best friend. I thought of Jesus as my Lord and my Savior who died and went to Hell for my sins – a love that passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). But is wasn’t yet the love of friendship in my awareness.
But now that I have grown older and put away childish things, I am coming to know Jesus intimately as my best friend who sticks closer than a brother – the One to Whom I have access at anytime and anywhere – the One to Whom I don’t have to explain anything for He infinitely understands me, and totally knows what I need and how I got to where I am in life. He is the One who loves us with an everlasting love, and the first One Who thought of us and loved us with the perfect heart of friendship. I long for our best friends in the Armed Services to know the intimacy of our greatest friend of all – Jesus Christ.
AMERICA’S MILITARY FAITH FOUNDATIONS
But more than that, I am so overwhelmed with the blessed knowledge and conviction that the American Armed Services, like their nation, are founded upon a profound faith in the God of the Bible. The historic Christian Faith of the United States Military was and still is deep down neither casual nor conflicted, but strong and boldly confessed.
America’s military was and is a faith-based military even though today secular, godless forces are trying to erode our military’s faith-foundations and mute Christian Military Chaplains and silence the name of Jesus! If the anti-Christ forces could, they would eliminate all Christian chaplains as casually as Wyatt Earp blowing smoke from the barrel of his Buntline Special or a New York City gang member stepping over a dead body. It is becoming almost impossible for a Christian Chaplain to have a Christ-centered conversation with a soldier without being censured.
America’s Historic Military by its own confession has only one ultimate Commander in Chief, and He is not the President of the United States, but rather He is the Lord Jesus Christ. That may offend Barack Obama and the liberal establishment in government and the military who are determined to exercise their veto of Jesus Christ as the Commander of American Armed Forces. We can tell a man’s theology by not only what church he goes to, but by what shows between the lines and works behind the scenes. Our theology is not only what we say, but what we are up to. Referring to America being a Christian nation, Obama said:
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE WERE, BUT WHATEVER WE WERE, WE
ARE NOT THAT NOW.”
Nonetheless, faith-based American Armed Forces have always displayed awesome courage in battle. Even more striking is that America’s Armed Forces have historically been thoroughly Christian in their creed, simply because the nation that they so patriotically serve is absolutely Christian in its foundations.
Let’s take a look at some of the stirring FAITH-BASED AMERICAN MILITARY MUSIC, and do so as it is revealed in the official hymns and songs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines that are literally loaded with faith in God. Awesome to see and hear!
THE UNITED STATES ARMY
We honor the American Soldiers this Thanksgiving 2011, and we are so blessed by each one of them.The courage of the American Army can historically be traced to its faith in God. It is so eloquently expressed not only by the United States Army Hymn as we shall see in just a moment, but by the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 12:2,
“I will trust and not be afraid.”
Without that trust in God, no one would be able to face what the GI faces in training or above all in war. The American Army is one of those rare places where you do not have to improvise horror stories after lights out. Some of us more timid and insecure types have trouble urinating when other men are standing next to or behind us in the public bathroom. Well, try breathing when you are caught in the cross-fire of demonized terrorists who have you pinned down and who ravenously want to kill you.
That “United States Army Faith” is expressed so eloquently in “The Caisson Song,” which is the official song of the United States Army. The song was originally written by field artillery First Lieutenant Edmund L. Gruber while stationed in the Philippines in 1908. It was adopted in 1956 as the official song of the United States Army and at that time was retitled “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” In part, it goes like this:
March along, sing our song,
With the Army of the free
Count the brave, count the true,
Who have fought in victory.
We’re the Army and proud of our name
We’re the Army and proudly proclaim.
Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along.
Minute men, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along.
Men in rags, men who froze,
Still the Army met its foes,
And the Army went rolling along.
Faith in God, then we’re right,
And we’ll fight with all our might
As the Army keeps rolling along.
Do you see it? Can you hear it? There it is:
“FAITH IN GOD, THEN WE’RE RIGHT, AND WE’LL FIGHT WITH
ALL OUR MIGHT.”
The United States Army by its own confession does not put its confidence in itself, its might, or its manpower. That would be wrong. They put their faith in God! Then they are right! How is that for the right and wrong of things? The United States Army confesses that faith in God is right and unbelief is wrong. How is that for an ARMY-FAITH SLAM DUNK? They sing with absolute clarity and conviction:
“NO FAITH IN GOD, THEN WE’RE WRONG, AND WE WILL NOT FIGHT
WITH ALL OUR MIGHT.”
“FAITH IN GOD, THEN WE’RE RIGHT, AND WE WILL FIGHT WITH
ALL OUR MIGHT.”
Get a hold of this Caisson Song and let it get a hold on you deep, for to fight without faith in God would be to commit suicide, because without faith in God, America’s Army is powerless, weak, and everything would be wrong and go wrong. That is what they are singing, and that is the faith of the American GI. Note the true and carefully worded order of things:
“ONLY AMERICAN FAITH FIGHTERS ARE RIGHTFULLY MIGHTY FIGHTERS.”
That my friend has always been the true guts of the American soldier whether At Attention, Parade Rest, Right Shoulder Arms, Left Shoulder Arms, or Charge And Go In For The Kill:
“FAITH IN GOD, AND THEN WE’RE RIGHT, AND WE’LL FIGHT
WITH ALL OUR MIGHT.”
The American Army’s Caisson Song truly puts the right historic perspective on WAR AND PEACE in the United States Military. And it gives a refreshing insight into what it truly means to be MILITARILY AND POLITICALLY CORRECT in the United States of America.
Anybody with a modicum of intelligence knows why things are going wrong in every strata of American society. It is because America has pushed aside and outlawed overt faith in the God of the Bible in he schools, universities, and courtrooms depending upon the judge. Why my goodness, if an American farmer today prayed by his cornfields, he would stop traffic and cause a massive pile up. If an American football player like Tim Tebow bows in prayer on the football field, he becomes the unending, hotly debated, fiercely-scorned headline of the entire country.
Hear me clearly and mark it well, if America’s Military ever loses the true spirit of the Army’s Caisson Song, neither the nation or the Army will keep on rolling along! No nation or military who spurns the God of the Bible ever has. Why? Because without faith in God, we are all wrong.
THE UNITED STATES NAVY
Admiral Charles Nimitz, who was in charge of the Pacific Fleet after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, said of those under his command:
“Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
How in Heaven’s name can you gather yourself by the nap of your clammy neck when Japanese zero-suicide bombers are making bloody hash of Naval sailors, ships and planes? What do you grab onto when your bubble bath suddenly becomes a blood bath? Oh how quickly things without warning take a brutal turn, and then suddenly there is no longer a second left to play Nintendo war games of make believe. That’s when even the highest ranking Admirals have very little else to distinguish them but their courage born of faith in God alone.
The United States Navy’s deep roots in God has always been at the heart of that uncommon valor. The U.S. Navy Hymn is truly an eloquent confession of that faith. The original words were written as a hymn by schoolmaster and clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. William Whiting (1825-1878). In the United States in 1897 Rear Admiral Jackson Train, a 1865 graduate of the United states Naval Academy at Annapolis, inaugurated the present practice of concluding each Sunday’s Divine Services at the Academy with the singing of the hymn. Many of us have the Navy Hymn’s melody in our hearts which gives voice to one of the strongest confessions of faith anywhere in all the world. It goes like this:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who binds the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren’s shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them whereso’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.
First of all, the American Navy early on discovered what the Psalmist had expressed thousands of years ago in Psalm 46:1-2,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in
time of trouble.”
“Therefore WE WILL NOT FEAR, though the earth be
changed (removed), and though the mountains
slip into the heart of the sea.”
Second, the U.S. Navy Hymn is more than conspicuously Trinitarian, as it praises the Bible’s Christian Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and references Him some 12 times in one hymn. I would call that Christian saturation. America’s Navy is not rooted in Islam, the Koran, or Allah, but rather in Christianity, in the Bible, and in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
For those who are stiff-headed and stiff-necked as to the historic proof that America Armed Forces were always and still are Christian at heart-level, just let them sing the Navy Hymn with the American Sailors, and their hearts will begin to reverberate with the praises of the Christian Triune God. In fact, the Apostle’s Creed never sounded this good! Of course it is all a jumble of obsolete phrases unless one begins and exclaims where the Apostle’s Creed begins and exclaims:
Hear it again, sing and let it ring:
“O TRINITY OF LOVE AND POWER! OUR DEAR BRETHREN’S SHIELD
IN DANGER’S HOUR.”
For one thing, it is only part of a shield if the shield is not a Trinitarian Shield. The Father without the Son of God and the Holy Spirit is only one third of a shield which will never do. We are talking about one huge, whole Trinitarian shield here, and if America’s Navy needs a miracle of protection and defense, it does not need to go out and find another shield in addition to the “Trinity Shield.” In God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the United States Navy has all the God and all the defense and protection it will ever need.
Let it get deep into us just Who we are proclaiming in this song. Hear it:
“ETERNAL FATHER, STRONG TO SAVE, WHOSE ARM HAS BOUND
THE RESTLESS WAVE….”
Just how strong is He? We are singing about the ALMIGHTY TRIUNE GOD here. In Kenneth Graham’s story, Mole asks Rat if he is afraid of the august Presence that moves through the forest like the wind in the willows. Rat answered, “AFRAID! OF HIM? O, NEVER, NEVER! AND YET – AND YET – O MOLE, I AM AFRAID.”
We must not forget that He is not just our shield and defender, rather He is ALMIGHTY GOD:
“WHOSE ARM HATH BOUND THE RESTLESS WAVE.”
He is the One who sliced the Red Sea in two, and calmed the raging sea and storm with but a word. He has all power over oceans of the earth, and He is the true Captain of the American Naval Fleet – THE DOMINANT FIGURE IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY – SAIL IN UTTER CONFIDENCE WITH HIM – SALUTE HIM!
THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
We would be terribly remiss if we failed to include the great United States Air Force Song, which embodies the faith-based heart of America’s flying forces. It is the official song of the United States Air Force. Written in 1939 by Robert MacArthur Crawford, it was adopted as the official Air Corps Song on September 27, 1979 by General Lew Allen, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force. It goes like this:
Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces of the sky;
Be with them traversing the air
In darkening storms or sunshine fair.
Thou Who dost keep with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight,
Thou of the tempered winds be near
That, having thee, they know no fear.
Control their minds with instinct fit
What time, adventuring, they quit
The firm security of land;
Grant steadfast eye and skillful hand.
Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
O God, protect the men who fly
Thru lonely ways beneath the sky.
Hear them sing on the wing:
“THAT, HAVING THEE, THEY KNOW NO FEAR!”
While civilian Americans swallow their anxiety pills, the United States Air Force sings its faith in God, and finds fearless flight for they never fly alone. So they declare in song, “Thou Who dost keep with tender might, the balanced birds in all their flight, Thou of tempered winds be near, that having Thee, they know no fear.” For you see:
“THIS GOD, THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, IS NOT ONLY THE
GOD OF INTIMACY, BUT OF MOST HIGH ELEVATION.”
He is at home in the heavens as He is on land and sea. He not only made the heavens, the earth, and the sea, but He rules over them all as His own private domains. He is so familiar with, gifted, and totally at ease in the air, that after He sacrificed everything to give us everything, He flew back home to Heaven like a helicopter pilot without any flight training and without a helicopter. Sinful men had shown Him to their worst seat, but upon flight arrival, God made up for it at His right hand. Now just for good measure the Psalmist tells us that He walks on the clouds.
My, my, you need not fear a thing with Jesus Christ as your WING GOD-MAN. What was it that the psalmist said in Psalm 139:8-10,
“WHERE CAN I GO FROM THY SPIRIT? OR WHERE CAN I FLEE
FROM THY PRESENCE?”
“IF I ASCEND TO HEAVEN, THOU ART THERE…IF I TAKE THE
WINGS OF THE DAWN, IF I DWELL IN THE REMOTEST
PART OF THE SEA,”
“EVEN THERE THEY HAND WILL LEAD ME, AND THY RIGHT
HAND WILL LAY HOLD OF ME.”
You just can’t play HIDE AND GO SEEK with God, because no matter where you go, He is already there. Aloft in the solitudes of space, it is only the American Air Force’s faith in God that will lift you higher still, and even then, He will greet and welcome you there.
THE UNITED STATES MARINES
Last, but far from least, is the “Marines’ Hymn,” which is one of the most revered of all of the Armed Service hymns. The Marines’ Hymn is the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps. It is the oldest official song in the United States Military. The lyricist is unknown, but legend has it that it was penned by a Marine on duty in Mexico. I can hear them proudly sing the following words just as if they were in the room with me:
From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marines.
Our flag’s unfurled to every breezefFrom dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far-off northern lands and in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job B The United States Marines.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life and never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.
Under all and any situations, THE FEW – THE BRAVE – THE PROUD – THE MARINES do not lose their nerve. Why? They know that no matter what happens, they shall be in Heaven one day guarding of course all of the Heavenly soldiers, sailors, and flyers, If of course any other of the Armed Service personnel make it there. That faith expressed in The Marine Hymn can alone suit every condition to them, and them to every condition.That after all is their hallmark – any and every condition – LAND OR SKY OR SEA is no match for THE MARINES.
Eternal hope in the Lord is the only thing that keeps us going when things in the natural look hopeless and horrible. No one, not even the Marines, can face Hell on earth without the hope of Heaven. Hope in the Lord alone can take us past and lift us above a dark and threatening present into the glories of a Heavenly and eternal future – one eternal, spectacular future after another unending and spectacular future in the presence of the Marine’s God.
“IT IS ONLY BECAUSE THE MARINES CAN ETERNALLY SEE AHEAD IN
CHRIST CAN THEY COURAGEOUSLY GO FORTH INTO BATTLE.”
America’s Armed Forces stand in the great tradition of young Nathan Hale, who at age 21, was hanged and martyred for his country on September 22, 1776. This devoted follower of God embodied the true spirit of America, when he said:
“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
One gets the feeling from young Nathan Hale, that if he had a hundred lives to give for his nation, he would have gladly given them all. That is exactly why President Thomas Jefferson once remarked:
“One man with courage is a majority.”
To be more exact,
“One courageous man with God is a majority.”
Thank you our courageous heroes and heroines. God bless you today our heroes and heroines with eternal confidence, eternal peace, eternal life, eternal hope, and eternal joy in our Commander in Chief – Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen!