Memories and Symbols So We Will Never Forget

It was December 7 the first time I stepped off an airplane on to the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut, South Vietnam.  It brought memories of discussions with my Marine Corps father of the red-letter day sunrise, December 7, 1941.  350 Japanese War Planes flew over the island of Oahu and rained death and destruction on Pearl Harbor.  Eight battleships and ten smaller warships were put out of commission.  Two hundred American planes were destroyed and 3, 581 servicemen were killed or wounded.  The USS Arizona took a bomb down into its stacks, exploded and sunk in less than 8 minutes burying 1177 sailors. The day of the sneak attack, “a day of infamy” as stated by President Franklin Roosevelt. The national battle cry became, “Remember Pearl Harbor”.  We have had others, “Remember the Alamo”, “Remember the Maine”, “Remember 9/11”.

The Lord’s Supper is not a battle cry (maybe it should be) but it is a call to REMEMBRANCE.  When we receive the elements of Communion, we have a dual responsibility of receiving and remembering. 

On the night before Christ was executed, Jesus had dinner with his closest friends.  Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, shared it with them and said, “this is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me”.  Remembrance means more than recalling something or someone from the past.  To remember is to make vivid, make real to recall and make contemporary the reality of the deed.  In this case, it is to remember Jesus’ words, life deeds and death that brings life to us.  We were redeemed, we are redeemed and we will be fully redeemed when He returns.  The Lords’ Supper commemorates this fact.

To aid our memory, Jesus used two symbols necessary for life as constant reminders, the bread and the wine.  Associated with Christ, they are powerful mementos.  Extreme emotional memories.

Several years ago, I attended a memorial service for a good friend where we were asked by the family to bring reminders of the young man.  There were pictures, letter jacket, baseballs, gloves and an assortment of miscellaneous items.  Each person told the story behind the item and how much it meant to them. Our hearts were moved and there was not a dry eye in the place.  Laughter, tears, smiles, were all mixed together. 

Our Lord wants to be remembered this way through the wine and the bread.  He wants us to recall his life energetically, love, joyous and happy.  Dinner around a family photo album.

I remember reading a story about a 17-year-old girl killed in a horrific car accident by an 18-year-old honor student, band member who was driving under the influence of alcohol.  The judge sentenced the young man to 2 years in jail which seemed too lenient but he then also required him for the rest of his life to visit the site of the accident on November 12 each year.  He was to reflect and think about his poor judgement and his part in the taking of a life that did not deserve to die.

There is nothing more tragic and horrible than an innocent victim killed by a drunken driver.  But my friends, we are no different. We took the life of Jesus Christ. Our sin nailed Him to the Cross. He was innocent. He did not deserve to die.  We deserve to die, but He took our place and gave us Eternal Life.  And so that we will never forget, we gather at the table to remember Him.  We taste the bread and sip from the cup to recall the life that was taken, the sacrifice that was made and our part in the tragedy. WE MUST REMEMBER AND NEVER FORGET.

Academy Nominations

Nominations to 4 of the 5 federal service academies are difficult to obtain and are required for the application for admission. The U. S. Coast Guard does not require a nomination. Members of Congress are authorized by law to nominate candidates to the U. S. Naval Academy, the U. S. Military Academy, the U. S. Air Force Academy, and the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy. The acceptance rates are as follows:

Navy (9%); Air Force (12%); Army (13%); Merchant Marine (15%); and Coast Guard (16%).

Many deserving high school seniors have received or will be receiving a letter that will begin this way:

“Dear Service Academy Applicant,

We regret to inform you that Senator XXXX will not be submitting your name as one of his nominees to the United States Service Academy listed as the first choice on your application. The Senator is grateful to you on your willingness to serve our country in such an honorable tradition.” 

The candidates must not allow this rejection letter to identify them.  The letter is an event in their life.  They are disappointed and feel terrible.  Today starts a new day with a new slate to write their journey in life.  There are many opportunities in life and one of them is to reapply next year.  It is all about preparation, planning and implementation.  This is the time for reflection and reality.  Do you have what it takes?  How competitive are you in academics, physical fitness and leadership?

Is the military your goal, desire, and purpose for your life?




Your Life


This week I had a wonderful and meaningful conversation with a client working in palliative care focused on improving the quality of life of patients with serious or life ending illnesses by providing emotional support and treating the symptoms.

I learned people develop and grow enormously when faced with their own mortality.  Changes are made overnight. Many emotions are expressed at different times.  There is anger, denial, bitterness, fear, and remorse.  Finally, they reach acceptance of their final days. Common threads run through with many regrets.  Here are the comments from some patients.

1).  I wish I had lived a life true to myself. 

2).  I wish I had not worked so hard and so long.

3).  I wish I had expressed my real and true feelings.

4).  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5).  I wish I had chosen to be happier.

Sometime soon, take a moment to reflect and think about these comments. Make a decision to design your Legacy.

Attitude is a Choice

Attitude is a Choice

The primary force determining if you succeed or fail in life and especially as an effective communicator is your attitude.  You have complete control over your attitude.  Your response to what happens to you is more important than the event.

W. Clement Stone wrote, “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference.  The little difference is attitude.  The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” A positive mental attitude is a most outstanding asset. I believe your time is your most valuable asset. For this discussion, let’s define attitude as “a habit of an individual act of thinking”.  Thinking is considered “self-talk” and may be spoken words or unspoken thoughts. Thinking is asking and answering questions in your head. The way you talk to your self creates your attitudes and your attitudes affect all the things you want to be, to do or have in life. You can change your attitude by changing your thinking. There is an ancient truth which tells us “what we think is what we become”.  Change your mental input, change your attitude; change your behaviors and actions.  change your results. All your circumstances improve when you improve your attitude.

People are creatures of habit and tend to act in the same manner in similar situations. People resist making changes and creating good habits. Forming a good habit takes approximately sixty days according to an article in Psychology Today. Tom Ziglar says, “the quickest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits”. It has been said, “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.” Zig Ziglar said,

“if you want to do something you have never done, you are going to have to make changes and do something you have never done”

Are you awake at 3 am?

It does not happen to be often, but it does happen.

Here is what I do and it works in wonderful marvelous ways.

1.  Get up from bed and find a distraction free location. Now is not the time to glance at your phone. 

2.  Obtain a note pad or a journal.  Write your list of gratitude.  Make the list long and include the big and the small things.  Invest five or six minutes preparing the list.  If you write a person’s name, think about why you are grateful for them and recall specific memory items about them. Gratitude and fear cannot live in the same space at the same time.

3.  Have a conversation with God.  Ask God three questions.  God, do you know the circumstances of my life? YES.  God, are you BIG enough to handle my situation?  YES.  God, what is the plan?  Then, listen to what God has to say – five minutes; sit peacefully and wait on God to answer.  He will answer.  One morning last week before the sun came up, I was speaking with God about my students in Kibogora, Rwanda.  I was planning a presentation on the journey of life beginning with Survival and ending with creating a Legacy. I was overcome with emotion when I thought about the meaning of Survival to a young adult in Rwanda.  What is God’s Plan for them?  I was preparing to be still and wait but He shared with me the answer.  I can not help them all but because I can not help them all does not stop me from helping some of them.  I must keep doing what I am doing for the people of Kibogora. 

4.  Write a VICTORY list.  Things you have accomplished in the past with pride.

School graduation; helping someone in need, overcoming a big challenge.  This is to remind yourself you have done it before and you can do it again.

5.  Identify the problem giving you the most concern.  Write it in your journal or pad of paper. Write all the things you can do to solve the situation.  Take action and create a written plan.  Identifying a problem is a positive step in the correct path.  It is only negative if you stay focused on the problem.  Focus on the solution.

6.  There are things in our lives we have no control over.  These items should be given to God in prayer. God is in control; He knows exactly WHAT IS GOING ON AND He is big enough to handle it.  His plan is in Romans 8:28 all things work together for good and continue to be encouraged by James 1:2-3 you will become stronger in the situation and God will perfectly position you to fulfill your purpose in life.

7.  Go back to sleep or go to work.

Kenneth R. O’Neal