Archive | Encouragement RSS feed for this section

Exporting Morale: A Lesson from North Platte

9 Sep

The following humorous story is reportedly true, shared by a man on his way to war:

“During the Persian Gulf War, I was assigned to go to Saudi Arabia. As I was saying good-bye to my family, my three-year-old son, Christopher, was holding on to my leg and pleading with me not to leave. ‘No, Daddy, please don’t go!’ he kept repeating.

“We were beginning to make a scene when my wife, desperate to calm him, said, ‘Let Daddy go and I’ll take you to get a pizza.’

“Immediately, Christopher loosened his death grip, stepped back and in a calm voice said, ‘Bye, Daddy.'” *

Although that story is sweet and funny, war isn’t. It never is. Yet we still can find moments of light in terrible  darkness, and reasons for hope.

My husband’s mother recently sent me a video about the North Platte Canteen in Nebraska. I’d never heard about this special place.

According to a site detailing the story, the North Platte Canteen encouraged more than six million servicemen and women who traveled through Nebraska via train during World War II. Volunteers, led by Rae Wilson, prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade goodies during quick troop stops there.

A similar canteen operated during World War I ~ an operation associated with the American Red Cross for 18 months in the Union Pacific freight house in North Platte ~ serving about 113,190 men. Many of these “Sammy Girls” served in the 1940s canteen as well.

Many other smaller canteens operated in Omaha, Norfolk, and McCook (where troop trains also paused), but the North Platte Canteen was a dramatic, patriotic outpouring of regular American citizens to give encouragement and sustenance to US troops on their way to war.

(Rae Wilson, left, organizer of the North Butte Canteen. Photo, Lincoln County Historical Museum)

Rae Wilson (age 26), wrote a letter to the North Platte Bulletin, sparking interest for her idea to give small gifts and snacks to soldiers traveling through North Platte on Christmas Day, 1941. Wilson organized a canteen committee a few days before the soldiers arrived.

In time, the volunteers provided simple entertainment (a donated piano, jukebox, and radio), a magazine table, birthday celebrations for soldiers who passed through on their birthday, platform girls (on the train station platform with baskets of food) and words of encouragement to the troops. Years later, soldiers who survived the war wrote back expressing thanks to the volunteers. Memories of their stop in North Butte encouraged them during battle, and lingered long after the war.

(Rae Wilson gives men a happy send-off. Photo from Lincoln County Historical Museum.)

What struck me in reading this story was some words by Rae Wilson said. “North Platte hasn’t any big war industries,” she said. “I guess you could say we’ve started our own ~ exporting morale.

I like that. Exporting morale. Boy, could we use more of that in the Body of Christ as we fight the battle against the unseen enemy and for our Lord. The Bible says we are to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13) and to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

How can I export morale? How can I encourage those new Christian “recruits” ~ born again and  just beginning to fight? How can I bless and motivate battle-weary saints?

These are questions we all might ask.

Rae Wilson’s vision motivated people to help her bless millions. I keep thinking, “Lord, I’ll be content to sit at my desk and encourage others through writing; but is there something more you would have me do?” I think it’s a question we all need to ask.

Let me hear from you. How can we “export morale” in the church today?

* From AhaJokes.com, http://www.ahajokes.com/war024.html

For more about the North Platte Canteen, click on the “A Pictoral History” at http://npcanteen.net

– Dawn

Advertisements

How to Live a ‘Golden Rule Lifestyle’

26 Aug

Three young boys keep my young friend Deedra Lindsey Sherm busy these days. I had to laugh at this exchange she shared on Facebook:

Son #1: “Mom! He hit me!”

Deedra to Son #2: “Son, did you hit your brother?”

Son #2: “Yes, but he hit me, so …uh …you know … the Golden Rule!”

LOL, right?

Obviously, Son #2 didn’t have a clue about the true meaning of the Golden Rule. The biblical maxim is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). In other words, we are to treat others as we want them to treat us. Son #2 would re-write that to read, “Do unto others BECAUSE they just did to you!”

The same Golden Rule concept is found in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:18 ~ “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Other than the obvious fact that this will make our “neighbors” (or anyone we have contact with) enjoy greater blessings, it also does something for us. We feel better about how we relate to others; we feel happier and we know we are pleasing God. When we are generous in our interactions with people, God blesses us in unexpected ways (see Proverbs 11:25).

So what are some practical ways we can live out the royal rule in relationships ~ the Golden Rule? Here are eight simple ways:

(1) Think and reflect. Take time to consider how you’d want to be treated. Use your imagination. Create some scenarios and think, “How would I want someone to respond? What would I want someone to do or say?”

(2) Ask God for a sensitive heart. Try to understand, as best you can, what a person’s need is or why he or she behaves in a certain way. Walk a mile in a person’s moccasins (or Jimmy Choo heels) so you can empathize. Let a Golden Rule lifestyle begin with you! Pray for opportunities to bless others.

(3) Act with kindness and compassion (see Ephesians 4:32). Have you ever noticed that once you “get” the suffering or circumstances of others, you are drawn to help them or at least pray for them? Rather than practicing random acts of kindness, be proactive. Ask, “What can I do, if anything, to relieve this person’s pain or struggle?” When God speaks, follow through.

(4) Open your ears before you speak. It’s so easy to give advice before we have the whole story (Proverbs 18:13); and sometimes all a person needs is a caring person who will listen. Understanding comes through listening, not talking. Consider how you would want to be heard, and respect others enough to give them the same courtesy.

(5) Be a helper and healer. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision ~ to only see our own needs. Once our eyes are open to needs and struggles, it’s a sign of great personal strength to be helpful in practical ways, or even to find ways to bind up (bandage) a person’s heart. (I recognize that sometimes, only Jesus can help and heal; but maybe you can remind a person that a loving God has all the power and help they will ever need. You may need to introduce them to Him.)

(6) Be a true friend. Be careful and respect others’ boundaries, but ask God to help you reach out in friendship in a meaningful way. Open your heart and arms and welcome people into your life. Let them know you care and want to be with them.

(7) See the individual, not your differences. Think of the story of the Good Samaritan ~ the man who reached out to care for the desperate victim saw him as a man, not through the lens of prejudice. Think about any prejudices you might have that would prevent you from practicing The Golden Rule:  age differences? skin color or nationality? gender? appearances? Ask God to help you see people the way He sees them. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has needs. Be humble and Christ-like, looking out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-7).

(8) Sometimes, turn the other cheek (see Luke 6:27-31). Some people are just plain mean and uncaring. But that doesn’t mean we retaliate or “pay them back” for their bad treatment. The Golden Rule isn’t an excuse for retaliation when others act extreme; but rather, encouragement to treat others well, regardless of their behavior. We allow others to own their feelings and behaviors, and we rise above circumstances as we put on the character of Christ and respond as He would.

The simple truth is, a Golden Rule Lifestyle will bless us as we bless others. Live it out “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7).

Does someone come to mind that needs to experience the Golden Rule, applied from your life to theirs? How will you respond?

– Dawn

Don’t Assume God’s Not Working

22 Jul

Kathi, holding a tiny baby, walked into a drug store and asked the clerk if she could use the store’s baby scale.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” the clerk said. “Our baby scale is broken. But we can figure the baby’s weight if we weigh mother and baby together on the adult scale.

“Then we can weigh the mother alone, and subtract the second number from the first.”

“Oh, that won’t work,” Kathi said.

The clerk, puzzled, said, “Why not?”

“Because I’m not the mother,” Kathi said. “I’m the aunt.” *

I laugh as I read that, because I’ve often assumed something wouldn’t work, but I had a skewed perspective … or a limited one.

Have you ever assumed that God’s not working in a situation, only to find out some time later that He was working behind the scenes, planning for something spectacular or even “impossible”?

Once, when I felt led away from one job to another, I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t give me the “release” to change jobs right away. A little frustrated, I determined to work hard and “finish well” for as long as God kept me in that job.

Then, months later, God opened an incredible opportunity for ministry and gave me the “go ahead;” but when I went into my boss’s office to tell him I was moving on, I was shocked that he seemed relieved!

A week or so later, I discovered why. I was one of his employees slated for layoff!

God had a greater plan that I could not see, and His timing was perfect.

M. Blaine Smith wrote about his experiences with God’s unseen activity in an article titled “Help from Behind the Scenes” (12-15-97). “If I could glimpse the unseen circumstances that are affecting my destiny,” Smith said, “I would often be encouraged by what I found.”

But then he said, “If I truly knew everything going on behind the scenes that’s affecting my life, I would be unsettled by plenty of it, for I wouldn’t automatically know how to put it all in right perspective.”

How does he resolve his feelings about this? “Yet I have an extraordinary basis for knowing ~ simply as a matter of faith ~ that Christ is working behind the scenes to bring about his best for my life,” he said. “Without knowing any of the details of what He is doing, I have profound reason to be hopeful.”

Over and over again in the Bible, we see that God worked behind the scenes for our good and His glory.

God gave Gideon a glimpse behind the scenes of how He was going to defeat the enemy Midianites (Judges 7:9-15). God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the powerful angelic army “behind the scenes,” ready to fight against the enemy (2 Kings 6:15-18) ~ one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

Smith notes that, at Jesus’ birth, “few realized that God was acting in a way which would forever alter the course of human history and the destiny of innumerable lives.”

But I’m thinking about the “behind the scenes” story of Jesus’ death! I am awed by this scripture: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Apparently, Satan and his evil cohorts had no idea of the scope of the incredible behind the scenes plan of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection!

Friend, our loving, sovereign God is always working behind the scenes. There’s no need to worry … no need to fear … no need to manipulate circumstances.

We can rest, knowing everything is under control. Let that truth give you hope today!

Comment opportunity:  Has God ever pulled back the curtain to let you see behind the scenes to what He is doing in your life? Or have you been surprised by God’s activity on your behalf? I’d love to hear your stories!

* adapted from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3674

%d bloggers like this: