Christian Soldiers – Part 2
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2Timothy 2:3-4)
OUR REPEATED TEXT TODAY IS THE GOLD STANDARD for Christian soldiers. To endure hardness means that we maintain our defining characteristics in the face of opposition and we do not lose sight of our mission.
Paul is addressing this to young Timothy, whose mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois were Jewish and his father was Greek. When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2Timothy 1:5)
PAUL HAD OBSERVED AN UN-PRETENDED (not fake) FAITH IN TIMOTHY. Paul looks at faith as being something that dwells in us, lodges in us. Another word like unfeigned is sincere. It means “without wax.” The pottery industry made a lot of clay vessels, painted them, and then fired them in a little furnace. It was glazed pottery. Sometimes the glaze would develop tiny hair-line cracks that ruined the value of the vessel.
The crafty potters would sometimes rub a wax into the cracks that matched the color of the vessel. The buyer wouldn’t discover the deception until much later. This practice hurt everyone in the pottery business. So, the honest potters began to print little signs and lay them in front of the vessel: sin-cere. Without wax.
MAINTAINING OUR CHRISTIAN MISSION is well-illustrated by an e-mail I received recently. I hesitated to use so much of the story, but it powerfully illustrates enduring hardness and continuing our mission. I was able to go through a B-17 bomber a few years ago and study the inside of it. I was impressed. The first B-17, the prototype, flew in 1935, when I was one year old. They were very rugged planes. At the time, it was our newest and best heavy bomber. They flew at high levels of 25,000 to 30,000 feet. It was sometimes extremely cold inside the planes. Frostbite was highly possible.
In the story below, February 12 would have been a cold day. The B-17 cruised at 150 mph but top speed was 287 m.p.h. Many of them returned to their base so shot-up that the crews and onlookers were amazed they were able to make it back home. Over 12,700 B-17’s were built. It required a crew of 10 and most of the crew was 20-24 years of age. The casualty rate for the airforce was 50%, the highest of any branch of service. Here is the story that illustrates enduring hardness and maintaining our mission.
“ON FEBRURY 12, 143, AN AMERICAN B-17 BOMBER COLLIDED WITH A GERMAN fighter plane in mid-air. The B-17, the All American, had been cut almost completely through, the tail being connected only at two small parts of the frame. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. There was a hole in the top over 16-feet long, from the tail to the sider gunners’ turret. Except for one elevator control, all the cables had been severed. The tail bounced and swayed in the wind when the plane turned. The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting him with the rest of the plane.
The side and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.
WHEN THE BOMB BAY DOORS WERE OPENED, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane.
When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position. The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American.
DESPITE THE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE, all of the machine gunners Were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.
Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took this picture. They also radioed to the base describing that the appendage (tail) was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it, and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out.
BUT, THE CREW ALL STAYED WITH THE FORTRESS, taking hand signals from the pilot, Lt. Bragg. Five parachutes and the spare had been "used," so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane to land it.
Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn To line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear
WHEN THE AMBULANCE PULLED ALONGSIDE, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had Been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
APRIL 6, 2018 – FRIDAY
A.M. Judges 18-19 P.M. Luke 10:25-42
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Memory Verse This Month:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Song for Today:
The Old Rugged Cross (3:34) – (Fountain View Academy)
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