Semper Fidelis Est Deus Noster

Happy Birthday, Marines. Semper Fi.
Happy Birthday, Marines. Semper Fi.

Today is a special day for anyone claiming the title of United States Marine. On this date, back in 1775, the Second Continental Congress commissioned the organization of two battalions of Continental Marines. So, in a local bar known as Tun Tavern the recruiting began and the Marine Corps was born.

Over the past 2.4 centuries, November 10th has evolved (by means of intelligent design) into a day of celebration and revelry.

However, on this occasion marking the 241st birthday of our beloved Marine Corps I find myself more troubled than joyful.

A Warrior’s Full Armor

full-armor-of-godThere has been an increasing number of stories related to how our decision makers are choosing to send our servicemen and women into every clime and place without the advent of a spiritual covering.

Now, I am not looking to get into a debate over shepherding. My concern is not with whether one should be considered a shepherd or should seek out a shepherd. That argument shall be left to individuals with much more knowledge.

My dilemma is with whether those that serve are being sent into harm’s way without the comfort of knowing that they are on God’s side–that they have His protection.

Consider the following articles:

1.       A Navy Chaplain is ordered not to pray in the name of Jesus.

2.       A Marine is court martialed for refusing to remove a quote (only loosely based on scripture, mind you) from her desk.

3.       Veterans are banned from saying “God” and “Jesus” at military funerals.

I am sure most would understand how reading each article (and an increasing number of like articles) increased the amount of conflict in my mind.

The Battle is Already Won

Now consider the three versions of 1 Corinthians 11:4 below:

1.       Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. (NIV)

2.       Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. (KJV)

3.       Every man who prays or [a]prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head [and the One who is his head]. (AMP)

As I have told my students and players in the past, “I may be completely wrong.” Or, like my pastor would often say to his flock, “I might be a false prophet.” Regardless of that fact, I did find some comfort in reading this passage and would like to briefly share my thoughts as to why.

I believe that Paul was foreshadowing the much later arguments of Martin Luther in that our spiritual covering is dependent on our own unique relationship with the Almighty and not in any way dependent on the spiritual covering that may or not be provided by an earthly entity appointed over us.

That interpretation of the verse has helped ease my heart when thinking about those whom are laying it all on the line for us every single day. And being that tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, let me be sure to include all the marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, and coastguardsmen, as well as all our first responders.

Of course, it sure would be nice if we could once again get everyone (decision maker, civilian, and service member) in agreement that God’s blessing is vital to the health of our nation. Because despite what many might like to assert (which includes the folks at the National Archives in charge of putting forth an interpretation of the first amendment), the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution-which our servicemen and women are sworn to defend-provides for freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.

They Do Not Care How Much You Know

“It all comes back to football.”

That was the catchphrase that I used probably too many times with a certain assistant coach. It became sort of a running joke. We could be talking about anything outside the realm of football –  a conversation on faith, marriage, teaching, child-rearing, or even the dreaded politics of the day – and invariably we would be able to identify a potential life-lesson that could be related back to a gridiron coaching point.

I thought our banter to be only witty and humorous. That is until I came to the realization of how an old coach’s saying was influencing my marriage for the better.

“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

I first saw that phrase posted next to the door of the coaches’ dressing room at Youngstown State University. The poignant thought was attributed to a former Ohio high school and Baldwin Wallace University head football coach – the late Lee Tressel. I have seen and heard variants of the phrase many times since, but I will always attribute that bit of advice to Coach Tressel.

From football to marriage.

My wife and I have survived that rollercoaster of a ride known as the first year of marriage. And when I say rollercoaster ride, I really mean a rickety wobbly carriage ride through a minefield (or some mental image similar to that).

Our survival has led several other couples to the false conclusion that we have some super secret method of achieving wedded bliss. Despite my many arguments to the contrary, my bride assures those other couples that being married to me is not always joyful. Yet, hand-in-hand we continue our walk together into that final sunset while at the same time so many other couples choose to take a path separate than that of their spouse (or former spouse as the case may be).

How is it that my bride and I remain so much in love? How are we able to see through the hard times that the enemy will invariably try to present? Is it true that I am just that much of a joy to be around, or is it that my wife is so much more mature (see the term COUGAR)?

When a man would ask me, I would give some coaching snippets such as “Man-up and do the right thing,” or “It’s not about you, it’s about the team,” or “Just G.I.D. (Get It Done).”

I once heard the advice my wife gives to her friends, and without a doubt she does a much better job at counseling. When asked how we are able to maintain our marriage, my wife tells those that will listen that she focuses on the only thing that really matters: “I know, at the end of the day, that my husband loves me. I know in my heart that he would never purposely do anything to belittle, degrade, or endanger me.”

My wife does not care that I know that I am always right, or that I know that I never make mistakes, or that I know how to act like a bear when I am tired, or that I know how much she spent on a mirror for our front door breezeway. She knows how much I love her, and love never fails (1 COR 13:8).

I am blessed to have such a wise wife.

So, I suppose I will be changing my advice to my guy friends and be telling them to make sure their wives know how much they care.

Which reminds me of something I heard the great coach Lou Holtz once say, “Remember men, the greatest thing you could ever do for your kids is show them how much you love their mother.”

It all comes back to football.