Archives For August 2012

Last weekend I heard the sad news that Neil Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 82. After his famous “one small step” onto the lunar surface, he almost disappeared from the public eye. And yet, upon hearing of his death, I immediately was transported back to my childhood.

I remember exactly where I was that hot, muggy Sunday evening, July 20, 1969. My family and I were on vacation, camping with another family on Wellesley Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. We had just arrived on Saturday after a long day of traveling, and I was bummed that I’d miss the TV coverage of the lunar landing. From an early age, I was fascinated with flight and the space program. I wanted to be a fighter pilot in grade school (that dream lasted until high school when my inner ear problem and severe motion sickness prevented me from pursuing that career).

In fifth grade, I coerced my dad into helping me build a wooden model of the lunar landing module (LEM) and a clay model of the surface of the moon where the LEM would someday land as part of my science fair project. With great attention to detail, I assembled, painted, and decaled models of the Apollo 11 command module and the LEM. So the idea of missing the lunar landing was deeply disappointing.

Upon arrival at the campground, we were informed that the activity center had one black-and-white TV that would be available for anyone wishing to watch. I remember pestering my parents to go. We crowded  into that darkened community center at 10:30 p.m. and waited to watch the few moments of pixelated images from 240,000 miles away. I was just 14 years old and thought landing on the moon was a dream of science fiction novels. And there he was, Neil Armstrong, hopping down the ladder of the Lunar Module to set foot on luna firma. The first man to walk on the surface of the moon.

As I walked out of the center that night, I looked up at the moon in wide-eyed wonder like never before, with thoughts like: “There’s somebody actually standing on the moon right now! I wonder what he’s looking up and seeing?”

Neil left his footprints in the lunar dust, but he also made his mark on earth. Returning to earth as a hero, he didn’t exploit his newfound stardom for personal financial gain. Instead, he lived much of the rest of his life in relative obscurity. He was the first man to ever walk on the moon, and yet he didn’t make it all about him.

Humility is a big “footprint” to follow. Yet, it’s what the Old Testament prophet Micah stated was God’s call for every man and woman who walks the surface of this planet: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).

As I look around at the landscape of our culture reeking with entitlement, the quest for instant stardom, and reality TV personalities striving to exploit their 30 seconds of fame for some outrageous financial gain, it’s glaringly apparent—Neil Armstrong was a man of a different time. He seemed to possess humility in the presence of great achievement because he knew it wasn’t all about him. That’s the footprint Neil left on earth that I admire even more than those he left on the surface of the moon 43 years ago.

Please join me in sharing your reflections on where you were when Neil took his walk on the moon. Or how about sharing some thoughts or comments on what it might look like to follow Micah’s call to “humbly walk with our God” in an “all-about-me” kind of world?




Love Under Fire

Tim Jackson —  August 1, 2012 — 3 Comments

A news alert flashed across my phone a few days ago with the following: “James Holmes, suspect in mass shooting at Colorado movie theater charged with 142 counts, including first-degree murder.”

Another grim reminder of how wicked some men can be. To spray an unarmed crowd of innocent bystanders with a hail of bullets is the epitome of evil and cowardice. There simply is no reason for this carnage. It’s just what evil does.

And evil is what some men choose.

But not all men. Some choose love.

In the face of unbridled evil in the darkness of a movie theater, there were selfless acts of love by four young men. These men—Alex Teves, Matthew McQuinn, John Larimer, and John Blunk—all about the same age as the shooter, chose protecting their girlfriends over preserving themselves.

We’ll never know what went through the minds of each of these men when the bullets began to fly, but what we do know is what they did. These four men willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the women they were with that night. They died protecting others so they could live on.

Why? Because, in the words of Daniel Jackson, Matt McQuinn’s stepfather, “That’s what a man does. He protects his loved ones.”

That’s what Jesus taught. After His command to “love each other as I have loved you,” He followed up with this statement: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

None of us knows how we’ll react under such life-threatening circumstances. Those who tout “what they would have done” really don’t know. It’s all just talk until the threat is in-your-face real. We can only hope we never have to find out, but we also hope we will be found faithful to serve and protect those we love.

The contrast between the shooter and those who shielded others from his lethal attack couldn’t be more stark. Their acts of love defied his acts of evil. His act was the epitome of cowardice. Their acts were courageous and costly.

Jesus was right. There is “no greater love.”

We need more men like these guys. Your thoughts and comments are welcomed.