I am writing this column on a beautiful and calm morning. It's a holiday, and I'm planning to be seriously involved in doing almost nothing serious today.
I've watered the fresh concrete in my driveway, trying to help it cure slowly and hoping to get it to grow. So far, that's worked.
I'm sitting on the back patio, life-giving coffee and a deadly pellet gun on the table by my side. The coffee? Well, everyone knows it's foolish to try to write without coffee. And the pellet gun? Well, grackles occasionally show up to try to eat my dog food and chase off civilized birds. I've heard some of those nasty grackle-birds are endangered. I doubt it, but with all of my heart, I hope so. They'll be more endangered if my aim is good today.
Today is Memorial Day. It's a special day when we especially remember the sacrifice of those who have risked, and many lost, their lives and liberty to keep us free. To remember means to think.
Being still and enjoying time like this is something we should do more of. Thinking tends to happen on the rare occasions when we stop "doing" long enough to think about what we're doing and why we're doing it.
As I was thinking some this morning about those who have given life and liberty to safeguard the life and liberty which are God's gifts to us, I thought of a short radio speech given almost 90 years ago in England.
Winston Churchill was talking about "The Causes of War." He said that many people are convinced that the best way to avoid war is to "dwell upon its horrors," to spend a lot of time talking about and focusing visually and rhetorically on the horrible cost of war in bloodshed and suffering. Yes, he said, such focus may indeed have genuine value in keeping civilized people from invading and subjugating other nations.
But it is very little help at all when rogue nations with power hungry and blood-thirsty leaders attack others. As we now know, to endlessly negotiate with a Hitler is as effective on the world scene as giving moving speeches on the playground to the school bully. Bullies like to talk. It gives them more time to brutalize the weak, and is very encouraging to them as it proves beyond any doubt the weakness of the speaker.
Oh, yes, Churchill allowed, it's a fine thing to remind ourselves never to attack and pillage other peace-loving nations and to negotiate solutions to reasonable differences with other civilized nations.
But how do you effectively deal with nations who laugh at the idea of freedom and whose brutal and truly evil leaders gobble up and enslave nation after nation? Very differently.
Freedom is God's gift to us, and it is precious. Thank God for all those, and their families, who have paid a very real price so that we can live in a land with mornings like this one.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at