Puertas y Ventanas

Puerta y Ventanas

   Little boys playing with dolls were not big in December of 1941.  But from childhood I have not been troubled with concerns about my masculinity; for Christmas I wanted, and got, a doll dressed like Captain Colin P. Kelly.  It was just at the beginning of that month that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and the same day (December 7th in Hawaii and December 8th in the Philippines) attacked Clark field  near Corregidor off the coast of Manila, again catching the majority of our planes unprotected on the runways.  Within a few days the Japanese armada was off shore shelling the coast near Aparri preparing for an invasion.  FDR sent word for General Douglas MacArthur to abandon the Philippines personally and fly to Australia, “If we lose the Philippines, we do not want to lose you.” 

   Meanwhile in the United States, our president and congress had declared war on Japan and the European axis.  The United States was big, uninvolved in world politics, and totally unprepared for war.  Hourly reports came of deaths, loses of our obsolete planes and sea vessels, our citizens were shaking in fear; Hitler was ripping to pieces the Russians on the eastern front, and bombing Brittan to smithereens.  Japan was tromping across China, and lusting after every island in the south Pacific.  The door of the drama that was going to turn everything around on main street America was about to be opened and a B-17 Flying Fortress was going to be piloted through it on to the headlines all across America.

   Let me restate my premise from last week’s essay, Who is Driving, that in our life we should be the pilot, and God should be the in-control navigator. My many friends that are very influenced by Protestant theology, Christian radio and TV are in shock, at least in considerable disagreement.  I need to define my terms; I do not define driver or pilot as a laid back, set the cruise control or automatic pilot, and slightly recline your seat and settle back for a relaxing trip.  I define the driver or pilot as a hands-on, totally aware of the conditions and road and destination, listening to every direction, command, and suggestion of the navigator.  The co-pilot is a pilot in the second seat, keeping alert to the whole situation, ready to step in at a moments notice to be the pilot.  The Navigator is the one keeping total awareness of the weather, complete knowledge of the maps, destination, conditions, and possible problems that might pop up.  A Sports Car Club of America Rally driver does not have a chance to win a rally with a poorly trained or equipped navigator or if he or she does not listen to and follow the instructions of the navigator.  In 1954 a major airline pilot took off at Sun Port in Albuquerque and circled to head to Dallas.  A few minutes later the plane smashed into the side of the Sandia Mountains that were covered with clouds.  The FAA investigation showed that the pilot did not listen to his navigator about the needed elevation to clear the snow covered peaks of the Sandias.  Death to all on board was the result.  Now today, I want you to consider that God allows us to be the driver, and he opens doors for us to fly and drive through, thus the name of the essay, Puertas y Ventanas .  If He were driving, he would just go on through taking us with Him; there would be no need for Him to open the door for us. 

   The Air Force and navy were taking a horrible beating on the coast of the Philippines; our New Mexico Coastal Artillery Reserve was doing their best, but a number of their ammo depots were empty; they had nothing to throw back at the Japanese fleet that was shelling them, getting ready for an invasion.   A young military trained officer in his first overseas assignment shouted to his B17 crew, “we’re on deck, move it.”

   This drama began back in the middle of the 1930s. On the Southern island of Japan, Kyushu, at age 16, the legendary Zero fighter pilot, a descendant of the Samurai warrior class; was accepted to flight training in the Japanese Navy.  He graduated in 1936. 

   Across the ocean, a genius in aircraft design and a dozen other fields in the United States, Howard Hughes, sold his design of a heavily armored, well powered, fighter plane to Mitsubishi.  The plane became known as the A6M2 Zero.  Suburo Sakai became perhaps their most famous ace, at first flying off Formosa (Taiwan) in the air war with China, besting one after another Russian built I-16 fighters of the Chinese Air Force, then to the Pacific theater, and in a protracted war against American Air power, he would eventually fly in over 200 aerial combat missions.  He is credited with at least 64 confirmed aerial victories; the total number is not known.  Today, he was going to go against a newbie that will turn America around. 

    There was a break in the weather, a brief door to fly through, Colin shouted at his navigator, “get on board and set our coordinates to that fleet.”  The ground crew were not finished filling his tanks; he told them, “You have put in all the fuel I will need.” They had loaded the last three 600 pound bombs in the bomb bay, and there was no more time to load other types. Gunner James Halkyard was the waist gunner and was new with the 14th Bomb Squadron, and swung on board.  Staff Sergeant Robert Altman was radio operator and belly gunner, was plugged in and the tower was clearing Captain Colin P. Kelly to fly through a window in the clouds and into the history books.  A fast check out of all the instruments, the navigator was calculating a direct approach to the fleet that was doing so much damage. At best they could take out one target with just three bombs, but something had to be done.  The four large engines sprung to life, and they swerved down the runway to miss the bomb creators.  At 22,000 feet that navigator took them through the door of the clouds, and below them was the fleet.  The Bombardier was listening to the navigator, and sighting in his bomb site, it was bombs away, and there were direct hits on what was first reported as the Japanese warship Haruna, and later was confirmed to a light battleship, that they sent to the bottom of the ocean that day.  Bombardier, navigator had done their job as Captain Colin P. Kelly piloted that plane through an open door.   

   Colin turned the B17 around; he and his crew had scored the first notable American victory of the brand new World War.  No more had he turned around and was heading back to Clark field than a squad of Zeros lead by Wing commander Saburo Sakai was on his tail.  The big bomber’s engines reved to near red line in trying to out run the Zeros; the turret gunners were throwing all the 50 caliber lead they could; Kelly was going home.  Saburo, a veteran of five years of air war, out maneuvered Kelly and made a direct hit on the bomber, and it burst into flames.  One gunner was already dead; Kelly shouted for the rest to bail out.  They all did. Altman was captured and spent the rest of the war in Tokyo in a POW camp. Halkyard made it to shore and fought the rest of the war with the Philippine guerillas and later rejoined the U.S. forces at Bataan; the rest were rescued and made it back to Clark for the invasion and the Bataan death march.  Kelly was going to try to limp the plane home to Clark on a wing and a prayer.   Kelly had just checked to make sure everyone had bailed, and his plane exploded in mid air. For Kelly, the war was over.

   Four inch headlines the next day, “American scores kill. Hero dies in flames.”  President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Captain Kelly the Distinguished Service Cross. There were long lines at recruiting centers. American’s were holding up their heads again; maybe, just maybe, we can pull this war off after all.  God had opened a window in a cloud bank, A young green horn pilot said, “Let’s go, guys,” the navigator had them on perfect coordinates, a bombardier was on the money and America rolled up their sleeves and the Axis began to tremble.  

   I was a news hound even in 1941; I sat by the radio to hear the news, and chart the maps in my bedroom.  When I saw the Captain Colin P. Kelly doll all dressed in his air force uniform, I wanted one for Christmas. Mother and dad agreed, and he was on my dresser.  He was my hero, and I went to work in the war effort.  Modern Americans, as they march for or against wars, have time on their hands because today they are not physically involved in the war effort.  In 1942 nearly every window had a white silk flag with gold fringe, with one or more stars indicating the number of sons, daughters, husbands, fathers of that home were at war.  I had a Red Rider coaster wagon, and we had a scrap metal drive at our elementary grade school, and for ever so many pounds of scrap metal that was brought in for the war effort, you got a promotion in  rank. I walked every alley, street and vacant lot in town looking for scrap metal to load on the wagon and take to the reclamation center.  I rose to the rank of captain and kind of wanted to stay their because of Kelly.  We walked the street collecting coffee jars, (coffee came in jars then), and turned them in for war credit.  My earnings and my allowance went for church and 10 cent saving stamps that were eventually pasted in enough books to buy a $25.00 war bond.  Church women met several times a week to roll bandages for the military, and bake cookies to send to the troops. There were no marches or protests against the war; we all had rolled up our sleeves and were going through every window that God opened.  V-E day and V-J day came and we were all in the street dancing, shouting and jumping up and down.  We had all had a part in the victory and the boys came home and we celebrated.   I am sure that God would have found someone else, but on that December 10th, 1941, he opened a window and Kelly blasted his B17 through it to set America on fire with determination and patriotism.  I just wonder how many such windows for the church God has opened, and there was no driver/pilot ready to take off in an emergency status as Kelly did at Clark, and blast God’s plans into wide open revival.   

   Now enough secular history; let’s go to the Bible and check out these doors that God opens. 

   Paul was writing to the Corinthians and he mentioned an open door.  Paul closes out his first book to Corinth by stating he does not want to make a passing visit, but, “I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has been opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (I Corinth. 16:8, 9).

   The first thing I want to mention, open doors sometimes are dangerous and there is often opposition.  There are often scars, widows and orphans.  Following the Distinguished Service Cross being posthumously awarded to Kelly, Governor Hillard of Florida sent a Western Union wire to Managing Editor of the Tampa Morning Tribune asking all of Florida to send Money to take care of Colin P Kelly III, a grade school student about my age at that time. FDR left a presidential order that some following president of the United States should see that the III got an appointment to West Point.  For every hero that flies through the open door, there are often those left behind.  Paul knew that there was danger in Ephesus, but he was ready to go through that open door.  Unfortunately, when God opens a door to his drivers and pilots today, fear keeps many of them from going through.  Fear can keep us from taking the necessary risks to go through the door that God has opened. 

   In 1991, during the Gulf war, Iraq launched a series of Scud missile attacks on Israel.  Although the numbers of deaths spiked the day of the first missile attack among Israeli citizens, the majority of the deaths were not directly attributable to the missiles.  Instead, the majority of deaths were from heart failure brought on by fear of the chemical and biological agents that were reported to be in the missiles. When it was discovered that there were no such agents, fear subsided and the Israeli death rate returned to normal.  God constantly has us driving or flying into the unknown; he knows the way and the destination, but for us it is just a break in the clouds.  But, fear can always be overcome with power, love, and self-discipline that comes from God (2 Timothy 1:7). 

   Satan, and all the secular society, will tell you that you are crazy, and you are going to lose, and they are experts at creating fear that keeps many from driving through windows and doors that God opens.  The problem with open doors and exciting opportunities, they are almost always crouched in danger and problems.  Paul understood that, and so has every Christian driver since.  My favorite theologian, and past candidate of President of the United States, was Possum Pogo; that outstanding leader in the swamps.  He called together a conference of fellow swamp dwellers and announced at a time of crisis, “We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.”  Nearly every opportunity to go through a door for God and Christ is a fearful trip into danger and the unknown.

   In 1963, I heard it from everywhere in the four corners area.  There is no way that four small churches could afford to have a Christian youth camp of their own.  The largest Christian Church in the area fought me tooth and nail over our first year of camp at Lake Vallecita in the San Juan mountains of Southern Colorado.  They had a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work.  I came to Aztec in 1962 and was supposed to teach history at Bloomfield Junior High; it turned out to be Physical Education, and I boogied back into the car business.  By summer, we had a good group of all ages in our youth group.  I had planned to have summer vacation from school to take in all weeks of camp.  Now I had one week of vacation coming from Ziems Motors, and three weeks of camp.  The New Mexico camp was 300 miles away from Aztec, and the Colorado camp was 300 miles away.  There was no way I could drive to camp on Sunday afternoon and back to be at work on Monday, and then drive the 600 miles round trip, and be back for Church on Sunday.  We had the scout troop, and we did a lot of camping, so we decided to camp out for church camp.  A co-worker offered his five acres on the feeder river to the Vallecita lake for an area to camp.  I invited the Farmington Church to go with us for a family camp.  I spent a Sunday afternoon trying to explain how camp would work.  They could only see the dangers and the problems of kids camping out.  I told them we were having the camp; they could come along, but I made the rules(The last thing an in-touch pilot needs are 6 co-pilots who aren’t).  They came; we had 65 kids and 6 women that were wonderful, myself and the laziest minister I had ever met.  He was so lazy that dead flies wouldn’t fall off him.  He never got up before 11 AM, and the only thing in the camp he did was to cheat at volleyball, and tangle with Melba.   We cooked on an open fire, with a 4×6 sheet of 3/8 steel for a top, had running water, the boys ran to the creek and carried fresh creek water back for drinking, cooking, and the like.  We bathed in the creek.  It was a great week and was the beginning of the beginning of a million dollar camp that is located on the Dolores River road between Cortez and Durango.  During the very last decision meeting to buy and operate the camp we were still getting  negative remarks and when we told them, “we have bought the camp, your only decision is do you want to be a part of it.”  They went away shaking their heads and wondering when we were going to let them vote on it.  There are still people forty years plus later that don’t believe we could afford a camp that has been paid off over 35 years. The camp has appreciated ten fold since we purchased it.  What could I say about the Navajo Christian Churches that were never supposed to fly; the New Iberian Mission Association, school, hospital, and future that seem still like climbing Everest.  We have had to fight negativity, bank problems, legal problems, people that tried to put road blocks every step of the way, Navajo Native Church medicine men that were high on Peyote that were praying to ancestors, and dancing and casting evil spirits on us that had to be exorcized years later.  Pogo was right, “We were surrounded with insurmountable opportunities.”  Every impossible door that God opened, and we went through, brought us to a higher ground of service and opportunities. 

   Paul found that every time God opened a door for him and he went through, God opened another door.  2 Corinth. 2:12, “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel  of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,”  Paul was a hard type Alpha male driver, and God had to get good control of him and his anger. Paul had to die so Christ could live in him.  Once he did, Paul was on his way to
walking, sailing from country to country, going through every open door, and respecting the closed doors (Acts 16:6), building camp fires of churches in every city and fanning those camp fires into raging forest fires for God.  Paul was driving; God was in full control using Paul’s talents, skills, bull- headedness, and hard-driving personality. It was a winning combination. 

   John was writing down instructions to the churches and wrote to the church at Philadelphia.  Hear well the words, “These are the words of Him that is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and not denied my name” (Revelations 3:7, 8).  Here Jesus is opening a door for the church at Philadelphia, and yet it sounds like he doesn’t think they are strong enough to go through the door.  But listen to me, Christ knows all about them and how they have been faithful.  He also knows they can go through the door, not because of their strength, but because they relay on His strength.  Hear again Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my grace is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, I am strong.”   Christ knew that the strength of the Philadelphia church was that they knew they were weak, and would be leaning on the strength of Christ to go though that open door.  Every good driver and pilot knows their own weaknesses and knows when and where to seek help. 

    Now, after all of this for the past two weeks, let me explain another facet of this jewel of a relationship between the driver and the navigator.

    Galatians 2:20 adds a whole new dimension to this study.  Here Paul explains his relationship to Christ.  Here is the unique relationship that Paul, and we, share with Jesus Christ. Last week I mentioned the John 14 passage where when we obey and love Christ that the Father, Holy Spirit and Jesus comes to live in us.  This is the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, (that is the indwelling we want).  Paul, bringing the relationship a little closer in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”   Just like the Apostle Paul, or the Apostle John, if we work at being a faithful driver that is in total harmony and communication with our navigator 24/7, we will in time become like him, and one with him, to where the crowd will mistake us for Him. We become Siamese twins connected at the heart.  We literally become one in our thinking and actions. This is not to say that Satan will stop continually  attacking us with the residue of the old sin nature in our lives and causing us continually to seek forgiveness and confession for not doing what we wanted to do, or doing what we did not want to do. It will always be a battle till the Lord takes us home and makes us perfect in His own time.  This is the goal of being perfect as the Father is perfect according to Jesus’ goal for us.  I have to tell you, this doesn’t happen very often in the church.  Very few reach this state of oneness with Christ, but that is the goal.  It will never be reached without a tremendous effort on our part, risk taking, and going through doors and windows with a great amount of faith that often is accompanied with fear that keeps us in contact with the navigator.  We need to “Speak the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as every part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15, 16).

   Many do not have the confidence in the church of Jesus Christ that I do.  For many, making it into the church is a kind of retirement and withdrawal from society very much like the dark ages and the monasteries and cloisters. Only today, it is personal pursuits such as sports, money, recreation and a thousand other things that are more important than our relationship maturing in Christ. We are called to confront society head-on; do the work that Christ laid out for us before time (Eph. 2:10).  We have the Holy Trinity dwelling in us0; we are the Temple of God and need no earthly temple; we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us (Phil.4:13).

    Just in case you still have a spiritual inferiority complex and think that you are not qualified to be a driver and are going to lounge back and turn the driving over to Greyhound or God, listen to a short little comment by Jesus.  This is found in Luke 7:28.  There was a lot of argument about John the Baptizer; he was called an aesthetic and weirdo while Jesus was called a wine bibber and glutton.  The crowd was asking about John and Jesus said, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no greater than John (remember John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and according to Jesus, the greatest); yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God (the coming church) is greater than he.”  John the Baptizer was Old Testament, old covenant, and the greatest; we are New Testament , new covenant, and the least in all the kingdom of the church in the entire world is greater than John. Now if you want to argue with Jesus, have at it, but that is what He said.  We have more Spiritual power, more God power, more resurrection power; we have more community, we have more opportunity, we have more opposition, we have more dangers and trials, and we have more to do.  But, with the holy trinity dwelling in us, we can be far more successful in this world than John was. Now, I am taking nothing away from John; he was the greatest in the Old Testament.  In the Kingdom the least that takes hold of the wheel, stays in tune with the indwelling, is greater. 

   What I am talking about is not very often happening on the main street of the United States or Western Europe; it is happening in many places in the majority world.  We have become afraid of taking risks, of pushing ourselves to the limit to accomplish the tasks that God has set before us.  We have become afraid of our reputation, we fear failure when we have been guaranteed success, we are worried about what other people will think, we worry about tomorrow when God has guaranteed tomorrow, we are very satisfied to sit back and let God do all the work, take a snooze and pig out at the next fellowship, let the world go to Hell; it’s okay, me and mine are in the fellowship. 

   There are wonderful puertas y ventanas out there that the Lord is opening for us, and we are expected to drive through, perhaps we can turn this war around. .