Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Meaningful Story is Always a Good Story

I came across this article today and it highlights one of the things we discussed when finishing up the Storyline series.  Don’t misunderstand what Donald Miller is saying.  He isn’t suggesting that we all have to be rock stars to tell good stories with our lives.   Living a meaningful life that is pleasing to God is the point.  And meaningful stories are always good stories.  Some of the best stories I’ve seen in movies or read about grabbed me because of the struggle of a character who wanted something and overcame obstacles to get it.

This article is about “Shifty” Powers.  If you’ve seen Band of Brothers (probably my favorite mini-series), you know about him.  He fought with the 101st Airborne division in WWII.  Chuck Yeager makes a great point, when Shifty died, there was no fanfare like we saw when Michael Jackson died.  But that doesn’t mean his story is any less meaningful.  Band of Brothers isn’t about a group of celebrities.  It is a great story about a regular bunch of guys who sacrificed everything to conquer an evil force.  Don’t let your story get hijacked by society and our obsession with celebrity. 

For my money, Shifty told a great story with his life.


“Shifty” By Chuck Yeager



Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 Episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn’t know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having Trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the “Screaming Eagle,” the symbol of The 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he d been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made. Quietly and humbly, he said “Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 …” at which point my heart skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said “I made the 5 training Jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy.  Do you know where Normandy is?” At this point my heart stopped. I told him “Yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what D-Day was.”

At that point he said “I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem .”

I was standing with a genuine war hero, and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day. I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said “Yes… And it’s real sad because, these days, so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can’t make the trip.” My heart was in my throat and I didn’t know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I’d take his in coach.

He said “No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy.” His eyes were filling up as he said it, and mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on Jan. 17, 2011 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.

No big event in Staples Center ..

No wall to wall back to back 24×7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

And that’s not right!!

Let’s give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way.

P.S. I think that it is amazing how the “media” chooses our “heroes” these days… Michael Jackson & the like!


Is it Well With Your Soul?

Two weeks ago in Cornerstone, Josh played the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” and said we should all lookup the story behind why the hymn was written.  I was trying to relate the lyrics to my life.  New job, loving family, great friends, so yeah, it is well with my soul.  It’s easy to say that when things seems to be going right.  Read the story of the author and how he came to pen that song.

Put yourself in his shoes and imagine you were writing a hymn to God.  What would the lyrics sound like?

I wish I had faith like Horatio Spafford


Taken from


This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled,

‘It is well with my soul’, you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words,

“When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of

Spafford’s life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.


Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because

of Horatio’s legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close

friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only

son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio

had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was

wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.


Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four

daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest — DL Moody needed the help. He was

traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in

late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French

steamer ‘Ville de Havre’ across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development

forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned.

He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford

returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read:

“Saved alone.”


On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only

12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters

Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being

torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a

plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had

been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her,

“You were spared for a purpose.” And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful

and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”


Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved

wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father’s

voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. “A careful reckoning has been made”, he said, “and

I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.” Horatio

then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.


The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite

woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told “her soul is vexed within her”, she still

maintains that ‘It is well.” And Spafford’s song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers



It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those

experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them would also be with us.


No matter what circumstances overtake us may we be able to say with Horatio Spafford…


When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul!


It is well … with my soul!

It is well, it is well, with my soul.