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THE DANGERS OF ASSUMPTION


THE DANGERS OF ASSUMPTION

William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

Several decades ago, as a young, inexperienced traveler, a visit to foreign mission fields underscored danger in assuming the schedules of others to be dependable.
The trip to Costa Rica included a stop in Mexico City. It was a blessed time which demands a story within itself. But the point is that the time for departure from Mexico City was assumed to be dependable. An early arrival at the airport allowed some leisure time, and then an early check-in put me directly on the airplane. As I was being seated, the plane started to move. I exclaimed, “but this plane is not scheduled to leave for another 30 minutes. The stewardess reply was, “It is O.K. everyone is here so let’s go!” Huh! I was glad to be on the plane early.
Then when departing San Jose, Missionary Ward was also traveling back to the States, so we went together.
At the airport, we were told all seats were taken, and I was not included. Under protest that I had an international ticket that scheduled my travel on this flight, I was told a 24 hour early check-in was required. So, it appeared that I would be left behind, awaiting another flight, perhaps the next day. I had assumed that my placement was secure by the scheduling of others.
Fortunately, Gene Ray Ward intervened on my behalf, and not knowing Spanish, I do not know for sure just what all went on, but because of his intervention, I was allowed to travel on that flight by using a stewardess jump-seat. I was, and am, grateful for the help, and those incidents made me a much wiser traveler. It truly is dangerous to assume.
That danger is exponentially underscored in the world of spiritual things. So many guilty of assuming that others are right will face a rude and disastrous awakening when they find out that baptism, church membership, good works, and their dependence on the misinformation of others have not saved them. Paul said, “I know Whom I have believed…” Personal relationship with Christ Jesus cannot be replaced, or substituted in any way. Assumptions may be worked around in mundane things, but not in the eternal welfare of the soul!

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MY AMERICA MAY WE RETURN TO THOSE DAYS


    A brief story of America and what what we were

This 1967 true story is of an experience by a young 12-year-old lad in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is about the vivid memory of a privately rebuilt P-51 from WWII.

In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes.  There, in our little airport, sat a majestic P-51.  They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. Airport, on its way to an air show.
The pilot had been tired, so he just happened to choose Kingston for his stop over.   It was to take to the air very soon.   I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by her.   It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.

The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot’s lounge.  He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and tossed.  It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn of the century.

His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn – it smelled old and genuine.  Old Glory was prominently sewn to its shoulders.   He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid of arrogance.  He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal (“Expo-67 Air Show”) then walked across the tarmac.

After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall, lanky man returned to the flight lounge to ask if  anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he “flashed the old bird up, just to be safe.”

Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an extinguisher after brief instruction on its use — “If you see a fire, point, then pull this lever!”, he said.  (I later became a firefighter, but that’s another story.)  The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror  from fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate.   One manifold, then another, and yet another barked — I stepped back with the others.   In moments the Packard-built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar.  Blue flames knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl.   I looked at the others’ faces; there was no concern.   I lowered the bell of my extinguisher.   One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge.  We did.

Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre-flight run-up. He’d taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight.  All went quiet for several seconds.  We ran to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway.  We could not.  There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19.  Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before.  Like a furious hell spawn set loose — something mighty this way was coming.  “Listen to that thing!”  said the controller.

In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight.  It’s tail was already off the runway and it was moving faster than anything I’d ever seen by that point on 19.  Two-thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her gear going up.  The prop tips were supersonic.   We clasped our ears as the Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze.  We stood for a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to digest what we’d just seen.

The radio controller rushed by me to the radio.  “Kingston tower calling Mustang?”  He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment.  The radio crackled, “Go ahead, Kingston.”  “Roger, Mustang.  Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low level pass.”   I stood in shock because the controller had just, more or less, asked the pilot to return for an impromptu air show!  The controller looked at us.  “Well, What?”  He asked. “I can’t let that guy go without asking.  I couldn’t forgive myself!”

The radio crackled once again, “Kingston, do I have permission for a low level pass, east to west, across the field?”  “Roger, Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass.”  “Roger, Kingston, I’m coming out of 3,000 feet, stand by.”

We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze.  The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream.  Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe straining against positive G’s and gravity. Her wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic.  The burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding and tearing the air. At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with the old American pilot saluting.  Imagine.  A salute!  I felt like laughing; I felt like crying; she glistened; she screamed; the building shook; my heart pounded.  Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and indelible into my memory.

I’ve never wanted to be an American more than on that day!  It was a time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother.  A steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who’d just flown into my memory.  He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart, old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.

That America will return one day!  I know it will!   Until that time, I’ll just send off this story.  Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a Country, and especially to that old American pilot:  the late JIMMY STEWART (1908-1997),

cid:X.MA1.1448455663@aol.com
Actor, real WWII Hero (Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber Wing stationed in England), and a USAF Reserves Brigadier General, who wove a wonderfully fantastic memory for a young Canadian boy that’s lasted a lifetime.

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Eddie Rickenbacker – an Ace among men


Eddie Rickenbacker – an Ace among men

Eddie Rickenbacker WWI AceAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

He began his career as an auto racer, gaining international fame by competing in the Indianapolis 500 four times, earning the nickname “Fast Eddie.”

When World War I stared, he was sent to France in 1917, becoming the personal chauffeur driver of General John J. Pershing.
His name was Edward Vernon “Eddie” Rickenbacker, born OCTOBER 8, 1890.

With Germany’s Red Baron dominating the skies, Eddie requested transfer to the air service where he eventually became commanding officer of the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron, with its now famous “Hat-in-the-Ring” insignia.

This Squadron was responsible for destroying 69 enemy aircraft, the highest number shot down by any American Squadron.

Flying over 300 combat hours, Eddie Rickenbacker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Herbert Hoover in 1931 for personally shooting down 26 enemy aircraft.

He wrote his World War I experiences in the book, Fighting the Flying Circus, 1919, such as one story:

“…three-quarters of an hour of gasoline remained…and no compass.

Then I thought of the north star! Glory be! There she shines! I had been going west instead of south…

Keeping the star behind my rudder I flew south for fifteen minutes, then…found myself above…the River Meuse…picked up our faithful searchlight and ten minutes later I landed…

As I walked across the field to my bed I looked up…and repeated most fervently, ‘Thank God!’”

Rickenbacker wrote of the courage of fellow pilot Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt:

“Quentin flew about alone for a while, then discovering, as he supposed, his own formation ahead of him he overtook them, dropped in behind…

To his horror he discovered that he had been following an enemy patrol all the time! Every machine ahead of him wore a huge black maltese cross on its wings and tail!…

Quentin fired one long burst…The aeroplane immediately preceding him dropped at once and within a second or two burst into flames.

Quentin put down his nose and streaked it for home before the astonished Huns had time to notice what had happened.”

Quentin was shot down in a dogfight, July 14, 1918, as Rickenbacker wrote:

“Quentin Roosevelt’s death was a sad blow to the whole group.”

In recounting barely escaping death himself, Eddie Rickenbacker wrote:

“I want to make it clear that this escape and the others were not the result of any super ability or knowledge on my part. I wouldn’t be alive today if I had to depend on that.

I realized then, as I headed for France on one wing, that there had to be something else.

I had seen others die, brighter and more able than I.

I knew there was a power. I believe in calling upon it for aid and for guidance.

I am not such an egotist as to believe that God has spared me because I am I. I believe there is work for me to do and that I am spared to do it, just as you are.”

After World War I, Eddie Rickenbacker became owner of the Indianapolis Speedway which holds the annual 500 mile auto race.

In 1925, Rickenbacker supported General Billy Mitchell, who was court-martial for criticizing the military’s failure to upgrade their airplanes.

Rickenbacker worked for Eastern Airlines, eventually becoming its president.

He opposed President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies as socialism, which drew criticism from the liberal media.

Roosevelt’s administration even ordered NBC Radio not to broadcast Rickenbacker’s remarks.

In 1942, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson asked Rickenbacker to go on a special mission to the Pacific to inspect the military bases.

Flying from Hawaii to New Guinea to meet with General Douglas MacArthur, the plane’s inadequate navigational equipment resulted in them being hundreds of miles off-course.

Out of fuel, the plane ditched in the ocean, October 21, 1942.

For twenty-four days, in almost hopeless conditions, Eddie Rickenbacker and seven others drifted aimlessly on the open sea.

Lt. James Whittaker described in his book, We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing (1943), that they shivered wet all night but baked in the burning sun all day, and fought off sharks:

“…Those giant swells hadn’t looked so bad from high in the air, but down among them they were mountainous…

Rick maintained with a perfectly straight face that he was not in the least upset…

A swift movement beside our raft caught my eye and I turned…The water about the raft fleet was alive with the triangular, dorsal fins of sharks…”

The crew would have given up had not 52-year-old Eddie Rickenbacker, the oldest person on the raft, continued to encourage them.

Lt. James Whittaker wrote:

“Col. James C. Adamson…suddenly raised himself over the side of the raft and slid into the water. Quick as a flash, Rick had him.

We hurriedly pulled the rafts in close and helped push the Colonel back into his boat…Rick took over.

I will not put down all the things he said. They would scorch this paper. But from then on, woe betide the man who appeared about to turn quitter…

That man Rickenbacker has got a rough tongue in his head.”

Lt. James Whittaker continued:

“At length Private Johnny Bartek got out his Testament and by common consent we pulled the rafts together for a prayer meeting. We said the Lord’s prayer…

I didn’t have the least notion that this open-air hallelujah meeting was going to do any good…I observed that Rick seemed to encourage the suggestion and appeared inclined to take part…
Col. Adamson was reading from the Testament.

Suddenly Cherry stopped him. ‘What was that last, Colonel?’ he demanded. ‘Where is that from?’

‘It is from the Gospel According to Matthew,’ Col. Adamson replied. ‘Do you like it?’

‘It’s the best thing I’ve heard yet. Read it again, Colonel.’

Col. Adamson then read from the 31st through the 34th verses of the sixth chapter of Matthew:

‘Therefore, take ye no thought, saying: What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For these are things the heathen seeketh. For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Lt. James Whittaker continued:

“I was somewhat impressed and said so. Then I was a little surprised at myself and added that the evil certainly had been sufficient unto the last two or three days…

I thought of these words during the wet, dreary night that followed. I dismissed them finally with the decision I would believe when I saw the food and drink. I was destined to see something startlingly like proof the following night…”

Flight Engineer Private Johnny Bartek of Freehold, N.J., wrote in his book, Life Out There (1943) that on the 8th day, after reading from the Bible, Matthew 6:31-34, a sea gull landed on Rickenbacker’s head:

“…but as we went on we all began to believe in the Bible and God and prayer…We prayed and prayed for the sea gull to land so we could catch him…

After reading the passage, about twenty minutes later, that’s when the sea gull landed on Eddie Rickenbacker’s head…”

Rickenbacker caught it and they used it for food and fish bait, with a fishhook made from a bent key ring.

Succumbing to exposure and dehydration, Lt. James Whittaker wrote further in We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing (1943):

“We said the Lord’s prayer again…

While we rolled and wallowed over the crests and into the troughs I was thinking that this was God’s chance to make a believer of Jim Whittaker…

Eventually I became aware something was tugging insistently at my consciousness. I looked over to the left. A cloud that had been fleecy and white a while ago now was darkening by the second.

While I watched, a bluish curtain unrolled from the cloud to the sea. It was rain – and moving toward us! Now everyone saw the downpour, sweeping across the ocean and speckling the waves with giant drops.

‘Here she is!’ Cherry shouted. ‘Thanks, Old Master!’ Another minute and we were being deluged by sheets of cold water that splashed into our parched mouths and sluiced the caked salt off our burned and stinging bodies. We cupped our hands to guide the life-giving rivulets down our throats…

We soaked and wrung out our shirts until all the salt was washed out of them. Then we saturated them again and wrung the water into our mouths…”

Eddie Rickenbacker described their survival in his book, Seven Came Through (1943).

Regarding America, Eddie Rickenbacker wrote:

“I pray to God every night of my life to be given the strength and power to continue my efforts to inspire in others the interest, the obligation and the responsibilities that we owe to this land for the sake of future generations – for my boys and girls – so that we can always look back when the candle of life burns low and say,

‘Thank God I have contributed my best to the land that contributed so much to me.’”

Eddie Rickenbacker confided:

“It was clear to me that God had a purpose in keeping me alive…I had been saved to serve.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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