The Dam Busters

The Dam Busters

Behind every army is the industry that fuels it. There were several dams positioned within Germany’s Ruhr valley in the 1940s that produced the electricity needed to help power the war effort. By 1942, the British had developed both a plan and the needed technology to blow up these dams thus disrupting the German war production.

Engineer Barnes Wallis created a bomb that could skim across the surface of a body of water. The result was an explosive that could bounce over the torpedo nets protecting the dam from submarine attack. The delivery of these bombs required a high skill and high risk. The drum-like explosives had to be released behind enemy lines from a height of 60 feet and at a speed of 232 mph. And elite group of pilots were called into the mission and over one third of the men perished. At least two of the targeted dams were breeched resulting in further casualties on the ground. Thus is the destructive nature of war. While it is harder to quantify the direct damage to the German war effort, the mission did serve to stoke the fire in the hearts of the British forces. These fearless pilots from the Royal Air Force became known as the Dam Busters.

When I hear things like this, my first response is to look for the parable. I ask God what he is saying to me through the story. The life God offers to all people is often depicted as a river. The enemy cannot stop the force of this river but he does seek to block, divert or even to highjack it. He is a dam builder. As the sons of God and the followers of Jesus, I believe it is our role to demolish these dams. It is not for us to simply defend against the gates of hell, it is for us to advance against them so the river of God can burst forth and cover this world. The flood released does not bring death, it bring life and healing to the world.

There have been many men in my story who have taken the offensive in this fight. They are the Dam Busters. And now it my job, it is our job, to do the same for those following behind us.



I loved my wife’s grandfather. When she was little, sitting at his table, he would wait for her to look away so he could steal a cookie or dump more peas on her plate. He always sat in the same seat and thanked his wife for the food before leaving his chair. There was an old tree behind his house where he would hang gum from the branches. My wife and her sisters thought it was a gum tree. I met him when he was much older. He would sit in his chair next to a potted cactus and watch for the school bus to make its morning route. 

He always shook my hand firmly, with the strength of a much younger man. We would talk about where we lived and what I did for work. Then he would tell me how he worked for the highway department and how I should stay away from the drink. Sometimes he would talk about the war. He would place his strong hand on his forehead and get very quiet when he talked about the war. This makes sense considering he walked across Europe for four years before finally coming home. 

A few weeks ago my wife met her mom for lunch. She came home with these old magazines and newspapers from the 1940s, things her grandfather had saved from the war. As we looked through the delicate pages, my wife stopped on a photo showing a sea of soldiers standing together looking up. I was arrested by another image. The cover of one of the publications featured a man balancing a stack of large discs. There were a dozen or so. A small caption in the lower corner told the story: Nazi Mines.

The reason the image caught me was the expression on the man’s face. His mouth was open in a full smile, the kind you see on a person who just finished a good laugh. If the mines were heavy, there was no indication of it on his face. I asked myself how this man could find joy while standing on the front lawn of hell. I wondered how he’d found a way to override the fear. Because the business of locating and disabling landmines is fraught with danger and high fatality.


Then God spoke to me about the image. He said this is a picture of our mission. This photograph conveys the assignment we’ve been given as men. The great dragon has been thrown down and disarmed (Col 2:15). His loss is certain. This is true and we can live in confidence about this fact. But it is also true that he has not yet been destroyed and there are remnants of evil still left to confront. There are mines buried across fields where we live and work and love and play. Death waits under the feet of our wives and kids and friends.

And we are called to the good work of tracking down and disabling these mines. It’s a risk to live and love this way—to take on this assignment. It could cost us our lives. But one day we will be sitting around a table, counting the mines we’ve pulled out of the ground, and laughing like men who don’t know the meaning of fear.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

We almost missed the birth of Christ because of a dryer vent. We were slotted to leave for my in-laws at 2pm on Christmas Eve. It was after 5pm before we pulled out of the driveway. Our fingers were sliced from cutting aluminum and our spirits were mostly dried up. And the dryer still wasn’t fixed.

What is at stake was our joy. Nehemiah said the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is a source of strength. Experiencing joy is like water on dry ground and clean air for the lungs. The impartation of joy can resurrect a dead heart. The problem is joy feels illusive, like something that can blow away in the wind. Just look at the world. The deep brokenness goes far beyond flesh wounds and broken dryers.

But there is good news. Joy is not only a source of strength that can be received, it is an act of strength that can be chosen. In the face of hassle, chaos, darkness and even death, we can defy evil and opt for joy. We can chase after joy even when it makes no sense. And the choice to fight for joy has the power to push back the darkness.

Consider the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. After spending the night robbing every last present, ornament and stocking from the Whos down in Whoville, he sat perched above the town waiting. He was waiting for the screams and cries of parents and children lamenting over their loss. But his dark plan failed. Instead of crying he heard a different sound drifting up the mountain. It started with a single voice that was soon backfilled by a beautiful choir. The Whos down in Whoville had gathered in a circle to make a joyful song. It was an act war against evil. They had something the Grinch could not take from them. And their joy didn’t just stop the Grinch, it transformed him. For as we all know, the Grinch’s heart grew two sizes on that Christmas day.

I am not suggesting we live in denial about the pain we experience in this world. I am simply suggesting we have vast resources available to us in order to walk through that pain. So if you feel the cold and darkness pressing in, I suggest you go sledding. Build a snowman. Or better yet, circle up with the people you love and sing a song that can cause even the deadest heart to come back to life.

For more on the power of joy, check out podcast EP 3 “Joy is a Weapon” from last year.

Cut Through the Static

Cut Through the Static

There are a lot of things I’m sure I couldn’t do even if I wanted to. One of those things would be to rob a train. I’ve riden a horse a couple times but never at high speeds. And even if I could run a horse, the transition from horse to a moving train is reaching too far for me.

But I did hear a story about a recent train robbery. The assailant wasn’t attempting to take anything from the train, he was aiming to take the train itself. Apparently the man attacked the engineer and temporarily seized control.

After the authorities apprehended the man, it was determined he was under the influence (which explains his actions). Clearly the man was in a fight with darkness and so my assessment of this story is not meant to make light of his struggles. I was just intrigued by the prospect of highjacking a train considering the options for escape. Every train is bound to a fixed path built from steel. This means the endgame is already determined and the man’s plan was sure to fail.

It is a sober picture. I don’t want to drive my own life down an unbending track. I don’t want to become set in my ways or locked into a closed loop. In fiction we call those static characters. Though they are moving forward, they never change. I’m not talking about being wishey-washey. Holding to solid convictions is vital. I just want to make sure I pursue humility so I can see my blindspots and become the kind of character who is willing to change for the better.



The Man Who Made a Guitar

The Man Who Made a Guitar

I knew a man who lived on a hill. His property was covered with metal, tools and trailers and things other men had made.

He didn’t usually come outside, but stayed in where it was warm. Where the light was weak and where the bottles were stored.

I don’t know what he thought about in the dim light. Maybe about his dad throwing him into the wall.

Then one day his body had soaked up enough and his heart began to thrash around because it didn’t know how to swim.

When the man didn’t die, he realized he could have. So he stopped drinking and started going outside.

He took the tools from his trailer and made a guitar. And to my surprise, he gave it to me.

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