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As a teen during World War II, I kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings recounting the battles raging in Europe and the Pacific. Every evening at 6:00, I tuned in to Gabriel Heater on WOR in New York, wondering whether he'd open his radio newscast with "Ah yes, there's good news tonight" or "There's bad news tonight."
After World War II, we knew that wars could be just, and they were winnable.
I felt drawn to the military. I enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean conflict, and in 1965 I almost went to Viet Nam. I seriously considered a commission as an Army chaplain. A retired colonel in our church talked me out of it, though, arguing that the congregation needed me.
The Viet Nam war, however, taught us all a bitter lesson: some wars are unwinnable.
During my years as a pastor, I experienced both kinds of wars within the church. Sometimes church wars are winnable; sometimes they aren't.
In 1950 my wife, Fay, accepted Christ as her Savior in response to my testimony. We married a year later and planned for me to go to college and seminary and into the pastoral ministry.
From the start we agreed on our roles. I would be husband, father, and pastor. She would be wife, mother, and ordinary church member. I didn't expect her to do any more in the church than any other Christian woman. And that's how she wanted it.
The arrangement worked well in my first pastorate. The people loved us, we loved them, and Fay felt like she fit in. She could be herself and still be the pastor's wife.
The church board was spiritually mature. These individuals shared the responsibility of leading the church. They were the seasoned veterans, essential to the church's operational success.
And we were tested in battle. The congregation voted to relocate and build, but a faction fought it. The board and I stood our ground, letting them know the congregation had spoken. We expected them to cooperate with the program, to cease and desist from further factionalism. At the board's request, ...