Our Thanksgiving Heritage and Why It’s Important Today

November 24, 2019By Vance DayDevotional

Each one of us has a heritage. One form is our lineage, meaning our ancestors who came before us. Another heritage is the cultural type which is handed down through the generations.

Part of our national heritage is the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate. The roots of that holiday (originally “holy day”) are important for us all to understand. President Lincoln originally called for a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1863:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

After recounting many of the blessings the country had enjoyed, even in the midst of the great trauma of Civil War, Lincoln proclaims the following:

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

My family and I had an opportunity recently to visit Plymouth, Massachusetts, where my ancestors landed in 1623 after a perilous voyage on the supply ship “Anne.” This was the first ship that came to re-supply the pilgrims who had landed two and a half years earlier. My ancestors, Ralph and Joyce Wallen, were “separatists” – those who sought to exercise their liberty of conscience rather than follow the dictates of the government church.

It’s interesting that most people view the Declaration of Independence as being the birth certificate of our nation. But it really isn’t. The Mayflower Compact is our birth certificate. Our forebears laid out a covenant regarding their purpose in the new world:

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith, and the honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another; covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

From what I can tell, my ancestors were humble people seeking religious freedom in a new land. They had no intention or desire to destroy other cultures, but rather to set free those cultures to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The same should be true for us today. Our culture is not supportive of a Judeo-Christian worldview; in fact, it is hostile to us and our desire to engage in respectful dialogue about truth and the gospel.

Our Lord made it clear that we would face opposition but that he had already addressed that perceived problem: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

This Thanksgiving let us approach the holiday with a great sense of gratitude for what God has done for us personally and for our nation. Unlike any other nation, except Israel (and some include Switzerland), the United States of America was birthed in covenant. This demonstrates God’s great intention toward our people, and places on us, as recipients of that blessing, a duty to discharge to those who came before as well as those who will come after us. Let us have a resident spirit of gratitude to God for the liberty we enjoy.

Vance Day is President of Promise Keepers. To receive more content like this in your inbox, sign up for the Promise Keepers email list.

Why We All Need a Band of Brothers

August 17, 2019By Vance DayCulture, Uncategorized

As America commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day this year, Promise Keepers’ COO Vance Day tells about his personal connection to one of the “Band of Brothers” who stormed the beach in Normandy.

As the green light suddenly glowed, a young second lieutenant shuffled up to the door of the C-47 and leapt out into the darkness. Other troopers tumbled out behind him. Parachutes unfurled and clapped open.  

The young, green pilots flying the C-47s sped up and took evasive action to avoid the barrage of German flak and machine gun tracers filling the air. As a result, the U.S. paratroopers were jumping way too low and at too high a speed.  

The force of the propeller blast was so great that the chin strap on Lieutenant Buck Compton’s helmet snapped. The rope on his leg bag also broke, and he lost all his equipment. As he landed in a Normandy field in the early hours of the Allied invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, Lt. Buck Compton had only a jump knife as a weapon and was miles from his assigned landing zone. 

By day’s end, Lt. Compton — one of 12 green American paratroopers — would help defeat an estimated 70 dug-in veteran German paratroopers. The team would also assist in destroying four 105 mm cannons at Brecourt Manor in Normandy, which were firing on the American infantry landing on Utah Beach. For his bravery and leadership under fire that day, Lt. Compton was awarded the Silver Star. 

I met Buck in 2000 as a result of producing a documentary on that battle. I interviewed Buck and found him as down to earth as any hero I had ever met. He became a personal friend. Eight years later, sitting at my kitchen counter, Buck came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ and entered the last stage of his life a believer.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynn D. “Buck” Compton grew up playing sports and dreamed of being a major league baseball catcher. In 1939, he attended UCLA and earned a starting position on the varsity football squad and played in the 1943 Rose Bowl game. However, baseball was his first love. He played catcher for UCLA and assisted the team to several winning seasons. Of course, having Jackie Robinson as a teammate helped.

When World War II broke out, Buck was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as assistant platoon leader in the 2nd Platoon, E Company. He was young, in an elite outfit, and was about to partake in the largest military invasion in modern history.

One of the men in Lt. Compton’s platoon was an Oregonian named Don Malarkey. “He is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known,” said Don Malarkey of Compton. Their friendship spanned years and provided great memories. Don was one of the 12 who attacked the German artillery at Brecourt Manor with Lt. Compton, winning the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters.  

The two fought together in Holland until Buck took a German round in the buttocks. Don led the effort to drag Buck to the back of a tank and off the battlefield. Buck rejoined the Company just before the Battle of the Bulge, when Hitler made a last great attempt to forestall the Allied advance by launching a surprise attack through the Ardennes forest at a weak point in the American lines.

The Germans had to take Bastogne, a Belgian city that controlled the road network in and throughout the Ardennes region. On December 16, 1944, the German army rolled over the American frontline units causing horrific casualties. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had only two divisions in reserve that he could possibly throw into the fray in hopes of blunting the German advance long enough for other units to be moved to the battle from other sectors.  

The 101st Airborne Division was being rested and refitted in Mourmelon, France, after fighting a grueling 78 days in the muck and mud of Holland. Lt. Compton, Sgt. Malarkey, and the rest of E Company had turned in their equipment and ammunition and were waiting a total refitting of combat gear and winter clothing when the German divisions hit the American lines. Despite their depleted number and the lack of sufficient equipment and supplies, Eisenhower deployed the 101st to Bastogne and gave orders that the city had to be held at all costs.  

Buck Compton and Don Malarkey were trucked in an overnight express to Bastogne and dumped out west of the city in their summer issue clothing, with essentially no ammunition and in weather that would soon dip below zero. Malarkey recalls Buck asking, “Do you have any ammo for that carbine?” Don, like many of the other men in this unit, didn’t. Buck returned with a clip and handed it to Don, saying, “Here, this may come in handy.” Off they went to stop the Germans who outnumbered the 101st (15 to 1, by some estimates), outgunned the Americans, and were rolling toward them with tanks.

Lt. Compton did not recall the siege of Bastogne with any great fondness. “We were outnumbered, surrounded, and without proper equipment. We lost a lot of men — good men.” He and his platoon endured the rain of fire dropped on them during the nine days they were surrounded. He saw his men killed, and two of his closest friends each lost a leg. After the 101st was resupplied by air and the siege was broken, Buck got trench foot and was shipped to the rear. 

Author Stephen E. Ambrose recounts the remainder of E Company’s service in his book Band of Brothers, which was later made into an epic miniseries released in 2001 by HBO. The miniseries features both Buck Compton (Neal McDonough) and Don Malarkey (Scott Grimes) as central figures in E Company. 

After his recovery, Lt. Compton was put in charge of all Army athletic events in the European Theater. His service days ended with an office in Paris before being discharged stateside as a First Lieutenant.

Buck did not consider himself a war hero when he returned home. “I did my duty and came home — that was it.” After the war, Buck finished his degree at UCLA, worked as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, and then passed the California Bar Exam. Eventually Buck became a prosecutor for Los Angeles County. One of his last convictions was that of Sirhan Sirhan for the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Buck to the California Court of Appeals for the Second Judicial District. Judge Compton served on the bench until his retirement in 1990. He moved to Mt. Vernon, Washington, to be near his two daughters and their families and provided weekly policy and political commentary on local radio. “I’ve lived a full life and have no regrets. I’m just glad to be around,” he often said.

Personally, I owe Buck a great deal. He was a mentor, a friend, and a colleague. It was Buck who encouraged me to place my name into consideration for appointment as a Circuit Court judge. He believed in me and supported me; we traveled together for 10 years all through North America and Europe, even lecturing on leadership and history at the White House and before members of Congress. 

Buck was thrilled when the Governor appointed me to the bench. He traveled to Oregon and spoke at my investiture (the public robing ceremony) as a judge. I didn’t know what Buck would say about me, but I was floored when he told the audience that he wanted to be like me. I was flabbergasted. Here was my hero, saying he wanted to be like me?

As I’ve pondered that moment, I’ve come to realize that all of us need brothers who will come alongside us and encourage us, strengthen us, and hold us accountable. I thought I was the main one who benefited from my relationship with Buck, but apparently there were traits in me that helped him be a better man as well.

That’s a big part of what Promise Keepers is all about. Through our upcoming stadium event July 31–August 1, 2020, we want you to see there’s an army of guys like you who want to be the men God intends them to be. But we also want to help you connect locally to a small band of brothers who make you stronger in ways you may have never considered — like Buck did for me.

Four months after speaking at my investiture, Buck passed away. He was 91. I still miss him greatly. We all owe a great debt to Buck and to each of those who have served our country. Many never came back. Please take time to remember those who have served — in whatever conflict — during this 75th-Anniversary season of D-Day. If you’re able, reach out and say thank you. Without brave soldiers who step up to defend the republic, we would not have the legacy we possess to pass on to the next generation.

This story originally appeared in the Promise Keepers newsletter. For more content like this, sign up here for the Promise Keepers newsletter.

Does My Work Matter?

August 9, 2019By Vance DayCulture, PK Men's Study Bible

Many of us spend quiet lives in a cubicle or in front of a machine where no one notices our work unless we mess up. If we don’t show up for work, someone else takes the pile off our desk or bench and life goes on. So how significant is what I do with those 40-plus hours of my week?

Psalm 90 was written by Moses during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. It is a plea for God to give meaning to otherwise meaningless lives. Think through the structure of this poem, and its impact hits like a sledge hammer. God is eternal; man is temporary. Apart from God, humans have no hope of significance. So Moses prayed for wisdom and for God’s compassion on man’s condition. The request of Moses’ prayer was that God would let man understand God’s workings, and then incorporate human work into the grand, eternal plan.

Moses recognized that God’s involvement in a man’s life is his only hope of real significance. Meditate on verses 1-11 and then carefully read verses 12-17 as your own prayer. As you go to work, offer up your activity to God as part of his eternal work through you.

Scripture Reference: Psalms 90:1-17

Promise #1 HONOR
A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Excerpted from the Promise Keeper’s Men’s Study Bible.

My PK Story: Tim and his wife Pam

August 8, 2019By Vance DayMy PK Story

I didn’t want to go.

My pastor had invited me to Promise Keepers the week before, and I had said yes only because I didn’t want him to know that I was a fake.

I was 32 years old who attended church regularly, married to a beautiful wife for 6 years, had two incredible kids, and was making nearly $90,000 in my dream job as the youngest newspaper editor in Gannett Inc.’s history.

And yet, I was living a nightmare.

I was always angry.  I slept 3-4 hours a night.  I was in trapped in secret addictions.  And unbeknownst to anyone else, I had already attempted suicide several times.

I didn’t want to go to a “Jesus” event in Cincinnati, Ohio, riding in a van full of “Jesus” freaks singing “Jesus songs.”

But at 3 p.m. Friday, May 9, 1997, there I was . . . riding shotgun as the rest of the men were singing “No Greater Love” at the top of their lungs.

By 7 p.m., we were sitting in the nose-bleed section of old Riverfront Stadium, and I was wishing I was anywhere but there.

After some worship music, a speaker named Crawford Loritts came to the podium.  After telling a couple of jokes as icebreakers, he paused and stepped away from the microphone for several seconds.

When he stepped back up, he apologized to the 70,000 men who had gathered there saying that he didn’t feel very funny at the moment because there was a man there tonight who, if he didn’t get his life right with Jesus, he would not be alive in two weeks.

No one but me and God knew that I had planned a final suicide attempt two weeks from that night.

Needless to say, Crawford Loritts had my attention.  Or as I have learned since then, the Holy Spirit had my heart, and began convicting me of my desperate need for Jesus.

I began to cry.  I mean, really cry.  Like ugly man cry.

It felt like all of my hurt and shame was being poured out as God’s love and grace were being poured in.

The men in our group still remind me of the kleenexes, toilet paper, and paper towels they had to get for me as I sat there and cried my heart out to make room for my new heart.

Before Mr. Loritts was done, I began to make my way down front to repent and seek forgiveness.

The rest of the night was a blur, but I do remember the next day surrendering my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

In that surrender, I also answered God’s call on my life . . . as a pastor.

So my wife and I left $90,000 a year to make $9,000 . . . $11,000 below poverty level for a family of four.  And we couldn’t have been happier.

I have attended every Promise Keepers event I possibly could since then, but on that day in 1997, God used Promise Keepers to save a man, a marriage, and a ministry.

That weekend in Cincinnati still inspires me to be a “vessel of honor.”

I’ve been a pastor now for 21 years, and born again for 22.

(My birthday is May 11; my born-again day is May 10. . . Guess which one I celebrate?!)

I’ve told this story hundreds of times . . . and still weep each time.  And I would be absolutely honored and humbled to share this story at Dallas in 2020, if it be so.

All for God’s glory.

From Tim’s wife, Pam

I learned early in life never to open a door to a stranger. Thankfully, 22 years ago, I didn’t heed that parental advice and my life hasn’t been the same since.

The stranger was a man I had been married to for six years. But that summer night, the man who returned from a Promise Keepers event in Cincinnati was not the same one who had left our home. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” It was as if a 3-D, living and breathing version of that Scripture from 2 Cor. 5:17 had walked right in, ushered by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I could tell something was different the moment I laid eyes on him. I may not have realized he was on the brink of suicide, but I did realize he was a workaholic and our marriage was a mess. If it wasn’t for Promise Keepers, I would have been a young widow or an old, miserable woman. Thankfully, I’m neither.  I am the blessed wife of an anointed man of God, who has a wonderful marriage. I am also the mother of three children who are privileged to have a father who took the role of spiritual head of the household seriously and they are now walking in their callings. 
We celebrated 28 years of marriage in April. I praise God for Promise Keepers and for the stranger I let into our home. I can’t imagine my life without him.
– Pam


Learn more about the upcoming Promise Keepers 2020 Conference in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

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Tickets on sale now!

August 1, 2019By Vance DayNews

Don’t Miss This! 

The largest movement of men in the history of the Church is once again calling on men to rise up as warriors for Christ. Join 80,000+ guys on July 31-August 1, 2020 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (home of the Dallas Cowboys) for a weekend that will change your life.

Revival is coming. Be there when it starts. Register today.

Promise Keepers is the largest movement of men in the history of the Church. Now it’s calling on a new generation of men to rise up as warriors for Christ. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Unforgettable worship as you raise the stadium’s roof and shake the foundation.
  • Anointed preaching from God’s Word.
  • Tools to help you gain victory in all areas of your life.
  • Inspiration to live your destiny as a man of God.
  • The opportunity to be part of a movement of men who will change our nation for Christ.

The early bird discount will run for 30 days – in honor of our 30th Anniversary. 
 
Don’t miss this life-altering event. Pull together a group of guys and be part of the experience!

Purchase tickets online now! And, please help us spread the word.

We’ll see you July 31-August 1, 2020 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas!

Wow! This is really happening!

February 27, 2019By Vance DayNews

Just recently I held an amazing document in my hand. It was a document of promise and hope – and I had one of those, “Wow! This is really going to happen” moments.

You see, I was holding the finalized version of Promise Keepers contract with a major NFL stadium for the PK 2020 event. There was the signature of my brother Ken Harrison across from the NFL representative.

After such long hard work to see this through, my heart was full of gratitude to the Lord.

Yale Kim is Promise Keepers’ Director of Events. Yale a sharp young man with a wonderful wife and three beautiful sons who scurry around his feet chasing each other amidst gleeful laughter. He started engaging the leadership of the stadium back in June 2018. Yale is a dedicated professional who knows events inside and out. Through his business, Catalyst Convergence, he has created and led numerous Christian events and mobilized tens of thousands of people to attend. It was Yale who let our team to secure this important stadium contract.

Over the last eight months there have been consistent negotiations, numerous drafts resulting in further negotiations, with additional add-ons including staging, ticket takers, concessions, a “no alcohol policy,” even down to reducing the cost for parking and other potentially costly aspects to attendees. Yale did a yeoman’s job in getting the work done.

After nearly 30 years in the legal profession, seven as a Circuit Court Judge, I have seen thousands of contracts and had participated in more negotiations that I can count. And yet, I can’t tell you the sense of blessing I felt knowing that the signed contract was in my hands – good work Team PK!!

Take a moment and thank the Lord for His faithfulness and His favor.

Stay tuned – we will release the location in early May. The plan is to make tickets available in early June. This is going to be awesome!

By Judge Vance Day, Promise Keepers COO