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Friday, February 28

Favor With Our Enemies

"When We Determine To Finish Our Course In Christ, God Causes Even Our Enemies To Help Us Cross The Finish Line!" -- Keith Shealy

As we were praying one day, The Holy Spirit illuminated the Scripture, "When a man's ways please The LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverb 16:7)." We were overcome with inspiration from this incredible WWII account I (Keith) remembered about an American B-17 Pilot whose life and crew were rescued, against all reason or explanation, by the efforts of an enemy fighter. As we write this blog, The wonder-full Holy Spirit has impressed upon us to release our faith for God's healing to come to any "battle-scars" that you may have sustained to your soul during the past season or seasons of your life. Even in overwhelming attacks during our life mission, God delivers us from what we would call "impossible situations" in the midst of insurmountable odds. As the Holy Spirit begins to remind us of various details in our often-daily fights and what we can endure based on past events, we've got to take note of exactly what He shows us because we will more-than-likely find various parallels between battles we witness, sometimes third-hand like the pilot's experience in this account, and what we as warriors in Jesus Christ's Army experience in our endeavor to fight the good fight of faith... under the grace, protection, and help of God! We pray that you will be encouraged and strengthened as you read this important message, and that you will be filled with gratitude offerings for The Lord and your Life.

Keith just finished reading the miraculously true account of a WWII United States Army Air Corp bomber pilot by the name of Captain Charles Brown. While piloting his B-17 bomber with its ten-man crew, Captain Brown was on a bombing mission over Germany, and was hit twice by German cannon fire known as "flack". The direct hits on the bomber resulted in the loss of one of the plane's engines, significantly damaging a second of the three remaining engines, and destroyed a number of the plane's crucial operating systems. The plane's loss of power, a symptom of the damages that, in and of itself, was bad enough to bring the plane crashing to the ground, also resulted in Captain Brown being forced to drift back out of the protection of the other bombers in his squadron. This left him and his crew unprotected and vulnerable to even more attacks from the enemy. The year was 1943.

At this point, as he flew his lagging plane that is terribly crippled with "flack" damage, Captain Brown was falling further and further behind the rest of the bombers that were already miles ahead of him in formation. As he was nursing his crippled airplane from about 400 miles deep in German territory, he and his crew were praying that, against all odds, they could ultimately make it out of Germany, across the English Channel, and back to home base in England.

Soon, their worst nightmare was realized when over fifteen German fighter planes came from all directions, violently attacking them from all sides... all at once! This turn of events was horrifying! The German fighters shot the American bomber full of hundreds of holes, shooting off half the plane's tail section, killing their tail gunner, destroying their oxygen system, and further damaging their electrical and hydraulics systems. The bomber was attacked so violently that the entire crew, including every one of the machine gun operators, were incapacitated, leaving them now completely defenseless and vulnerable.

Captain Brown's entire crew and co-pilot were injured to the point that they were now unconscious from blood loss and lack of oxygen. Miraculously, by God's grace and by sheer determination, Captain Brown was still able to fight to keep what was left of his bomber and crew in the air, even being shot in the shoulder and now beginning to fade in and out of consciousness. It seemed all but impossible. Another miraculous circumstance happened at this point.

After losing consciousness for a time, Captain Brown woke up to find his bomber in a nose-dive just about two hundred feet from the ground. He was miraculously enabled to save his plane, this time also saving himself and his crew members from certain death. Having to continuously fan the thick smoke that filled the cabin, trying to see and also catch his breath, Captain Brown managed to fly his bomber that was later determined to be "too damaged to fly", out of German-held territory, across the English channel, and then land safely on an American airfield in Norfolk, England... just as his plane was running out of fuel. When the ground crew entered the smoke-filled bomber, they said that it was all but destroyed inside, blood spatter on the walls, wires and hoses hanging down like vines in a jungle, and Captain Brown slumped over the aircraft's steering wheel, utterly exhausted. If we were to end here, this story is undeniably a mighty miracle of God. Wouldn't you say?!

But wait, we have saved perhaps the greatest miracle of that day for last. As if everything that had taken place up to this point was not already plenty enough to be a remarkable miracle of an "impossible" mission, what took place while Captain Brown and his crew were still well-over enemy airspace was even more remarkable as having never been heard-of in the entire air war over Germany. God, through Captain Brown's utter refusal to give up, provided a miracle the likes of which had not been reported, or even heard of, up to that point. It was a miracle that saved Captain Brown and his crew and ensured their successful flight to safety.

While the lame-duck bomber and its brave pilot Captain Brown were still well in German airspace, with the English channel still two hundred and sixty grueling miles away, all of a sudden Captain Brown, over the deafening sounds of the wind rushing violently into the plane's cockpit through the windows that had been shot out, and over the deafening roar of his own crippled engines, he began vaguely hearing a uniquely different sound, one that he had sadly heard before. It was the high-pitched sound that no American bomber pilot ever wanted to hear.

As Captain Brown, with dense smoke blurring his vision, turned to look out of what used be his cockpit window, his heart sank. There he saw the terrifying sight of a German ME-109 fighter plane, Germany's premiere killing-machine, flying just off of his right wing-tip. As if having a German fighter just a few feet off of your wing-tip were not heart-stopping enough, it would be discovered later that the German fighter plane was piloted by none other than famed Fighter Ace, Franz Stigler, who by that point in the war had already had twenty-four kills to his credit... and now was rabidly looking to score his twenty-fifth. As Captain Brown struggled to see the German pilot through his smoke-filled cockpit, he could just barely make out the German pilot motioning with his hand for Captain Brown to land his crippled bomber and, of course, surrender to German ground troops.

Even under the heart-sickening and gut-wrenching reality that the German pilot was only moments from shooting them down, Captain Brown motioned back to the German pilot that he would not be landing his plane. Instead, he was going to continue flying, knowing that his decision would likely ensure the death of him and his crew. Captain Brown decided, without hesitation, that he was going to give his all, even to the death, trying to get his crew back home. As soon as Captain Brown signaled his intentions, knowing exactly what the German would do, the German pilot immediately dropped back into what bomber crews knew to be the dreaded kill or firing position behind the American bomber.

When the German was in position, knowing the German was now poised to make his kill-shot, Captain Brown clinched his teeth and braced himself for what he knew would be his and his unconscious crew members' certain and brutal demise. After several moments of time had passed, each moment seeming like hours, and much to Captain Brown's utter amazement, the German had not fired on them. Captain Brown, knowing that the German was right on his bomber's tail, began wondering, "Why hasn't the German begun firing on us?"

At Captain Brown's utter surprise, the German pilot paused for a moment, pulled his plane up and out of the firing position, and repositioned himself to fly "protection," to fly escort for the crippled bomber. Once in position, the German pilot then proceeded to cover the crippled bomber all the way to the English Channel. Once they were well over the English Channel, the German broke escort formation, pulled up beside Captain Brown's plane, saluted him, and as quickly as the German had appeared turned his plane back toward Germany and disappeared.

Once Captain Brown and his crew had been treated for their wounds and were released, Captain Brown told his commanding officer and a few of the other pilots what had taken place. Both skeptical and cautious about Captain Brown's "impossible tale", his commanding officer told him that he was not to mention the incident to anyone else, afraid that if the story got out, it would make the German's appear "kind" in the press, totally going against the true and vile reality that the American military leaders needed to project to the troops and to the American public. So, with his commander and his own squadron members not believing him, and due to the fog of war at the time of the incident, Captain Brown began to even doubt himself, whether or not the whole thing actually happened.

After the war had ended, Captain Brown graduated college, rejoined the Air Force as a pilot where in 1965 he retired at the rank of Colonel. Some twenty years later, retired Colonel Brown attended a gathering of retired pilots where the details of that day in 1943 over Germany began to make their way back to the forefront of his mind. Shortly after, the retired Colonel began wondering what became of the German pilot and what the possibility might be that he could locate the former Ace, hoping that he could somehow find the German pilot and ask him if the events of that day in 1943 had actually happened. So, Colonial Brown decided that he would make it his mission to research the WWII archives and try to track down the German fighter pilot.

After an extensive four-year search, and with the help of friends, Colonel Brown was able to locate the German pilot. Much to his astonishment, he found that the German pilot and he had only been living two hundred miles apart from one another, Colonel Charles Brown in Settle, Washington and the German pilot, Franz Stigler, just two hundred miles up the Canadian coast where he had fled to settle with his family after the war. Once Colonel Brown and Franz Stigler had made contact with one another, they went on become the best of friends and would later travel around together telling their miraculous story to various groups.

In the first paragraph of our letter, we had remarked on how we as believers are standing at the threshold of a brand new and "hard fought for" season of opportunity where leading others to Jesus Christ is concerned. As I read the heart- wrenching accounts of Captain Brown, and the brutal battles that had to be raging in his mind that day, it was obvious that the same kinds of attacks of confusion, doubt, loneliness, hopelessness, rejection, and helplessness that Captain Brown warred against, so brutally, are what we as believers often have to fight through in our own minds, in the good fight of faith. Fighting in a physical war or fighting through spiritual battles on our way to completing our God-assigned missions in the earth parallel in many ways. And we cannot forget, perhaps the most brutal of battles that Colonel Brown must have fought, for all of those years, was at the tormenting hand of "rejection" from his peers.

The voices of tormentors were finally silenced as soon as Colonel Brown's "unbelievable" account of his fight was finally confirmed by, none other than, Franz Stigler himself. A very wise man once told me that the battles of this life are fought in the mind. The Apostle Paul, concerning his "good fight of faith" said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8)."

As believers In Jesus Christ, warriors in God's Army, no matter how severely we have been attacked, injured, or riddled with hopelessness and offenses, we must always fight to remember as The Apostle Paul, and Captain Brown in our story, modeled for us. Through their sufferings and determination, those who press through and overcome the certain adversities that come to take us out of this "good fight of faith", whether it be returning to a military base so busted up and confused that we can hardly see, or like Apostle Paul's finishing his course, overcoming many brutal years of fighting to endure beatings, profane rants, scourging, imprisonment, ship wrecks, loneliness, and so many other difficult trials, we too must take advantage of hearing their "hard-fought-for" stories of victory, for the building up of our "most holy faith".

We, too, can know without a doubt that, if God gave those who have gone before us the strength, the help, and the resolve that they needed to finish their course, then He will most certainly do the same for us who ask Him. So we, now, are just as capable to initiate, perform, and finish the missions that He has assigned us to complete, as well as those before us have.

In closing, this testimony began by making a crucial point for all of us in "the good fight of faith" in Jesus Christ's Army to remember. Every moment of every day, as a warrior of faith in Christ, God our Father will be sure to provide just what we need at just the time when we need it. He ensured the safety of the American pilot and his crew by giving them favor in the eyes of a truly "ruthless" enemy, and He will cause even our enemies to help us reach the finish line when we determine to finish our course in Christ. Through the wonder-full Holy Spirit working IN and through those whose hearts are stayed on Christ, the heart of even our enemies will change from literally being hard-wired to destroy us to suddenly giving us favor and the help we need to finish the fight that will complete our life's mission... God's mission wired into each of our lives.
God's promise is written in Proverb 16:7, saying, "When a man's ways please The LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."

CLICK HERE... Watch living testimony of this historical account.

We can rest in this fact... Like Captain Brown in the story had a commanding officer handing down and briefed him and his crew on their mission objectives, potential dangers to watch out for, and even what to do if captured while on their way to fulfilling their mission, our Great God, Commander Jesus Christ, and The Wonder-Full Person of The Holy Spirit will also brief us when we ask Him, and listen of course, on the various aspects of our missions, in much the same way.

An excellent example is in Jesus' "briefing" to His disciples in Matthew 10. Prior to His disciples beginning their own life missions, Jesus described the potential dangers and instructed them on what to do if captured, saying, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but The Spirit of your Father which speaks in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:16-22)."

So now, it's time we get up, brush off the numbing effects of any offenses and ask The Person of The Holy Spirit to meet with us in the wonder-filled pages of God's Holy Word. There, if we will seek Him with our whole heart, ask Him and wait patiently, He will refresh our spirits, bandage our wounds, give us strength, and provide the courage we need to forgive those who have offended us in any way. Right there is where The Lord God will enable us to finish our course and to especially... Finish Triumphant!

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see and hear, also follow and share, more TowardTheMark work and messages:

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Keith and BrendaLee Shealy "How To Activate Your PASSION" on TTM's Podcast Channel
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Thanks for reading and sharing this PRESSIN'IN Blog message from Toward The Mark! May God bless you in the fulfillment of your heart's deepest desires w-i-t-h Him!
            ONE MORE THING...
Would you offer your experience/testimony by writing to tell us, *How would you personally describe the Proverb 16:7 prophecy Christ Jesus made, and how have you found it applicable to YOUR OWN LIFE'S EXPERIENCE?* "When a man's ways please The LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverb 16:7)."

            Our sincerest hope is that this blog enables The Lord to strengthen you in faith and oneness with Him. We would also like to invite you to take advantage of even more messages available for encouraging you, and for your friends and family members as well, especially available in one of our most-requested Toward The Mark books entitled "Letters From The Front." We want to personally invite you to get your personal copy today.

            Our book  LETTERS FROM THE FRONT is a special collection of 12 of our most-requested teaching titles:
Sin Makes Ya Stewpit
The Cart's Before The Horse;
The Crisis of Eroding Integrity
The Fruit's at the End of the Limb
Too Quick to Compromise
The Rarest of All Breeds
Please...Stop Stinkin'
3 Keys to God-Pleasing Faith
Let It Go!
Understanding the Fear of The Lord
Into The Secret Place
Give to Give!

          This collection of twelve teachings, when taken to heart, will help you emerge triumphant over seemingly impossible situations... "LETTERS From The FRONT" available at TowardTheMark online.  We are eternally grateful for our loving Toward The Mark Family who, by their friendship, financial support, and faithful prayers, make this resource and all of our TowardTheMark INC work possible!

Would you write and let us know how this message has fanned the flame in your heart for Christ Jesus, His Ways, and God's Plan for your life? If you would like to request a special order of "LETTERS From The FRONT" or any of Keith Shealy's Toward The Mark resources, when you send us your donation request, simply mention "COMPLIMENTARY COPY PLEASE" for an extra THANK YOU copy that we will be happy to include in your shipment. Also, if you have questions about our work, resources, or giving tax-deductible donations, please click here to e-mail us. We welcome you to also feel free to write to us by mail at: TOWARD THE MARK, P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.  

May you be specially moved, blessed, and strengthened as The Lord God writes His message in your heart.
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