What is Most Important?

January 14th, 2015 No comments


DiamondsAs I sit back and reflect on the last season of my life, I am deeply focused on one big question, “What is the most important thing in my life?” I could make a long list of qualified candidates, each one worthy of my wholehearted devotion. Yet, I am riveted by the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). There must have been some priceless nugget lodged in his heart, directly from God,  that caused him to make such an incredible statement.

To be honest, it is a place where I desire to be, but at times can be a struggle. There are so many things that compete for places in my heart. Yet there is only one that can truly fulfill the deepest needs of my heart. Sadly, most people live their entire lives without ever finding this priceless truth; a personal, priceless, intimate relationship with their Creator.

In the mid-1800s, Dr. Russell Conwell dedicated his life to the formation of a college for poor but deserving young people. Almost single-handedly he raised several million dollars, with which he established Temple University. In each of his more than six thousand fundraising lectures throughout the country, he told a true story that deeply affected his listeners. It was called “Acres of Diamonds.” The plot starts with an African farmer who had heard tales of others making millions by discovering diamond mines. He was so excited about the possibilities which lay ahead that he sold his farm and used the money to traipse across the African continent in search of the valuable gems. Unfortunately for him, he never found his fortune and died a despondent and dejected man. Meanwhile, the man who purchased the farm from this wealth-seeking African discovered a beautiful rock while crossing one of the streams on his newly-acquired property. He placed it upon the fireplace mantel because of its curious beauty. Several weeks later a visitor noticed the rock and nearly fainted. The farmer thought it was just an impressive clump of crystal. As it turned out, it was one of the largest diamonds ever discovered and it came from a creek full of many more large and precious stones. Dr. Conwell concluded his story by stating that the farm turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent.

As we journey into our coming days, let us not be so preoccupied with the things that cannot satisfy and miss what matters most. Let us look closely to what lies in front of us and is within reach; the very Person that matters most. Jesus himself, our Lord and King.

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Passionate-Purposeful Living

January 12th, 2015 No comments




I am sitting in my home office looking out at the crisp blue Oregon skies, doing what I really love to do; spend time thinking about God, life, family and the church. The older I get the more I am aware of how time passes by so quickly. It seems like yesterday that I was just getting married and now I am approach 35 years of marriage with a beautiful wife, family and ministry. Time matters. What you do with it ultimately defines who you become.

Charles Swindoll is quoted from a conference saying, “One of my greatest goals in life is to live long enough to where I am in the pulpit, preaching my heart out, and I die on the spot, my chin hits the pulpit – BOOM! – and I am down and out.  What a way to die!”  Let that one germinate in y0ur thinker for a moment. Where is this guy coming from? Great goal in life? What about climbing Mount Everest or sailng around the world, or going on a safari, or even riding your bike in the Tour deFrance? But hitting your chin on the pulpit while preaching and dying?

“Here is a guy that I can relate to. Maybe I am not crazy. Maybe it is o.k. to think about God and church all day long (obviously in between surges of thoughts and emotions about my great wife, kids and grand kids).  Maybe being passionate all the time about something purposeful is not an indictment on your refusal  to read Louie Lamore books on vacation (what is the point?). Some might call it being a work-a-holic, I might just choose to call it passion for God’s kingdom.

Don’t get me wrong; I love going to go to the beach, hang out with the wife, kids and grandkids and LOVE every second of it. I am passionate about my family. We can build sandcastles, go on hikes, play Marco Polo, and I will even let them win…most of the time. It is possible to have a passion for your family and ministry; they don’t have to conflict. In addition, recreation and relaxation have their place and finding balance is a true to key to ministry longevity.  But having a constant flow of passion pumping through your veins is not all that bad, in fact in might just be God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said quite poignantly, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” The inference here is that what you are passionate about is exactly the thing you have the greatest potential of becoming.

God intended passion to be all-consuming, “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (Phil. 2:13, AMP). God intended all-consuming passion to be for His good pleasure and delight. Passion is and must remain God-centered and God-focused.

So where is your passion focused? That passion you have for golf … where is it leading you? What about your passion for success … is it for God’s good pleasure and delight, or your own?

Passion directed by God is an unstoppable force. But make no mistake, the devil conspires to arrest your passion and redirect it to futile motives. Passion that isn’t carefully understood for its motive and regularly monitored for its effect has the potential to send anyone, even the most disciplined person, careening off course. This detour is, at minimum, a distraction and, in some cases, quite devastating.

John Maxwell said, “One of the greatest sins we commit against God is not reaching the potential he has placed in us.” Every person has been chosen, then given a purpose and a measure of passion. How you direct your passion in everyday life will greatly determine whether you are successful in fulfilling your purpose. Like a sharp knife in your kitchen drawer, passion can be extremely helpful or extremely harmful. It must be carefully directed and used for its intended purpose.

For many, being able to articulate a passion may be difficult, even though most of us have pursued our passions in some form or another. But have you ever taken time to define how God made you or to assess how your passions play a role in your overall makeup? Finding this important component just might be the thing that will propel you to a life of fruitfulness and fulfillment.

Well… my coffee is almost gone, and it is off to more pondering thoughts about the day, life and my future.  It is going to be a great day.

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Honoring those who Serve and Protect Us

July 17th, 2013 No comments

police officers

Society is filled with ongoing violence, domestic disturbances, crime, gang activity and prostitution  to just name a few. You don’t have to watch much news on the television to see that most every top story has to do with the major crime of the day. It seems to be such a part of what we see that we can become immune to the shattered lives that are a result of these heinous acts.

I had the privilege of riding along with one of the Portland Police Officers on a Friday night. I got to experience first hand the immensity of the problems that exist in our city limits. In one single eight hour shift I witnessed a stolen car situation, an attempted suicide, an arrest of a very violent, dangerous man stopping traffic and shattering windows in local stores, a topless lady protesting the annual Naked Bike Ride (Keep Portland Wierd?), and a 100+ mph chase down a busy street to assist in capturing a fugitive. I have to say it was exhilarating. I also must say that it took me over two hours to slow my heart down enough to get some sleep.

It was during this short time with an incredible officer that I really began to understand the life of a law enforcement officer. By no means am I saying I am an expert, but I must confess that my appreciation for what they do to make our city safe and peaceful was grossly understated in my mind. This ride-a-long exposed me to the daily dangers and risks an officer takes on behalf of a town of strangers.  What an amazing group of people!

What is tragic, is the misconception people have regarding our law enforcement personnel. There is a stigma in society that they are unfriendly, rude, abrasive and corrupt. I am not naive enough to say that these type of officers don’t exist, but the numerous men and women on the force that I have had the chance to engage with in recent months are some of the most sincere people I have met.  These are normal men and women, fathers and mothers that have chosen a line of work that selflessly serves our community by daily putting their lives on the line.

I also do understand that an officer might appear to be tense and ‘on guard’ in most encounters. This isn’t due to their lack of desire to interact with a kind, loving person as yourself. Their posture is do to the constant state of living in ‘hyper-vigilance’ knowing that at anytime, any situation, any person may be the next threat to themselves or others around them. Unfortunately, they don’t have the privilege to hand out stickers to every person they pull over. They are simply doing their best to assess every situation and make sure they get home alive to see their spouse and children one more night.

Emotional Survival

I recently read a book, “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement” by Kevin M. Gilmartin, Ph.D. I would highly recommend you educate yourself and pick up this simple read and learn a little more about the people that are giving their lives to protect you daily. It will give you a new appreciation for these wonderful men and women and may even inspire you to look for ways to honor them, and serve them as well.

One of the ways we have chosen to serve our law enforcement personnel in the city of Portland is to open up an Executive Lounge Rest Stop. We have partnered together with Chaplain Steve Chadwick and Responder Life to make this first class for these amazing men and women.  This exclusive lounge is open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day as a place for any officer to come and relax for a few minutes while on duty and decompress from the stress and tension often created by their job. This room is completely stocked with drinks, food and snacks. There is a computer, printer and 50″ flat screen with every sports channel imaginable available for their viewing. We chose to make this room the nicest we could with hardwood floors, granite counters, leather furniture and the finest furnishings. We also have designated parking for them as well. It was our way of tangibly saying to the entire law enforcement agency, “Thank You for serving us and our community. You are greatly appreciated and we are honored to serve you for all you have done for us.”

rest stop

The response has been amazing. We had an open house barbecue and had over 170 officers show up between noon and midnight. We are seeing dozens of officers coming to the lounge daily and look forward to this increasing in the days to come.

The next time you see an officer, let them know how much you appreciate them. It just might make their day.

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Serving Unsung Heroes

June 10th, 2013 No comments

foster kids

Over the past 30 years, my wife and I have been involved in some level of Foster Care. We started our journey by becoming foster parents ourselves and provided a safe home for some of societies most at risk children. It was a difficult but rewarding experience. So many lives were touched as a result of opening up our home and our hearts to share the love of Jesus with these fragile little children.

Our love for these kids ended up in the adoption of our two precious boys who have held a special place in our hearts. These two great young men have grown into two of the most special human beings, with a vibrancy and love for life itself, despite their developmentally delayed challenges.

foster kids2

Recently, we have been reintroduced to the world of foster care due to the epic challenges we are facing in our city. As we work closely with different city, county and state officials we recognized the immense need to not only help serve these vulnerable children, but also the unsung heroes who have willingly sacrificed their lives, by opening their homes and hearts to give these precious kids a place to land during one of the most traumatic times in their lives.  These foster parents are some of society’s finest unsung heroes!

One of the most tangible ways we can serve these great people is to give them some time away from the never-ending pressures of foster care. At City Bible Church, we are excited to be partnering with a new ministry concept called, Foster Parent Night Out. The big idea is to create one huge spectacular party for children and invite the foster parents to drop their kids off and go out on a date. This concept has been in force in Marion County with outrageous results. The State of Oregon is partnering with the faith-based community to train and screen local churches to partner with them and the foster care families as a way to serve the amazing families.

foster kids3

We have over sixty volunteers and are ready to launch this Fall. We are looking forward to the lives we will touch, the memories we will make and the testimony we will be to those who have given their lives to some of society’s most vulnerable.

If you live in the area and would love to serve one time a month, please let us know. We would love to have you. Simply email me at marc@citybiblechurch.org. If you would like further information as to how to start this amazing ministry in your church, send me an email as well. It is a great way to be the church to a world in need of Him.

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The Power of Story

April 5th, 2013 1 comment


It never ceases to amaze me. Behind every life is a series of incredible stories. On the surface, everyone seems to be fairly normal living out their predictable, routine lives. But if you take a moment to dig beyond the surface, you find that every person’s life-experiences have been a key part of shaping them into who they have become. Discovering the real life stories of a person’s life has become a favorite activity for me. People are amazing, unique and inspiring!

Think about your life for a moment. What life-stories have shaped you? I am sure your stories would inspire most people. Reality is that many of these defining moments have help to build the person you have become; a great one at that!

It is true, everyone has a story. All of which are significant. It is life-stories that make us unique and intriguing. If we take the time to really hear ‘the story’ we really get to know the real person. A few weeks ago, we shared these two amazing stories at CBC. It would be worth the few minutes to click below and enjoy. Be careful, they will impact you!


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What Really Matters?

July 22nd, 2012 No comments


A funny thing happens to you as you get older. The things that used to be so important in life get increasingly dim. I can remember a time where the house I lived in really mattered to me. Not so much any more. There was a day when the type of car I drove really mattered. Furthermore, even the rims that were on the car seemed to have some level of importance to validate my coolness. Really? The brand name on my cell phone seemed to be important and yes, even the name associated with the clothes I purchased really mattered.  If I could even be totally honest, the hairdo I sported really mattered. Wow, how is that for bearing my true soul? Have you ever seen my picture on the back of my book Jesus Today? What was I thinking!  Now that I have absolutely no hair, that one seems to no longer carry much merit.

Another funny thing happens as you get older. The things that used to seem unimportant, begin to become exponentially more important. The time you spend with your spouse or children seem to become more valuable with every precious day God allows you to live. The special priceless moments with the grandchildren seem to skyrocket on the list of ‘want-to’s (yes, I have four of them). The privilege to share the good news with one more desperate soul seems to become increasingly priceless. The opportunity to spend more time basking in God’s presence seems increasingly precious, whereas before you felt as though you had decades of minutes to ‘invest’ in more trivial, temporal, self-absorbing things.

And another funny thing happens as you get older. You realize just how precious your relationship with Jesus is to you. You realize that you really can’t do anything without Him. That you really didn’t achieve anything apart from His assistance. That you really are a ‘nothing’ without His ever present grace and mercy guiding you every step of every day. That everything else is rubbish compared to knowing Him and having Him as a vital part of every waking moment of every day. That every second in His presence is better than an hour elsewhere.

My time of reflection started in a very quiet moment in devotions. I was ravished by one simple statement made by Paul in Colossians 3:11 that has not allowed me to read any further in my ‘scheduled’ Bible reading plan. I have become stuck and am shipwrecked with the revelation of these five riveting words.  He is writing about how to truly live the life Jesus has for us and throws this J-bomb out in hopes that we might stop, ponder and grasp the essence of life itself.  He proclaims, “Christ is all that matters…” Such a simple statement, yet attached to it is a colossal  revelation, that if caught, has the potential of turning every area of your life upside down… for the better!

Think about it for just a moment; CHRIST IS ALL THAT MATTERS… sunk in? Did you get it?  It is easy to agree with and shout a big AMEN as we often do to validate some important Bible truth, but does it really penetrate beyond some basic principle that is just lodged in your brain? Or has it worked itself out into the fabric of your everyday behaviors?

Can I as you to be honest and ask yourself a very revealing question? Here it is,  “What really matters to me?”  A more specific to measure the true validity of your answer is to ask the question a few different ways. “Where have I spent most of my time in the last week?” “How much time have I spent in worship, prayer and digesting His Word?” How many people have I shared with and proclaimed the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus?”

How are you doing on those questions so far? Can I continue? How about, “Where I have invested my finances to help someone in need? A hungry person, a widow or single mom?”  “How much TV have I watched?” “How much time have I spent on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?” Getting my point?

A funny thing happens as you get older. You realize the Solomon was right, everything under the sun is vanity and what really matters is Jesus. You realize that time is short. You realize that relationships are important. You realize that where you spend your time, money and energy do matter. You realize that eternity is not that far off and that I will spend it with forever with the one who died for me.

Is Christ all that really matters to you? If not, why not make some adjustments today. A funny thing will happen to you too, you will get older and realize He is all that matters.



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Living a Life of Sacrifice

July 19th, 2012 1 comment


Sacrifice is such an unpopular term. Maybe because it requires that we have to give up something of ourselves or possessions for the sake of another interests. It sounds so, “UN-American.” It just doesn’t seem to fit our American style of living. We hear stories of people who were willing to give their all for the sake of another and although, we are inspired, or even convicted, it rarely results in personal life change. Don’t get me wrong, I am not insinuating that I have arrived either. I like to think that I live my life beyond myself and go out of my way to offer my time, talent and treasures for the less fortunate, but at what REAL sacrifice to me? Therein lies the real dilemma for us all.

Jesus seemed to give us this idea that if we lost our life, we would gain it. If we laid down our life for another it would be considered an act of the ‘greatest love.’  He not only preached it, but lived it by giving His life for you and me. Scripture even claims that Jesus Himself had no place to lay his head. Sounds like the Christian life-style Jesus wanted us to live was a little different than the Cranial-Consumer-Complacent Christianity that many live today.

One story that truly challenged me to consider my life and the sacrifice I am making for others, is the story of a man know as Father Damien.  He had heard about a leper colony on the island of Molokai where many disfigured, maimed and decaying lepers were shipped to die.  They were dropped off on a triangular thrust of land called Kalaupapa. It was surrounded on three sides by ocean and the fourth side was one of the highest sea walls in the world.

Lepers lived in little shanties with barely enough supplies to survive. In fact ships would draw close to the shore and throw supplies overboard hoping that some might make it to the shore lines, but none were willing to step onto the land and show these dying, forgotten people that someone in the world cared about their lives.

However, one man was willing to truly ‘sacrifice’ for the sake of another. In Jesus terms, lay down his life. Sounds like great love to me! At age thirty-three he would write in his journal, “I want to sacrifice myself for the poor lepers.” And sacrifice he did.  He immersed himself in their world. He would hug the kids, bandage the wounds, pass out communion to people with stumps and yes, even bury those who lost the fight of life.  He even went as far to address himself as “One of the lepers.”

Somewhere in his journey, through some unconditional act of kindness, he would contract leprosy himself and eventually die on April 15, 1889.  I am sure his reward was great.

Now I am not suggesting that all of us look for the next leprosy island and pray that we lose our lives for the sake of saying we ‘sacrificed’ for Jesus. However, I do dare to ask the question, “What type of sacrifice are we really making for the sake of others?” You really don’t have to go very far to find someone in need.

There are 1.75 billion that are significantly poor. One billion people go hungry daily. Millions are trafficked into slavery and two million children are exploited into the sex trade globally. Within the last five minutes ninety children died of a preventable disease. Ten million Africans will die of diarrhea, malaria or the measles. Many could have been saved by just one shot costing only a few dollars…or less than your cup of Starbucks this morning.

All that takes place while we enjoy the daily pleasures of our life in America.  I know that you can’t help them all, but can you help one? Can you sacrifice something for the sake of another in need.  What does your sacrifice meter look like? Have you thought about doing something for someone today? Maybe take a few minutes and think about what you might do to make a difference in the life of someone, somewhere, sometime. You won’t regret it. In fact, you just might get addicted to sacrifice!

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Building Relationships with the Opposite Sex

March 7th, 2012 No comments

Over the past twenty-five years, my wife and I have had the privilege of working with young people in a variety of venues. Many of the most critical life-shaping decisions are made at a young age, and at the top of the list is relationships.  Those who have chosen to listen wisely to the counsel of God’s Word have built long-lasting healthy relationships. Others who have got caught up in the emotion of the moment and have decided to do relationships their own way have had to deal with shattered dreams and broken hearts.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at a conference in Russia. The subject at hand was, “Building Relationships with the Opposite Sex.” Many in attendance asked if I was able to post the notes on my blog for their review.  I wanted to make sure to make these available for all those who attended as well as anyone else that is looking to build relationships with a person of the opposite sex. The bar might seem high, but the stakes are higher.

I sure hope you take the time to download, review and prayerfully consider for your life. It might be a game-changer!

Please feel free to download and use as you please.

Building Relationships Gods Way – Student Notes


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March 5th, 2012 No comments

Over the past few years my family has enjoyed reminiscing over some of the funnier stories regarding my son Kyle. As some of you may know, my wife and I had the wonderful joy of adopting two developmentally disabled boys. Ever since they came into our lives, life has not been the same.  One of things that as stuck out the most to us is the famous “Kyle Sayings” that have been used over the years by Kyle in very strategic fashion. These sayings have become so famous that my Sister and Brother-in-law have actually started a T-shirt line that coins these famous sayings. If you see someone walking through the mall wearing a shirt with bold letters that states, “SAME,” or “BEAT YOU GUY,” or “DAD I LOVE BARBIES.” or “BAD NOISE,” you know that you have stumbled upon a rare collectors items. That challenge is they are difficult to enjoy without the story.

One of our favorite is, “CAUGHT ME!”  This would have to be at the top of my list for sure. One sunny afternoon in Placerville, California while visiting the T-shirt Creationist (my Sister and Brother-in-law), we were caught off guard by the unusual silence that had shadowed over the house for some time. Knowing that there is never a dull moment with Kyle, we decided to venture into the different crevices of the house to see if we could locate our missing son. My Brother-in-Law squeaked open his daughter’s door, only to hear an immediate, loud confession, “CAUGHT ME,” come from Kyle’s mouth.  He was sitting Indian style on the floor reading a “Seventeen” magazine.

Now I have to admit, there is probably a few items that aren’t the best items for a guys eyes to see, but come on, it is a Seventeen magazine.  At any rate, Kyle jumped to his feet and ran out the front door for a breath of fresh air or to remove himself from life’s most embarrassing moment.  In his simple mind, he felt he was doing something inappropriate and was caught in the act.

This story, although funny, does show you that God has placed into the lives of EVERY human being a conscience.  Whether you are a rocket scientist or a fourteen year old developmentally disabled boy, God designed the conscience to work the same.  Your conscience, or your “CAUGHT ME METER”  is created to convict you when you are doing wrong, and bring joy and peace when you are doing right.  Unfortunately we live in a day and age that is saturated with perverse magazines, vulgar website, horrific movies and very loose TV shows.  If we are not careful our “CAUGHT ME” can lose its purpose, leaving you exposed to situations that have the potential of ruining your life.

Let me encourage you to apply some very basic, yet important guidelines to your life. I am sure that if these are applied to your life, your “CAUGHT ME METER” will swing far to the “Joy” side of the scale. These guidelines are simple, yet very effective.

  1. Find someone that you respect that you can be accountable to with your life.
  2. Ask them to contact you frequently and ask you how you are doing in all areas of your life.  Better to say, “Help me” instead of “CAUGHT ME!”
  3. Don’t put yourself into any compromising situation with a person of the opposite sex.
  4. Put protective software on your computer or sign up for an accountability program that allows people to view your history.
  5. Don’t expose yourself to illicit materials, movies, or TV shows. If something comes on that isn’t appropriate, turn it off, or walk out.
  6. Increase your prayer life. Purity begins with a healthy, vibrant relationship with Jesus.
  7. Read Proverbs 5,6, 7 often just to remind you of the results of living a “CAUGHT ME” lifestyle. You won’t win.
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Honoring a REAL Man!

January 6th, 2012 1 comment

I was forwarded a story regarding a true hero of defending our country and should have some honor and recognition. This is truly a REAL man! I personally think, these are the stories that should take the “Top Story” or “Breaking News” of our News stations for sure.

The actions of Captain Ed Freeman were well documented in Hal Moore’s book “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young” about an intense battle described below and how be risked his life for the sake of others. It was the first major battle between the US Army and the North Vietnamese Army and took place in the La Drang Valley. I hope this story challenges you to consider possessing a heart to risk your life for the sake of others. Jesus did!

You’re a 19 year old kid. You’re critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.

It’s November 11, 1967. Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your Commanding Officer has ordered the Med-Evac helicopters to stop coming in. You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out.

Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then – over the machine gun noise – you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But,  it doesn’t seem real because no Med-Evac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you. He’s not Med-Evac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway, even after the Med-Evacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway. And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety. And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!
Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm. He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday, 12-14-2011, at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho. May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed Freeman, we honor you and thank you for risking your life for others and your country. You are a REAL man!


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