Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Heroes and their Battles

San Jacinto Battlefield with modern Houston in background
One of my favorite places in the world is the San Jacinto Monument on the east side of Houston, between Baytown and Pasadena. It is the memorial to the battle that won Texas from Mexico in 1836.

Being a native Texan, I have visited the monument and the battlefield several times in my lifetime, but it is only as I have grown older that I have been more and more in awe of what it represents. When I pass through Houston, I like to ride the little Lynchburg Ferry across the Houston Ship Channel and have lunch or dinner at the Monument Inn seafood restaurant in the shadow of the monument. The restaurant affords a mesmerizing view of the ships and barges going to and from the Port of Houston into Galveston Bay, as well as an overview of the battlefield where Texas' independence was won, almost 180 years ago. As I dine, I have a panoramic view of both the waterfront and the adjacent battlefield where 630 Mexican soldiers were killed, and Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, was captured. It is an awe inspiring story.

The events surrounding the birth of the Lone Star State. 

Under the entrepreneurship of Stephen F. Austin, American colonists moved into what is now south Texas, and had favored relationships with the Mexican government. But when Santa Anna overturned the Mexican Constitution of 1824, and became the harsh dictator of Mexico, the colonists felt betrayed and endangered. In 1826, the "Fredonian Rebellion" near Nacogdoches was the opening salvo in the Texas Revolution, or the Texas War for Independence. But those first moves to secede from Mexico failed.

In the early 1830s, Stephen F. Austin spent months in Mexico attempting to persuade the Mexican government to grant Texas statehood. Just as it seemed he had succeeded, Santa Anna had him arrested and imprisoned without a trial for more than a year. The colonists' animosity toward Santa Anna fomented until the fall of 1835 when Santa Anna began sending armies to drive out all the Anglo-American colonists from their settlements.

A number of skirmishes and clashes took place between the Mexican Army and the Texas colonists. Two major confrontations - one at Goliad and one at San Antonio - were devastating setbacks for the Texians. The Alamo was considered the Texians' last stronghold against Santa Anna west of the Sabine River, and was thus vital to Texas' future.

At the Battle of the Alamo, more than 3,000 of Santa Anna's soldiers laid siege on the walled mission where only 100 Texians were garrisoned under the leadership of James Bowie and William B. Travis, and with the help of Davy Crockett. The Texians didn't have a chance. In dire circumstances and near-freezing weather, the Texians were greatly outnumbered and out-armed.

On March 6, 1836, Mexican troops finally advanced on the tiny fortress. Travis was one of the first to die, shot on the front line. The fighting began at 5:30 AM, and by 6:30 PM, all the brave, heroic Texians were dead.

But during that 13-day siege, 41 elected delegates from around Texas were convening at Washington-on-the-Brazos, drafting the Texas Declaration of Independence, severing ties with Mexico, and officially establishing the REPUBLIC OF TEXAS, making Texas a sovereign nation!

News of the tragic massacre at the Alamo only fueled the flames of independence that were already burning. Hundreds of men joined with Sam Houston and moved eastward to prepare for another battle with Santa Anna.

On April 21, Sam Houston's little army took Santa Anna's army by surprise while they were encamped near the Lynchburg Ferry on Buffalo Bayou. Hundreds of soldiers, crying "Remember the Alamo!" opened fire on Santa Anna's troups, and in only 18 minutes, the Battle of San Jacinto was won. 630 Mexican soldiers were dead, and 730 were captured. Only 9 Texians died.

The next day, Sam Houston took Santa Anna into custody, and forced him to order all his armies back to Mexico, giving the new Republic of Texas a much-needed reprieve.

Buffalo Bayou is now the Houston Ship Channel. The city of Houston is one of the world's largest metropolises with a sprawling population approaching 7 million people. Houston has one of the strongest economies of all the cities in the world. In 2014, Houston became the most culturally diverse metro in the United States.

The city of Houston is the Number 1 job creator in the United States, and home of 26 of the Fortune 500 companies. Its Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center IN THE WORLD. Its hospitals alone are larger than downtown Dallas.

Texas, with a population of 27 million, is the second most populous state in America. It is as large as the nation of Iran, and outproduces both Iran and Iraq in oil output. Texas is the sixth largest oil producer in the world (Aschere Energy News, 8/19/2014), outranked only by OPEC, Russia, the entire United States, China and Canada. Texas is home of the Space program.

I could go on, and on, and on.

But I have told you this story for a reason; and that reason is a spiritual reason.

In this blog, I speak to Christians who understand that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

The BATTLE that won Texas from Mexico in 1836 was won by Sam Houston and a small band of freedom-minded soldiers against a formidable opponent.

I want to compare that to the BATTLE that every true Christian wages every single day for Truth, righteousness and holiness, against all the demons of Hell, against sin, sinners and Satan himself.

Sometimes it seems to be a hopeless battle. It seems we are grossly outnumbered and out-armed.

But I want to remind you of the Power of One. One soldier. One commander. One general. One pastor. One Christian. One believer.

In the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Ghost, ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, or ONE YOUNG PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.

San Jacinto Battlefield with modern Houston in background

The next time you take a stand for God, for the cause of Jesus Christ, for TRUE DOCTRINE, for holiness and godliness and righteousness in this world, remember Sam Houston. And remember Houston, Texas, 178 years later.
The day will soon come when Jesus Christ will resurrect all the righteous dead and all the living saints to take them with Him to the great and final battle of Armageddon, where He will defeat every evil empire on earth. In Daniel 2, the prophet saw a great stone as it was hewn out of a mountain, and it crushed all the kingdoms of men, then became a great mountain that filled all the earth.
That prophetic allegory depicts Jesus Christ conquering all the great governments of the world when He comes. And the saints of God will be with Him. Afterward, Bible prophecies tell us that the saints of God will "rule and reign" with Jesus for 1,000 years on this planet earth.
In Jesus' teachings about the parable of the Mustard Seed, He said that it "is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof," Matthew 13:32.
Jesus also spoke of the power of leavening which, when placed in a lump of meal, would leaven the whole lump.
All these allegories are reminders that SMALL things, SMALL events, SMALL people can and do have enormous influence over time.
"Who hath despised the day of small things?" Zechariah 4:10.
"Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong," Joel 3:9-10.
Sam Houston fought for Texas. You and I are fighting for the eternal Kingdom of God.
That little battle near the Lynchburg Ferry in 1836 changed the world.
The little battle that you and I are fighting today will someday TAKE POSSESSION of the entire world, and make changes for all eternity.
FIGHT ON! Be valiant!
Do not be afraid of the enemy. He will soon be defeated, and you will be so glad that you fought on the right side of the battle!