"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Lt. General Raymond S. McLain, Oklahoma Citizen Soldiers, and the 45th Infantry (The Thunderbirds)

    (PIECE of JAKE) Photo by Bell, Signal Photo Company, SC 18687. Credit NARA. 367. "MM-5-151943"

On Christmas Day 2020, the colorized photograph above appeared in my Facebook feed. I knew immediately that I was looking at something extraordinary. 

These were American soldiers fighting during World War II. 

The Thunderbird Patch
They were praying. 

The photo caption said it was Christmas Day 1943, and these soldiers were praying before Christmas dinner on the Italian front. 

After carefully looking at the photo, I realized these soldiers were not regular army soldiers. They were National Guard "citizen-soldiers."  

And they were from Oklahoma.

These men were farmers, lawyers, teachers, and businessmen back in Oklahoma. But on this day, Christmas Day 1943, south of Rome, they were fighting the Axis powers that they might "give humanity another chance." 

These soldiers were called Thunderbirds, members of the highly decorated Oklahoma National Guard and the 45th Infantry Division that helped the United States win World War II. You can see the Thunderbird patch on the left arm of the soldier that is standing just to the right of Chaplain Harvey Floyd Bell. Chaplain Bell is identified by the traditional chaplain's patch on his left arm,  a red cross on white cloth.

The Thunderbirds route to Rome
Six months before this photo was taken, the Thunderbirds had invaded the island of Sicily.  Using Sicily as their base, the Oklahoma boys stormed the Italian mainland, going ashore at the beaches of Salerno, Italy, on September 10, 1943 (see photo to the left).

The Thunderbirds then moved north, fighting their way toward Rome. It took several days to cross the Colore and Volturno rivers. After crossing the rivers, the soldiers found themselves involved in fierce battles near the Italian city of Venafro. Majestic mountains surround this picturesque Italian city. 

The fighting lasted 40 days and was known as "the days of mud, mules, and mountains." Battling the cold, the wet weather, fatigue, and the tortuous mountain trails that were too steep and winding for jeeps to pass, the Thunderbirds faced extreme peril. The Germans' fanatical resistance and the introduction of the "screaming mimis" - fierce artillery fire that issued screeching screams as it flew toward the soldiers -  it seemed impossible for the Oklahoma boys to take the town and the mountains filled with German troops.  Yet, against all odds, the Thunderbirds opened and secured a pathway to Rome.  The Oklahoma citizen-soldiers made the regular army marvel at their toughness and spirit. 

General Raymond S. McLain
The man responsible for preparing the Oklahoma National Guard to enter World War II was General Raymond Stallings McLain (b. 1890 - d. 1954). 

McLain himself served as a citizen-soldier in Oklahoma, just like the men he commanded. 

Born in Kentucky, McLain moved with his parents in 1907 to the new state of Oklahoma. He was seventeen years of age when he took a job as a clerk for an Oklahoma City abstract office. McLain also joined the newly formed Oklahoma National Guard. 

Although McLain's formal education ended in the sixth grade while in Kentucky, he never stopped learning. McLain taught himself the banking and abstract business, eventually starting his own title and abstract company in Oklahoma City in his early twenties. 


McLain fought with distinction in Europe as a captain, commanding a machine gun company.  Upon returning to Oklahoma City after World War I, McLain went back into the title business, later merging his small company with a larger one. In 1919, at age 29, McLain became president of that merged company. He then began personally buying and selling real estate in a small suburb of Oklahoma City called Edmond

McLain was an excellent businessman. He was even a better soldier. McLain remained in the Oklahoma National Guard after World War I. He became an original member of the Oklahoma Thunderbirds 45th Infantry Division at its formation in 1924. For the next twelve years, he served on weekends as a citizen-soldier. In 1937, McLain attended the Special Command and General Staff Class for Guard and Reserve officers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Upon graduation, he became a Brigadier General of the Oklahoma National Guard. 

General McLain was appointed Chief of Staff of the 45th National Guard Division (Thunderbirds). In the years preceding World War II, McLain drilled the troops meticulously. He demanded that all his subordinate officers train their men knowing they might soon be in a very real war.

There could be no shortcuts and no compromise in training. McClain is the reason the citizen-soldiers of Oklahoma became such excellent fighting men. 

When World War II began, the Thunderbirds were ready. They fought with honor and discipline through the end of the war, eventually freeing the inmates at Dachau Concentration Camp

Normandy, where Gen. McLain distinguished himself as commander of the 90th Infantry Division

McLain himself fought with distinction at Sicily, in Italy, and on the beaches of Normandy. The Army needed his leadership. During the Battle of Normandy in August 1944, McLain briefly took command of the 90th Infantry Division, a division that had numerous command problems and was in need of a strong commander. He quickly transformed the 90th into a first-class fighting formation, just as he had done with the Oklahoma Thunderbirds. McLain led the 90th across France in the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine, leading them to victory in numerous battles along the Western Front

In October 1944, McLain assumed command of the XIX Corps and remained the commander of the XIX Corps for the rest of the war. General Raymond Stallings McLain was the only National Guardsman to command a corps during World War II combat. McClain was the first guardsman to be given a battlefield promotion of two stars, and the first citizen soldier to command an army corps in battle since Dan Sickles raised a corps in New York and led it to Gettysburg. McLain's XIX Corps defeated the Germans at Julich, improbably conquering the 600-year-old German fortress that the Allied forces deemed near impregnable. General Dwight D. Eisenhower credited the Allied victory at Julich to General McLain's aggressive tactics.

Maj. Gen. McLain, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lt. Gen. William Simpson at Julich Fortress, Nov. 1944

 

"General McLain in his person, elevated and gave great distinction to the term ‘citizen soldier, ” said General George C. Marshall in 1949.

 

Tulsa McLain High School
The Oklahoma Hall of Fame inducted Raymond S. McLain in its class of 1945. McLain Magnet High School for Science and Technology in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also known as Tulsa McClain High School, took its name in honor of General McLain. 

Fort Leavenworth inducted Raymond McLain into its Hall of Fame. To this day, General McClain remains the only National Guardsman so honored by Fort Leavenworth.

The prestigious LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAYMOND S. McLAIN MEDAL was established in 1999 and is awarded annually to a serving or former member of the United States National Guard who has contributed most to the advancement of the goal of the Association of the United States Army, the goal of a seamless and component-integrated U.S. Army.

For McLain's distinguished service in the war, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Regular Army. Later, he became the comptroller of the United States Army and was appointed the army's first statutory comptroller general. At the time of his death in 1954, he served on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's National Security Training Commission.

Raymond Stallings McLain died at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 1954, at 64.

Lieutenant General McLain's ribbon bar:

Lieutenant General McLain's decorations include Distinguished Service Cross with Oak leaf Cluster (Sicily, 1943 and France, 1944), the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak leaf Cluster (France, 1944 and Germany, 1945), Silver Star (Italy, 1943), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak leaf Cluster (Italy, 1944 and Germany, 1945), Mexican Border Service Medal, World War I Victory Medal with two battle clasps, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver and three bronze service stars and Arrowhead device, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, French Croix de Guerre 1939–1945, Grand officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau with swordsCommander of the Order of Leopold II and Belgian Croix de Guerre.

AND NOW THE REST OF THE STORY...

Robert McLain had an eye for real estate. While scouring far north Oklahoma City in the late 1920s, about three miles south of downtown Edmond, Oklahoma, McLain spotted an ideal property to buy for himself and a group of six investors, all fellow officers in the Oklahoma National Guard. McLain described the large property as "a beautiful piece of wooded high ground." General McLain would build for himself a "two-story log cabin" near Eastern Avenue, calling his home Tree Tops. McLain, his wife, son, and daughters all lived at Tree Tops during the 1930s. The family remained behind at Tree Tops when General McLain went to Europe to fight during World War II. 

Tree Tops - The Home of Raymond McLain - Hand-painted for a Mrs. Akright Christmas Card

According to the official biography of General McClain, written by Raymond's daughter, Dr. Betty McLain Belvin, Tree Tops House played a vital role in the formation of McLain's leadership skills and ultimate success on the battlefield during World War II. Betty Belvin writes:
"McLain would study military problems long into the night at Tree Tops, at first by gaslight and then by windmill-generated electric light. He talked over historic battles with his friends (the other officers who owned homes at Reveille Retreat), knowing full well that rumors of genocide and of madman Adolf Hitler's theats in Mein Kampf would have to be reckoned with." 

Tree Tops was McLain's dream home, reminding him of his roots in Kentucky. But after World War II, when the Army asked General McLain to serve as the United States Army's comptroller with the rank of Brigadier General in the Regular Army, McLain decided to sell his log home and move to Washington D.C.  The McLain family sold Tree Tops to the Akright family. 

Though seven Oklahoma National Guard officers built their homes in the wooded area the men called Reveille Retreat, I will highlight only two more.

Raymond McClain's son, Ray Jr., became fast friends with oilman Baird Markham's son, Baird Jr. The elder Markham had been promoted to Brigadier General of the Oklahoma National Guard in 1923. General Baird's son and General McClain's son would often play together in the Reveille Retreat woods. 

The McClain and Markham houses were joined by many footpaths through the woods. In 1937, at age 21, Baird Markham Jr. would make national headlines after he was kidnapped for ransom while out examining an oil lease for his father near Ada, Oklahoma. Baird Jr. was kidnapped by Charles Chapman and Pete Traxel, two men at the top of America's Most Wanted list, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Markham Kidnapping, as well as the Charles Urschel kidnapping, were instrumental in saving J. Edgar Hoover from being fired as FBI Director by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Col. Bolend, Chief Surgeon, 45th Infantry
Another home, just northwest of McLain's Tree Tops log house, was built by Colonel Rex Bolend. Col. Bolend, a private practice physician (urologist), served as the Chief Surgeon for the 45th Infantry. Bolend built a log home similar to the two-story Tree Tops house that McClain had built. 

Rex Bolend called his home at Reveille Retreat the Dormar House. The name came from the first three initials of Colonel Bolend's daughter Dorothy and the first three initials of his wife Martha.  Colonel Bolend, General McLain, and General Markham, were close friends, as were the other four officers who built a total of seven homes in Reveille Retreat. All of them were outstanding soldiers for the United States. The road that connected Tree Tops with Dormar House and the other officer's homes was appropriately called Reveille Road.

The elegant and peaceful log homes built in the beautiful woods north of Oklahoma City, about three miles south of downtown Edmond and just east of Eastern Road, are a tribute to a much simpler time in the life of America.  

In 1950, Colonel Rex Bolend sold Dormar House to my grandfather Frederick Tinsley Donne Cherry and my grandmother Virginia (Salyer) Cherry. My grandfather, a former All-Big 6 tight end for the University of Oklahoma, scored the first touchdown in the newly opened Cotton Bowl when Oklahoma played Texas in the fall of 1930. More importantly, my grandfather joined the Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC) while at the University of Oklahoma, and he drilled under all the Colonels and Generals who built their homes in Reveille Retreat. Fred T. Cherry joined other Oklahoma National Guardsmen in fighting the Germans during World War II. My grandfather drove a jeep with John 3:16 emblazoned on the side, and fought with other 45th Infantrymen (The Thunderbirds) from Oklahoma in the southern portion of the Battle of the Bulge

After the war, my father used his petroleum engineering degree to take a job in the oil fields of East Texas. That's where he met my grandmother. Soon, my father decided to give up "the oil business" and become an evangelist. His friendship with the ROTC officers at Reveille Retreat, and his notoriety as an Oklahoma football and track star, probably helped secure the purchase of Colonel Rex Bolend's home for this young, but growing Cherry family. 

My mother, Mary Cherry (Burleson), was a young girl when she and her siblings moved into what they came to call "Cherry Hollow." She and her brothers and sisters have fond memories of walking down Reveille Road (see the modern Google map below), fishing in the man-made muddy lake at the bottom of Tree Tops, and exploring the creeks, woods, and hills of the Reveille Retreat. 



My mother first met my father, Paul Burleson, when he visited my grandfather Fred Cherry one afternoon in late 1957 at the Dormar House.  Fred Cherry had become an evangelist after his Oklahoma football days and short oilfield career. My father was a young music evangelist scheduled to lead music at one of Fred Cherry's evangelistic revivals. Paul Burleson walked into Dormar House  to talk with Fred Cherry about the evangelistic meeting and met Fred's daughter, Mary Cherry, on Christmas Day 1957. Two nights later, December 27, 1957, my mother came to hear her father preach and her future husband lead the music. Their relationship began at Dormar House.

A red rose by the long gravel drive that leads down to Cherry Hollow in Edmond, Oklahoma.

I have many memories of spending holidays with my maternal Cherry family at the house. I remember repairing a fence with my grandfather Fred Cherry, one of my clearest memories of spending time with him as a boy. My grandparents are now gone, and my uncle, Fred Cherry, now lives at Dormar House, the place we now call Cherry Hollow. Fred has turned the property into a one-of-a-kind country showpiece. 

The wooded Reveille Retreat area is no longer in "the middle of nowhere." In 1957, Oklahoma Christian University built its campus a half-mile north of Cherry Hollow. Modern subdivisions now surround the old Dormar House, but the oak and blackjack trees remain so thick, and the driveways so long, once you arrive in the woods, it still feels like you are in the middle of the woods. It must be close to the same feeling that General McLain, General, Markham, Colonel Bolend, and the other National Guard officers felt when they built and lived in their homes nearly a century ago. All of these men of Reveille Retreat played a significant role in the Allied Forces winning World War II.

Of the seven homes that the officers of the Oklahoma National Guard built at Reveille Retreat during the late 1920s and early 1930s, only Dormar House remains (now Fred Cherry's home). General McClain's home, purchased by the Akright family, burned to the ground in a fire caused by a floor furnace during Thanksgiving Week, 1975. General Raymond S. McLain, the original purchaser of the property he and his friends called Reveille Retreat, died of leukemia at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. on December 14, 1954. To this day, Raymond McLain remains the most decorated National Guard officer in the history of the American military.

Dormar House, now maintained with exquisite country beauty by Fred Cherry, the author's uncle.


A back bedroom on the second floor of Dormar House (now called Cherry Hollow)

One of the advantages of knowing history is the ability to have one's soul anchored by the past and built for hope in the future. Reveille Retreat in Edmond and the old Dormar House (our Cherry Hollow), does both for me. 

The Burlesons eating dinner at Cherry Hollow on Labor Day, 2020

As 2020 comes to a close and we begin another year, I am grateful for God's grace in being a Christian, an Oklahoman, an American, a historian, and someone who never takes for granted the people of our past, the special moments of our present, and the marvelous hope for a bright future because our God is good and gracious all the time.

I leave you with a memorable violin solo played for us on the second floor of the Dormar House by Fred Cherry as we ate dinner there on Labor Day 2020. As you listen to Fred Cherry play, say a prayer for all the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. As I listen, I'll give thanks to God for all those who've risked their lives that Americans might be able to live in a country of peace and liberty. Thank you, General McLain, General Markham, Colonel Bolend, and all the other Oklahoma National Guard officers  (Thunderbirds) who built your homes at Reveille Retreat. Thank you for defeating the Nazis during World War II that we might enjoy a peaceful, family dinner at the place you once called home.  

Happy New Year to all my family and friends! 




Saturday, December 26, 2020

China (CCP) Is the Biggest Threat to World Peace

The Chinese government, known as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the biggest threat to world peace for the year 2021. 

I remain puzzled by the silence of western media regarding the religious purge taking place in China. Muslims in China have been imprisoned in labor concentration camps, similar to the Jews of Europe during the 1940s. Yet most of the western media remains silent. 

Christian pastors in China are being arrested and imprisoned. 95% of western Christian missionaries have been forced out of China by the CCP, and anyone suspected of being a foreign Christian missionary now faces arrest and even execution. 
China's autocrat dictator Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping, the dictator President of the CCP, has established himself as leader for life. He has abolished the constitutional presidential term limits, eliminated dissenters, and has taken away the freedoms of the Chinese people. Xi Jinping fancies himself a modern Mao Zedong, a man of divine power that must be worshiped. The worship of any other god but Xi Jinping in China is forbidden. China is the equivalent of a hi-tech North Korea

Rachelle and I have a dear friend, a native of China, who confirms what I have believed about the Chinese government for years.  She is a member of the church I pastor, a native of Communist China, and has been in the United States for twelve years. I will keep her name anonymous for the time being. She has had to delete all her friends in China from access to her Facebook accounts for their protection. During 2020, our friend from China has been very vocal about the menacing danger of the CCP to the world. I asked her to tell you her story, and she has agreed. This guest blog is intended to warn all Americans of the impending danger. of China to world peace.

Here is the story of our Chinese friend. She was at one time the equivalent of America's Katie Couric in China. She worked at the Chinese government-owned national broadcasting company. Read her warning very carefully to know what is coming if the United States continues to cater to China's goal of world domination.
___________________________________________________________________________

"I was born in 1968 in China. I moved to America in 2009 when I married an American. 

I grew up in China, graduating from the National Broadcasting And Television School. Upon earning my broadcasting degree, I received a job working as a television reporter and announcer.

The first five years of working in television opened my eyes to the control of the Chinese government. I was told to go out and do interviews with the people, and then announce the evening news, using my interviews as part of the programming. I first thought this would be very cool job, but I quickly learned it was totally not. I was a puppet for the government.

In China, all broadcasting media is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Broadcasting is not partly controlled by the Chinese government, it is 100% controlled by the government. Even personal social media is absolutely controlled by the Communist Party.

From my first day of working, I began to realize the depth of the CCP government's brainwashing of we, the Chinese people. They worked hard to control the minds of everyone. All of the broadcast media, print media, and social media were controlled by the CCP. All media platforms are the mouthpiece of the CCP and the Chinese government. 

The different media platforms carry the name CCP in their titles. Before every news event can be reported, the story must be approved by the government. Censors working for the CCP work tirelessly to formulate the public opinion. The CCP wants complete control over what the Chinese people think.

Journalists will never be allowed to have their own independent thinking or opinions. If any journalist, including myself, dared challenge the government, we would lose our jobs immediately. All the news is designed to glorify the CCP and to help the CCP maintain the dictatorship of the Chinese leader! 

The NEWS stories are 100% lies. News organizations are the CCP's most important tools for brainwashing the Chinese people.

After five years working as a reporter, the CCP sent me to school to study advertising censorship for news organizations and to obtain a certificate in advertising censorship. During my last fifteen years in Chinese television broadcasting, I engaged in advertising censorship. I know about Chinese government censorship because the CCP trained me.

I want to tell some memories of my childhood in China. 

This has to start with the history of 1966-1976. Mao Zedong, the CCP's first-generation dictator, waged a decade-long Culture Revolution to protect and preserve his personal power. Yuan Tengfei, a famous Chinese historian, describes the Culture Revolution as "the darkest decade in human history."

During those ten years, there were no laws, and the people were free to kill. For example, students were free to kill teachers who violated Mao's philosophy. Historian Yuan Tengfei said that he knew a Chinese teacher at his school who died after a student poured boiling water over his head. The students did not go to school to study, they went to criticize their teachers for not following Mao.  Many teachers, scholars, professors and people who told the truth about Mao went to jail or were put to death. The political campaign of the ten-year Cultural Revolution cost the lives of over 5 million people in China and affected the over 200 million people. 

I was born in 1968, 2 years after the Cultural Revolution began. When I began to form memories as a student, the Cultural Revolution was almost over. Of course the Chinese economy had collapsed. Marxist ideology always leads to economic collapse. I remember one day my only meal was just porridge,  and I could count the number of rice in the small bowl. 

When I was in elementary school, my desk was a two-foot mound of mud and straw.  Our teacher would constantly tell us how happy we were and that all the American people - as well as the people from around the world - were living miserable lives.  Our communist teachers told us that we needed to save the American people, that China would one day save the world. When I was in middle school, my every meal was one bowl of rice mixed with a sauce made of salt and hot pepper. I remember that I couldn't get enough food until I was 15 years old in high school. But I had been brainwashed. The starving people of CCP China were to save the world. 

The CCP cheated the Chinese people. They massacred landlords and capitalists, promised to distribute money and land to the people, and vowed paradise for the Chinese after they took the power in 1949.So the first generation dictator Mao Zedong massacred landowners and capitalists and plundered their wealth. At least 2 million landowners were slaughtered during 1950 and 1953. The private ownership of land was completely eliminated in China, and for the first time in thousands of years, Chinese farmers lost their lands completely. 

The Chinese people lost their ability to take care of themselves. They had to depend on the government. During the famine of 1957-1960, between 20--40 million Chinese people starved to death.  During the 1966-1976 Culture Revolution, 200 million people were affected socially and economically.  The economy totally collapsed. 

From 1976-1989, during the second generation of CCP rule, dictator Deng Xiaoping began reforming and opening things up. The Chinese economy began developing. But the goal of the CCP - even during this time - was to penetrate America with their BLUE GOLD YELLOW Plan and the 3F Plan so that China could rule the world.

Then came the Tiananmen massacre. This was a bloody crackdown on the democracy movement of Chinese students. The CCP slaughtered many young Chinese college students, It's still a secret how many students the government killed. All this occurred during the reign of Jiang Zemin, the third-generation dictator of China. He held office from 1989 to 2002. He suppressed  and persecuted the Chinese Falun Gong religious believers in tortuous and violent ways. 

The fourth generation dictator Hu Jintao, when he ruled in Tibet before taking over China, suppressed and persecuted the Tibetan religious believers! He oppressed the Chinese people in the same manner. All Chinese dictators clamp down on religious freedom, as well as all other liberties that free people enjoy.

Xi Jinping, the fifth generation dictator, has made biological weapons, manipulated the American election, and has established himself as the eternal leader. Xi Jinping has biologically attacked the United States and the world in order to enslave and control the world under Chinese domination. Xi Jinping wants the entire world to worship him as God

The government of China is evil. The Chinese Communist Party is even more evil! The CCP is a killing machine of lies and violence. It's first goal is to brainwash the people through the news media. If you are not brainwashed, then you better keep your mouth shut. If you speak out in opposition to the party line, then you will be disappear from the earth!

I lived in China for 41 years and will soon celebrate living in America for 12 years. 

You must be wondering what is the major difference between America and China? Here it is.
"No matter how wealthy and powerful you are in China, you live without dignity! Unless you can be the dictator! Then you're God!"

"But in America, no matter how ordinary you are, you have freedom and dignity like anyone else."
If any other Chinese person tells you that he or she lives in China with dignity, either they lie or they have been brainwashed by CCP for 70 years and no longer know what dignity is!

America and the American people are at their most dangerous moment under the corrupt and manipulative plans of the CCP  in infiltrating the United States. What I saw happen in China through the media is happening in America. What I saw happening in China through the brainwashing of its citizens is happening in America. What I saw happen in China through government control and dependence on the government is happening in America. Remember that when you receive your government stimulus check.

I'm standing up because I love this great Christian country, and I love the great American people who have been nurtured by the goodness and righteousness of their Christian civilization for generations.

The future of America is not about two political parties. It is a decisive battle between the forces of unwavering faith in goodness and righteousness and the forces of evil represented by the CCP. 

If American elites and corrupt politicians  continue to sell their souls to money and interests from China, America will soon become a puppet of the CCP. 

America has been a beacon of human freedom.

If the United States sinks, the whole of human society collapses.

My childhood was unhappy and hard. I was lucky, because there was still the bright light of America to light the world at that time.

But if the forces of evil prevail, humanity will be plunged into a thousand years of darkness. 

Our children and grandchildren will crawl through the darkness with no hope! 

We love our children and grandchildren. We must fight for the United States Constitution, for liberty, for the freedom and hope of our children and grandchildren, and for the future of America.

Do not trust China."

________________________________________________________________________

There you go. You're welcome. I love my Chinese friends.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas to Your Family! Shiloh Has Come!

Christmas 2020, Main Street, Waukomis, OK
What makes your heart sing and your mind smile this Christmas? A Christmas bonus? Family coming home for Christmas? Days off from work? 

When I wish someone Merry Christmas, my mind generally thinks: "Merry Christmas: Shiloh Has Come!" (truthfully, that is what I think!)

Let me explain. The Old Testament is full of amazing prophecies foretelling the advent (coming) of the Messiah into the world. Those prophecies are fulfilled in minute detail in the Person of Jesus from Nazareth. 

That is why Jesus is called the Christ, for Christos in Greek means Messiah. Christ is not Jesus' last name; Christ is the title of Jesus.

Jesus is the Messiah. He is Jesus Christ. 

The Hebrews (Jews) had another title for the Messiah in their Scriptures. They used Shiloh as a synonym for Messiah.  Shiloh means "peace or rest." The Messiah would be the Prince of Peace, the King of the World, and Shiloh would usher into this world a Kingdom known for its righteousness, justice, and peace.

Jesus is Shiloh. 

Shiloh has come. 

One of my favorite prophecies about the coming of the Messiah is found in Genesis 49:10.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
For the longest time, I had little understanding of this prophetical utterance from Jacob, a prophecy of the Messiah that Jacob gave to his twelve sons as he lay dying. 

Throughout the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies are given hundreds and even thousands of years before their fulfillment in Jesus. That is why fulfilled Messianic prophecies of the Bible are a great source of encouragement to Christians. They confirm the God-inspired nature of Scripture, they impress on the reader the centrality of Jesus Christ and they give us a boldness to share the story of Jesus with those who think Christianity is just one of many other comparable religions. 

No other "religious" books but the Bible, including the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and any other religious book you can mention contain one prophecy of a future event that was fulfilled hundreds of years later. The Bible has hundreds. Don't make the mistake of ignoring biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled for an infatuation with a few biblical prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled. 

We are all familiar with other Old Testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus, such  as: 
1. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem --- (Micah 5:2).
2.  The Messiah would be born of a virgin --- (Isaiah 7:14). 
3. The Messiah would be existent before His birth --- (Micah 5:2). 
4. The Messiah would suffer and die for His people by crucifixion --- (Isaiah 53:12). 
5. The Messiah would become the righteousness of His people --- (Jeremiah 23:6).
But this Genesis 49:10 prophecy, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes" has become my favorite. 

Jacob foretold when Shiloh (the Messiah) would come. Let me try to help you understand this prophecy by focusing on four keywords or phrases: 
Shiloh --- is the Jewish idiom (or name) for "the Messiah," and was often used by ancient Jewish writers in place of "the Messiah." 
Judah --- is the name of one of Jacob's sons, but even more importantly, Judah became the name of the entire Southern Kingdom of Israel, the nation of Judah.
Sceptor --- is the tribal staff or the tribal identity of Judah. Its modern equivalent would be our "national flag" that would cease to exist if we were captured or conquered as a nation. 
A lawgiver from between his feet --- is the ability of Judah (or the Southern Kingdom of Israel) to apply and enforce the Mosaic laws by means of capital punishment (death) for disobedience. Throughout the history of ancient nations, kings sat on throne with the nation's laws "under his feet," symbolizing the king's power to punish lawbreakers. In essence, for Judah to have a "lawgiver between his feet" was an idiomatic expression that spoke of the nation of Judah's ability to adjudicate and administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic laws. 
Using the above definitions, a simple descriptive translation of Genesis 49:10 would be as follows:
"The national identity of Judah shall not depart from Judah, nor the ability to enforce Mosaic law, including the right to administer capital punishment shall leave Judah, until Shiloh comes." (Genesis 49:10).
Two questions must now be asked: 

(1). WHEN did JUDAH lose her national identity? 
(2). When did JUDAH lose the right to administer capital punishment? 

According to Genesis 49:10, if you can identify those two dates or occasions, you will know that Shiloh has come. 

In AD 70, the Roman army tore down the Temple of YHWH, destroyed the capital city of Judah (Jerusalem), and scattered the Jews all over the Roman empire (e.g. the diaspora). In AD 70, Judah ceased to exist as a nation. 

BUT Judah's national leaders lost their ability to administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic law about 40 years earlier (in  AD 30).  The Romans took the "lawgiver ability" away from Judah in 30 A.D., BUT they allowed Judah to retain her national identity. 

The loss of the right to administer capital punishment for law offenses is why Jewish leaders brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judah.
A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews. The Talmudfolio 24
Even the Jews themselves understand the significance of this loss to administer capital punishment on their own:
Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.The Sanhedrin as recorded by the Babylonian Talmud, Ch. 4, folio 37.
But Shiloh already had come.

Just a few years before Judah lost her ability to adjudicate and administer capital punishment, God revealed His Son, our Messiah, at Jordan. The heavens opened and God declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16). 

It was then Jesus' public ministry began. Three years later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, God reiterated what He'd said of Jesus at Jordan and added this command to those who followed Jesus: "Hear Him!" The Greek words acoute auton, translated "Hear Him" literally mean "Listen to Jesus and do as He says." Don't just hear the King; do as the King commands.

Shiloh has come. 

Jacob, under the inspiration of the LORD, gave his Shiloh prophecy nearly two thousand years BEFORE YHWH split the heavens and sent His Son, Jesus the Messiah, to be born of a virgin in the little ancient town of Bethlehem. 

Jesus is Shiloh. Just like the prophecy predicted, Jesus arrived on earth prior to the loss of Judah's ability to administer capital punishment (30 AD) and prior to Judah's loss of national identity (70 AD). 

Our sins are forgiven because --- Shiloh has come. 

Our lives have meaning because --- Shiloh has come

Our Bible can be trusted because --- Shiloh has come.  

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently stated: 
"You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Merry Christmas! 

Shiloh has come. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

"A Smile of the Mind Is a Gesture from the Soul" - Helen Keller after Reading the Lips of Mark Twain

Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan
Helen Keller
(b. 1880 - d. 1968) became very ill when only nineteen months old with either Scarlet Fever or Meningitis, two diseases now treatable in 2020, but often fatal in 1882. Helen survived, but a few days after Helen’s fever broke, her mother noticed that Helen wasn’t responding when the bell was rung for dinner, or when a hand was waved in front of her face. Helen had gone deaf and blind.

The family consulted with Alexandar Graham Bell (1847-1922), the inventor of the telephone and a pioneer in communicating with the deaf. Bell arranged for Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), a teacher from Perkin's School of the Blind, to travel to Helen's home to become the little girl's teacher. 

Helen called the day Anne Sullivan arrived in her life "the most important day I remember in all my life." Anne met Helen in March 1887, when Helen was not quite seven years old. Only fourteen years older than Helen, Anne herself was visually impaired and had just recently graduated from the school of the bind.

Before long, Anne Sullivan had taught Helen ‘finger spelling’, which allowed her to finally communicate with those around her. To do this, Anne gave Helen an object such as a doll and traced the word ‘d-o-l-l’ onto her palm.

In the beginning, Helen did not make the connection between the letters on her palm and the objects. But the famous moment came when Anne took Helen to the water pump outside and while spelling “w-a-t-e-r” into Helen’s palm, allowing the water to run over Helen's other hand. Comprehension dawned in Helen's mind. The little blind and deaf girl quickly knelt and touched the earth and held out her hand, demanding her new teacher to spell the earth's name in the form of letters. By nightfall, Helen had learned 30 new words.

Mark Twain in his octagonal study
Anne Sullivan became Helen Keller's life-long teacher.  Anne was present when Helen Keller would visit her life-long friend, writer Mark Twain, in both his Connecticut home and his octagonal study in Elmira, New York, where he would write some of his classic works, including Tom Saywer. 

Keller later wrote a vivid description of her interactions with Mark Twain:

"To one hampered and circumscribed as I am it was a wonderful experience to have a friend like Mr. Clemens. I recall many talks with him about human affairs. He never made me feel that my opinions were worthless. . . . He knew that we do not think with eyes and ears and that our capacity for thought is not measured by five senses. He kept me always in mind while he talked, and he treated me like a competent human being. That is why I loved him. . . . There was about him the air of one who had suffered greatly."

Of course, being deaf and blind, Helen Keller could only understand what Mark Twain said by feeling his lips and throat with one hand and having her teacher, Anne Sullivan, translate what Twain said by writing it in the palm of Helen's other hand. Listen to Helen Keller's vivid description of Mark Twain speaking:
"Whenever I touched his face his expression was sad, even when he was telling a funny story. He smiled, not with the mouth but with his mind—a gesture of the soul rather than of the face. His voice was truly wonderful. To my touch, it was deep, resonant. He had the power of modulating it so as to suggest the most delicate shades of meaning and he spoke so deliberately that I could get almost every word with my fingers on his lips. Ah, how sweet and poignant the memory of his soft slow speech playing over my listening fingers."

Keller feeling Twain's "smile of the mind"
I love Helen Keller's description of Mark Twain:

"He smiled, not with the mouth but with his mind--a gesture of the soul rather than of the face." 

I always want to be a person who smiles at others with my mind. I work to accept others where they are, for who they are, as they are. 

My personal motto is "Sometimes offends, never offended." That describes a principle by which I live. Nobody can live as long as I, be involved with as many people as I, and not sometimes offend other people.  I pay little attention to whether I offend others, but I pay great attention to ensure that others' words, actions, and attitudes never offend me, regardless of what they say, do, or feel.

This week, I encourage you to concentrate on smiling with your mind even more than smiling with your lips.

The smile of the mind is the token of God's grace in the soul.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Istoria Ministries Seeks to Discover Story Origins

I am President of a 501C-3 non-profit called Istoria Ministries. Friends helped me start this non-profit nearly a decade ago. Its purpose is to help people discover how their stories integrate with the Person and work of Jesus Christ so that His Story becomes all of our stories. 

That's a long way of saying I write to promote Christ and His Kingdom.

I like to find out about people - where they come from, why they are the way they are, and what circumstances have contributed to the place they're in right now. Every person's story is unique, for God makes each of us unique, but the story of Christ is for everyone. My goal is to offer some spiritual encouragement to people who need some direction in their marriage, their career, or their life. 

I've been asked before to give a visual of what Istoria Ministries is about. So, here goes. 

Have you ever watched a movie made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM? You know it's an MGM movie because of the 8-second introduction with a lion roaring inside the MGM logo (see below).

via GIPHY

I work through Istoria Ministries to find out the story of the lion (or as is true in my writing, the stories of real people). Who is he/she? What is his/her background? Why has God placed this person in my sphere of influence at this time?

By the way, the lion's name is Jackie.

Below is an MGM photo of the MGM logo of the roaring lion being filmed in 1928. This shoot is the movie clip that you at the beginning of every MGM movie, even 92 years later. 


Jackie was brought to the United States from Sudan. MGM began using a recording of Jackie for the beginning of their "talking" movies - impressing patrons with the roar of Jackie since they had never heard "sound" in the silent movies of the 1920s. Jackie's roar was the first thing heard by moviegoers in the first "sound" movies. The studio actually had to build a sound stage around his cage in order to record his roar.

Now you know the rest of the story!

I tell people about the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and how He can change their lives. 

I want to thank those who have supported Istoria Ministries over the years. I've never drawn a salary from Istoria, but donations have helped with research, travel, and giving books away to those who write to Istoria with a prayer need or a request for spiritual encouragement. One day I will be retiring from pastoring to focus on writing full-time and Istoria Ministries will be my means of support so that I can write books that may not be a commercial success, but will all about the story of Christ and His work on our behalf and how His Story can change the trajectory of our stories!

The Face of Grace, the newest book, was just released this week. I look forward to many more books in the years to come! Thank you for your support!





Saturday, December 12, 2020

Identity. Who Am I? BERT. GOD Knows. I Believe.

You are not on this page by accident.

You're searching for your identity. You feel fragile. You think you know who you are. But... when you think about it - when you really think about identity - you're more concerned about who others think you are than discovering who you really are

Happiness is elusive. You're wanting meaning to life; significance; purpose. But your search for self has been a journey into other peoples' minds, not your own. 

Your search has landed you here - on this page. 

Thank you BERT.  The natural language processing program for GOOGLE knew that you were looking for answers to identity when you typed a search.

Read the story of Becket Cook. He'll help you find the truth.

You're a sinner. Searching for being "okay" in the eyes of others has caused you to call sacred omething that God calls sin

But you're not alone. 

The search for identity is no different for the business executive who retires and can't find himself in anything other than work than it the one who can't find himself in broken relationships. The depression, the darkness, the difficulties are the same. 

Jesus Christ can change everything about your life. "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21). 

As the old country and western song accurately stated, I Was Lookin' for Love in All the Wrong Places

Becoming convinced of Christ's love will change the way you live. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and He'll give you an identity that transcends this world and carries you to the next.

Email me at wwburleson@gmail.com and Istoria Ministries will send you a free copy of the book Happiness Doesn't Just Happen

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Spirit of Fear Is Never Your Friend Till It Flees

The Importance of Local Government In Your Life

Take a quick 10-question test and see how you score:

1. Tell me the name of your local police chief. 

2. Tell the name of your county sheriff. 

3. Tell me the city council district number in which you reside. 

4. Tell me the name of your representative city councilor. 

5. Tell me the total number of city councilors in your city.

6. Tell me the name of your mayor.

7. Tell me the name of the head of your city's code department.

8. Tell me the name of your District Attorney.

9. Tell me where you can find your city's charter.

10. Tell me when your next local election will be held.

If you can't answer at least 8 of the 10 questions, your city or community may be facing imminent troubles, and you may be part of the problem.

When it comes to government, the most important government in your life is LOCAL, not FEDERAL.

Why? Because local officials take the same "oath of office" that federal officials do.
I, _____, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma, and all local ordinances, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of _____, according to the law and the best of my ability.


Let's say a new President signs an Executive Order that private citizens can no longer own guns.

Your local sheriff and police chief have the authority to defy this unconstitutional mandate. In 2019, a sheriff named Bob Song in Washington State, said the following to National Public Radio about attempts to remove guns from local citizens. 

"As an elected sheriff and a constitutional sheriff, I believe it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," he says, "and, more specifically, violates the Washington state Constitution." Songer adds he won't enforce it unless — and until — the Supreme Court says it is constitutional.

That's just one example - and I could cite many - where your local officials may choose to defy federal mandates until the Supreme Court rules on their Constitutionality. Other issues would include lockdowns, mandatory tracing, travel restrictions, etc...

Take time to find out the answers to the 10 questions above and plan on participating in every local election that comes your way.

Your city's prosperity is dependent on it. 

Monday, December 07, 2020

Melissa Crabtree Is An Outstanding Choice by Our Governor for the Oklahoma Board of Education

Melissa Crabtree
Last week Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Melissa Crabtree of Enid to be one of the five board members for the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

Governor Stitt has made an excellent choice. Rachelle and I have the privilege of knowing Melissa Crabtree and her husband Robert and their two teenage children. The Oklahoma Senate will confirm Melissa's appointment next year, but she will serve in the interim. 

There are five reasons Melissa Crabtree should be appointed to the Oklahoma Board of Education.

1. She's a teacher. 

Melissa graduated from Carson-Newman College cum laude with a bachelor's degree in special education. Certified K-12, She taught special education in the public education system for four years, taught parents of children with disabilities with the Tennessee Infant-Parent Services, and taught her own children in her's and Robert's home for 15 years. She's spent years teaching children that they all have the opportunity to succeed with their own unique gifts and abilities. In short, Melissa loves teachers and teaching.

2. She's a leader.

Melissa is well-known in our community. She has been active in orchestrating people to get involved in the community, seeking to make Enid a great place to live. I know for a fact that city leaders, education leaders, and community health leaders call Melissa to speak with her about issues. Some would wrongly say Melissa is an activist. She's a preservationist. She seeks to preserve the role of the family in society, the authority of the constitution in government, and the liberty of individuals to choose the best course of action for their lives. 

3. She's a believer. 

Melissa is a Christian. She is not ashamed of her faith. The internationally famous chemist and black educator named George Washington Carver (1860-1943) once remarked when asked the question about his success in life, "The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, 'In all thy ways acknowledge God and He shall direct thy paths.'" Melissa thinks, educates, and leads like Mr. Carver.

4. She's a researcher.

The liberal left would have you think that Melissa Crabtree believes in "conspiracy theories." That's not true. That, in fact, is a conspiracy theory of its own. Melissa believes in personal research and she knows how to read and come to conclusions on her own. She may hold certain positions that go against the establishment, but her positions are always well-researched and articulated beautifully.  Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, a close friend of Albert Einstein, faced similar charges from the scientific establishment in the 1950s. The establishment sometimes feels threatened by new ideas. Melissa will only be on the Oklahoma Board of Education as a threat to educational complacency, mediocrity, and aristocracy. 

5. She's a fixer. 

Oklahoma is tired of talk. Oklahoma needs action when it comes to our public educational system. If Oklahoma isn't careful, the public education system will collapse under its own weight. Many families are choosing home-schooling, private education, and professional online charter schools. It's time for the Oklahoma Board of Education to have representation on its board that will benefit all Oklahoma families. 

All four of the Burleson children graduated from Enid High School. We have many administrators, teachers, and public school students that attend the church where I serve, from multiple public school districts in and around Enid. 

I cannot think of a better person to represent my family, my city, my region on the Oklahoma Board of Education that Melissa Crabtree. 

Contact Senator Roland Pederson and express your support for Melissa Crabtree. 

Friday, December 04, 2020

The Art of Forgiving and the Heart of Forgiveness

I've got three seconds to pique your interest to read this article. Some of you have already scanned it and said, "I'm not reading it; it's too long." Here's the reason why you should.

You may be the woman whose husband left you for a younger, prettier version of yourself. 

You may be the adult who endured trauma during your childhood at the hands of one who should have loved you but instead abused you.

You may be someone who has been falsely accused by others in an intentional attempt to ruin your reputation and career.

You may be the church member who experienced spiritual abuse by authoritarian church leaders who seemed more interested in protecting their institution than offering loving support to members of said institution.

In other words,  you may be a person in need of an understanding of biblical forgiveness.

Let's begin:

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 
 
These words are from Jesus on the cross. In his Concise Commentary on the Scripture, Matthew Henry writes, "As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him."
 
A couple of things need to be said about those for whom He prayed:
 
(1). They were intentional. They were intentional in their shouts, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" They were intentional in their desires that Jesus is killed. They were intentional in everything they did.
(2). They brought injury.  It's self-evident that crucifixion brought injury to Jesus. Yet, not many consider the injury that came to His mother who watched Him die. Nor do any of us fully understand the injury of those who had followed Him every step of the way for the previous three years.
(3). They possessed ignorance. According to biblical scholar John Gill, "they did not know that Jesus was the Messiah, nor the prophecies concerning him, nor the evil they were committing." Paul said they would not have crucified the LORD (Acts 3:27). This ignorance is simply descriptive of the persons crucifying Jesus. Ignorance is not the basis for their forgiveness. Remember, they were intentionally injurious; the ignorance was concerning "Whom" they were crucifying.

Had not this forgiving spirit been in the Son and His request to forgive been made, the Father very well may have struck all the crucifiers down immediately and catastrophically in righteous judgment.
 
These ten words of Jesus, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," comprise the first of seven last statements of Jesus from the cross. They also fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12; "He made intercession for the transgressors." 

This spirit toward intentional, injurious, and ignorant sinners is a peculiar character quality of God's people. Nobody else in the world has this spirit.

A Difference Between the Spirit and the Act of Forgiveness

Much of the confusion over"forgiveness" can be resolved when one understands the difference between the spirit of forgiveness and the act of forgiveness.  Only God can ultimately forgive sin. ("Father, forgive them...") for in the end, all sin is ultimately against God.

Though our God alone is ultimately the One who forgives, we are called to maintain a spirit of forgiveness toward all people, just as Christ had this spirit of forgiveness on the cross.

Albert Barnes put it like this: 
"No other religion "teaches" people to pray for the forgiveness of enemies; no other "disposes" them to do it. Men of the world seek for "revenge;" the Christian bears reproaches and persecutions with patience, and prays that God would pardon those who injure them, and save them from their sins."
We must actively maintain a spirit of forgiveness toward the injurious, intentional and often ignorant persons who are in the act of harming us. Jesus language on the cross was in the present, active tense, "Father, forgive them for what they are doing..." 

Here's another hard truth about the spirit of forgiveness. When the injurious, intentional and often ignorant person says "I repent," we are to forgive. Forgiveness is not granted until there is repentance, but I've found that as long as there is always a willingness (spirit) to forgive, the act of forgiveness is relatively easy. It's a little bit like "We love Him because He FIRST loved us." 
In a spirit and climate where people are known to be willing to forgive by evidencing a spirit of forgiveness, repentance from sinners grows like flowers in a well-water garden.
Someone has said, "Forgiveness without forgetting is like loving without liking." I tend to agree. That's why it is impossible for people to judicially forgive and why we should remember that ultimately only God forgives sin. Still, we should all possess His Son's spirit of forgiveness. 

We should want the intentional, injurious, and ignorant sinners who cause harm others to come to the place of repentance, find peace with God, and change their injurious behavior. Until they do, we will always maintain a spirit of forgiveness, forgiving them when they say, "I repent." 

Also, until injurious sinners come to repentance, we will, in love, continue to point out sin when it occurs. Further, we will even forgive the intentional, injurious, and ignorant sinners for the same sin, again-and again-and-again - even if they sin repetitively (seven times in one day) or infinitely (seventy times seven) because this is precisely what Jesus commanded us to do.

Two Key Questions

1. So, how do we know that we have the spirit of forgiveness? 

Answer: We don't question the motives of the intentional, injurious, and ignorant people who cause us harm when they say they repent. 

2. If we 'forgive,' does that mean we don't remember their sin in the future?

Answer: No. We are human. Only God can judicially forget. The child predator's actions must be remembered, and standards of accountability implemented. The unfaithful spouse's actions must be remembered, and the consequences of the infidelity felt (i.e., "divorce, annulment, etc...). The action of an oppressive church leadership government that places a covenant above a congregant must be remembered, and steps are taken to stop the spiritual abuse, if not completely abandon, of the abusive church.

But the entire time we stand for truth, we must always display a spirit that is willing, hopeful, and desirous of God to forgive and bring to repentance.

Though Jesus was willing to forgive those who crucified Him, they were not forgiven until they acknowledged their wrong and repented of it (Luke 23:34Acts 2:36-39). When one refuses to repent, he is regarded as a "heathen and a tax collector to you" (Matt. 18:15-17). That means we consider the person without grace. We love sinners without grace like Jesus loved them, but we don't pretend they know Christ when there is no evidence of repentance.

Here's the difficulty for us all. "How do we know someone has 'truly repented?'" Answer: We don't. All we can do is maintain a spirit of forgiveness, speaking truth where we see sin, and granting forgiveness when a brother or sister in Christ says, "I repent." 

So here's the formula: Speak the truth in love. Be a person full of grace and truth. Be willing to forgive when repentance comes, and don't be a judge of whether or not repentance is real by questioning the motive of someone's statement of repentance. Forgive and forget as much as humanly possible, but never be afraid to speak out against sin, and never neglect the protection of the helpless.

Maintaining a spirit of forgiveness means we must make a separation between the injurious person's actions and our acceptance of that injurious person. 
(1). In having a forgiving spirit I will want those who injure to ultimately be blessed by God in the same manner that I am blessed by Him - "Father, forgive them..."
(2). I am not dependent on the behavior of others for my personal happiness; I look to God for my inner satisfaction and happiness. To the extent I am able to trust God with my past, present and future is the measure of my ability to pray- "Father, forgive them...".
(3). I will never confuse actual forgiveness with a spirit of forgiveness. Ultimately God will cast sin and its consequences into the sea of forgetfulness, but until then, I will continue to point out injustice, I will continue to protect the helpless, and I will continue to encourage the broken -- all the while praying for the intentional, injurious and ignorant persons who harm the innocent.  
This spirit is unique among Christians. It's a spirit evidenced in the One we follow.