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The gun that shot Abraham Lincoln

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The Philadelphia Derringer pistol Booth used to murder Lincoln, on display at the museum in Ford's Theatre (Credit: user Wknight94 via

I was privileged to spend the day yesterday in Washington, D.C., where I stood before the gun that killed Abraham Lincoln.  Here’s the story.

Two friends and I traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Sunday evening to spend three days touring the famous battleground (see today’s Cultural Commentary).  Yesterday we concluded our tour with the Gettysburg Visitors Center and Museum, then drove to D.C. for a lunch appointment with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.  Mr. Kirk, the former Dallas mayor, has been a personal friend for years.  It was wonderful to see him again and remarkable to have lunch together in the White House.

Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at Ford’s Theater and Museum.  As you know, this was the playhouse where John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln.  It was eerie to sit in the theater balcony, directly across from the box where Mr. Lincoln was shot.  It was even stranger to stand before the very gun that was used in this heinous and historic crime–Booth’s Philadelphia Derringer is on display at the theater museum.

Also on display are the clothes Mr. Lincoln was wearing that evening, and one of the blood-stained pillows on which his head was laid as he died.  As I stood silently before them, it occurred to me that no one would have considered them noteworthy five minutes before the president was shot.  An historic event renders everything it touches historic as well.

The same is true spiritually.  There is nothing noteworthy about my hands, but if I use them to type words inspired by the Holy Spirit, they participate in eternity.  There is nothing special about my voice–I sometimes envy friends whose voices are stronger and deeper than mine–but if I use it to speak words led by the Father, it serves his Kingdom.

God does not call the equipped–he equips the called.  He is not searching for ability, but for availability.  Can he use you today?