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11.11.11 on 11-11-11

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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U.S. Navy sailor and woman at the Tomb of the Unknowns, May 1943 (Credit: John Collier, FSA/OWI)

What happens only once a century in England, but twice in America?  The moment on this day, the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year, when it is 11 seconds after 11:11 on your clock.  It will occur only once in England, where they run on military time.  In America we’ll mark 11:11:11 this morning and again tonight.

“Apophenia” is the urge to find patterns in seemingly random data.  Apopheniacs are converging on Las Vegas today.  The marriage license office in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, typically gets less than 1,000 pre-applications in 60 days; they’ve received 3,500 for today.

Today is important in America as Veterans’ Day.  At 11:00 this morning, a wreath will be laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  It is a very important day in my life, as my wife was born today (I won’t say which year–I’m smarter than I used to be).

You don’t have to be an apopheniac to seek significance in a chaotic world.  One of the reasons there has been such an uproar among students at Penn State is that Joe Paterno was a father figure to so many.  A new study documents that those who attend religious services regularly are more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical.  That’s no surprise–we have Someone to believe in.

We are a nation badly in need of heroes.  The good news is that our Father is still building men and women with godly character and unshakable integrity.  One such hero in my life stepped into heaven two days ago; we’ll celebrate his homegoing tomorrow.  Dewey Presley was three years old when his father died.  He worked his way through Baylor University, then served in the FBI for ten years before joining First National Bank in Dallas.  Thirteen years later, he was president and soon led the bank to become the largest in the Southwest.

Despite his remarkable business success, Mr. Presley’s commitment to Christ and his family always came first.  In recognition of his extraordinary service to Baylor University, the Baylor Health Care System, and Baptist causes, he was named one of the 50 most important Texas Baptists of all time.  He and his wife Virginia started “dating” in the fourth grade and never stopped.  Her funeral was the largest I’ve ever preached.

Dewey Presley’s gracious and godly spirit proves the truth of Scripture: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).  On this significant day, I give thanks for such a man of God, with the prayer that my Father will help me to be more like him.  What spiritual hero will you seek to emulate today?