Leave No Man Behind

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Samuel 30-31; Luke 13:23-35


When the Israelites across the valley and across the Jordan learned that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines came and occupied the towns.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons lying dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor, and then sent word throughout Philistine territory, carrying the good news to their gods’ temples and to their people. 10 They put Saul’s armor in the temple of Astarte, and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan.

11 But when all the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 the bravest of their men set out, traveled all night long, and took the bodies of Saul and his sons off the wall of Beth-shan. Then they went back to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days (1 Samuel 31:7-13, Common English Bible).

In truth, I have no idea if the Israelites of Saul and David’s era knew concept of “No Man Left Behind). Many of us (I was one until I started researching from this post) believed wrongly that the saying had its origins in the various branches of the US military which in one form or another has held it as part of the policy (a part that, historically we haven’t done all that well in keeping over the years). Still the intentions are good. I first heard the saying while in Navy bootcamp. It wasn’t said for the Navy as a whole. I think everyone on a ship understood that if a ship goes down there is a pretty good chance we are going to leave some sailors behind no matter how valient the efforts to save them might be. I heard it said  tied to the Navy Seals. Years later, when my oldest son Wayne enlisted in the Marine Corps, I heard it again. It is a big deal for anyone in the militray but it is a huge deal for a Marine. It is also part of the Army and Air Forces’ creed that they will not leave a soldier or airman (respectively) behind. It is also in the DNA of Army Rangers.

In truth the saying probably has its roots a couple of thousand years ago, but could also have been aroun about as long as war has been around. We do know the Romans had a saying, “nemo resideo” or “Leave no one behind.”

What we do know is, when the Israelites heard the dispicable things the Philistines did to their king and his sons, they were not going to leave these men behind. The official mission could easily have been made because of the king and his sons. Still, knowing folks, remembering folks like my great-grandfather who served in World War I, my Uncle Jim who served in World War II, my dad who was in the Navy during the Korean conflict, numberous friends who were in the military during Vietnam and others who have spent more time in the Middle East than they care to recall, I believed the soldiers of Israel would have searched with close to equal determination for the guy fighting next to them as they were for the king and his sons.

Israel’s army of old was determined to not leave their king behind. Many since then have had equal determination to leave no one behind. Most of us do not face the opportunities or the hazards that go with such a promise and determination. We do, however, face the equal responsibility to leave no one behind, in a spiritual sense, when we leave this life. Solider’s, sailors, Marines, and airmen will risk their lives to leave no one behind. Will we risk looking foolish to hopefully leave no one behind for eternity?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,



Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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