Never Forget

Memorial_Day_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery

On Monday, we paused to celebrate Memorial Day.  It is viewed by many as the start of summer.  Even though most students have a week or two of school left, their minds are already on getting out.  People fire up the grills and take to the outdoors.  For many, it is a day off and gives us a long weekend.   While all of that isn’t bad, it misses the reason this day was set aside.  Memorial Day is like many other holidays in that we have forgotten the reason we celebrate.  Our celebrations and spending have washed away the reason for the day.

Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who paid for our freedom by paying the ultimate price.   Our military is blessed to have men and women who have chosen to stand on wall in harm’s way so that we can enjoy freedom and safety.  They take an oath to put their lives on the line so we can remain secure in our homes from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Why?  What is it that makes these young people grow up and volunteer to risk it all for us?  Did you and I do anything to deserve it?  Can we ever repay them and their families?  I can’t totally answer that question.  They did it out of a sense of duty.  For love of country and desire to protect our freedom, they put on the uniform and go into harm’s way.

President Harry S Truman said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude.  America will never forget their sacrifices.

I agree that we can never repay them the debt we owe. Thousands of brave men and women gave up their lives for us.   Even though we can’t repay them, I believe we should try.  We honor them by remembering their sacrifice.  Never let them be forgotten.  We honor them by loving our country as they did.  We honor them by supporting the families of the fallen, and their brothers and sisters who still serve.

Let us never forget them.  Even though Memorial Day has passed for another year, we should keep their memory alive. Evert time we celebrate our freedom and enjoy our prosperity, let us pause to say a prayer for their families.  Let us also pray for those who still stand on that line every day for us.

Questions

 

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Not long ago I was hit with a question which felt like a Mack truck running me over.   For 17 years I have pastored the same church and for the last 13 I have been bivocational.   This question out of the blue set my head to spinning.  I panicked,  and my palms got sweaty.  It sparked in me a fire that has led me to rethink a lot of things.   What question could be so earth shattering?  I was asked if I would ever be willing to transition back into full time ministry.  Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t a job offer or something demanding an immediate life changing answer.   However, it was a question of “would I”.  Why was that so earth shattering?  Because it caused me to stop and examine my heart.  It was a chance to say, “I will do whatever God sends my way”, or “I can’t see God ever doing that…” Or some other way to stay in my comfort zone.  That answer was revealing.  It showed the condition of my heart.

Have you ever pondered the power of a well-timed question?  In education, questioning is recognized as a great tool for provoking thought and getting students to make connections for themselves between different pieces of information.  It is also a powerful tool in our spiritual walk.

That well timed question and my honest answer has been used by God to shake me up and renew my call to the ministry.  Oh, I have been holding the position for years, but I am sad to confess that my other job had been dominating my time and energy.  This innocent question got me studying what would change if I was full time.  What is it a pastor does?  What priorities are used to schedule their lives?  What is the focus of their labors?  After reviewing these things, I realized that I had no valid reason not to do most of those things now.  A simple question has called me out of my rut and revitalized me.  I have no idea if we will be blessed by growth to the point that I will be needed full time at the church and we can reasonably do that, but I know that pastoring is why I am here.  It is why God put me on this planet and in my current community.  It is a switch in my mind and heart.

Jesus obviously knew the power of questions.  One example is found in Luke 9:18-19 HCSB 18 While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.”

He engaged their minds by having them relay what answers others would give about who Jesus was.  They went through the list, and then Jesus went in for the kill.  He asked in verse 20,  “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”

This took the discussion from the theoretical to the real.  It wasn’t just about the crowd, not it was personal.  I love Peter’s enthusiastic response, “Peter answered, “God’s Messiah!”  That statement of faith still echoes today.

Have you ever had a question hit you like that?  Have you ever asked someone such a life changing question?  That is one of the great things about the family of God.  We can stir up each other and call each other to new levels of faithfulness.  Often all it takes is asking a well-timed question.   I don’t know if my questioner had any idea the impact it would have, but I’m glad they asked.

The problem today

culture clash

The problem on so many issues today isn’t really a new one.  There has always been a clash between the culture of  the world and the teachings of the Bible.  Many of the hot button issues being debated today really come down to one foundational belief:   “What is your view of the Bible?”

If you view the Bible as God’s word in which He gives to us His ideas on our lives and values, then it is to be obeyed and followed.  If on the other hand, it is a dated document that needs to be re-translated to fit our modern times it can be adapted to suit our culture’s ideas.   The problem with the later views to me is where does it end.  If I want to get drunk, I simply say the prohibition against being drunk only applied to the 1st century.  If I desire to cheat on my wife, I say the 10 commands, and Jesus’ endorsement of them in the New Testament are outdated and need to be redefined.  In other words, I can ultimately write my own Bible to justify whatever my heart desires.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” HCSB.  

The Bible is inspired, literally  “God-breathed”.  He chose different authors from different times to use like an artist might use different brushes and colors, but His hand directed their strokes.  His thoughts were recorded for us without any error.

His word is profitable for us!  In His word, we find out what His standards are.  It is the rock upon which we can build our lives. You don’t have to use things the way the owner’s manual says to use them, but there are often consequences for disregarding them.  Just ask someone who has submerged their cell phone in water.   The Bible was written by our manufacturer (creator).  When we start using our lives in ways God didn’t intend for us, there are consequences to suffer.   Nothing can separate us from His love, but when we misuse His word to justify sin, we are opening ourselves up for a world of hurt through the consequences of our sins and the discipline of our loving Father.

We must quit trying to adapt the word to fit our world, and go back to trying to get the world to follow His word.  That is ultimately done as individuals become disciples of Jesus.   In all the political debate, court cases, protests, etc it is easy to loose sight of that.  No matter what judges or laws say, wrong will always be wrong and right will always be right.  Our mission is to lead people to the truth.  We can win the world 1 life at a time.