Reflections On Our Fallen Heroes

The graves of hundreds of thousands of our American heroes, lie scattered around the world. Simple white headstones strewn across sacred fields like the fallen bodies of those brave souls they represent.

Who can restrain the tears that well up in our eyes as we look upon the final resting place of these fallen saints of freedom.

Who can repress the pride that floods our hearts as we think about the sacrifices they made so we can enjoy the things they will never again experience.

The simple embrace of their mother.

The passionate kiss of their mate.

The pride of a son and daughter standing by their side.

No graduations, no weddings, no holidays, no moments of silent satisfaction reflecting on family and life.

Perhaps, we who enjoy the rewards of their investment should set aside a few moments now and then to pause in silent reflect, on exactly what they have sacrificed, so that we might experience these truly sacred privileges.

Thank you veterans; fallen, wounded, retired, those who have returned from conflict, and those still engaged; for your sacrifice and commitment to making our country the land of the free and the home of the brave, and each of us proud to be Americans.

 

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So Easy to Forget

When I was a small boy my family use to spend the summers at grandma’s house. Many days I would be left with my grandma as my dad went to work and my mother would visit her sisters and friends. There was a second floor with several bedrooms, a bathroom, a wide hallway that led to a big room with a round dinning table and a couple chairs. There was also this awesome porch made up of all windows that looked out over the backyard.

In the wide hall way was some old dressers. In these dresser drawers were a lot of old personal relics from my grandfather, who was veteran of world war I, and my uncles who served and miraculously all came home from world war II. I think my grandfather had encouraged my uncles to serve as cooks because I think all of them but one served as cooks and the one served as a mechanic. There were a couple old metal helments that belonged to my grandfather, and a bunch of medals that belonged to my grandfather and my uncles.

I recall the most amazing photograph of my grandfather’s unit that hung on the outside wall of the upstairs hallway between a large dresser and a window. I often looked at the photograph, but never really knew which one was my grandfather. Eventhough he had come home from combat in Europe, he had been exposed to mustard gas and it caused him extreme health issues the rest of his short lived life. He spent a lot of time in the veteran’s hospital in Chicago and was restricted to bed when he finally came home to live out the final days of his life. He died when my father was only eleven years old, so I never had the privilege to meet him or know him.  I recall my grandmother sharing some stories about how they met and how she cared for him when he was home. He was her whole life and when he died a big piece of her died too.

As a child I never understood the value of those treasures stored away in the unsecured vaults of time, I would put the helment on and pretend I was a soldier not knowing the sacrifice these men had made to provide me with the security I took for granted everyday living a carefree life at grandma’s house during the summer.

I would take a medal I found in a dresser drawer and ask grandma what it was. She never knew what it had been awarded for, but she always knew which son it belonged to. I wish the medals and the old steel helments could have talked to me and told me the things they had been through. Then maybe I would not be so forgetful on memorial day of all that my grandfather and uncles had done for me and this amazing country where we enjoy freedom and liberty under the banner of the red, white and blue.

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Secrets of “The Things”

It is difficult to imagine what it is like to discover that your child is missing. No doubt a tsunami of emotions rage through ones heart and soul when the realization that someone they love so dearly and so deeply cannot be found. Yet, in those first devastating hours one must try to respond coherently to a new surge of trauma from what seems like an endless stream of questions. The investigators want to know the details about what the child was wearing, where the child was supposed to be, what was the child’s standard behavior, had they been known to wander off before, who are their friends and where did they hang-out? All you want to know is where your child is, and are they safe?

The experts look for “things” that will provide clues as to who the missing person is, and what they do, in order to discover where they are. “Things” are very important when trying to figure out who someone is. Even though a “thing” is a non-specific term it allows for a broad search that is narrowed as more and more “things” are discovered. The search goes from the broad spectrum of “things” to a much more defined and definite spectrum of “things” as it is determined what is relevant.

In Revelation 1:1 John tells us that the clues to who Christ is, is found in the things. The Beloved Apostle records, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

To discover the truth about whom Jesus the Christ is we must understand “the things.” The “things” are not all-inclusive. God does not reveal everything about Jesus. He reveals only the pertinent things. He deals with us on a “need to know” basis. There are things we need to know because it relates to our relationship with him, and our responsibilities to him. But there are multitudes of “things” that we do not need to know, so God does not make them known to us.  Scripture is clear that God has sealed some “things” from us.

Daniel 12:4  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Daniel 8:26  And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. Revelation 10:4  And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John the Beloved in his gospel shares this with us; And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written,  that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31.

What we need to know pertains to two things. The first thing related to where we will spend eternity. John tells us that one of the “things” that God wants us to know and understand about Jesus is his work of redemption. One of the most pertinent “things” God wants us to know is that He sent his only son Jesus to die on themcross and in doing so he took our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life. God’s word reveals much about the “things” of salvation. This work of Christ is the preeminent “thing.”

The second “thing” that is important to God and he wants us to know is that Christ has appointed us to be ambassadors for his kingdom.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. .

He directs us to become invested in the family business and show others how they can enter into the blessings of God’s amazing gift, eternal life. In chapters 1-5 we see Christ as the Merciful Redeemer, the one who came to seek and to save his fallen creation from the judgment that is to be revealed in chapters 6-19.

What things  do you know about Jesus the Christ?

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So, the World Didn’t End Friday?

The prognostication that the world was coming to an end, ended up being untrue. I think a few were surprised, like the ones who sold everything they had and gathered to await the mother of all earthquakes, and those who traveled the country proclaiming something their source for predicting the end of the world clearly states will not be revealed. Is anyone confused? Probably only the same group of deceived followers.

So, the world did not come to an end, well not for you and me. But in all honesty, it did come to and end for a number of people. Some found the end of the world through illness, some found the end of the world through accidents, some found the end of the world through murder and some through suicide, perhaps afraid that the world was going to end? I do not know how many people died on Friday, but for them the world did come to an end and eternity began. I wonder if their eternity was better than the world they left behind? The Bible does give us very clear insight on somethings that will happen when the world ends, whether it be the rapture or death, in Hebrews 9:27  we are told; And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Once the world ends and we step into eternity there will be judgment. The Bible tells of two judgments mankind will face, and only two. One will be a judgment for sin. This judgment is often called The Great White Throne Judgment. This judgment is where God, the righteous holy Judge, will ask that a special book be opened, the Book of Life, and those who stand at this judgment will stand for eternal sentencing to everlasting destruction, torment and damnation, because they have failed to receive the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ. They will hear a roll call asking if their name is written in this Book of Life. When the angel responds there is no one by that name entered into the Book of life the dreadful pronouncement of the eternal Judge found in Matthew 7:23  …  I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, will be  made and they will be cast into the lake of fire.

The second judgment is known as The Judgment Seat of Christ. Those at this judgment will be evaluated for their service, the works they had rendered for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Those at this judgment have had their sins forgiven and their names written in the Book of Life. They have become children of the holy righteous Judge. 1 Corinthians 3:13  gives us a preview of this judgment, Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. The question of sin has been settled, but the question of service and rewards are the focus of review. Some will receive great rewards for the sacrifices they made to proclaim the great news of God’s love and mercy. Many will stand empty-handed. They will stand ashamed and destitute. They invested their lives serving self instead of serving the one who gave his life for them. Many of these servants will have spent their life in religious service, but their ministry glorified themselves, and their services were invested in the temporal things of a world that has ended and treasures that have passed away. They have eternal life. They have the joys of heaven, but no blessing or rewards for the time they labored in this world.

So, the world didn’t end for you and me this past Friday, but it did end for some, and one day it will end for you and me too. What will your reward be, eternal life with rewards, or eternal life without rewards, or eternal damnation? When the world ends is not your decision. How it ends for you  may not be your decision. But what you enter into is your decision. What will your life be when the world ends?

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Relevant Worship

Is your worship relevant to real spiritual health and eternal well-being? As we read through the Old Testament we find periods when Israel’s worship became nothing more than ritual and routine. They went through ceremonies passed down from previous generations, but the experience was nothing more than ritualistic traditons.

There is a generational gap in many churches today. Many churches have a traditonal service and then a contemporary service to try and entice “the new generation.” The younger generations are confused by the traditional hymns and formalities found in convential services. There is a feeling that worship has become irrelevant and we need to make it more hip and interesting for the younger generation.  But is the format the real issue?

When the earlier generations established their worship it was based on what ministered to their souls. The singing and scripture reading had meaning and significance becasuse they had a real relationship with God. The culture was slower paced and had time for meditation. They lived their faith and worship was an extension of their daily walk.

Today life is high tech and there is little time for meditation and reflection on God and his word. Believers grab a spiritual thought here and there and then they are off into the excesses of the world to try and survive till they hear a blurb about God on the radio, or see a glossy production on television, or stumble onto some religious tweet, blog or social media posting providing short term spiritual resuscitation.

Worship needs to be relevant to be meaningful, but making it shallow and hip is not the solution. Ministries need to help the believers in their congregation build meaningful relationships with their Lord and Savior. They need to Lead fellow believers into stronger relationships with God, which will provide them with a spiritual maturity and depth that makes their worship meaningful. Do we need to jazz up our worship or build more mature believers?

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10 Spiritual Lesson from the Execution of bin Laden

Lesson Three: Unseen Evil

Some of those in a position to determine whether or not to release photographs of mass murderer bin Laden have determined that the photographs are too gruesome to be released publicly. They believe the photographs are so repulsive that they could impact ones psyche deeper than is considered healthy for the normal human mind. The  photographs of a mutilated bin Laden could never compare with the gruesome evil that resided in his heart and saturated his mind. This gruesome evil induced confused individuals to a distorted radical ideology, and convinced them to facilitate the vile activities spawned in their sadistic leader’s imagination. No physical image can ever illustrate the gruesomeness of such demented evil.

But what gruesome evil lurks behind the façade of feel good theology? What hideous wickedness resides behind the false doctrine proclaiming a deity of love and no accountability? What repulsive, grisly evil promotes false hopes through the counterfeit propaganda of grand rewards and no judgment? The evil of the terrorist threatens the temporary wellbeing of people who oppose their twisted ideology, and disrupts the free flow of law-abiding citizens. But evil is no more gruesome than that of a false theology, which promotes a feel good God; anesthetizing the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and destroying the  hope of finding redemption and heaven.

Lesson Four: Difficult to Discover  (to be posted)

Lesson Five: Determination  (to be posted)

Lesson Six: Commitment  (to be posted)

Lesson Seven:  Persistence  (to be posted)

Lesson Eight: Difficult to Destroy  (to be posted)

Lesson Nine: Concentrated Assault  (to be posted)

Lesson Ten: Glorious Victory  (to be posted)

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10 Spiritual Lesson from the Execution of bin Laden

LessonTwo: Honest Evaluation 

Bin Laden’s Actions                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some might question if bin Laden had a role in the 911 massacre because he had no physical presence in any of the hideous events.  

A comprehensive investigation generated critical information that when honestly evaluated concluded that this demented man planned and help facilitate the training of the delusional men who carried out the operation.

Without the planning and training provided by bin Laden the mass murders would never have happened, and therefore he is just as responsible for the death as if he had flown the kamikaze missiles into the Twin Towers himself.

Our Actions                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               It is easy for us to assess bin Laden’s guilt and demand that he be held responsible for his evil atrocities. But we look at the death we played a direct role in from a biased position, a position that would attempt to rationalize our activities as irrelevant and insignificant.

We would insist that we did not drive the nails in his hands. We would emphatically declare that we did not drive the nails in his feet; we would adamantly deny physically running the spear into his side. We try to defend ourselves by casting the blame on a Roman soldier, but we laid the foundation for the actions of the Roman soldiers by our disobedience to God’s eternal law. According to God’s law we cannot say, “I didn’t do it.”

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are responsible in 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  

The prophet Isaiah lays the responsibility directly at our feet in Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Adam tried to blame Eve for his disobedience. Eve tried to blame the serpent for her disobedience, but God held each of them responsible.

An honest evaluation of bin Laden’s actions lays responsibility for the death of innocent people squarely on him and an honest evaluation of our actions lays the responsibility for Christ’s death directly on us. Bin Laden was called into account for his wicked actions and one day we will stand before a righteous holy God and give account for our actions. What does an honest evaluation reveal about your position before a holy and righteous judge? Will you stand condemned or pardoned?

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