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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Memorial Day

arlingtonOriginally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated shortly after the Civil War to commemorate fallen Union soldiers by placing flowers and flags on their graves. The South chose a separate day to honor their dead until after World War I when the holiday was changed to honor, not just Civil War dead, but all who have died while serving in the United States military. While various dates have been used in the past, the last Monday of each May is now reserved for the commemoration of Memorial Day. Traditionally, soldiers’ graves are decorated with flags and red poppies on this day.

They fell, but o’er their glorious grave
Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.
                                                    – Francis Marion Crawford

A memorial is something that is designed to preserve the memory of a person or an event. Sadly, much of the meaning of Memorial Day seems to have been lost, and now,  many see at as just an excuse for a 3-day weekend and a great time for a barbecue. As Americans, we should view Memorial Day as a time to remember those who have sacrificed their lives and spilled their blood in order to ensure the freedoms that we have today. Because of the men and women that have died for this country, we have the right to gather this morning, to praise God’s name freely, to live in peace, to raise our children free from oppression.

As we remember those that have paid the ultimate price to ensure our country’s liberty, it is also fitting that we remember Jesus, the one who died to guarantee our freedom from spiritual bondage. Just as the last Monday in May is Memorial Day for Americans, each Sunday — no, each and every day — should be a Memorial Day for Christians. The way that we live our lives should remind others of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made to secure our eternity.

Psalm 33
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
    he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

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Stalker!

Luke 19
10 And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those who are lost.

i-love-my-stalker_designI find this verse to be very compelling. This isn’t a passive verse. This verse does not describe a savior who is sitting around, waiting for people to realize that they are lost and in need of saving. This verse clearly depicts Christ actively seeking us out and finding us in a very effective manner just us we might search for a lost child. This description, this pursuit, reminds me of the way that my wife and I met.

My wife, Marcia,  and I met in college, although she didn’t tell me until years after we were married that she had had her eye on me for over a year before our first meeting. I was in my first year at Keystone Junior College when her high school class took a tour of the campus. During this tour, she noticed me in the computer lab where I worked as a lab assistant, ostensibly to assist students in need of help (this was in the early 90s before students had their own computers). When she saw me, she apparently told one of her friends that she liked me and seeing me was one of the reasons she chose to attend Keystone the following year. During that next year, I was still working in the computer lab as a lab assistant and Marcia approached me for the first time because she needed help using the computers. I was not very kind I’m afraid, and suggested “Do it yourself.”, or something equally helpful. To me, she was just another helpless freshman in a crowd of helpless freshman. Nevertheless, she was not deterred and continued to visit the computer lab and continued to ask for help. Eventually, we met at a roller-skating event sponsored by the college and with the encouragement of my friends, wound up skating together and have been together ever since. The rest, as they say, is history. Until that point, I had no desire for a girlfriend and was less than clueless when it came to girls. If it hadn’t been for her tenacity, I have no idea where I would be today but I am certain that I would not be any happier or better off. I fell in love with Marcia, married her, and enjoy her companionship to this day because she loved me first, pursued me, and continued to pursue me even when I was rude, brusque, and undeserving . Although I jokingly refer to her as “my stalker”, I am ever thankful for her pursuit.

I am even less deserving and more thankful for the pursuit of Jesus Christ, without whom I would have nothing.

1 John 4
19 We love because he first loved us.

 

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Beanbag Faith

Junior Vinyl PurpleWhen my wife, Marcia, and I first talked about having children, we knew that we would need to teach them many things. What I didn’t expect was the many things they would be teaching me. God has blessed Marcia and I with some wonderful children and we are always learning from them. The other day, as I was at the dining room table preparing to head out the door, I saw a purple shape fly down the stairs past me and hit the floor and wall with a loud WHUMP! sound. I was really startled because my first thought was that one of the kids had fallen down the stairs, and if you have ever seen our stairs, you would know that they are extremely steep and treacherous. With my heart in my throat, I looked up to see what happened, and was relieved to find that it was just a bean bag chair that had come down the stairs and landed on the floor. My relief was short lived, however. As soon as I turned back around to finish what I was doing, I saw another shape fly past in a blur and land with an even louder WHUMP! at the foot of the stairs. This time it was a child, only they hadn’t fallen down the stairs. Our 5-year old daughter, Melanie had jumped down the stairs into the bean bag. She threw the bean bag down first for the sole purpose of jumping into it. Thankfully, she was completely uninjured, had already jumped up (giggling happily) and was preparing for another leap. After recovering from my initial shock, I informed her that what she did was dangerous and she was never to do it again (I also tried to disguise the fact that I found it quite amusing).

Later that day, as I was thinking about Melanie’s little adventure, I realized that what she had done was quite a demonstration of faith. Misplaced faith, perhaps, but faith just the same. She had no fear about diving headlong down a flight of stairs because she had the utmost confidence that the beanbag chair was going to protect her from harm. She hadn’t even considered the possibility that the beanbag might fail her. Oh, the things we could accomplish if we had that kind of faith in our almighty God who, unlike that purple beanbag, is sure to never fail. What might we accomplish if we always lived and acted with that certainty?

Matthew 21
21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Our faith isn’t naive, nor is it blind. Our  faith is not misplaced when we trust in God. We can trust in Him and have full confidence in His power, mercy, and love because of that which He has already done for us. He loved us enough to sacrifice His one and only Son. A sacrifice that the Son made willingly out of obedience to the Father so that we, His enemy, might be clothed in His righteousness and enjoy a relationship with Him.

Isaiah 61
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
     and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to sprout up before all the nations.

 
 

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