Thanks to Our Veterans!

Thanks to Our Veterans!

During the last month, our church veterans have been turning in their photographs. Most have given me pictures in their uniforms from their early days in service. Dennis Elrod actually took a current picture in his old Navy uniform. He said when his unit was discharged they were told to always have their bags packed and their uniforms ready in case they were ever needed again.  He said his bag was still packed, and his uniform was still ready! Many of the veterans in our church served before I was even born.  Some fought in wars I read about in history books. The pictures of these men and women are from every branch of service and from many different conflicts from Korea to Afghanistan. What’s striking to me is how young these men and women were when they committed themselves to service or were drafted into service. That’s the way it almost always. The military takes our boys when they are barely old enough to shave; our women when they’ve just attended their last senior prom. Within three months of training, they can be shipped out to a foreign land to protect our country and even die for a cause they may not completely understand. They must be willing to fulfill their duty to our country, to defend freedom and liberty. That much most seem to grasp. Because they do, our country remains free, and our freedom is something we must never take for granted. As parents who drove our 19-year-old son and dropped him off early one Sunday morning to be bussed off to Paris Island, my wife...
Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief Luke 6:38 During Vacation Bible School this year, I was showing some preschool children some pictures I took in Liberia. One of the pictures showed a young woman holding her infant child. The picture was of particular interest to me because the T-shirt she was wearing said, “Be Like Jesus.” I asked the children, “What kinds of things should we do to be like Jesus?” The children responded with answers like “be kind, love others, pray for people, and be helpful.” One child said, “Be generous.” Eventually, a boy raised his hand and asked, “What does “generous” mean?” I explained that being generous was sharing what you have with others, like the time a little boy shared his lunch with Andrew, a disciple of Jesus, who then gave it to Jesus, who then multiplied it to feed thousands of people. The children had just finished their meal. So I told them that they had something to eat because other people were generous by providing them with their food. We then looked at another picture of three hungry Liberian children squatting down to eat leftovers from a big bowl used for cooking food for the students at Ricks Institute. While in Liberia, I have known people to eat only a cup of rice a day, and even that was due to the generosity of others. Some have gone without food for days. When Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, he wanted people to hunger for a relationship with him like they desired food when they are hungry. Generosity is one of...
Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait

Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait

Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait 1 Samuel 13:2-15 October 28, 2018 One profession I think would breed impatience would be a cab driver in New York City. Here is an occupation where a person isn’t making money unless the meter is running. Taxi drivers don’t get paid to wait for people unless of course, the meter is running. But on the other hand, if the meter is running, waiting is traffic might not be such a big deal. We’ve all heard how impersonal the big city can be, so when I read this story written by a New York City taxi driver, it brought tears to my eyes. Listen as I share this heartwarming story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead, I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. https://www.elitedaily.com/life/culture/story-one-taxi-driver-will-change-entire-day “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. (Ibid) After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. (Ibid) By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. (Ibid) There were...
Increase/Decease: The Secret of Humility

Increase/Decease: The Secret of Humility

Increase/Decrease: The Secret of Humility Daniel 4:1-18; John 3:22-30 In February of 2013, Pope Benedict became the first leader of the Catholic Church in 600 years to resign rather than die in office. New York’s Cardinal Dolan said that it was as if Benedict was saying, “I feel weak; I feel fragile; I am frail.” The Catholic Cardinal said, “Here you have a man who’s aware of the gifts that God has given him, the high office to which the Lord has called him, but is also aware of his own limitations, as we all have to be.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-edward-bernstein/pope-and-rabbi-different-perspectives-on-humility_b_2697401.html You would think that acknowledging limitations would be an easy thing. We are all limited in what we can do. We are not Supermen or women. We are not faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and we cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s easy to admit things like that. But it’s much harder to admit when we are struggling with a secret sin. It’s much harder to admit that we are struggling with our relationship with our spouse or children. It’s much harder to admit that we have financial problems or that we worry and cannot trust God. It’s harder to admit that we have more work to do than we can get done or that we are struggling with stress. It’s much harder to admit we don’t feel as needed as we once were or that our bodies are not as healthy as they used to be. It’s much harder to admit that we have any weakness, or frailty, or shortcoming. Whenever...
Have Courage: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Have Courage: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

October 7, 2018 Have Courage: United We Stand, Divided We Fall Esther 4:1-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10 A lion used to prowl around a field where four oxen dwelled. https://leadchangegroup.com/it-takes-courage-and-character-to-unify-people/ Many times he would try to eat them, but whenever he approached, the four oxen would back their tails up to each other with their bodies pointed outward in different directions. (Ibid) No matter what direction the lion approached, he was met by the horns of one of the oxen and the lion could do nothing to harm them. (Ibid) At last, the oxen fell to quarreling amongst themselves, and so each went off to a pasture of his or her own in a separate corner of the field. Then the lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end to all four. (Ibid) This story is over 2500 years old, but the moral of the story forms the basis for one of the most famous sayings in our country: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” (Ibid) When our country was in its infancy, the lion was Britain. The Mother Country was trying to squash all attempts by the colonists to exert their independence. They tried to make an example out of a few keep the masses in line. It took courage for the colonists to stay together. It took more courage for them to speak out against the British. One of those that spoke out was John Dickinson. John lived in the pre-Revolutionary War era and can be counted as one of our founding fathers. In July 1768, he wrote this catchy line in a war song...