Meanderings of a Minister


Be Strong in the Lord

The Easter celebrations are over.  The family has returned home or you have returned home.  You have been back at work for a week.  The decisions you made to be more faithful have been tried.  How do you keep the momentum going and maintain the growth that has started in your heart and in your walk with Christ?

While a different setting, David dealt with similar issues when he wrote Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up. Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

First, David believed that he did not need to fear anyone or anything that opposed him because he believed God to be more powerful than his enemies.  God is more powerful than the enemy within and the enemies without.  He did not let the fear of failure, loss, or even war cause him to fear to the point that he took his eyes off of God.  We must not allow our fears and failures to take our eyes off of God either.

Second, David continued to hold the Lord and worship before his eyes throughout his life.  He was constantly reminded that, even if his enemies would prevail, he would spend eternity in the house of the Lord in Heaven.  If his enemies did not prevail, David would dedicate himself to worshiping at the Tabernacle.  We need to have this confidence as well.  If you have repented of your sins and surrendered your life to following Christ for the rest of your life, then heaven is your ultimate destination.  Until then, nothing can separate us from Him and from the privilege of worshiping Him.

David hungered to learn from God.  He wanted to know God.  He wanted to understand God’s character so that he could become more and more aware of and convinced of God’s love for him.  You and I have a privilege that David did not have.  We have the whole Bible to read and study and use to understand God and His plan for our lives.  In order to keep the momentum going with the decisions we made during the Lenten season and Easter, we must make the study of and obedience to God’s word a constant priority.

Lastly, David was honest with his frustrations as he went along.  He said that he was concerned to the point that he would have despaired if he did not believe that he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living.  David said he was really close to despair, but he was reminded that, even when he was not faithful, God still is.  You and I have that promise as well.  Jesus is coming again to get His children.  When things are hard here, we must keep this future deliverance in mind.  We must let that encourage us not to give up, give in, or give out.



Stones of Remembrance

Stones of Remembrance

This last week, we celebrated, or remembered those that have died in defense of our freedom.  We have held services, parades, golf tournaments and had cookouts, dinners and a day off, but do you realize that Memorial Day is a regular part of the Bible?  In Joshua 4, God told Joshua to have one man from each of the 12 tribes carry a rock from the middle of the Jordan River all the way to Gilgal as a memorial of God’s activity.  Additionally, he had Joshua make a pile of stones in the middle of the parted Jordan that would only be visible when the water was low.  This would have made a periodic reminder of God’s mighty power on behalf of the people.  God gave the people instruction that they were to tell their children about God, His activity on their behalf and His sovereignty, when they asked because they had seen the rocks.

You and I have people that we need to be asking about God’s activity as well.  We need to be talking to our grandparents and great-grandparents and asking them about God’s activity in building this nation.  We need them to remind us about sacrifice because someone taught us that our nation owes us a living.  We need them to remind us about discipline because someone taught us everything should come from a microwave.  We need them to remind us about saving because someone taught us to rely on credit cards.  We need them to remind us of our responsibility because someone taught us that freedom should be free.  We need them to remind us about bread lines, tire stamps and collecting animal fat because someone taught us to throw everything away because there will always be more.  We need them to remind us about caring for extended family because someone taught us that nursing homes are for that.  We need them to remind us about coming together to be Americans because someone taught us that we can be Native Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Pacific Island Americans.  We need them to remind us about an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay because someone taught us to do as little as possible and demand as much as we can get.  We need them to remind us about customer service because someone taught us that customers are an interruption to our day.

As if that were not enough, we have also been taught that freedom of religion means freedom from religion.  We have been taught that the constitution does not really mean everyone is created equal.  We have been taught that government’s job is to redistribute money from the rich to the poor.  We have been taught that it is the state’s job to educate our children.  We have been taught that a promise is more of an intention.  We have been taught that a person’s character and job performance can be separated.  We have been taught that you can lie, cheat and steal and call it politics.  We have been taught that nothing is right or wrong just because it is right or wrong, but only if we have defined it as so.  We have been taught that children are disposable interruptions to our pursuit of the good life.  We have been taught that our heroes should be people famous for nothing other than being famous and that policemen and women, firemen and women, emergency medical service personnel, the National Guard and the Armed Forces are just doing what they ought to do, but a man or woman that can dunk a basketball, throw a perfect pass or hit a homerun are the ones that are worthy of our attention and praise.  Oh, how we need the reminder of those that are quickly passing.

We need them to remind us that we exist to serve God.  We have been taught that He exists to serve us.  We need them to remind us that God is oftentimes more concerned about our holiness than our temporal happiness.  We have been taught we ought to expect challenge-free, trouble-free, criticism-free lives.  We need them to remind us about sacrificial giving.  We have been taught that all the church wants is our money, so we ought to give it or withhold it based upon whether we agree with the type of music played or the preacher.  We need them to remind us that we come to church to serve God and others.  We have been taught we come to church to be coddled and catered to.  We need them to remind us that church is supposed to be about reaching the world with the gospel.  We have been taught it is about my personal comfort and tastes.

If there has ever been a time that we need the previous generation to remind us about God, it is now.  God, let us see the rocks and let us find those that know what they mean before we lose them or, worse, lose the freedom we enjoy.



Why We Can Never Lose Sight of Veterans

Veterans

 “Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASB95)

I was asked to speak at last night’s veterans’ recognition event for the Five State Free Fair.  As I thought about what it means to be a veteran, the thought occurred to me that there seem to be fewer and fewer veterans identifying themselves as veterans and fewer and fewer people that understand the importance of veterans to our nation.  As I thought about it, I remember Jeremiah 6:16 and thought about the importance for more than just our happiness.

Why can we never lose sight of veterans?  For many reasons.  First, veterans are the only significant segment of the population that have given up their freedoms so that you can enjoy yours.  They have stood on the flight line, firing line, front line, and chow line to make sure you could hang clothes on the line in peace.  They have been fired upon so that you can enjoy campfires.  They have gone without sleep so that you can sleep peacefully.  They have stood watch on a dangerous world so that your world would not have to be interrupted.  In an age when everyone wants to talk about their “rights”, we need to remember veterans because it is right.

In addition to veterans’ sacrifice, we also need to remember and recognize veterans because veterans took an oath to defend our constitution and kept their promises.  In an age where, increasingly, politicians are seen as more for themselves than their constituents, we need to have examples of truth, integrity, honor, and kept promises.  Veterans help to keep us from growing so cynical of our nation that we stop defending it and supporting it.

We can also never lose sight of veterans because that was our promise to them.  The general population does not want to have to leave their lives, work, families, or hobbies to have to go and fight an enemy.  They don’t want to have to put up with the horrors of death and destruction, so they sent the veterans to represent them.  The agreement was that the general population would stay behind and support their efforts while they charged into battle.  To forget veterans is to break that promise.

Veterans also represent an understanding of “One Nation Under God”.  While not all veterans are Christians, or even monotheists, or theists, they understand that the true strength of our nation, outside of God, is our unity.  When you are on the battlefield, in the battleship, or battling the incoming jets of a foreign enemy, there is no time for Mexican-American, African-American, Native American, or any other such distinction.  Veterans know that we will only stay strong as long as we learn to see each other as Americans.  Period.  There is no dual citizenship when bullets are flying, bombs are dropping, or bayonets are rattling.  There is only “us” vs. “them” and the “us” is U.S.!

Veterans remind us of what it means to work for our goals, dreams and visions of the future.  They remind us that nothing comes without hard work, sacrifice, and time.  They stand as a beacon of responsibility in a sea of entitlement.  They stand up proudly and show what Americans can do when they work hard, work together, and work for the long haul.

Lastly, veterans represent our past, our heritage, and our history.  They represent our future because without the lessons of our past, we will repeat its mistakes.  They represent our present because they have seen where socialism, Marxism, communism, and elitism have taken other nations and what it takes to win a nation back after it has been taken over by one of these or other ideologies.  They represent what is right and wise, which combine to form righteousness.

We can never lose sight of veterans.  Heaven help us if we do!