On this Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedoms. Yet, as we look around at what our country is becoming in the last few decades, we have to ask, “Is this what they died for?” Several years ago, Dr D James Kennedy preached a sermon entitled The Twilight’s Last Gleaming in which he stated:
Memorial Day is a day when we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, who have given their lives that we might enjoy the life and the freedom we have in America today. How prone we are to forget—to forget the terror that filled the hearts of young eighteen- and nineteen-year-old men when they landed on the beaches of strange islands that until a few weeks before they had never even heard of; to forget the anguish and blood of those who lay wounded in foxholes. All of that is forgotten in the midst of our modern pleasures.There's not much that we'd like to add to Dr Kennedy's words at this time, but we'll briefly comment on a couple of related topics. First, the election season must be beginning. Mr Obama actually laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier earlier today instead of sending a representative as in previous years. Once that was out of the way, he then headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course for his ninth golfing weekend in a row. We wonder, where are the media members who constantly denigrated President Bush for his occasional golf outings before he gave up the game early in his presidency out of respect for the families of those killed in Iraq?
One person wrote a striking Memorial Day letter-to-the-editor of a newspaper. The person asked: “What would the veterans who died in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and Korea—by the hundreds of thousands—say if they could see the lifestyle in the United States today? Would they say, ‘Is this what I gave my life for? Was it worth this?’”
In the decades since these died in battle, much has changed in America. Never in the history of the world, one writer said, has any nation so quickly jettisoned its system of belief. We have forgotten or rejected our nation’s Christian foundation and, as such, we are witnessing the demise of Christianity in America.
In less than fifty years, we have seen our Christian principles sift through our fingers like sand. The United States Supreme Court has banned from public schools prayer and Bible reading. We have removed the Ten Commandments from courthouses and pulled the plug on prayers at graduations and football games—each step has stripped our culture of the Christian roots of this nation.
A recent survey reveals that only 13 percent of Americans believe in all of the Ten Commandment… Morality is in steep decline and traditional values have become passé. The country many servicemen died to defend so that faith, family, and freedom would be upheld is quickly vanishing. “Is this what they gave their life for?” the letter-to-the-editor asked. Is this the America for which soldiers sacrificed?
Much of the blame for where our nation stands morally falls at the feet of Christians. America is in a moral crisis, and yet some Christians are “playing” church. The soul of our nation is at stake, and yet some of us have turned a blind eye to the moral decay gripping our culture.
The day may come when our grandchildren ask, “Whatever happened to Christianity in America?” It is sure to happen, unless we get down on our knees and earnestly pray. As we remember the great sacrifice made by so many hundreds of thousands, may we rededicate our lives to this nation and to those spiritual truths that made it great.
We may not give our lives on some bloody field or trench or rice paddy, but may God make us heroes of the faith who will be faithful to Jesus Christ, who will return our country to Christian values, who will be living heroes as brave as those who died for our country—those whose footsteps we follow in battle, those we remember.
Next, we got some good news this year when federal District Judge Lynn Hughes granted a restraining order inhibiting Veteran Affairs officials’ attempt to prevent the Rev Scott Rainey from mentioning Jesus’ name during Memorial Day prayers at Houston National Cemetery. After a warning from the judge, Assistant US Attorney Fred Hindrichs informed the court that VA would drop their demands
Finally for Christians, as we are honoring the brave soldiers that gave their lives for our country’s freedoms, let us not forget our Lord Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life so that we might enjoy freedom from the bondage of sin the second death (eternal separation from God). Instead, we have the gift of eternal life. Thank you Jesus, and God Bless our Troops.
We are pleased to announce that the 8-hour 2011 Troopathon event is scheduled for June 23. This cutting edge live webcast event will bring together talk radio hosts, film and television stars, musical guests, military families, pro-troop groups and many more. Last year’s participants included Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin (see Ms Palin’s May 2 tribute to the troops at Colorado Christian Universary), US Navy SEAL Ben Smith, John Bolton, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller, Sean Hannity, Tom Osborne, Kelsey Grammer, Rush Limbaugh, and many more. This year’s lineup will be announced soon.
The goal of this charity fundraiser is to send the largest ever shipment of care packages to our brave men and women of the armed forces serving overseas (last year’s Troopathon raised almost $700,000). Each package includes a personalized message and consists of items that our troops have requested such as sun-screen, Gatorade, deodorant, coffee, snacks and much more. These are basic items that most of us take for granted, but are a real treat that makes a soldier's life a little easier while they are far from home.
We are honored to have participated in the associated blogger competition each year since its inception in 2009. In this friendly contest, military supporting bloggers battle it out to see who can raise the most sponsorships for care packages that will go to our brave troops putting their lives on the line fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and others in order to insure the freedoms that we enjoy. This year, we’re on “Team 6” (as in SEAL team SIX).
If you choose to donate, we request that you click on the banner above to purchase your care package. We receive no commission, and all purchases are tax-deductable. Thank you very much for your support. God Bless our Military.
See the archive at May 2011 Toon Review. Enjoy and continue praying for our brave troops.
From the US Department of Defense website:
President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.As the proud father of an active US Marine, I salute and say a heartfelt “Thank You and God Bless” to all the dedicated members of our Armed Forces. Despite the inept leadership of our politicians, our troops remain far and away, the finest on this earth.
On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department -- the Department of Defense.
After high school, William worked as a firefighter and gained somewhat of a reputation because of his great speed. One day in 1833, as he was playing baseball on an sandlot in Chicago, a scout from the White Sox saw him and signed him to a contract. William was a great fielder, but not a good hitter, but his speed forced many opponent's errors, and his stolen base count was second only to Ty Cobb at the time.
Unfortunately, William’s career was marred by drinking, and he spent a lot of time on skid row. One night however, as he staggered down a street, he heard a Salvation Army group singing one of his mother’s favorite songs, “Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?”. Later that evening he wandered into the Pacific Garden Mission and gave his life to Christ. Soon after, William left the baseball diamond, turning down a $5000 monthly salary in baseball for the pulpit that paid about $85 a month.
Throughout his career, it is estimated that William preached to hundreds of millions and became the most successful evangelist of the early twentieth century. The combination of his celebrity background, business sense, and period of poverty attracted every class of people. Indeed, there were so many people being saved as a result of William's fiery preaching (250,000 to over a million by some estimates) that hundreds of pubs and bars were closing. Some even said that he was the most amazing evangelist since John the Baptist.
Yet, for the thousands of sermons preached by William Ashley (Billy) Sunday, one of the most famous was entitled “Motherhood”. Remembering his own saintly mother, he said
Being a king, emperor, or president is mighty small potatoes compared to being a mother. Commanding an army is little more than sweeping a street compared with training a boy or girl. The mother of Moses did more for the world than all the kings that Egypt ever had. Oh, you wait until you reach the mountains of eternity, then read the mothers’ names in God’s Hall of Fame. I tell you women: Fooling away your time, hugging and kissing a poodle dog, drinking a cocktail, and playing cards is mighty small business compared to molding the life of a child.The entire Motherhood sermon can be read on our main website.
In the video, G.O.S.P.E.L stand for “God Our Sins Paying Everyone Life”.
Last year a Jimmy Carter appointed federal judge declared the day of prayer unconstitutional, but a recent ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the constitutionality of the law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, ruled 3-0 that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and its plaintiffs do not have standing to continue their challenge of the 1952 congressional act that declared an annual National Day of Prayer.
This year, millions will participate in organized events to be held in thousands of public venues where citizens will unite in prayer for America and its leadership. This year’s theme, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” is based on Psalm 91:2, which states, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For a wealth of information, or to find a National Day of Prayer event in your area, visit the National Day of Prayer website.
The official 2011 National Prayer is by Joni Eareckson Tada, Honorary Chairman.
Almighty God, you are our Mighty Fortress, our refuge and the God in whom we place our trust. As our nation faces great distress and uncertainty, we ask your Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon your people — convict us of sin and inflame within us a passion to pray for our land and its people. Grant the leaders of our country an awareness of their desperate need of wisdom and salvation in You until sin becomes a reproach to all and righteousness exalts this nation.With all the uncertainty in the world, along with the most anti-Christian administration in history currently in power, our country needs our prayers more than ever. The following is a video released by the Walton County Florida chapter.
Protect and defend us against our enemies and may the cause of Christ always prevail in our schools, courts, homes, and churches. Lord God, send a spirit of revival and may it begin in our own hearts.
Remember America, we pray. Remember the foundations on which this country was built. Remember the prayers of our nation’s fathers and mothers, and do not forget us in our time of need.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
This year, I found myself spending some time reflecting on the two thieves who were crucified alongside of Jesus. We find the story in Luke 23:32-43.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.In particular, I was contemplating how the one thief came to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. It was certainly not due to physical appearances. Here was Jesus, beaten and bloody, barely recognizable as a man, much less as a god, being executed as a common criminal. Those who insist that baptism and good works are necessary for salvation contend that the thief had become a believer and was baptized sometime in the past. They argue for this scenario based solely upon the fact that the Bible does not specifically deny this. This argument from silence however, is most unlikely since the meticulous author Luke would likely have mentioned such an important detail. In addition, the thief himself never even hints at this and offers not only an appeal, but a confession of faith as well. The only plausible explanation for the thief’s confession is the divine illumination and power of the Holy Spirit.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This should be a lesson for us today. A major objective in many of our modern market driven churches is to increase their membership roles. The salvation of those who join is often optional. Numerous churches however, are honestly seeking to save the lost. Many spend major bucks with marketing consultants in their quest to attract perspective members. While we should be looking at various means of attracting people to church, I’d like to offer my best advise free of charge: Preach the Gospel and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m convinced that this method will not only result in increased membership, but also accomplish the more important goal of leading others to salvation in Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believe…(Rom 1:16). I don’t know if many modern churches are ashamed of the Gospel or have just lost faith in its power. Some believe it to be old-fashioned, simplistic and out-of-date. It is thought that, if we are to reach people these days, we must be more relevant to our modern sophisticated culture. Yet, we would be hard pressed to find a more simplistic and basic message than the one offered over and over by Billy Graham. Furthermore, we can readily see the results.
I recall a story from few decades back, when Billy was already seeing hundreds and thousands come to Christ with each crusade. One evening, he preached what he thought to be his best sermon yet, but it produced little results. Afterward, he was approached by one of his staff who asked him why he failed to mention the cross in his sermon. Billy initially got angry, thinking “who is he to tell me how to preach?” Later in his hotel room, Billy came to the realization that the staffer was right, and resolved never to preach again without mentioning the cross.
Now, compare Mr Graham’s method with that in many of our modern churches. After ignoring the Gospel during the sermon, the church then resorts to “easy” techniques during the “invitation”. After being careful to not offend anyone by mentioning the fact that we are sinners (the very reason that we need a Savior), visitors are told they can accept Jesus and join the church by “coming down to the front”, or “if you too embarrassed to walk to the front, just slip out to one of our ushers along the back or sides, or if this is too much, simply lift up your hand and we’ll contact you”. What’s next, installing moving sidewalks like we find in airports?
We find another familiar story in Luke 18:35-43.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”We thus see a beggar crying out to Jesus (“Son of David” is a recognition of Jesus as the promised Messiah). The surrounding crowd admonished him to be quiet. We can just imagine the comments, “stop making a scene”, “you’re embarrassing yourself”, “have some dignity” etc, but recognizing his own helplessness, he shouted even louder until Jesus healed him both physically and spiritually.
He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Those who understand will recognize that we’re all like that beggar. Adrian Rogers used to say that witnessing was simply one beggar showing another beggar where to find food. Notice also that the beggar didn’t have to be humanly persuaded to come to Christ. In fact, those surrounding him were actually discouraging him from calling out to Jesus. So, when the Holy Spirit truly regenerates a person, surrounding hardships won’t be able to keep them from Jesus. In many countries, there are people coming to Jesus despite being threatened by death.
I’m certainly not saying we should discourage or make it more difficult in our churches for people to come to Christ, or that we shouldn’t explore various means of attracting perspective members, but these techniques should be supplementary to, rather than a substitute for the Gospel. We must first and foremost preach the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to work. I’m convinced that, as people realize their true state and are persuaded by the power of the Spirit, we could string barbed wire across the aisles and many would still find a way to Jesus.
We are saved by placing our faith and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Making a public profession by walking to the front and/or joining a church is a step of obedience, but is not the basis of our salvation.
I’m also not saying that churches should merely go through the “Roman Road” each week. This article only addresses the evangelistic function of the church. Members must also be discipled by a balanced teaching of the other historical doctrines of the faith. We'll take up this topic in future articles.
The illustration is courtesy of the very talented Dan Nuckols of Dan’s Pulpit.
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