Tuesday, May 25, 2010

War - What Is It Good For?

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. This Memorial Day I will remember my Father, a teenager in December, 1941, who grew up to be a man in Europe as he joined his brothers in the fight against Hitler and his regime of oppression. I will remember my former co-worker who shivered in Korea as he fought his way through the mountain passes to turn back the Communist tide. I will remember my high school friend who went to the jungles of Vietnam and lost his life in the battle for freedom in Southeast Asia. I will remember my friend who served in an armored division whose task it was to flank Iraqi forces and try to capture Saddam Hussein. I will remember my former student who served in Bosnia as a Ranger. I will remember my brother-in-law who is on his second tour to the Mideast and is currently serving in Afghanistan.

I will remember the sacrifices each man made for his country -- my country -- and the time away from family, the hardships of battle and, in one case, the loss of life these sacrifices entailed. I will also pause to honor all the military personnel from around the world who selflessly gave their lives in battling oppression, fighting tyranny, and insuring freedom.

What is war good for? The song, of course, would answer this with, "absolutely nothing!" Yet, what would our world be like if there were not men and women who fought against Hitler, communism, dictatorships, and oppressive rulers? I thank the brave men and women of the military -- from all of the free world -- for their willingness to take up arms and put themselves in harm's way -- all for the fight for freedom.

This Memorial Day I will fly my flag, I will sit on my porch, and I will pray. I will pray for the men and women who are engaged in battles around the world. I will pray for the men and women who patrol borders and coastal waters vigilantly watching and defending against possible hostile action. I will pray for families who are separated by miles and time. I will pray for a time when all military members are united with their families -- never again having to take up arms. I will pray that war will become obsolete -- knowing in my heart that this will never happen this side of heaven.

God bless all our military members.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Perhaps you have been there -- you are driving along, watching carefully for obstacles, impediments, and the proverbial speed trap and bam! -- your blood pressure goes through the roof. Some careless driver, frequently talking on a cell phone, texting, or otherwise driving distracted enters your space and you trade paint, stories with the patrolman, and insurance information. You were helpless to avoid an accident, but thankful it was only the car damaged. Okay, the checkbook took a hit, but no one was hurt.

Sometimes I listen to the news, read a blog, or catch some thread of discussion from a friend and a helpless feeling overtakes me. I can't do anything about the weather: thunderstorms will ruin the best-laid golf plans. I can't do anything about the floods: my long anticipated vacation to Nashville has to be redesigned. I can't do anything about the economy: as I review my 401k; it reminds me of an iceberg, more under water than above. I can't do anything about the government: it appears as if elected officials stay awake at night thinking up ways to reward bad behavior at my expense. I can't do anything about the media: Hollywood continues to shape the thinking of a new generation, chipping away at an already eroded moral base while increasing its assault on God's Word. I can't do anything about the pace of technology: my computer, phone, DVD player, and television set all seem obsolete by the time I bring them home from the store.

Yes, I could succumb to a helpless feeling quite easily.

I may be helpless, but I am not hopeless. I am a Christian man who has the hope of heaven. I know for a fact that this earth will pass away, and I will be part of a new earth. I am a Christian man who belongs to a church. I know for a fact that no matter what the devil, the world, and sinful flesh can hurl at the walls of the church -- it will not fall. I am a Christian man who has power and influence over my family, friends, and neighbors. I know for a fact that when I speak the words of eternal life, they have power and can change lives through the work of the Holy Spirit. I am a Christian man who will continue to trust in an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and eternal Lord.

My hopefulness replaces my helplessness. Men, let's show the world our hopefulness.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Of Cities and Cultures

Can you name this ancient city?
1. It had a major stadium that was often filled to capacity.
2. It boasted lots of worship venues where major world religions and beliefs were represented.
3. It had a market place where citizens gathered to shop, talk, and share ideas.
4. Its theater entertained while trying to shape a pro-government, liberal viewpoint.
5. Major government offices were in operation there.
6. It had a thriving "red-light" district.
7. There were places where men gathered to drink, discuss, and argue the issues of the day.

Did you name ancient Athens? How about ancient Corinth or Ephesus? Actually, there were many cities of the Roman Empire with the features above. I find it interesting there is so much similarity between today's modern cities with those of antiquity. It's almost as if the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Twenty-first century culture shares many parallels with those of the past. The citizens of the ancient world were taught to be tolerant of all people with, perhaps, one exception -- Christians. The citizens of the ancient world packed stadiums and theaters seeking entertainment and escape from the tedium of life. The government was thought to be the only force that could keep order, peace, and bring prosperity. Government officials were placed above the law or, as was often the case, positioned themselves above the law.

So what to do? The Christian men of the ancient world banned together and worshiped a living Savior. They boldly proclaimed Christ regardless of the consequences. They could witness because they knew Christ; they studied the Word, listened to teachings, and shared this knowledge with their family and friends. They were willing to live -- and to die -- for their faith.

Men, we need to do the same. We need to read and study the Scriptures, listen to its teachings, and share this knowledge with our family and friends. We may not have to die for our faith, but let us live boldly and courageously -- sharing the hope we have in our living Lord and Savior Jesus.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Of Relics and Righteousness

Much has been made of Pope Benedict XVI's recent excursion to view the famous "Shroud of Turin" in the Italian city of that name. Calling it an "icon written in blood, he spoke of how the fabric's visible markings corresponded to the Gospel description of Christ's crucifixion.
According to a Rome news service, Father Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, suggested why the Pope presented the cloth as an "icon."

"More than the mysterious origin of this image, what attracts is the impressive way in which it corresponds, in very numerous details, with the account of the passion of Christ in the Gospels: the wounds, the bloodshed, the wounds of the crown of thorns, the beatings of the flagellation. And, in the center, the solemn face of the crucified, a face that corresponds with the most ancient sketches of Christian iconography, which in turn confirms and inspires it."
For centuries the authenticity of the shroud has been fiercely debated among scholars, scientists, and religious leaders. Found in Troyes, France, in 1453, it was moved to Turin in 1578. It became the property of the Holy See of the Catholic Church in 1983. Radiocarbon testing has been applied to the shroud, as well as high-definition digital camera examinations, color pigment tests, chemical and biological analyses, medical forensic studies, and dirt particle evaluations.

And the verdict?

The jury is still out.

And will remain so, we reckon, for as long as the shroud is left to be examined. Though a source of inspiration and for some, even confirmation, of Christ's death and resurrection, this most famous of grave linens will forever remain mute concerning the exact individual around whom it was wrapped.

A fantastic curiosity to be sure, and as such it got me thinking. So what if this shroud was actually wrapped around Jesus? Or what if we had -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- Jesus' clothing or his carpenter tools? What if -- somehow -- we even had the dried remains of His blood -- verifiable as residue on the bottom of some first-century Roman pot?

These would confirm that He lived, but they would not prove He rose from the dead.
Nothing can prove that. Only faith can believe it.