Category Archives: sacrifice

Happy Veteran’s Day 2014

(First, this is not my post, but I felt it just needed to be re-posted, and yes, I know this is a day late, but it was too good not too. As I said, this is not mine, but I did find it hard to get through without feeling a bit choked up. Thank you to all my fellow veterans for standing the watch. HOO YAH!)

SALUTE!

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: A pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg–or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She–or he–is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another–or didn’t come back at all.

He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat–but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor die unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket–palsied now and aggravatingly slow–who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say, “Thank you.” That’s all most people need, and in most cases, it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot: “THANK YOU.”

Let’s remember them on this Veteran’s Day observance.

All credit for this goes to Mikey’s Funnies. Check his site out, I can’t endorse what he does enough.

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I got something in my eye…

I am not one prone to crying. I think that has something to do with a messed up childhood, or some weird sense of duty or honor or machoism, or maybe I’m just messed up (yeah, probably that one). Mind you, I’m not saying I don’t cry, or that I don’t want too, I’m just saying that for some reason, when the feeling of crying hits me, my body and mind fight the emotion and I end up just having this pain in the back of my throat.

My inability to cry when I should has even led me to say these words, “It’s ok to cry. How about you cry for the both of us?” For context, I said this to my daughter while hugging her at my mother’s funeral. (see, totally screwed up, I know.. right?) However, those times that I can remember actually shedding a tear (singular, btw), it tends to be when I am watching something about the men and women who serve in our military. Continue reading I got something in my eye…

The basics of sacrifice…

Sacrifice…

Sometimes I really hate that word. Ok, most of the time. Fine.. all the time. But honestly, who really likes to sacrifice?

Better question.. what is sacrifice? One of my students said it best.. the giving of something that means a lot to you, which coincidentally matches up with the definition that I found online

So, if I give it up and it means nothing, that wouldn’t be sacrifice.. like.. for me, it’s not a sacrifice to give up on spinach. Seriously, that stuff is nasty. Anywho..you get my drift.



It’s got to cost us something to give up for it to be sacrifice..it has too.

So, my question today is.. what is it that you are not willing to sacrifice?

It’s time to start a Revolution!

So, I was doing some reading the other day and came across John 13:34-35. Go ahead and click on that link if you don’t already have this verse memorized. I’ll wait…

Ok, back? Good. Now, I know this verse is not some form of super revelation or that the heavens opened up, or.. well, maybe they did, but for me, it was actually more like a light bulb that had been dimly lit in the background coming to life and shining nice and bright, illuminating the area where I was standing.

And oh, the junk that was littered on the ground. It was disgusting to me. I sat, in the middle of this filth that I called my Christian walk, surrounded by the darts of judgement, the fecal matter or my expressed opinions about others, and the general dirt and filth that I had collected over the course of time that had been thrown at me that I had in turn, thrown at others.

And in the light of this verse, I realized, that my justification for calling others words like ‘idiot’ or ‘worthless’ or deciding that others were not worth my time or effort just because they happened to annoy me somehow, was just flat out in opposition to what Christ told us.

I was humbled. I was angry with myself. I was mortified.

And then, not two minutes after writing the word ‘idiot’ above, someone called me and did something that made me want to say.. ‘idiot’. Apparently I have some work that still needs to be done.

See, as Christian’s, we are suppose to LOVE one another. And not just those who love us, but those who hate us, those who annoy us, those who we just absolutely know are going to make fun of us.

Why? Cause He loved us first. He died on a cross to make us right with Him while we were still in the middle of our garbage, while we pointed and made fun of Him, while we rejected and said His name as a curse.

If He can do that for us, is it really so much for Him to ask us to do the same for others? Share the love that He gave you when He died on the cross in your place. After all, it is how they will know we are His disciples…

Are you ready to start a revolution?

The Last Letter..

The original can be found here…

http://www.catalystspace.com/content/read/the_last_letter/

The Last Letter
By Ed Stetzer

The Last Letter

Sometimes a “full and wonderful life” ends abruptly.

She was 22 years old, had just given birth, and was in prison for her faith. Perpetua was a Christian of the 3rd century. Her judges and father begged her to recant for the sake of her child. She refused. Instead she used her final days to write the story of why she chose to die. Upon hearing their verdict, she wrote, “we were condemned to the beasts, and we returned to prison in high spirits.” Later, Perpetua sang triumphantly as she marched into the Roman amphitheater to face execution.

1700 years later, in Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer sat in prison awaiting his execution. One of the few Christians to resist the Nazis, he took a bold stand for the Gospel. Bonhoeffer was arrested after a failed attempt on Hitler’s life. During his last days, he wrote reflections on the end of life. They were mixed with courage and fear as he confessed his loneliness but proudly concluding, “Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!”

Soon after, Bonhoeffer’s “full and wonderful life” ended at the end of a noose. A doctor who was present at his death later wrote, “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

These stories confront us with the penetrating question: Have I made a difference worth recording? The power of these stories—these last letters—is they lay us bare before the call of the Gospel. The light of these men and women who burned for Christ exposes our lives as dying embers in comparison.

John Piper once noted that in our prosperous culture, Christians are able to “give to the church and then devote themselves financially to building the good life and all the while keep a clear conscience.” He’s right.

For example, giving to the poor is thoroughly divorced from any real sacrifice. New technologies allow us to make giving possible, even when born of greed. I can sign up for programs in which a portion of my purchase goes to help the poor in Third World slums. Nice. We have created a 21st century form of indulgences in which we buy for ourselves—both goods and a clear conscience.

We need to recapture the sacrificial hearts of the Perpetua and Bonhoeffer. Living in a quasi-spiritual generation, there seems no need to embrace their courage. Yet as Christians, we step into a history paved by men and women who willingly died for causes greater than themselves—from fighting injustice to radical evangelism. Jesus was the first, but His followers, in countless numbers, have counted their lives as nothing for the sake of His glory.

How can we continue this legacy? Those stories undoubtedly stir our hearts, but only for a fleeting moment at best. We read, we applaud, we commit, and then we move on. Again. How do we break free of this complacency and step into the story begun for us 2,000 years ago on the cross? It can begin by writing your own story.

It has been the tradition of soldiers and missionaries to leave their families a “Last Letter,” only to be read in the event of their death. These letters not only contained emotional goodbyes, but were also personal statements about why they chose risk over safety. Why the cause was worth dying for.

These Last Letters are harrowingly honest. There’s no room for clichés or braggarts when you’re staring death in the face. You either intend to die for the cause, or you wouldn’t be writing the letter.

These are letters of testimony. In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul writes that our very lives are letters also, written by the Spirit of the Living God. In the spiritual sense, our lives are a kind of “last letter,” the only testimony we will ever have to bear about how and why we live for the Gospel.

If our life letters were assembled, what would be our contribution? Are we taking up our cross and going into the slums of Bangladesh, the brothels of Thailand and the HIV plagued orphanages of South Africa? Are we carrying on the legacy of Robert J. Thomas, who died on the shores of Korea, beaten to death as he tossed Bibles into the hands of his murderers? For all the Christians who quote Jim Eliot’s famous words about “giving what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose,” what exactly are we giving?

Karen Watson was a member of this generation who understood her call. She was a young missionary recently murdered in Iraq. At her funeral, her “last letter” was read:

Dear Pastor,

You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death. When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn’t called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward…

The missionary heart: Cares more than some think is wise. Risks more than some think is safe. Dreams more than some think is practical. Expects more than some think is possible.

I was called not to comfort or to success but to obedience… There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you and my church family.

In His care,

Salaam, Karen

In response to letters—and lives—like these, the Last Letter Campaign has been launched by leaders who want to capture the heart behind them. I wrote my last letter, and in comparison to these, it seemed so… insignificant. I was not near death or about to go on a dangerous journey. But then I realized that we never know when history or death may visit us. We should live as if every day matters. Because it does.

In the writing of it, something happened. More than ever before, I desired to leave a better and lasting legacy, to be a better discicple and to live more for God’s glory and agenda. I want to be the person described in my letter.

As a generation, what will our letter say? Will we be defined by action, sacrifice, and justice, or complacency, caution and social apathy? Triumph or spiritual setback? Lip service or life service?

When the question is, “What would I be willing to die for?” the answer cannot be anything but revolutionary. So I ask you to consider it. How will your Last Letter read? Write to impact someone later but be a living epistle for the Gospel now. And if your time ends abrutply, let them say you had a “full and wonderful life.”

Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research. He will be presenting new research from the Catalyst main stage and leading in a lab on Wednesday. Every attendee at Catlyst East will receive more information about the Last Letter Campaign in their registration packet.