On July 4th Remember Not All the Heroes Come Home

Near the end of America’s involvement in the Viet Nam conflict; (which in my mind, whether named war or not was indeed a war) I was in high school and worked part-time in the Navy Exchange store at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. You might not think of a hospital as a place full of heroes, but let me tell you, NNMC and other military hospitals like it was.

While I worked at the Exchange during the war, the thump-thump-thump of rotary blades atop approaching military hospital transports was a sound I heard on a regular basis.

Incoming.

By the time the helicopter landed on the heli-pad, several of us waited outside on the pad’s perimeter. Our silent presence welcoming the wounded to the hospital. We watched doctors and nurses hustle gurneys to the helicopter, load the wounded, and rush them inside.

I seriously doubt those wounded warriors knew anyone cared enough to be present when they arrived, praying for them, thanking them, appreciating their sacrifice. To those of us keeping vigil, it matter little if the soldiers knew we were there. For me what mattered was the fact I wanted to show my appreciation for their sacrifice.

Among other things available to military personnel and their dependents, of which I was one, thanks to my father’s military service, the Medical Center housed a theater where for twenty-five cents you could watch some really awful movies. What a deal. Definitely not first-run, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, that didn’t keep Sissy, my girlfriends, and me from showing up.

To get to the theater we walked the hospital corridors. I’m sure you’ve walked through a hospital, so you get the idea. These corridors were filled with wounded personnel on stretchers, in wheelchairs, or walking the halls. Bandaged from one part of their body to the next, they made their way to the theater.

These men paid a heavy price for the freedom I enjoyed. That freedom included the privilege of walking down the same corridors they traveled to watch really awful movies for twenty-five cents. It also included the freedom to walk back down those same corridors and out that hospital at the end of the movie while the wounded made their way back to hospital rooms that became their new normal.

In this country we have days set aside to remember the sacrifices our military and their families make so we can enjoy our hamburgers, watermelon, and pool parties. Sometimes we might pause and remember service personnel. We might even say thank you on those set-aside holidays. But what if we made it a habit to remember, honor, pray for, and thank our military every day, fully understanding not all the heroes come home?

On this July 4th, Independence Day here in the States, will you join me in honoring those who give their all so the rest of us don’t have to?

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When your people go out to fight their enemies along some road on which you send them, your people will pray to you, facing this city which you have chosen and the Temple I have built for you. Then hear in heaven their prayers, and do what is right. 2 Chronicles 6:34-35 (NCV)

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Alive!

Although CO-VID-19 may have hijacked the way we usually celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year, the truth remains, Jesus is alive! Nothing. Absolutely nothing can change that most glorious fact. Amen?

In the story of Jesus’ arrest, we read Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. The exact number of times Jesus predicted.

In the Resurrection account recorded in Mark, specific mention is made that Peter be told the Good News. Jesus is alive. That glorious information was not to be kept from the apostle. Peter needed to know Christ rose from the dead. Peter needed to know Jesus was alive. Peter needed to know Jesus wanted to include Peter in Jesus’ story.

Maybe we’ve been like Peter. One way or another, we’ve denied we knew Jesus. Maybe it happened through our careless words or thoughtless actions. Maybe we hid our light under a bushel when given opportunities to represent Christ in this dark world.

But you know what?

Jesus loves each of us. He really does. He loves us so much he willingly paid the price for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He took the nails and sadistic lashes we deserved. Jesus took the punishment and wrath of God that was headed our way upon his perfect, sinless self.

He did that for you. He did that for me. All so we could be included in Christ’s story of Good News. Jesus is alive!

Jesus is not the Great I was. Jesus is the Great I AM.

Even after Peter’s denial, Jesus invited Peter to eat some grilled fish by the seashore before his ascension into heaven.

We may not be invited to eat fish with Jesus by the seashore, but he invites all who name him as their LORD and Savior to come to the table set in his presence.

The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

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The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.

Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.

But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:

“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’” Mark 16:1-7 (TLB)

 

He Is Alive!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

“Where has he gone?” the people asked.

“Who rolled the stone away?”

Most shook their heads in disbelief

And knew not what to say.

“Could this have been the Son of God?

Could all he said be true?”

Then angel smiled, “don’t be afraid

He’s gone ahead of you.

He is alive! He conquered sin!

He’s risen from the dead!

He’s on His way to Galilee,

Exactly as He said.”

How blessed we are to have a God

Who reaches out with grace

And promises if we’ll believe,

We’ll see Him face to face.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

The Power of Stillness

Jesus has been arrested and falsely accused. The high council’s next step is to send him to Pilate. As Pilate interrogates Jesus, Christ refuses to strike back. He refuses to plead his innocence before his accusers. Instead, Jesus displays the power of stillness.

Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

When the leading priests kept accusing Jesus of many crimes, Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?”

But Jesus said nothing. Much to Pilate’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who committed murder in an uprising.

The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

(Mark 15:1-15 NLT)

The day when Jesus stood alone

And felt the hearts of men like stone,

And knew He came but to atone–

That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,

They bound Him with a cruel cord,

And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,

They dragged Him on from place to place,

They heaped upon Him all disgrace;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you from far much less,

With rage, which you called righteousness,

Resented slights with great distress?

Your Savior “held His peace.”

Taken from Streams in the Desert

The power of stillness.

Oh, that I practiced it to a greater measure than I do and let God answer on my behalf.

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But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

What if the Shepherds Didn’t Seek the Messiah?

courtesy pexels.comWhat if the shepherds didn’t seek the Messiah?

The Bible tells us a multitude of Heavenly Hosts filled the sky the night Jesus Christ was born. In their appearance to the shepherds watching their flocks, we’re told the shepherds were afraid. I’d be frightened, too, if an army of angels suddenly appeared in the sky. Wouldn’t you?

An angel told the shepherds the news he shared was great. He said it would bring great joy to everyone. The great news was the announcement of the Savior’s birth. After the angels praised God over Christ’s birth, they told the shepherds to go see what had happened.

We remember the shepherds left their flock of sheep, their livelihood, and went to Bethlehem. The City of David.

In Bethlehem, the shepherds found Baby Jesus in a manger.

Before the shepherds headed to Bethlehem, they did not form a committee to figure out the best way to get to Jesus. They did not ponder what they should say when they found the baby. They didn’t vote to see who would lead the way. They simple got up and went.

The shepherds left their sheep and went quickly into Bethlehem. Once they found the newborn baby, they told Mary and Joseph what the angels said to them in the field. Today your Savior was born…He is Christ, the Lord. Then the shepherds returned to their sheep, praised, and thanked God.

But what if the shepherds didn’t go?  What if the shepherds didn’t leave the security of their fields?  What if they didn’t walk however-many-miles into Bethlehem?  What if they didn’t search for Jesus?  Would their lives be changed, or would they be content to let the day of Christ’s birth pass by without notice?

Like the shepherds we are given a glorious message. Unlike the shepherds we live this side of the cross. We know what it cost God to send his son, Jesus, into our world to save us from our sins.

As we reflect on Christmas and the birth of a baby in the manger who became the Savior on the cross, we too must seek the Messiah. We must go quickly and tell others the Good News of a Savior who came to seek and to save everyone who is lost.

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When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Luke 2:15-18 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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How Do We Describe Christmas?

How do we describe Christmas? If someone who never heard of Christmas asked, “What is Christmas?” what would we say?

Would we start by explaining the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and Santa Claus?

Or would we start with the brightly wrapped presents we give each other?

Maybe we’d explain about families and friends gathering together for a festive celebration. Perhaps we’d mention the different customs across the world.

Then again, maybe we’d mention Christmas plays and concerts along with Handel’s Messiah.

How far down the list would it be before we mentioned the virgin birth of Jesus, God’s son, born as a human baby who lived as a man, walked this earth, was falsely accused, and sentenced to die a most horrible death through crucifixion to save us from our sins?

Hopefully, that would be the very first thing we’d say to explain Christmas.

However, when people observe our behavior this time of year, is that what they’d assume? Would they see Jesus holds the top spot in our lives?

What is Christmas without Christ?

Without Jesus Christ there would be no angels singing Glory to God in the Highest. No shepherds bowing before a baby in a manger. No wise men bringing their best gifts to a baby boy.

Without Jesus there would be no salvation. No resurrection. No Hope. No Light.

We celebrate Christmas because we celebrate Christ.

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That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”  Luke 2:8-14 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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