Never Forget

Memorial Day is a hollowed day in the United States of America.  On the last Monday of May, we honor the memory of the individuals who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military and fighting for our freedom.  In 1868, historians have pinpointed the original observance of this holiday as a Decoration Day after the American Civil War.  It was a day set aside to decorate the graves of the deceased soldiers with beautiful flower arrangements.

Today, I am grateful for all those who have served in the Armed Forces of America.  I am thankful for those who have fought in combat, for those who have traveled overseas, for those who have been wounded, for those in administrative positions, for those struggling with loneliness during their service, for those battling illnesses from their service, for those who have be critically injured, for those piloting the aircrafts, for those steering the submarines, for those who have been tortured, for those who have witnessed their comrades die, for the medical staff mending the wounds, and for each soldier who has sacrificed their life so I could enjoy the wonderful liberties of an American citizen.  I will never forget the sacrificial love of each soldier.  Thank you for your service!

Each soldier reminds me of the words of Jesus Christ in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Every Memorial Day I am not only reminded of the sacrifice of the soldiers in the American infantry, but I’m also reminded of the greatest sacrifice our world has ever observed when Jesus Christ demonstrated His marvelous, compassionate, lovingkindness towards mankind by dying on the cross of Calvary.

Today, I am eternally grateful for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrificial love towards me.  I am thankful for Christ dying on the cross for my sins.  I am thankful for Christ’s blood that has covered all my sins.  I am thankful for Christ’s body that was broken for me.  I am thankful that Christ conquered death, hell and the grave by His glorious resurrection.  I am thankful that Christ has forgiven me of my sins and bestowed upon me eternal life.  I am thankful that heaven is now my eternal home.  I am thankful for the sinless, spotless, sacrificial Lamb of God who can radically transform lives today.

From the great lakes of Minnesota to the rolling hills of Tennessee.  From the great plains of Texas, and from sea to shining sea.  From the city of Detroit down to Houston, and from New York to L.A.  It’s time that we courageously stand and compassionately say:  I am thankful to be a Christian where at least I know I’m eternally free.  I will never forget the Christ who died and gave that right to me!  I will gladly stand up and defend His Word still today because there is no doubt I love the Lord.  May God richly bless the United States of America!

True Freedom Is Found In Jesus Christ

One of the most enjoyable memories of my childhood is riding my bicycle all over Douthat State Park when my family went on vacation.  Honestly, I loved riding on the trails that said, “No bicycles.”  It may have just been the rebel in me, but, seriously, those trails were the most enjoyable!  I loved riding along the roads up to the very expensive lodge.  Sometimes my parents allowed me to bring friends and we’d ride those bikes everywhere.  I loved racing down the hills and climbing up the mountains.  If you’ve never rode a bicycle before then you’ve have missed out on some fun adventures.  Whenever I ride a bicycle it’s an experience of freedom.

Every time I visit Douthat State Park I am reminded of those childhood memories on the bicycle, but like most youth, hobbies come and go very easily.  That was the case for me.  Once I entered high school, other activities caught my attention.  During my first semester of graduate school I started riding my bicycle as a means to exercise my cardio vascular system.  I was going to the gym to play basketball, but I got tired of getting elbowed, rolling my ankles and playing against people acting like it was the NBA finals!  Cycling became a great tool for me to relieve stress, to get my mind off studying and pastoring, to find a new way of prayerful meditation, to escape the busyness of life, to observe God’s beautiful hand in nature and to just have some fun.

As I meditate upon the freedom that’s enjoyed while riding a bicycle, I’d like share an important spiritual lesson I’ve learned from all of this:  True freedom is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ!  John 8:32 & 36 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (32).  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (36).”  The gospel of Christ (His death, burial and resurrection) contains the capability to set mankind free from the bondage of sin, the promise of death and eternal separation from God in hell.  I grew up attending worship services my entire life, but I wasn’t freed from the chains of darkness until Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior.  As a sixteen-year-old at church camp, the conviction of the Spirit of God fell upon me and I cried out to God for salvation.  It was on that day when I experienced true freedom.

Nowadays, as I ride my bicycle along the roads nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, I do experience freedom from the busyness of life and its many troubles.  I enjoy every second of it, but I know there’s more to it than just that.  I now meditate upon the Scriptures, with deep heartfelt gratitude, about the freedom I have as a believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ!  That, my friend, is true freedom!  John 8:36 states, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  Have you experienced the freedom found in Jesus Christ?

The Gospel Still Works!

Does the gospel still work in 2017?

In the midst of an ever changing world, we are bombarded with the temptation to disregard the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The technological advances of our day have become the pinpoint for skepticism towards the Holy Scriptures.  Our world supposes those who believe in Jesus are nothing more than hillbillies from the mountains of the Bible belt.  Our world claims scientific research has outdated Jesus’ words and the biblical text.  With that in mind, I’d like to share with you two reasons why I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ still works today.

First of all, the gospel of Christ has the power to change lives.  The apostle Paul said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  The gospel simply means the good news of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  The term power in this verse is where we get the word dynamite.  It means the gospel has the miraculous power from God to deliver mankind from sin.  The gospel of Christ has the power to change habitual liars to honest truth tellers, adulterers into faithful spouses, thieves, murderers and rapists into law abiding citizens, drunkards into a teetotalers, and condemned sinners into justified saints.  First Corinthians 6:9-11 states, “Be not deceived:  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  Never underestimate the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its impact to transform lives!

Secondly, the gospel of Christ is the only way to receive salvation.  Today’s world teaches the doctrine of relativism.  Simply put, this teaching promotes the concept that what may be true to you is not necessarily true to others.  Granted, this sounds very good to the listening ear, but it is not what is observed in the Holy Scriptures.  For example, Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  Even though modern society claims all religious roads lead to heaven, Jesus Christ declared He was the only way to heaven.  Peter made the declaration that salvation was only found in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).  Paul stated every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).  Salvation simply means deliverance.  Throughout Scripture salvation may mean deliverance temporally or eternally.  As Jesus preached on the Sermon on the Mount, all those seeking eternal salvation apart from Himself will tragically obtain eternal destruction; however, those seeking Christ’s offer will receive eternal salvation (Matt. 7:13-14).  It is my sincere prayer that you would put your faith and truth in Jesus Christ for salvation.  Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  It is historically verified that Christ died on Calvary’s cross for mankind’s sin, and was victoriously resurrected to offer eternal life to all those who will believe.

The greatest message in all the world is the gospel of Christ.  No other message outweighs the blessedness, impact and power as Christ’s message.  It’s interesting to ponder how a 2,000 year old message is still influencing the world today.  You do not have to be a hillbilly to believe this message, and the gospel surely has not been outdated by any scientific research.  I firmly believe the gospel has just as much impact on the world today as it did in the New Testaments times.  Even though the year is 2017, Almighty God has the authoritative power to change lives with the message of Christ’s gruesome death on the cross and His glorious resurrection from the grave.