In the late 1860s, less than a decade after the Civil War’s end, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to the countless fallen soldiers of that terrible war by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
Though it is unclear exactly where this tradition originated, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day citing their first celebration as May 5, 1866.
A large portion of both the Union and Confederate armies were volunteers, whose first exposure to military life was a brutal, bloody war. They received little to no training yet sacrificed everything to preserve their way of life. Today, our military is comprised completely of volunteers, many who have given their lives to preserve our freedom here in the United States.
Even though I have never served in the military, I have the upmost respect for those who do. I am in awe of strangers who would fight and risk their lives to protect me and the freedom I enjoy in this country. It touches my heart each time I watch the videos of soldiers returning from overseas by surprising family members because I remain conscious that for many, their service ends tragically with heartache for their loved ones.
Willing soldiers are pictures of sacrificial devotion that should inspire us. Unfortunately, I believe many Americans have taken their service for granted. Maybe it is true that we are just too comfortable in America. Or perhaps we are just allowing the comforts of our freedom and prosperity of this country to dull our hearts to history and remembering those who made our lives possible by honoring them with how we live.
Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
He did not just teach it, He modeled it.
A soldier fights not only for your freedom, but for peace. Would you agree that any peaceful relationship in your life, one void of conflicts and rich with love and honesty, is a blessing? When Jesus went to the cross, He not only freed you from the judgement of your sins He also gave you peace with God. Let that sink in!
Right now, you may stand in the presence of God at total peace with Him. Jesus made that possible. For years that was hard for me to accept because I allowed my own system of right and wrong to prevent me from really seeing the sacrificial devotion of Jesus when He took my place in judgement before God. During those years I felt better about myself when I stuck to my code of conduct but now realize I never felt nor had peace with God.
Jesus said, “I am leaving you with this gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” John 14:27
What brand of peace affects your mind and heart?
“This is the message of the Good News…that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Acts 10:36
Peace with God! A gift from God through the Lord Jesus. The only caveat with this or any gift, is it must be received. You receive this gift by placing your trust in Jesus as your Savior. God will then help you live a life that honors Him and history.
As a kid in the early 70s, I watched reruns of the 1966-1968 Batman series starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. At that age I watched it more as a serious action crime show and did not understand nor appreciate the wonderful humor. According to Wikipedia, Executive Producer William Dozier once described it as the only situation comedy on the air without a laugh track. After seeing some of the episodes as an adult, I agree.
One of the running jokes that appears in every episode is Robin’s “holy” exclamations such as “Holy Guacamole” or “Holy Hole in a Donut”. According to BuzzFeed, Robin made 359 such statements during the 3 season, 120 episodes run. That’s three “holies” per show! A member of the BuzzFeed staff listed and rated all of them. Holy Hijack came in at 170.
“Holy Hijack” describes well what secular cultures have done to two prominent Christian celebrations, Christmas and Easter. Of the two, the cleverest crime was the commandeering of Easter. For Christians, Easter is the day we remember and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead.
Over the years people have argued about the origin and meaning of the word “Easter” and when that word was used in conjunction with this Christian celebration. Frankly, I don’t really care. At the core this is not a matter of one day being any more important than another. It is simply a day set aside since the second century for Christians around the world to collectively celebrate what God has done because the entire Christian faith rests on this one event.
“For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either.”
1 Corinthians 15:13
As a self-proclaimed witness to Jesus’s resurrection, even Paul, who wrote over half of the New Testament, said he and all the apostles would be a bunch of liars IF the resurrection never happened.
“And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.”
1 Corinthians 15:15
Yet most of the apostles were executed for teaching about Jesus and the resurrection. You can also count Jesus among the liars because He said:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25
Would you die for a lie?
Today in many homes Easter is recognized with little more than a Santa-like, candy-giving rabbit and the tradition of finding plastic eggs filled with treasures. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend over $18 billion this Easter mostly on clothing, candy and gifts. Of course, there is nothing wrong with fun family traditions. The hijack is the diversion of our attention away from an event that has the power to forever change us and the world.
Listen to God’s heart for you: “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.” Philippians 3:10a
What is the power God promises?
“And God will raise us from the dead by His power, just as He raised our Lord from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 6:14
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance-an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
1 Peter 1:3-4
There is no dispute that Jesus lived and was crucified. There is no dispute that the apostles lived and died for their faith in Him. What is disputed and must be settled in your heart is whether they were all liars and lunatics, willing to die for a lie, or God did raise Jesus from the dead as your Lord and Savior.
Just like He did with His first disciples, Jesus asks each of us today, “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
If you want to experience His resurrection power in your life, invite Him to be your Lord. It will be an Easter you will never forget.
Don’t hate me but I like Daylight Savings Time. I do enjoy more sunlight during the evening hours, especially after a full day’s work. Of course the notion of literally saving daylight is silly. We will always get the amount of daylight preordained for each day of the year. I suppose calling it Daylight Relocation Time or Daylight Reallocation Time does not have that same virtuous, cause-worthy sound to it.
I believe Daylight Savings is man’s simple acknowledgment that time is our most precious commodity and we should seize the opportunity to make the most of every sun-lit moment. Life is a miracle and how we spend our time is important. Once time is spent, it is gone and (please catch this) we never know how much is left.
In 1993 Garry Hoy, a lawyer in Toronto, fell to his death from the 24th floor while demonstrating to a group of visitors that the glass in the windows was unbreakable. Instead of using an object or tool of some sort, Hoy threw HIMSELF against the glass, which did not break. However, he popped out the entire window from the frame! Wouldn’t you like to know what he was thinking on the way down?
Maybe you would never do something that stupid, but you never know when some goofball like Hoy may land on you.
Psalm 39:4,5 frames this truth as a prayer. “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath.”
A single breath taken during our lifetime represents our entire earthly life compared to eternity. Yet for so many of us, we think eternity is far off and of no immediate concern, when it is but a breath away. This Psalm is a beautiful prayer yet also a stern reminder to always have eternity in view. It is not far off. Mr. Hoy found that out.
As a Christian one of my favorite life perspectives from Scripture is that my citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. (Philippians 3:20). I may currently reside in America, but I belong to Jesus and my real home is with Him in heaven. My last breath on earth will be immediately followed by my first breath in eternity; this will happen in a breath’s time.
Inhale. Now, exhale. That is your life. Are you ready for your next breath?
I love good food and when dining out at a busy restaurant, which is rare these days, I love to hear my name called to be seated. It is one of the greatest moments of the week. I usually enjoy the entire dining experience, especially if upon being seated they immediately give me fresh hot bread!
My family tries to eat heathy and since you are a LivRite member, you probably do as well. You want to feed your body with both good food and exercise. However, that is only 1/3 of who you are.
You have been created a tripartite being, each part needing the proper nutrition and exercise. It goes something like this: you are a spirit, who has a soul, who currently lives in a body. Your body is host to your soul and spirit. Let’s quickly look at the other two parts.
Your soul is your mind, will and emotions; together it is what makes you, you. This is your one-of-a-kind uniqueness; the personality fingerprint that God gave you. Just like your body, your soul needs the proper care, nutrition and protection to flourish, all which starts in your mind. What are you feeding your mind? What do you read? Watch? Listen to? Is it nutritional, junk food or poison?
The purest and most nutritional food is the Word of God.
”Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Feed on His Word daily for the proper soul-nutrition. It will also help you identify junk food and poison that you are tempted to consume. It will not take long to learn how the latter negatively impacts your soul.
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24 NLT)
Your spirit is the part of you which connects with God. Our spirit connects with the Spirit of God. Simply put, we feed our spirit through worship and service to others. We worship through prayer and through singing to the Lord from a thankful heart. We serve others by following the example Jesus set. Service is a spiritual act of worship.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)
Take a moment to review your menu from the past month. What needs to be added, adjusted or eliminated to properly care for your whole person?
Love and romance have been the leading theme in movies, songs, plays and fiction literature since the birth of those mediums. Love (and the guilt of men) sustains the floral industry. February, which would otherwise be the dull sophomore month of a new year owes its rock star status to love via Valentine’s Day. Love or the pursuit of love will even make a guy shower and brush his teeth!
It is safe to say you would agree that love and the absence of love are powerful forces with either delightful or dreadful affects in your life. So, how did love garner such authority and influence?
The origin of things helps to bring context and insight such as that of Valentine’s Day. Not a pretty picture. Essentially, Valentine was tortured and executed for marrying a man and woman in the Christian faith. The power of love moved St. Valentine to do extraordinary things and willingly pay the price with this life. What about the origin of love?
1 John 4:10 says in part “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” Please catch the unconditionality of this statement. It is a love that did not and does not require our initiation nor reciprocity. From the very beginning, God loved us, the origin.
With so much conflict and tragedy in the world, it is understandable so many people struggle with the idea of a loving God. Who hasn’t wrestled with the question that begins with “If God is a loving God, then why…”. Again, origin. To understand the love of God, we need to look to the second part of 1John 4:10 “… and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Because of love, God created us for a love relationship with Him. To believe in true love, we must get to know Him through His Son Jesus. However, you and I and every human on earth has the same problem that prevents us from knowing Him well and is the source which leads to the heart break we see in our world. That problem is sin. There is a price for sin and Jesus paid that price on our behalf. God also gives us a free choice whether we will accept this truth and His love by giving our hearts to Jesus.
When I think of the extreme measures God went through to capture my heart, it first humbles me then begins to give me a love for Him and for others. I have accepted that God loves me unconditionally through my faults and failures and I am all shook up.