Honoring Veterans The Right Way [repost]

Disclaimer: I’m a patriotic crier. I love the United States of America, and proudly call her the greatest nation in history. So whenever I watch a patriotic movie, or serve at a veteran’s funeral, or even sing the national anthem before a Cedar Springs football game, I get misty.

I believe we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans. But I also believe we may not be honoring that debt in the right way.

We usually honor our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given “their last full measure of devotion” by playing taps at their funeral, firing a 21-gun salute, or even putting a flag in the sacred ground of their burial site every year at Memorial Day.

But what about our vets who are still living? Don’t they deserve more than just an occasional visit on Veterans Day?

In many ways, we treat Veterans Day like we do Thanksgiving Day: it’s just one day on our calendar to take care of our obligations to be grateful, and then we can continue on with business-as-usual until the next year.

Wouldn’t it be more fitting for us to treat Veterans Day—like Thanksgiving Day—as a culmination of another year full of gratitude? After all, it’s very likely that we wouldn’t even be able to enjoy our business-as-usual lives if it were not for the sacrifices of our veterans.

The Apostle Paul gives us a good pattern to follow. Four times in his letters he says, “I thank God for you every time I remember you” (Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 4). In these times of thanks, he is remembering others who put their lives on the line for freedom, just as our veterans have done for us.

Here are at least three things we can learn from Paul’s thankfulness to apply to our gratitude for our veterans —

  1. Keep mementos of remembrance around you. Perhaps it’s an American flag, or a picture, or a Veterans Day program. Simply find something that will jog your memory frequently about the debt of gratitude we owe to our vets.
  2. Pray for our veterans. Paul often told his friends that when he was filled with thoughts of gratitude about them, he turned those thoughts into prayers for them.
  3. Turn your feelings into actions. When you see one of your mementos and say a prayer for a veteran, take it a step further. Jot a note to a vet, send an email, send flowers, or take them out to lunch. Perhaps you could invite a veteran into your home for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter, or “adopt” a veteran on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

The point is this: Let’s not make honoring our veterans something we only do on November 11. Let’s remember them often, be thankful for them always, and turn those thoughts and gratitude into action all year long.

Aliens and Strangers

Christians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. So the question is: How is a citizen of Heaven supposed to act while visiting Earth?

The Apostle Peter was one of the most active disciples of Jesus. During Christ’s first visit to Earth, Peter is recorded as speaking more than all of the other disciples combined. And not surprisingly, Jesus speaks more words directly to Peter than He does to all of the other 11 disciples combined. Peter got a lot of training!

With that background, Peter gives us invaluable instructions in his first letter to the church. He calls Christians things like: strangers in the world, chosen people, peculiar people, and aliens and strangers in the world. He tells us travelers not only how to behave while traveling on Earth, but why we should travel in a God-honoring way.

I will be continuing to teach through these fascinating themes of Peter’s instructions for aliens and strangers this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would love to have you join us. If you cannot join us in person, we will be broadcasting each message live on Facebook.

I am excited to rejoin this journey of discovery with you!

Living Nativity (2016)

I am so happy that our church gets the opportunity to present the First Advent story to the Cedar Springs community each year!

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Lifewalk 2016

 

2016 LifeWalkAlpha Family Center provides some amazing services for families in Cedar Springs. Every year on the Saturday before Father’s Day they hold their annual Lifewalk fundraiser.

I would be most appreciative if you would consider giving a financial gift to support Alpha. You can donate via PayPal by clicking on the “Donate” tab to the right of this post. I promise you that all of the money you give will go toward promoting pro-life and pro-family work in Cedar Springs.

Thank you!

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Here’s an Advent illustration for kids—and those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like. Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.” —John Piper (check out Hebrews 10:1-10)

“God desires to be remembered by man. He has taken unspeakable pains to keep Himself before His creatures, so as to make forgetfulness on their part the greatest of all impossibilities. In everything that God has set before our eyes or ears, He says, Remember Me. In every star, every flower, every mountain, every stream—in every joy, every comfort, every blessing of daily life—God says, Remember Me.” —Horatius Bonar

“God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow.” —Oswald Chambers

“Allow yourself one excess: be excessively obedient.” —Francois Fenelon

“satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. If the death of Jesus takes it away, the chief weapon of the devil is taken out of his hand. He cannot make a case for our death penalty, because the Judge has acquitted us by the death of His Son!” —John Piper

“Without Jesus, we’re trapped in the expectations of others. We’re trapped in living for the approval of our peers. We’re trapped in addictions. We’ve tried to change over and over again, but we don’t have the power needed to escape. Jesus came to give us that power.” —Rick Warren

“Holidays are about history, and if we fail to remember that history or to remind our contemporaries of it, then we will only be confirming their narrow and narcissistic view of ‘history’ as ‘my-story’ and my supposed right to make of my life whatever I will.” —T.M. Moore

John Stonestreet points out the power of hype in our modern culture—Ronda Rousey, Reality TV and Jesus.

Calvary Assembly of God helping the Cedar Springs community see the true meaning of Advent.

Is it really that big of a deal for a Christian to date a non-Christian?

Detroit Tigers fans and New York Yankees fans will enjoy this comparison of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

Living Nativity

We are always excited to portray the story of the First Advent at an annual event in Cedar Springs called “Mingle With Kris Kingle.” My thanks to all of the folks from Calvary Assembly of God who help assemble the set and portray the characters from the biblical story each year. Also glad for all of our 4-H shepherds who help us out each year.

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Champions Of Change From Cedar Springs

The Cedar Springs Post has a nice article about the ArtPrize exhibit featuring some of us from Cedar Springs. And, for the record, I don’t feel like an “unsung hero,” as the gracious folks in Cedar Springs are always very kind!

Three Cedar Springs area residents are being recognized for their role in the community as “Champions of Change.”

Photographs of Brian Rosenberger and Amy Outwin, who founded the non-profit “Bless the Children,” and Craig Owens, who is pastor at Calvary Assembly of God, and executive director of the En Gedi youth center, are part of an exhibit by photographer Adam Bird titled “People helping people.” The exhibit is located at 118 Commerce Avenue at the United Way Center.

*N-Cedar1 residents featured Artprize Amy and Brian“These photographs are of a few of the people who are united in the common cause of improving our community. Each person is different, with their own story, their own reasons for why they do what they do,” explained Bird. “The photographs and stories are meant to remind all of us that there is no one type of person, no age group, no chosen few who control the evolution of our community; it is the concerted actions of everybody, through their investment of time and money that our community changes. We are all different, we can all work together, and that is what makes us strong.”

*N-Cedar2 residents featured artprize Craig OwensAmy and Brian founded Bless the Children to encourage and build the self-esteem and confidence of children by supplying new clothing items to those in need. Amy and Brian work from individual requests from teachers, and partner with Cedar Springs Public Schools and Kent School Services Network – KSSN. When a request is made, they deliver bags of jeans, shirts, shoes, coats, boots, hats, socks or underwear to the school, sometimes sneaking in and out without even being noticed.

Craig is Senior Pastor of Calvary Assembly of God Church and Executive Director of En Gedi Youth Center, which provides innovative afterschool programming for middle school students in Cedar Springs. Craig has a passion for the Cedar Springs area and also serves as a member of the Cedar Springs Planning Commission. 

*N-Cedar3 residents featured artprize quilt“The people that are featured in this ArtPrize exhibit have found a way to use their talents and skills to make the community a better place. It is our hope that others will be inspired and reach out to United Way to be connected to the needs in the community,” says Maureen Noe, President and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. “The needs in Kent County are complex, but helping people is not. Supporting your community through financial gifts, speaking out on important issues, and lending your time and talent are simple, yet powerful, ways to help better our community.” 

ArtPrize attendees can visit the United Way Center at 118 Commerce Ave during ArtPrize to meet these Champions of Change—portraits and narratives will line the front windows along the United Way Center.

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