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.

The Dangers In Grumbling

God wants to give us His peace. The Hebrew word is shalom and it means a deep tranquility found in a personal relationship with Jesus that is greater than all external circumstances. Sadly, many people block the shalom God wants them to have. 

The “shalom cycle” looks like this…

Our gratitude for the things God has done fuels our faith in God’s future grace. That faith-filled expectation serves as fuel for our prayers, and answered prayer gives us even more for which we can give thanks. 

But the shalom cycle can break down when we forget to be thankful. My friend Scott Troost says that ungrateful people are usually characterized by—

  • Being bitter and unforgiving
  • Constantly attending their own pity parties 
  • Struggling with low self-esteem
  • Being greedy and covetous for the things they don’t have

Scott goes on to explain how we can stop the grumbling ingratitude from derailing the shalom cycle. 

  1. Be thankful for what you have, instead of wishing for things you don’t have (Philippians 2:14).
  2. Keep a gratitude journal of all that God has done for you (Habakkuk 3:2). 
  3. Notice how God has given you strength to make it through challenging times in the past (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). 

“There’s a huge difference between being thankful for something and being thankful in something. We are to be thankful always.” —Scott Troost 

As I talked about last week—we need to think about what we’re thinking about. This is the key to spotting those grumbling, ungrateful thoughts before they derail the cycle and rob us of God’s shalom. 

Join us next week for the third part of our 4-part series in which we will be uncovering another way that the shalom cycle can become derailed. Please join us either in person or on Facebook Live. 

But Now

But nowRemembering our past is so important. Forgetting where we’ve come from can make us insensitive to the feelings of others, it can make us falsely proud of what we assume we’ve accomplished for ourselves, and it can make us fearful that God cannot handle what’s coming next.

So God want us to remember two things: what we were, and what we are. In Ephesians the verb tense Paul uses literally says, “Keep on calling this to mind; keep on keeping it fresh in your thoughts” (Ephesians 2:11 & 12).

Keep on remembering what you WERE:

  • separate from Christ
  • excluded from citizenship
  • foreigners to the covenants of the promise
  • without hope
  • without God in the world (v. 12)

And then come two amazing words―BUT NOW (v. 13) keep on remember what you ARE:

  • brought near through the blood of Christ (v. 13)
  • able to access to the Father (v. 18)
  • no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people (v. 19)
  • members of God’s household (v. 19)
  • a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (v. 22)

Constantly calling this to mind should produce three attitudes―

  1. Thankful to God for His grace gifts to me.
  2. Graceful to others who are separated from God now like I used to be.
  3. Hopeful of the help Christ can bring through me to others.

We are continuing our study of the Book of Ephesians this coming Sunday. Please join us!

Thankful For Life

The AppointmentI am thankful God gave me life (Psalm 139:13-15).

I am thankful He gave me purposeful life (Ephesians 2:10).

I am thankful He gave me eternal life (1 John 4:9-10).

I am thankful my parents gave me a safe life (Psalm 127:3-4).

I am thankful for life …

To read a behind-the-scenes look at this short film, please click here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some great reading from today.

Why do we take a railway guide and arrange for a particular journey? … Well, one has confidence in the reliability of these official publications. As a rule we are not put to shame! Now, just as we use a railway guide we must use our Bible. We must depend on God’s Word just as we depend on man’s word, only remembering that though man may not be able to carry out his promise, God will always fulfill what He has said.” —Hudson Taylor

More archeological finds in Israel confirm the historicity of the Bible: Canaanite Fortress Discovered.

Explain to me again how this is legal (or humane!): Nurse tells grisly tale of partial-birth abortions.

The New York Post finds that tanning salons are inspected more than abortion clinics.

Medical science shows stress in the home adversely effects chromosomes in kids.

“Distractions must be conquered or they will conquer us. So let us cultivate simplicity; let us want fewer things; let us walk in the Spirit; let us fill our minds with the Word of God and our hearts with praise. In that way we can live in peace even in such a distraught world as this.” —A.W. Tozer

“If indeed the name of the eternal God is named upon us, we are secure; for, as of old, a Roman had but to say Romanus sum, I am a Roman, and he could claim the protection of all the legions of the vast empire; so everyone who is a man of God has omnipotence as his guardian, and God will sooner empty heaven of angels then leave a saint without defense. Be braver than lions for the right, for God is with you.” —Charles Spurgeon

“How one learns to be thankful for each day on which one can still do something.” —Karl Barth

The Blessing Of Fullness

Thanksgiving Day 2011 is over, but the days for giving thanks should never be over. Although that sounds humorous, for many of us it is an important reminder. We need to remind ourselves because it is so easy for us to go from overflowing with thankfulness, to feeling depleted and empty.

This is exactly what Paul reminded the Colossians in part 3 of our Overflowing With Thanks series —

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

Here’s how the cycle works:

  • When we are thank-full to God for His blessings, we enthrone Christ in our hearts.
  • When we are Christ-full, He brings with Him all of the peace we will need.
  • When we are peace-full, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
  • When our hearts and minds are clear, we can better see the blessings for which we can thank God.
  • And when we are thank-full to God for His blessings, we start the cycle all over again.

We don’t have to run dry, or become depleted, or lose our joy, or be robbed of our peace. If we will remain watch-full to be thank-full, we will remain Christ-full, which will keep us peace-full.

May we never lose the blessing of fullness!

Honoring Veterans The Right Way

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.

Sometimes it’s easier to honor our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given “their last full measure of devotion.” We can play taps at their funeral, fire a 21-gun salute, and even put 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 see 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.

There are a few things we pick up from Paul’s thankfulness to apply to our gratitude for our veterans —

  1. Keep mementoes 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.

I still feel it’s important to honor our veterans on November 11. There is a great memorial service taking place in Cedar Springs tomorrow. You can get all of the details by clicking here.

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