The U.S. celebrates Veteran’s Day on November 11th each year. This is an ever increasingly important holiday for us as we attempt to give thanks to those that have served our nation to protect its freedom. When these Veteran’s Day ceremonies are held, we always remember our World War II veterans but they are decreasing in numbers each year. For some reason this year at a local event I started to think about the war this country had to achieve its freedom, the revolutionary war. Today, we talk about celebrating those that have protected our freedoms in the 20th and 21st centuries. How about the courage of the men and women who fought to establish our FREEDOM? The British Army was the largest and most feared in the entire world at the time; we did not back down. The ragged US Army fought to ensure that we were free. The war of 1812 was another assault on freedom. It is not discussed in detail however it was a proud victory from our past. Our Veteran’s deserve so much more than we give them. I’ve heard people argue, “They volunteered for it and knew what they were getting”. I hardly buy the volunteer argument, these heroes stepped up when many others did not to protect our freedoms. Many of the service members that I’ve worked with spent a career serving our country, which doesn’t sound like a volunteer. The person who volunteers at the food bank is not the same as the one who leaves behind a family to fight global terrorism or protect our freedom. We owe our Veteran’s much more than our thanks but I know, they’d appreciate hearing it.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
If nothing says Veteran’s Day like “be men of courage” I don’t know what does. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear a commanding officer speak these words before combat. St. Paul is not talking to Roman soldiers or our military today; he was talking to the people of Corinth. They were, as we are today, in a battle for eternal life. St. Paul was warning them and us today, to be on guard and to stand firm in our faith. Everyday, God’s will and His Christian people are under attack. The devil is trying to take back the souls won by Jesus’ death on Calvary by polluting the fabric of our society. False prophets and false teachings are everywhere. It isn’t often we hear about the saving grace of God and eternal life that can only be found in faith through Jesus Christ is our savior. St. Paul encourages us to be courageous despite these challenges. Confidently speak of God’s grace and mercy to all. Stay connected to God’s word and study the teachings of Jesus to remain strong in faith and to have the confidence to be strong.
Look what I did! I am so awesome! Have you heard or even said these words? I once saw a plaque that read, “I know I’m not perfect but I’m so close that it scares me”. We often hear people expressing their confidence in very strong ways. What about the people who lack that type of self-confidence? Is there something wrong with them? Who wouldn’t be proud of what they’ve done? I would suggest that it may not be the lack of confidence or them having no pride in their accomplishments but it may be that they are simply too humble to talk about themselves. Humility is a God given talent and should be practiced but in today’s world it is seen as a sign of weakness. The opposite of humility is boasting and those people are even harder to deal with. We all know someone who is always right and identifies how others have “screwed up” without ever considering their own role in the situation. They make everyone around them miserable because all they do is point how they have done no wrong. Related to this is the widening of the income gap and the growing, “I’ve got mine, too bad about yours” mentality. I’ve heard several people this week complain about school taxes because they don’t have any kids in the system so why should they pay school property taxes. They got their kids through school with the help of others but don’t think that they should take their turn. This selfish mentality is driving our world apart; we’ve forgotten about caring for each other. We need to keep watch over each other, we’re all we’ve got. I’ve got a picture frame on my desk that says, “It won’t matter what my bank balance was, the size house I lived in, or the type of car that I drove but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” If we swap “life of a child” and make it “the life of another human being” and get a little closer to God’s will. Go make a difference in someone’s life.
8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whose sake I have lost all things.9…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Philippians 3:8-9
Paul had everything in his life that he could want. He was considered a great man and was feared by many. He was a righteous man under the law as a Pharisee; he told others what to do and people obeyed him. Paul gave up everything (even his name) to follow Jesus when he came face to face with Him. Jesus showed him the way to everlasting life and he spent years in prison writing and telling of the good news. He’d lost everything and yet was grateful for his faith in Jesus Christ. He realized that he was nothing without faith in Jesus and the righteousness that comes from God. Paul was humble, steadfast in his faith, shared the good news whenever he could, encouraged others with his letters and remained focused on what God wanted him to do. The power, the social status, the envy and the confidence that he had before, he considered a loss now that he has the knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Everything that we have is lost too, if we don’t have the same faith in our savior Jesus Christ. Share the good news about having eternal life through faith in Him and all that God has done for you. You will make a difference in the life of another human being.
Father’s Day was yesterday; I hope that every one of the “dads” enjoyed it. Men have a funny way of expressing this day to each other, especially if you compare it to how women express Mother’s Day to each other. Men will simply nod and smile to each other if it comes up and if we don’t mention it, well, that’s okay too. When it comes to celebrating the day, we’re okay with simplicity. No brunches or special events. A good, or should I say smart, man will treat Mother’s Day much differently. Men are providers, we are “fixers”, we will just do our thing and keep moving. A father’s role is different and so is his reaction to any celebration. Few men seek accolades and often don’t know how to respond to someone who offers them. I notice that women love the attention of a restaurant staff lead birthday song but watch a man and he’ll slowly slide under the table. We’re just funny that way I guess. This isn’t about the differences between men and women; it’s more about how we react to things. The “fixer” in us wants to perfectly plan a course for our lives and then follow it to the letter. When things don’t go according to plan, we lose hope and get frustrated. As men, we view our role as being there for everyone else but when we are the ones that need fixing, we throw our arms up and scream: “why do I bother!” The simple answer is that we bother because we are, by nature, fixers. Next time you feel like things aren’t going as planned or when you don’t have control over the direction (whether you are male or female), just remember, it always eventually works out.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Being confident in all things is often known as being arrogant or cocky. No one likes someone who is arrogant; they are hard to be around. Having confidence on the other hand, is being sure of your self. The words, being and having, change the value of the word confidence. “Confidence” is more valuable to others when you have it rather than being it. Overall, I have confidence in my decisions and understanding of municipal government, which allows me to speak with authority. What is giving St. Paul this confidence? Why is he “being” confident? Verse 5 says “because of your [Philippians] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,” St. Paul is being confident that they have found favor in God’s eyes. He is expressing his confidence (having confidence) that God will not abandon them and will carry them forward until the coming of Christ Jesus. St. Paul isn’t “being”, he is “having” confidence in the Word of God. How do we obtain that level of confidence? Being in God’s Word and accepting that salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Reading the bible gives us an understanding of the plan that men try so hard to control. God is THE “fixer”, He not only orders things in this life, He fixed our relationship with Him for all eternity. He sent us a savior to fix our inability not to sin. Do you have the confidence to go through life knowing that God is at work in it? I do.
“Service Before Self”, is one of the core values of the US Air Force. We all serve someone at some point in our day and usually throughout our lives. As parents, we serve our kids, as spouses we serve our mate and as employees we serve customers – either internal or external to the company. Even leaders have people that they serve. A leader should be someone who is serving those that follow them; the concept of servant leadership. By making their followers stronger, servant leaders build up their staff and work to make them successful. There are people in leadership positions who wrongfully believe that since they are in this place of “power” that people should be serving them. A true leader is more concerned about how they can support and help those that follow them. Ken Blanchard writes extensively about servant leadership and his research on leadership. We all see many people today who are simply serving themselves. The millennium generation grew up watching the greed of Wall Street and “leaders” serving their own interests. If anyone else benefited, well, that was just extra. So, who are you serving? I would suggest putting your focus on others and see what comes of it. I have benefited from a number of mentors in my life and I have also played that role for others. It is immensely satisfying and rewarding to help others when there is nothing to be gained.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
St. Paul wrote a lot about serving others in his letters, focusing much of his attention on humility. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds them to be humble proclaiming “I came to you in weakness and fear”, he was asking them to serve others with humility too. Using Jesus as our example, ask yourself, how did He show humility for us? The first thing that comes to my mind is the washing of His disciple’s feet at the last supper. The leader of the group, the leader of the heavens washed feet. Jesus was serving us! The Son of God and God Himself was serving us so that we would have eternal life. God has prepared the good works for us. He has set the course, put people in our lives and us in the lives of others so that we could execute the plan He has for us. God has prepared these good works for us in advance; they aren’t chance but these opportunities are given to us to do God’s work. We are not put here to do our works or to be boastful. My apologies to the Air Force but “Service Before Self” really came from God, was demonstrated to us by Jesus and now we must humble ourselves to serve others, just as God planned.