Yesterday in the US we took the day to remember our veterans who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and liberties, to that I say thank you.
However, I can’t help but think of the ONE who set the ultimate example of sacrifice and paid a price no one else could pay to buy us true freedom.
This verse from Revelation 12 also reminds me of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in following His example. They loved not their own lives so much as to shrink back from death.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
I am a Christian today because of the testimony of Rachel Scott a high school student killed in Columbine. I found out yesterday that there’s controversy surrounding if anyone actually “said yes.” But nonetheless, she was targeted because she was a Christian.
I think of the recent martyrdom of coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS.
Tertullian wrote “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”
I’m grateful for those that have given their lives in the interests of our national freedoms. I am becoming more patriotic the older I get. But we cannot forget the Christians world wide that have given their lives for the sake of the gospel. I love our country, but the priority order of things for me is God then country.
Steve Gregg said this in one of his teachings and it really rings true to me. “Patriotism is often a blatant form of idolatry. Parents will send their kids off to die for their country but not to the mission field.”
Some, and I intentionally say some, because I know it’s not all, of the same Christians that herald the military are the same ones that think missionaries should go get a real job. Obviously no parent wants to send their child off to far away lands for whatever the reason. I obviously have no understanding because I’m not a parent but I hope to be like the Moravians who stood at the shore and sent the missionaries from their community off with their coffins saying “That He would receive the just reward of His suffering.”
Jess and I along with 40,000 other people descended upon Ala Moana beach park for the lantern festival last night. It was strange to see the beach we most often go to filled with that many people. It was even stranger for it to take almost 3 hours to get out of the parking garage.
I was amazed that during the festival there was but one lone American flag flying and that was from a vet that brought his own. There was no real mention of America, I thought surely they would raise the flag and we’d sing the National Anthem or something. It was more about ancestors and loved ones than service men. I found it funny that barely anyone clapped when they recognized honored guests, one of whom was the state governor David Ige.
The hour ceremony before hand was televised, tv personalities articulated so clearly, polished and practiced that it seemed inauthentic. Her holiness Shinso Ito presided over the ceremony. She had a long speech that was translated that I wish they would have put a stricter time limit on. It made me realize that I really live in a bubble and that many peoples world views are so drastically different than mine. It made me wonder why the world is so open to other world religions but not Christianity.
Not everyone there was Buddhist, there was a conglomeration of Hawaiian traditions and buddhist traditions presented from the front. Mainly it seemed that people were there for the collective experience. People wrote words of remembrance for deceased loved ones on lanterns and sent them into the sea.
My own family remembered a tragic loss this memorial day. It’s been 3 years since we lost my niece Eryka to some pretty horrific circumstances.
But I have hope, and that hope is found in the gospel. I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 15
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.