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Memorial Day Consecration

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Psalm 121:1-2 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

It is right to commemorate a day like Memorial Day for its own sake. Countless men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation throughout its long and storied history. They deserve our respect, our consideration, our appreciation, and our praise. So do their families. Yet, there is an even more spiritual reason for our churches to specifically emphasize every Memorial Day as a part of our ministry calendar.

There is an interesting connection between days of memorial and salvation. As we consider the sacrifice of those you have paid the ultimate price for us and our way of life, it prompts us to lift up our eyes to higher callings, greater purposes, and elevated meaning. Solemn consideration for those who have passed on into eternity in dedication to service towards something greater than themselves is powerful, poignant, and thought-provoking. Ultimately, it gives people a chance to consider their mortality, their value, and their purpose in life. All are ideal considerations to direct the gaze of a needful humanity to our Lord and our Saviour.

Consider the spiritual testimony of President Abraham Lincoln: “When I left Springfield I asked people to pray for me.  I was not a Christian.  What I buried my son, the severest trial of my life in 1862, I was not a Christian.  But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.”

Through these words, President Lincoln is telling us that he accepted Christ because he was overwhelmed by a consideration of the fallen.  A day of memorial had caused Lincoln to lift up his eyes to the hills to consider whence cometh his help. He came to the natural conclusion that his help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

Properly structuring our church services around Memorial Day can enable others to follow the lead of Lincoln!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO PROPERLY COMMEMORATE MEMORIAL DAY WHILE PROVIDING A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR A FALLEN WORLD TO CONSIDER THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF THEIR DESPERATELY NEEDED HELP. What a blessing it would be to experience a revival triggered by a Memorial Day consecration!

Not Test Dummies

I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Dr. John Stapp was an Air Force officer, a physicist, and a flight surgeon. Over his impressive career, he played a primary role in improving the safety equipment for pilots, with inventions including safety harnesses and ejection equipment. Stapp performed his important role in the deserts of California and New Mexico using a unique piece of test equipment called a rocket sled. This contraption was a sled on rail tracks that was rapidly pushed by a rocket engine. It was used to test the effects of powerful acceleration, high-speed wind blast, and rapid decelerations on the human body. Before highly instrumented test dummies were invented, human test dummies rode the sled, and Stapp insisted that he be in the seat for the most extreme and dangerous conditions. As a result, he shattered bones, broke ribs, and faced temporary blindness – all for the cause of science and pilot safety.

In performing these tests, Stapp became known as “the fastest man on earth,” breaking land speed records while strapped to a rocket on rails. Yet, his craziness had an important purpose, and the safety mechanisms on aircraft improved significantly under his carefully crafted rocket sled test plans. He even invented the three-point safety belt system that was the forerunner to modern day seatbelts in use in vehicles around the world. Thus Stapp, who also is credited with being the originator of the famous Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – made a significant impact on all of humanity through his unorthodox methods.

Dr. Stapp’s methods were certainly atypical. Some would say they were peculiar and strange. Yet, his impact on aviation physiology and safety was unmatched.

Ironically, a strange and peculiar world thinks we are the ones who are strange and peculiar as we follow the Lord. They think our lives are unorthodox as we serve God. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to follow God regardless of the sneers, the jeers, and the consequences. Our faithful obedience, though seen as peculiar by others, brings glory and praise to Him. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. As a result, the impact He can have through us as we faithfully follow Him can be unmatched.

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE LORD TO GIVE AMERICAN CHRISTIANS THE FORTITUDE TO SERVE HIM FAITHFULLY IN SPITE OF THE UNORTHODOX NATURE OF OUR CALLING. We are not test dummies, but are instead the loyal servants of a God whose ways far exceed the comprehension of mere man.

Picture: Air Force Test Center History Office

Missing the Target

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

I Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matt Emmons was an accomplished competitive marksman. At the 2004 Summer Olympics game in Athens, Greece, he had already won a gold medal and was on the verge of an unprecedented second gold. Through 129 shots in the competition, he held a commanding lead and only needed a marginal score on his final shot to secure the victory. On his last 50-meter shot, his precise shooting allowed him to nail the target … on the wrong lane. The error was costly, and instead of finishing first, he finished eighth. In doing so, he provided an important reminder to all of us – shooting at the wrong target will cause us to fall short.

The greatest skill in the world that is directed towards the wrong target will cause us to miss the mark. This is the same with strength, intellect, energy, enthusiasm, passion and time. The world invests a lot of all of those in its pursuits, but it ends up further away from the real target because of an aim that was off all along. It must not be so among Christians.

We are to seek God first. We are to live our lives for His glory. We are to love Him as our highest priority, and our neighbors as the next. These are the targets at which we are to focus our aim. While we will not always hit the bullseye, our misses that stem from a proper aim will be moving us and our society in the right direction towards the target and not away from it.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO ADJUST THE AIM OF OUR LIVES TO BE FULLY ALIGNED WITH GOD’S DIRECTION. A skillful aim at anything else will cause us to miss the target.

Credit: USA Shooting

The Folly of Our Confidence

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 28:25-26 “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walked wisely, he shall be delivered.”

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Romans 1:22 “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

In a recent poll reported by the Washington Post, respondents were asked the following question: “How confident are you that you could safely land a passenger airplane in an emergency situation, relying only on the assistance of air traffic control?” Nearly 1 in 3 Americans reported a very confident or a somewhat confident YES (46% of men and 20% of women, an interesting gender difference).

An aviation expert interviewed for the article said the following: “There is a zero percent chance of someone pulling that off. Do people think they can perform transplant surgery? No. Then why do they think they can land a plane?”

The survey responses are partly due to a social and cognitive phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It is explained in a 1999 academic publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” It is a classic! The authors, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, statistically and methodically demonstrate that people with the lowest competence or skill in a particular area have the worst ability in judging their own competence or their own skill and often massively inflate their perceptions of both. On the flip side, those with the highest competence or skill in a particular area tend to substantially underestimate their own competence or skill.

These findings should blast warning signals to all of us. If we think we are skilled or competent, then buyer beware, we may actually be unskilled and incompetent. If we think we are lacking, then we are less likely to actually be so.

This applies to all elements of our lives and to every aspect of society. It applies to our activities in service to the Lord and it certainly applies to our faith. The more we trust in our own skill and competence, the less likely it is that we will be able to impactfully display skill and competence. In cases of pride-fueled self-confidence, we will fall, we will fail, and we will be characterized as fools.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO HUMBLY TRUST IN THE LORD WITH OUR LIVES, IN OUR ACTIVITIES, AND FOR OUR INFLUENCE. We must not trust in ourselves, but instead fully trust in the LORD our God. It is folly to have faith in our confidence.

A Real Transformational Movement

Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Exodus 18:21 “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens”

During my recent time in Asia, I was hugely blessed to learn about a program now called My Brother’s Keeper. I had the opportunity to speak to senior audiences of members of the Philippines National Police (PNP) as a part of this program that has been carefully designed to prompt national transformation and renewal through intentional elevation of Biblical Christianity.

This program of transformation began as a secular endeavor, to promote integrity, accountability, and a bond between the police and their communities. Yet, after years of marginal gains and a spirit of stagnation, leaders like Cesar Hawthorne Binag infused a spiritual component into the program and it came alive. As Binag rose through the ranks, eventually retiring as a Police Lieutenant General, he fostered the Christian focus of this program and it birthed My Brother’s Keeper (Binag also wrote a great devotional: “44 Days of Faith and Valor”). It now has the lofty mission of creating “a transformation movement for righteous leadership in all sectors of the government and the community, whose goal is to have a God-centered service-oriented, and family-based life.” It is officially supported and sanctioned by the Filipino government as it merges elements of the police, the community, and the local church. This triad demonstrates the importance of a multitude of counselors and the criticality of wearing of the whole armor of God.

There is an important lesson here for all of us. Secular programs of transformation are largely shallow, unsustainable, and ineffective. Corporations throw around the core values of excellence, integrity, and selfless service – three of the four of the characteristics that Jethro recommends Moses use to select his subordinate leaders. But without the fourth characteristic – fearing God – the rest ring hollow. That is the truth learned through trial-and-error by the PNP.  Real transformation starts from looking upwards and inward, and it begins from the inside out.

PLEASE PRAY FOR CHRISTIANITY TO BE ELEVATED IN OUR SOCIETY AS THE KEY COMPONENT OF A MUCH-NEEDED TRANSFORMATION. America needs a real transformational movement!

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