Memorial Day Meditation

The sacrifice of others should direct us back to the sacrifice of our Creator. A few years ago I came across this excellent letter from Navy Chaplain Barrett Craig to his home church of Clifton Baptist in Louisville:

On behalf of all of us who have gone from you to serve our country in the military, I thank you. I thank you for praying for us, encouraging us, loving us, worrying about us, writing us, and rejoicing with us when we return. Your influence on our lives for the sake of the gospel has directly impacted how we engage our fellow military members with the love of Jesus, from the desert to Afghanistan, to the shores of Camp Pendleton, to the region of Bahrain, to the island of Okinawa, and to the ends of the earth. Praise God. As those in uniform regularly surround me, holidays like Memorial Day become more meaningful. Today we consider and remember the men and women who have died in military service to secure the freedoms we so love and enjoy as United States citizens. Many of these deaths were of young men and women in their late teens and early twenties, never having tasted the fruit of their sacrifice. And what is even more sobering is considering the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and friends who have been impacted by the loss of these unknown warriors. Their loved ones, gone. Even this year, we have already lost 173 US military members in our War on Terror—6 just yesterday. So the ones we are memorializing today are not those in a distant past, but those who even now may be paying the ultimate sacrifice. As we remember today, many, I’m sure, are asking themselves why these deaths have to happen? Why war? Why did my buddy die in that firefight rather than me? Their questions are understandable. I hear these questions by the very men and women I serve. Their pain elicits tears, anger, and shouts of outrage—again, understandably so. “It’s not suppose to be this way,” they cry. Why then? Why war? Why these deaths? My answer to them is to weep with them. And to hug them and say I am so sorry. Then when the time is right, I gently explain to them how our world is broken. Our world is fractured at its foundation. And the brokenness is why there are wars. And wars exist because the world is full of rebels, not merely rebels against foreign governments and people they don’t like, but rebels primarily against a good and holy God. Like Satan, these rebels want to be number one. And so they hate and murder and vie for power—to be, well, if it were possible, in control of the universe. These rebels who wage war, then, fundamentally do it not to overpower the opponent, but to overpower God. I ask, how can this brokenness be undone? How can the fractured foundation be repaired? The how is in a Person. The question is better posed as Who can undue and repair this bloody mess? But, before answering the Whom, I gently ask these troubled souls to be honest with themselves. Something is not right within them, either. They struggle themselves with depression, intoxication, outbursts of anger, anxiety, pride, fear, lust, and regret. The brokenness is not only in the thick of war, but in their own hearts as well. The world needs mending, but so do they. So who can save us from this bloody mess? His name is Jesus and he is God’s Son. Jesus knows war. He left not the unstable boundaries of the U.S., but the impenetrable strongholds of heaven to face a million, a billion, enemies who hated him. All odds were against him, but he won—he conquered. He died. He rose again. His death ultimately undid the world’s brokenness and his death also provided a way to mend the brokenness of our own heart. We don’t ultimately see war and death done away with yet, but we will. Jesus resurrected after his death by crucifixion, and he ascended back to the impenetrable strongholds of heaven. We now await for his return to ultimately do away with this broken world and usher in a peaceful everlasting kingdom of unimaginable joy! So why doesn’t he just come now? Because, I say, he wants you to be apart of his kingdom when he comes. The mending you need in your own heart is required to be a citizen of heaven. And the problem with your heart is that you too are a rebel, a foe, against God, like me, like the rest of the world. Maybe you aren’t as rebellious as others, but we are all still rebels from one degree to another against God. And like a just nation, God does not tolerate rebels—even in the very slightest. The smallest act of rebellion has made us enemies. The punishment? Death. But the death Jesus died was a death to make us death-deserving rebels God’s friend. Jesus’ death fully paid the punishment, and God accepted his sacrifice. Jesus rose from the dead to prove his death works, that it can make us rebels friends with God. And we receive his friendship, his salvation, his heaven, not by negotiating peace and making promises of a changed life or being willing to go in the battle to die. We receive his friendship by laying down our weapons of hostility against Jesus and saying I, too, am a rebel against God and his kingdom and only Jesus can save me, forgive me, make me right before God, mend the world, and heal the utter hurt and brokenness of my soul. As I memorialize and remember those who have made the greatest sacrifice, along with their families, to secure the freedoms I enjoy, I am comforted to know God is not far removed from all of this—in fact, he is more intimately near than we probably know. God does know something about war. God does know something about sacrifice. God does know something about pain. Yet God does know and God does have the remedy—Jesus Christ. We genuinely have a hope-filled answer for those who pain this day. Praise God that we do! So let us thank and weep and remember and pray and reach out to our military members today with love and the glorious news of the God who saves and who will make all things new. Father, we come with heavy hearts for the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure the freedoms we enjoy here in America. In many ways, we live because of their deaths. We come with heavy hearts for the families of the fallen. What pain. What sadness. How we break for the great loss they feel. Be with them. Father, as this day directly focuses us on the brokenness of this world, we thank you there is a remedy. We thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice who secures the heavenly freedoms, eternal life, for those who trust him alone for their salvation. We ultimately live because of his death. God, be active in our military community today. Save. Mend. Heal. And love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hidden Miracles of the Natural World

Here is a fascinating look at the unseen workings of our world.

 

I’m not sure of the filmmaker’s view but it brought three immediate thoughts to mind:

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 ESV)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

 

May we consider these wonders with awe, humility and love.

 

 

1st Ever Glorious Ruin “Excellence in Design” Award

Leave it to Slurpee to draw me out of my blog slumber.

First, some history.  One of my fond memories of playing baseball my senior year of high school were the post practice slurpees.  There was a 7-11 across the street from our home field so I stopped pretty regularly, scraping together $1.08 for a large slurpee with tax.  Baseball followed by Hawaiian Snow Slurpee was a beautiful partnership.

Last week, my friend David Morgan recently returned from Orange County sporting an aluminum slurpee straw.  I saw it and was dazzled by the aesthetics and novelty.  I was resigned, however, to this being a purely West Coast cool type of thing that I would never get my hands on personally.  Until last night.  Sarah and I stopped to get gas after Breakthrough.  Upon realizing we stopped at a 7-11, slurpees were in order.  Sarah walked in to buy the cups of frosty goodness but as I pumped the gas she came back out of the store to announce “They have the metal straw!.”  Quickly, I decided the $.99 was worth the aforementioned novelty.  However, as I began using the straw I soon realized I had stumbled upon something far greater than mere aesthetics.

So I present this award to you, Metal Slurpee Straw Designer.  The reasons for your big win are outlined below:

  • Aesthetics – as mentioned above, this thing is attractive
  • Simplicity – When I was four years old I could extrude straws out of playdough.  This thing had to cost $.02 to make.  When you can solve such an important problem as slurpee sippage with something this simple, you deserve a hand.
  • Functionality/User Experience – This is what pushes the metal straw over the top.  When you slurp the slurpee thru the straw it frosts the straw so your entire slurpee experience occurs at optimal slurpee frigidness.  I’m not a good enough writer to explain how great it is.  But for those who know my amazing wife, you know that she doesn’t drink after people, especially using other people’s straws.  I, her husband, am included in “people,” except on very rare occasions when we’re stranded in the desert with broken hands and 1 cup between us.  Last night, as I raved about the metal straw experience, she voluntarily took a drink from my straw and was so blown away there was not a single comment or hesitation about the fact that my lips had used the straw previously.

In my research for this post I stumbled upon some others who are impressed by the aluminum straw.  They expressed some valid drawbacks to the straw but I find these negligible in comparison to the overall greatness of Metal Slurpee Straw.