Thursday, May 24, 2018


I Was Just Thinking About – MEMORIAL DAYS.

As we approach another Memorial Day weekend, what does “Memorial” and “Remembrance” mean to you? Is it just a national observance or does it find its origin in Biblical settings? What purpose is there in the observance of Memorials whether it is a national (secular) observance or a Biblical instructional one? The observance nationally is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

In May 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke at Arlington National Cemetery and said: “Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.”

A hundred years earlier, Oliver Wendall Holmes, while in Keene, New Hampshire (May 1884), before John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic, said: “So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, It celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly…So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out…One may fall at the beginning of the charge…but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.”
The Biblical instruction of Memorials and Remembrance is significantly different. One Memorial and Remembrance is the observance of the Passover. One instructional purpose is stated in  Exodus 12:24-27, “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you, your children and your descendants.  When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you: 'What does this ceremony mean to you?'  then tell them: It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”

Another special time for Memorials and instructional purposes is recorded in Joshua 4:4-7, ”Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them: Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you: What do these stones mean?, tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

The higher purpose of a Memorial and Remembrance is recorded while Jesus was observing the Passover with His disciples,  in Matthew 26:26-28, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” Luke records the important phrase spoken by Jesus, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In First Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul specifies the true meaning of the Passover as it relates to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed…”

What does a Memorial Day mean to you? Will it be the Indianapolis 500 Race? Will it be a weekend at the beach? Will it be a time for travel or some other festive activity? What are the things you remember and memorialize in your life or with your children? Give it serious thought – and then – prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


I Was Just Thinking About – SIMPLICITY.

When you consider the world and culture, do you ever have thoughts or express your opinion regarding how complicated the politically correct culture has become? When you listen to sermons online, television or in a church worship service, do you ever opine how complicated and convoluted the sermon was? When you read religious answers to particular personal questions, do you ever feel that the point was either missed or deliberately avoided. One example to illustrate this point is the recent comment by Pope Francis regarding homosexuality: “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this, and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.” Can the Pope prove this Biblically? Has he ever read Romans 1:18-31? Has the inspired Word of God accurately recorded the words and acts of God? Can the Pope or any other human being have authority to change that which God has determined and declared?

Sadly, you will find many church groups and clergy pontificate and attempt to reinterpret the Word of God to meet the cultural demand of the day. There is little or no regard for God’s action regarding Sodom and Gomorrah. What should the Church of Jesus Christ be fixated upon and be found declaring. We need to identify with the words of Paul in First Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV), I appeal to you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment…Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. This same passage in the NLT states: “Has Christ been divided into factions? Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.”

The task of carrying out the commission of Jesus Christ is to simply state the Gospel so anyone from an infant to the most elderly, from the ignorant to the most astute intellectual and all will understand: “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so” (John 3:16). Will one encounter those who wish to raise question and create doubts in terms of God’s Word and His intent? Yes! I love the story about the man who scoffed about a woman reading her Bible. He asked her whether or not she believed everything in it. She replied: Yes, I do! He then asked if she believed that a man could be swallowed by a whale and still survive. She once again replied: Yes, I do! He persisted to ask how she could prove it. She replied: I’ll ask him when I go to heaven. He asked: What if he isn’t in heaven? She replied: Well, then: You can ask him!

We have gotten away from the simple things in life. Years ago, my wife would occasionally go to the store and buy a Simplicity Pattern that she would use to make clothes for our three daughters. While purchasing a pattern is still a possibility, fashions and the culture have dictated what is acceptable. This results in a simple pattern becoming much more complex.

Communication in the public square and religious forums has also departed from the simple to the complex. The bottom-line message of the Church to the culture must be in the statement of the Gospel in Ephesians 2:4-10 (NLT), “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)…God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Is this what you believe? Is this what you share with the many “whosevers” with whom you have contact? Keep it simple!

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I Was Just Thinking About – SAYING GOODBYE.

I read these words in a devotional today: “Who hasn't struggled with demoralizing seasons of dark sadness? Everyone suffers from grief and sorrow from time to time.” The words of a romantic song include: 
How do I say goodbye to what we had? 
The good times that made us laugh, 
outweighed the bad…
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. 
And I'll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain. 
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Today, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., people will gather at a Funeral Home in Oklahoma City to view and say goodbye to Keaton Barron (my Great Grandson), as well as to offer condolences to his parents – Luke and Holly Barron, his brothers – Reid (age 4)and Holden (age 1),  and other family members. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be the Funeral Service at 10:00 a.m. and the Internment – “It’s so hard to say goodbye!”

Over the years, I have conducted, as well as attended, many funeral services. For the Biblical Christian, saying “Goodbye” to a family member or friend is temporary. The Hymn-writer Sanford F. Bennet (1868) expressed in the words about heaven: “In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.” Embracing this truth results in comfort and peace that diminishes grief and sorrow.

In First Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT), the Apostle Paul reminded the Biblical Christian and Church: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”

While one can identify with those who are sorrowing, especially when a young child has died, the role of the Biblical Christian is more than commiseration. It is the obligatory ministry of encouragement. Many passages come to mind, such as John 14:1-3 where Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them to return to heaven where He would  prepare a special place for each of them. Those who depart to go to that prepared place will be free from the pain and anguish of all maladies. The heart-broken will be overflowing with joy. The sorrowing will be filled with comfort and peace. David found refuge in the words he wrote, Psalm 30:5 (NLT), “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

The bumps and bruises of life can be painful. Death and dying can be a weight in one’s mind and spirit. The uncertainties of life and financial pressures can be overwhelming. Just a couple of reminders from the lips of Jesus to His followers: Peace I leave with you, not as the world offers,  but I have overcome the world and all of its inadequacies (John 14 and 16). Jesus also said: Abide in Me…My joy will be complete in you (John 15). Many times He reminded His disciples: Remember my all-sufficient grace for you and never relinquish your faith and confidence in me.

It is so hard to say goodbye. But look at it from heaven’s perspective as He says to the one who has died in Him: Welcome! Your special place is prepared and ready! I’ve been waiting for you! You are now complete in me. Come in and fellowship with me in my forever place I prepared for you.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.