Tag Archives: Bible

Loyalty Unhinged

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“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Written by Swagga4Christ Biblical Writer, Stephen A. Peterson © 2013

David O’Connor was a really good person and soldier.  A student at Father Scecina Memorial High School and later as a medic in the United States Army, he saw his work as service to his country for the greater good of humanity, and especially to the more than 200 men and women of his military unit.  David was fully committed to service at all costs and was willing to give his life in service to his country.  Evidence of David O’Connor’s commitment was observed on his desk.  He had, in a picture frame, a picture of the crucified Christ and to the right side these words:  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Christ’s words were not merely words to Sergeant David O’Connor.  They expressed his commitment to his duty as an Army leader.  A commitment he knew he might someday demand the ultimate—his life.  That day did, in fact, occur in Vietnam.

As every Christian knows, Jesus submitted himself to his words shortly after He stated them.  Unlike any person who ever lived, Jesus knew exactly what He was to experience.  It is impossible for anyone then or today to fully grasp the totality of His agony and suffering.  In recent years, biological and medical scientists have been able to reconstruct physiological information with regards to His roughly 20 hours of relentless torture without sleep, food, water or relief.

As God, Jesus could have spared Himself of the suffering, humiliation, torture.  He was without sin and did not deserve to be brought to trial.  His death was the greatest example of human injustice ever recorded in the annals of humankind.  To this day, even some Christians cannot understand Jesus’ sacrifice and death.  They ask “why”.  They believe there had to be another less painful, less humiliating way to deal with humankind’s sins.  Others have referred to His death as “altruistic suicide”, “hari-kari”, or the result of Him having humiliated the government and religious leaders of His day.  But crucifixion?  Crucifixion was reserved for the most dangerous evildoers, treasonous, murderers of the Roman state as documented by the writers of that era.

A love (agape) humankind cannot understand drove Christ to His death on the cross.  It is only through humility, faith, trust in Him, and acceptance of our human imperfections do we come to even recognize His sacrifice.  Any other approach or explanation defies reason and logic in the human mind.

 

Easter Musings

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25

4525749Below is Some Easter Musings from Military Outreach Greater Chicago

Easter is a wonderful time for Christians as we reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It’s the miracle of all miracles and the basis of our Christian faith!  When thinking about Easter, we also think about Jesus’ final hours and words to those of us here on Earth.  Looking at Jesus’ words to his disciples before His ascension and the rest of Scripture, one can see similarities regarding how Christians are called to live here on earth and what our soldiers around the world are called to do on a daily basis to protect our country.  It is interesting to see the overlap and perhaps, no one is better prepared to understand what it means to be a Christian than one of our military men or women.

  1. Longing for Home – Christians recognize that this world is not our home.  We will never feel at home here on this earth and experience a sense of longing for the day when we will join our Savior in heaven.  Our men and women serving in the Armed Forces experience a sense of homesickness every day they are away from family, friends, and the familiar surroundings they leave behind to serve our nation.  They are foreigners in a land that is not their own and one they are unfamiliar with.  They long for home.
  2. Ambassadors to Those Around Them – Our military men and women often serve as the first faces many non-Americans see and as such often are the first impression that a foreigner has of who an American is.  Likewise, Christians are called to be ambassadors of Christ, serving as a sort of first example to the people around them of who Christ is and what it means and looks like to be a Christian.
  3. Facing Difficulties and Trials – Jesus never promised us that the Christian life was going to be a picnic. It was going to be tough and filled with suffering.  Our troops go through unimaginable suffering from both visible and invisible wounds they might carry for the rest of their lives.  Both overseas and at home, our troops face unique challenges that require physical and mental fortitude.
  4. Fighting An Unseen Enemy – The Bible tells us that our struggle as Christians is not against other humans, but against spiritual forces and Satan.  Similarly, our military members are often fighting unseen enemies.  Sometimes these are people who seem friendly but are really suicide bombers.  At other times, it is the emotional and physical forces that our military personnel must wrestle with.  Our military personnel must always be ready for the unpredictable.
  5. Prepared to Fight – The Bible calls us to put on the full armor of God which will protect us against the enemy.  We are to be prepared for battle and ready to give an answer to anyone who has questions about our faith.  Likewise, our soldiers have to be constantly vigilant and prepared for battle.  They need to be properly armed and equipped to face those that seek to destroy them.

As we reflect on Easter and all that Christ accomplished for us, we should be mindful of our military members who face similar and far harder situations on a day to day basis than most of us deal with here in the United States.  Have a wonderful Easter and remember, Christ has Risen!!

A Bit Of Faith Goes A Long Way

Do you ever think along the lines of “If I could just get that new job I would be able to buy a better house, car or whatever?”
This is human nature. There is nothing wrong with having ambitions to better ourselves.
Matthew 9:22 “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”
This woman knew what her “If I could only…” was. It was if she could only touch the cloak of Jesus she would be healed. Nothing fancy. Nothing grand. Just a knowledge that faith in Jesus Christ would make her well again.
Do you have a “If I could only…” in relation to Christ? Mine is “If I could only study the Bible better and more indepth then I would be in a better place to teach others so that God’s Kingdom would be furthered.
If you have not considered this then take a few moments to think how your service or worship would be better “if only I….”

Watch Me Work

Moses felt as low as a slug’s belly. Way down there. He still hadn’t rid himself of the idea that he was supposed to be the deliverer, and that he was somehow failing. How many times had God explained it to him? Yet, like many of us, he had trouble keeping a grip on the Lord’s assurances.
Exodus 6:11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.”
“Go to Pharaoh, Lord? My own people just bought me a one-way ticket caravan back to Midian, and You want me to go back to Pharaoh? R-r-r-e—m-m-m-em—ber m-m-me? I’m the guy who can’t t-t-t-talk. Shoot, I’d mess up a rock fight, Lord. I can’t get it together. I’m at the end of my rope. How in the world are You going to pull this off?”
Moses didn’t know it at the moment, but he’d put before the Lord the best proposition yet. I’m at the end of my rope. How are you going to do it?
Before we go any further, I’d like to underline a major truth in this world of ours that I don’t pretend to understand. Here it is: the best framework for the Lord God to do His most ideal work is when things are absolutely impossible and we feel totally unqualified to handle it. That’s His favorite circumstance. Those are His ideal working conditions.
In spite of the Lord’s assurances, things kept going from bad to worse for Moses. He’d already gotten the worst of it in a meeting with Pharaoh, and now, in a subsequent parley with the Israelites, he found himself fresh out of credibility. They would no longer listen to him.
Time after time, He brings us to our absolute end and then proves Himself faithful. That, my friend, is not only the story of my life, it’s the story of the Bible in a nutshell.

Prayer

2 Kings 19:14 “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.”
Here is one of the best pictures of prayer in the Bible. Hezekiah is king over Israel when the cruel and powerful Assyrian army marches against them. Rabshakeh, the army’s spokesman, sends a threatening letter and tells Hezekiah not to trust in his God for deliverance.
Here was an enormous temptation and a trial, all wrapped into one little scroll. There is the imminent danger of being razed to the ground by the Assyrian empire; then there is the verbal prompting not to trust in God for a rescue.
But how does Hezekiah deal with this letter? He receives it, he reads it…and then he takes it straight to the Lord and spreads it before Him. What a wonderful picture of prayer! It is the spreading of our problems, our temptations, our struggles before the Lord in the face of every temptation to do otherwise.
Are you today wrestling with a temptation to sin that is threatening to conquer you? Spread it before the Lord. Is your heart weighed down with some terrible worry, or sorrow, or pain? Spread it before the Lord. Have you felt the weight of your guilt before a holy God for the first time? Spread it before the Lord.
No one has ever come to the Lord and gone away disappointed. Hezekiah did not, and you will not.