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Ultimate Sacrifice, Memorial Day 06

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Military Combat for Dummies:

  • If the enemy is in range, so are you.
  • If your attack is going to well, you’re walking into an ambush.
  • Any ship can be a mine sweeper… once.
  • If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him.
  • Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around you.

Tough Love from Others

On Memorial Day, we champion and remember those who have risked their lives and especially those that have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. As I remembered the men and women that have given their lives for our freedoms, I was continually drawn to this passage:

John 15:12-14 (HCSB)  12 This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.

During World War II, an enemy submarine approached a fleet of ships in the North Atlantic. The captain of one vessel spotted the white mark of a torpedo coming directly at his ship. His transport was loaded with literally hundreds and hundreds of young soldiers on the way to the European front. He realized they would not have time to maneuver to avoid the torpedo. He grabbed the loudspeaker and cried out, “Boys, this is it!” Nearby, though, a little escorting destroyer also observed the torpedo. The captain ordered, “Full speed ahead.” His ship steamed into the path of the torpedo. The destroyer was blown up; it sank very quickly. Every man on it was lost. The captain of the troop transport ship sadly commented, “The skipper of that destroyer was my best friend.”[1]

* notice John 15:13

I refer to this as tough love, because it is not easy to lay down your life for another person. Jesus describes this as great love and there is no love greater… than to lay down your life for a friend.

·        How many have served in one of the branches of the armed forces?

·        How many parents have had (or currently have) children in the military?

·        Who has (or has had) family or close friends in the military (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, or dear friends)?

·        Remain standing if you have lost family or friends while they were in the service.

I included friends in that analogy for a reason. In the selected passage, friends are mentioned… not just family. If someone risked their life for their family… that would be commendable, but that is somewhat expected. Of course, I would risk my life for my wife, my children, sisters, parents and relatives, but how much greater is the love if someone lays down their life for a friend.

This Memorial Day, I would hope that we would realize the love that has been shown to us… the tough love… as we recollect the lives that have been given in order for us to have the freedoms we share today.

Tough Love for Others

I read an article the other day that stated men are not as active in the church these days because church has become too feminine (On Mission, Summer 2006: Pastors’ Edition). The church has emphasized the comforting and nurturing sides of God… which adventurous men (particularly young men) don’t want to be comforted and nurtured.

*** The pastor, deacon, and layman went deer hunting in the woods. They entered a clearing and there stood a 10 point buck. All three men shot at the deer and it fell dead. They began arguing about which of them was the one that shot the deer. As they argued a game warden showed up and told them that he would determine which of them shot the deer. After he examined the carcass of the animal, the game warden told them it was the pastor who shot the deer. “How can you tell that?” exclaimed the deacon and layman.

            It was the pastor because the bullet went in one ear and out the other.

Follow Me. Is a command from our Lord.

He told Matthew, “Follow Me”

He told Peter, “Follow Me”

Andrew, “Follow Me”

Philip, “Follow Me”

Jesus told each of them to follow Him and then He went to the cross. Each of them followed the Lord and according to church history, they suffered similar fates.

            That is tough love… Jesus gave His life for us and then tells us to give our lives for others. That is not for the whimpy and cowardly! That is for the tough ones that are willing to show tough love… “lay down your life for Me as I lay down My life for you.”

1 John 3:16 (HCSB)  16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 1958. “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” If our church is going to be strong and grow… we need some tough dogs that are willing to lay down their lives for others.

Until recently, self-serving cowardice has been a loathsome way to live. You will not get awards for saving your own skin… but these days, it has become more tolerable. Self preservation without regard for others is looked at as “expected,” but it is really called being a coward.

[1]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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