One of the fascinating things that just happened is the firestorm over the recent Gillette razor commercial that aired nationally, in anticipation of a possible Super Bowl ad. Did you see it or hear about it? The commercial was not just trying to sell Gillette razors to men, but was yet another attempt by our culture to not only define masculinity, but reject a toxic version of it. So it now appears that even a growing number of advertisers are joining the culture wars and trying to define what it is to be a real man or a real woman. And yet, in our increasingly genderless world, it is surprising that anyone has any idea of anything about male and female anymore. How could anyone define toxic masculity when many don't believe male and female even exist ? Today's politically correct ideology has created a scenario in which people are not even sure if they can mention a person's gender, lest someone is offended. This emerging gender identity chaos has simply become overwhelming and is destroying the entire fabric of our society and few are even willing to speak up about it.
If you really want to stir up an even greater controversy in our society, try assigning a gender to God. If you're not sure about that, just start using different gender labels for God in a group setting and see what reaction you will get. The moment you try something like that people can literally come unglued when God is referred to as a "He" or a "She". This battle over defining gender, at any level, has led our society to a moral and spiritual free fall. If we are honest, few in our society today have even the slightest idea of what a man or women is suppose to be anymore.
One of the greatest insights into the world's future right now is this growing battle about the supposed "danger" of being a nationalist. This issue has found its focus and epicenter in the presidency of Donald Trump, who openly describes himself as a "nationalist" and a person concerned about America's future. Many voices in the media and other areas of the progressive, political world have likened President Trumps labeling of himself as a "nationalist" tantamount to bringing back the dangerous nationalism of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, where German nationalism led to a world war. This deep concern about nationalism, as being hurtful to our world, was also picked up by French President Emmanuel Macron. In a recent address in France, President Macron warned that nationalism was a small minded view of the world and needed to be rejected for a broader view of things that considered everyone's needs from a global perspective.
So, it turns out that the great battle underway now is between people who use the word "nationalism" like President Trump is using it, versus the post-nationalists who see a need for a kinder and gentler globalism. In this globalist worldview, nation states need to be less focused on their interests and begin to work toward a broader coalition with one another to bring peace and justice for all. While some of us may be a little confused about this battle or didn't even know it was or is going on, all we have to do is look at the current government shutdown going on in America.
On the Eve of a New Year, as we look back on 2018, most of us realize how fast the year has gone. For some of us 2018 was a great year of blessings, while for others it had many challenges. For most of us 2018 was most likely a year of blessings and challenges. But as we head into a New Year, the most important thing for everyone to see and understand is how the Lord is working in our lives. No matter what happens in the New Year, the ability to see God at work in our lives is the one thing that will give us perspective about the ups and downs of life. If we know what God says about us as Christians we will better be able to weather the challenges we may face in the New Year.
Many Christians today lack Biblical perspective about their identity in Christ as Christians. They often fail to see what the Lord says about them, so they end up being left with unbiblical feelings, regret over their sins and circumstances they cannot understand. This lack of Biblical discernment about our lives in Christ can rob us of living out an amazing identity and life with the Lord. It can also leave us empty and discouraged at times and down in the dumps with the fallen world. If this has ever happened to you, you are not alone. Be encouraged friend because it happens to just about every Christian at one time or another in our lives and the Bible is full of examples from others that went through the exact same thing.
As Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, a good question might be, "What if anything does Christmas mean to us as we look to the future?" In other words, does Christmas have anything else to say to us other than Jesus' birth as our Savior? As we will see, the Christmas holiday offers us a unique glimpse into the future of our world that is largely missed or rarely discussed anywhere today.
Now every Christian believes Christmas was the beginning of the Lord Jesus Christ's life on earth. It was His birth that came as a result of the Holy Spirit's work in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:34-35). It is spoken of in the Apostle's Creed and believed by most Christians around the world. It also celebrates the union of God and man that met in the person of our Lord to bring about eternal fellowship and redemption through the cross, followed by the resurrection. And while most of orthodox Christianity will embrace these basics at Christmas, you won't hear much more about them with regards to the future.
No religious event in Western civilization has so affected the world as Christmas. This Christian tradition has been celebrated for about the last 1700 years or so in the Church and around the world. And while the birth of our Lord didn't start out as the tradition we call "Christmas," it did evolve over the centuries into the holiday we know on December 25. There is virtually nowhere on earth today that Christmas is not celebrated in some form or at least acknowledged as Jesus' birth. People may even be atheists, but they celebrate Christmas as a holiday to have a party, drink with friends or take a day off from work or school. So even though Christmas is a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is still enjoyed by people all around the world, whatever their beliefs, as a time of winter festivity, peace on earth and good will toward all.
Did you ever wonder how Christmas became so influential, especially in the West? The answer of course is that all of this is connected to the Lord's plans for world evangelism and fulfilling the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20. As a result, the public celebration of our Lord's birth is connected to areas that have been evangelized with the Christian Gospel. Those areas included Europe and Russia, along with the western hemisphere of North and South America. Christmas is now growing in other areas like China and Asia, along with Africa and the rest of the world. So, the spread of Christmas has directly following the Lord's plan of world evangelism.
Isn't it great to know that life isn't about politics and our daily battles in this life? As we move toward the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, it is wonderful to know that our life is really about knowing the Lord and having the privilege and pleasure of worshipping the Lord with all of our hearts and minds in spirit and in truth. That is the Lord's joyful call to everyone. With that in mind, this week's edition of the Carlson Report is about our life of worship and praise of the Lord. I hope you enjoy this article about worship and pass it along to somebody you love and care about today.
Are you breathing right now? If you are, then there is good news...you are still alive! As long as breath goes in and out of our lungs each moment, we are among the living. Our breath is a profound thing, because a lot of things have to go right in our bodies for it to happen at all. Breathing is largely an automatic thing we do without ever thinking about it. However, from time to time, each of us can control our breathing to decide to speed it up or slow it down. As an example, have you ever tried to see how long you could hold your breath? Most of us have done that at least once in our lives. But under normal circumstances, when our body needs oxygen, it gets us to breathe. The average person takes in about 23,040 breathes a day, more than anyone would ever guess. Bottom line: Breath is life and at the heart of some amazing insights to the Lord's purposes in our lives.
Well, the midterm election drama is over for now and the results confirm what everyone knows about our Nation. We are a deeply divided Nation, more than people know. It seems clear that our Nation is going to be in an ongoing political war for the foreseeable future. And while most of us are already weary of this division, the worst is yet to come. You see the real division in America has never been about Red States or Blue States, or the many issues that supposedly are dividing us from immigration and race to abortion. Those many issues are just symptoms of a much deeper topic that is rarely discussed today that is spiritual in nature.
You see the only issue that ever causes division in any family or nation is how to deal with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, if we were able "connect the dots" behind all our political battles they would all end up at Jesus' feet because He is the Lord and God of this world. In speaking about division in life our Lord said in Matthew 10:34-36,
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household.
As the political chaos continues to grow in our society as we head to the National mid-term elections, it is a good time for everyone to stop and gain some perspective about where we are right now. Surely not too many people in our society are having any "fun" with all the partisanship and rancor going on. Families are being divided. Friendships and even marriages are strained. Studies tell us that about 70% of Americans are "stressed" about the current state of affairs in our Nation. Some people have had enough and are just "tuning out" or "dropping out" altogether, with many not even bothering to vote at all for a variety of reasons.
We seem to be living in a time when it is virtually impossible to sort out the truth amidst the media storm of sound bites coming at us 24/7 from every direction. What is truth? Who can we trust? What should we do? Many people have no idea of how to vote in this election and on what basis. The issues seem so complex, and voter polls seem to change every 15 minutes showing a deeply confused electorate.
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday. It commemorates and celebrates the Reformation that was started by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517, when he posted the "Ninety-Five Theses" on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was deeply concerned about the collapse and corruption of Biblical doctrine by the professing Church. The Church had been selling salvation to the masses for centuries through something called "Indulgences," a practice in which a person paid to have their sins forgiven. It was a very lucrative practice and brought enormous amounts of money to the Church. Luther came to a place where he felt it was time to speak up about this and return the Church to a Biblical foundation of grace alone. Suffice it to say the Reformation changed Western Civilization as we know it. It was responsible for the founding of America by Christian pilgrims and the eventual birth of our Nation in 1776. Simply put, without the Reformation America would not exist.
The lessons of the Reformation are many, but like most things, they tend to be forgotten and lost over the last 500 years. That is true because human nature is the same and so people tend to make the same mistakes and history repeats itself. As a result, the American Church is in a crisis that is very similar to the condition of the Church in pre-Reformation Europe. And while many people may not see it, the Church has subtly started to sell and market salvation to their audience. The Church is being marketed to people today to find a new generation of "seekers". People are less likely to come to the Church today for salvation in Christ alone because they are not even sure what that is all about. The reason we know this is happening is because we are seeing a dramatic loss of basic, Christian doctrine about the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people are coming to the Church for their own fleshly reasons that are being reinforced by a Church world that is willing to cater to them. But when the Church isn't being built on the real Lord and what the Bible teaches about Him, the Church isn't the Church.
The midterm national elections are upon us in a few weeks. Some have called politics "a blood sport" and with all the drama and personal destruction going on, one might wonder what makes people want to run for office at all. Surely some want to help and serve others and make the world a better place. For some the motive may be more about pride or ego to make a name for one. But if we are honest, it seems clear in this hour that some of our leaders run for office to gain power and control over others. Sadly, for some, power appears to be a drug or narcotic that becomes as addictive as alcohol or cocaine. A few leaders just crave the "high" they get when they taste power in office and seem willing to do anything to get elected...literally anything.
Now deep down inside we all feel powerless at times. We live in a fallen world and there are times when we all would like to be in control and gain personal power. This attempt to gain personal power and control is humanity's way to deal with the need to replace the Lord and His power and control. After all, if we believed the Lord is the Lord, Almighty and in control of everything, we wouldn't go after power and control at all because it doesn't belong to us. However, since most people don't believe this truth they go after power and control anyway.
One of the goals of the Carlson Report is to get the Lord's people to do a little more thoughtful and critical thinking about the Lord and our lives in Him. It is easy to get lost in our sound-bite, shallow culture and miss the richness of life and the Lord. After all, aren't we all a bit tired of the mindlessness going on in our world today and sadly, sometimes even in the Church? A more thoughtful Church is a more powerful Church. That is true because we rarely act outside of our deepest thoughts and understandings of things. The truth is, we don't know what we don't know and we don't do what we don't think or know about. So, let's do some deeper thinking today about the Lord and allow Him to change our lives. A renewed mind is at the heart of every growing Christian disciple according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2.
The great philosopher and mathematician Renee Descartes once said, "I think therefore I am." Descartes was looking for a way to validate and better understand his existence. His ability to think led him to understand that the very nature of thought itself was the way to establish his being. In other words, when we think or perceive things we validate them and help to establish their real meaning and existence. So, this ability to think about anything, including ourselves, is a doorway into the meaning of our lives and a preeminent witness to the Lord.
Every poll today tells us that the vast majority of people believe in God or some sort of Deity...over 80% in America. However, the real problem we face today is that people seem to have little fear, awe or reverence of the Lord that deeply changes their behavior. Instead, our belief in God has often just come down to acknowledging God's existence, but not much more. This gap between belief in God and a healthy fear of the Lord that really shapes how we live is the spiritual crisis of the day.
Now this shift and change in how we live out our spiritual lives has been largely centered in the growing loss of a reverential fear and awe of the Lord. It is a change that has been growing for a generation or so. It has been created by a society that has been shaped by growing prosperity, incredible technology and rapidly changing moral standards. As these changes have transformed our Nation, the idea of an "old fashioned, moral God" than can judge our behavior and punish our sin has become less popular. This newer view of the Lord has even led some in the professing Church to give the Lord a "makeover" to attract more potential converts to a more user-friendly deity. The reverence and fear of the Lord has been replaced with what a church or ministry has to offer religious consumers. Any attempt to discuss God's holiness, judgments, our sin or moral accountability has fallen on hard times. And if a church ever mentions the existence of Hell and a final judgment, for many it is time to find a new church home.
If someone was to ask me if I believed that the devil exists and why, here is my answer. Firstly, the Bible does not hesitate to discuss the existence of the devil and the spiritual battles we face each day connected to that reality. How can anyone look at the Lord Jesus' public ministry and conclude otherwise? In numerous passages such as Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:21-28, Luke 8:26-39, John 8:39-44 our Lord was engaged in spiritual warfare with the demonic realm. That battle continues through our Lord's public ministry and consummates in Revelation 20:10 with the destruction of the demonic realm. So, the main reason I believe in the devil is because of what the Bible says.
However, the 2nd reason I believe that a devil exists is watching the history of the world and things that happen in life, especially this current hour. How else can you explain a world being overwhelmed with lies and accusations that are designed to destroy people's lives and gain power? Such a spirit is not entirely of this world. Discerning these issues is hard for people, including Christians. People don't like to mention such things because they are unsettling and unseemly. And yet, the battle underway in America today cannot be simply explained away with politics. There are clearly huge things going on today that point to the existence of the devil and a spiritual battle that is increasing in intensity as our Lord Jesus' return is drawing near.
The Bible tells us that there is never anything new under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And with that thought, we have reached a pivotal moment in American history that needs to be understood and discerned by everyone, whatever our political views as we face the future. This current moment in American history has already happened before, but few ever believed it would emerge in America. You see right now we are watching the slow but steady growth of sanctioned violence that is beginning to surround our political disagreements. It started small, but it is growing each day. Do you see it? If this trend continues to grow, and is left unchallenged, it will ultimately lead us to an America none of us recognizes.
This movement toward sanctioned political violence started small like these things always do. It mainly started when people started telling us that we just couldn't say certain things. It was called "Political Correctness" and people were told there were just things we shouldn't and/or couldn't say. People were told they couldn't say certain things about marriage, sexuality, the family, gender, history, science, Israel, police, immigration, patriotism.... the list goes on. Every topic is on this list, by the way. The reason these topics were "off limits" was because they made some people feel bad. Some even felt hurt or hated by some of this speech. As a result, a new term began to grow in America called "hate speech" and it seems to be gaining influence and power by the day. You see its influence and control in our media, on our college campuses, in our tech companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook and in public discourse. Most people used to turn to the 1st Amendment of our Constitution to protect our speech and differences of opinion, but more and more people seem to be intimidated by the growing cultural pressure to say nothing. Increasing numbers of Americas are afraid of speaking out at work or in their communities about anything. Many people now believe that if they speak out they may not only face public scorn but violence. That is true because for a vocal minority of Americans freedom of speech is never seen as a right that justifies "hate speech" on any level. Sadly, no one really seems to ever know what "hate speech" really is, but that is not even a discussion point for public discourse for those exact reasons. By eliminating needed healthy, public debate on issues, we have forced our society into a bunker of political correctness to hide...and the worst is yet to come.
One of the major, unseen battles going on today in our lives is the attempt to define the relationship between truth and feelings. This conflict is at the heart of the entire Biblical story of redemption, yet sadly it is rarely discussed today. So then, what is the relationship between truth and feelings and why is this issue so important to the Lord and His work in our lives?
For a long time, our society has been moving toward to a place where feelings define reality instead of the truth. In other words, if people feel something is right it must be right, even if it makes no sense or is hurtful and destructive. As an example, if people feel that 2+2=5 then that must be correct, and it becomes the new standard against which mathematics must be measured. The real message of a feelings-driven world is that truth doesn't exist outside of a person's subjective experience of reality. In such a world, facts never matter. Most of us have been in such a conversation with someone where the facts didn't matter, and the conversation ended up becoming an argument that went nowhere. Sadly, this exact issue is where our media, culture and society has been moving for years...and the worst is yet to come. When feelings take over and run the world you are headed for a disaster. That is true because reality eventually shows up at our door and it usually gets ugly! As an example, just imagine filing our taxes using 2+2=5 math. Sooner or later the IRS would audit us, and we might even end up in prison, as a result of our feelings about math and how we define truth.
Does anyone remember the "good old days?" I do. I remember growing up in a sheltered life in suburban Chicago. Life was good. We had fun summers that included swimming at the beach, camping trips, picnics with my family, fireworks on the 4th of July and a good public school where I played football and ran track. People knew Communism was wrong because communists didn't believe in God and we could sing Christmas carols at Christmas. People went to the same-sex locker rooms for PE (Physical Education) and boys never thought they were girls. No one ever talked about killing or impeaching the President in public and we had "In God We Trust" on our money. Men opened doors for women and kids went to the Principal's Office when they caused trouble instead of a lawyer. For some of us such things truly seem like another world today because it was, and I miss those days for myself, my children and America.
And while I miss the "good old days," I am not naïve enough to say that we didn't have problems back then. I was almost drafted during the Vietnam War and some of my friends were experimenting with drugs, so life was far from perfect. But these days it almost seems that we are seeing life move into a level of personal and societal chaos that is hard to explain. A good argument could be made that it is unlike anything seen in human history and it seems to grow more chaotic by the week. Honestly, who would believe some of the stuff going on today? I don't have the room in this brief article to cover the chaos. You all know what I am talking about. How much longer can we go on like this? Does this chaos have an endpoint, or do we just have to get used to it? These are but a few of the questions that everyone should be asking, but few seem to be anymore...even in church. Perhaps many feel there aren't any answers, or at least ones they can ask without offending someone in our politically correct world.
We are living in an incredible time. At the heart of the drama unfolding today is watching America fighting for its identity as a Nation. Every day there seems to be a new battle going on that is intent on dividing Americans and weakening our Nation on the world stage. Sadly, these battles seem to be largely coming from inside our Nation rather than from other nations. It is a spiritual and political war that has largely been created by the American media and progressive political leaders that is dividing the public against itself. This growing division has increasingly become more emotional, rancorous and mean-spirited by the day. As a result, our civil discourse seems to be at an all-time low. It is almost as if there is a new Civil War going on right before us.
Now this past week offers us an excellent example of this growing division at work. The current battle we are told is over the supposed outside influences of Russia on our Nation's democracy, elections and President Trump's decisions and judgment. These issues have gone on a couple of years now and the amount of time and energy they consume in our public discourse is just incredible. We seem to be hearing about this "Russian hacking" of America narrative 24/7, but does anybody really know what this is all about? Are there any answers that will help the average person make sense of things? As we turn to history, informed by the Bible, we will find that there are some clear answers to be found.
In the last few days there has been an avalanche of anger, protests and outrage in response to the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by President Trump. From the moment the announcement was made on Monday there were protests outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. and around the Nation. At the heart of these protests was the belief that the laws of America were going to be dramatically changed by the new Justice and that America would never be the same. Some of the fears and rhetoric about these legal possibilities have bordered on hysteria. Consider this reaction by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as representative of the fears and hyperbole going on right now,
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party.
At the heart of much of the fears about Judge Kavanaugh's appointment to the Court is the fear by some that abortion will be restricted or made illegal in the future, gay marriage and sexual freedoms might be challenged, needed healthcare would not be available and laws might be interpreted in ways that would "threaten" people's lives...by the millions. As a result, the coming battle to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court promises to be intense and downright nasty as our culture wars over the Constitution, law, truth, right and wrong continues to unfold.
What a blessing to live in America! Like most amazing gifts given to us by the Lord, it is always possible to take our freedoms and liberties for granted and lose them amidst an often-unseen battle going on around us. As we stop on this 4th of July, we have many reasons to rejoice in the current progress for liberty and freedom for the Nation going on. Recent, important decisions made by the Supreme Court have been very encouraging regarding the upholding of our Constitution and the cause of freedom. This constant battle for freedom has always been going on in every generation and was seen clearly by our Founding Fathers. Consider the following comments by some of the pillars of American liberty and freedom and their personal understanding of the great battle for freedom and liberty that is always underway.
John Adams- "You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it."
Patrick Henry- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Thomas Jefferson- "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Thomas Paine- "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."
Samuel Adams- "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
If there is one hidden storyline that has dominated our lives the last 20 years or so it would be the absolute love affair the world is having with technology. Everywhere we look today people are falling in love with phones, computers, the Internet and a variety of high tech "toys" that seem to keep people almost under a "spell." And while many of us in the USA seem to be under the "spell" of this exploding technology, there is one nation that is on the "cutting edge" of it all. That nation is Sweden. And so, in a dramatic news item that appeared this week was the report that thousands of Swedes are microchipping themselves voluntarily to make their lives easier and more "techier" for a variety of reasons. The reason why this story is worth considering is because socialistic Sweden, and other parts of Europe, tends to offer a prophetic glimpse into our future here in the USA.
As a pastor, I have had a big connection with Sweden over the years. My grandfather was born and raised in Sweden and I have had the privilege to pastor a church there on two occasions, so I know a little more about the Swedes than many. The Swedes are wonderful people, but their society has been at the far edge of socialism and technology for a long time. The Swedes pay a huge amount of their income in taxes to support the "socialist dream" of a just and fair society. In addition, because of their cooperative socialistic spirit they have experimented with technology on a much deeper level than we have seen here in the USA. Over the past few years that technology has moved them toward a cashless society, which is almost a reality now. So as these many changes have emerged it is not surprising that the Swedes are moving into personal microchip technology on a level few Americans could really dream about...yet. And while it is just starting to catch on in Sweden, there is little doubt that it will begin to grow dramatically in the near future.
The word "Nazi" strikes fear and horror into the minds of almost everyone. Many people remember hearing about or seeing pictures and newsreels of the horrors of the death camps, torture and murder of millions at the hands of Hitler and his supporters in Germany. For the Jewish people in Israel and around the world today, the Nazis still evoke a visceral reaction as they reflect on the over 6,000,000 of their fellow Jews that were murdered during World War II. For Simon Wiesenthal, pictured here, the word "Nazi" was not an abstract concept. Mr. Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Holocaust himself. He was incarcerated in several camps during the war until his liberation from the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp on May 5, 1945 by the Allies. Following his release, Mr. Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life, until his death in 2005, searching out Nazi war criminals trying to escape their past, so they could be brought to justice. His tireless work and desire to educate the public about the horror of the Nazi era is commemorated in the Simon Wiesenthal Center located in Los Angeles.
And while most of the Nazis that lived during World War II are dead or nearing the end of their life, it is very important for the world to remember and understand the conditions that allowed the Nazi regime to take control of Germany and much of Europe during the 1930's and 1940's. History tends to repeat itself, so with Mr. Wiesenthal as a witness to the past, all of us should work together to educate the world so such a thing is never allowed to happen again. That desire is embodied in two words you will sometime hear quoted when looking back on the Holocaust and this tragic period, "Never Again!" May that be so in America today by God's grace.
Do you ever find yourself thinking about Heaven? That theme must surely come to mind every time we attend a funeral or drive by a cemetery. However, for many of us the thought of Heaven may seem very far away today with the busyness of life and not even real at times. And yet, if we believe in the Lord and His Word, Heaven has to be a regular part of our thinking. The wonderful thought of going to be with the Lord and enjoying the wonders of Heaven is at the heart of everything the Christian Faith teaches. That thought was central to our Lord Jesus as He prepared to go to the Cross and shared these comforting words with his disciples in John 14:1-3,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
However, as wonderful as Heaven will be one day with our Lord, exactly how to get there is a topic on which few seem to agree, even in the Church. And while most people in the world today have some belief in an afterlife, there is little consensus on how to get there. You see we are now living in a global world, filled with multiculturalism. This great diversity of religious options and thoughts about God and a future Heaven have created a tremendous challenge to the Christian Faith and every true believer.
On this Memorial Day Weekend, we take a moment to stop and reflect on the immense sacrifices that have been made by countless men and women for our Nation and its freedoms. One of the phrases you will sometimes hear is that, "Freedom isn't free!" People realize that freedom is a very precious and fragile thing and that without constant vigilance and people willing to sacrifice for it, real freedom will be lost. The reason that is true is because we live in a fallen world in which there is a continual and constant attempt to subvert the Lord and the rule of law. As a result, there isn't a week that goes by when we don't hear about someone trying to overturn the rule of law, freedom and liberty and replace it with their control and manipulation. All you have to do is look at places today like Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Russia and Turkey where real freedom has been lost. This powerful truth was understood by the Founding Fathers of this Nation and by anyone who understands history and the power of sin to enslave people. Without the shedding of blood, none of us would be able to even read an article like this without the possible fear of jail and even death.
At the heart of Memorial Day is a surprising and shocking fact that almost none of us have ever met or known someone who died for our freedoms. I have never personally met a soldier who later died in combat. Most us never got to know the soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy or in Battle of the Bulge, or at the Tet Offensive or during Operation Desert Storm. Hundreds of thousands of people ended their young lives in the mud, in a ditch or laying on a hill far away in places virtually no one has ever visited or could even find on a map. For many of us those battles and places are totally unknown, much less the soldiers who died there and never came home. All one needs to do is take a tour of the American Military Cemeteries in Europe and around the world to realize that there were tens of thousands solders who paid the ultimate price that we knew nothing about. Perhaps that is the reason why it is easy to take Memorial Day for granted. For some it just doesn't seem personal or real. As a result, such incredible sacrifice is virtually unknown to most of the Nation this weekend.