Two for One!!!

As I am sure you are aware of by now, Precious Reader, I have been an advocate for vaccination against Covid-19 from the start. I did, as I suggest all should do, my homework as to the safety of these vaccines and my research led me to trust the science behind them. I can honestly report that I had zero side-effects from either of the Modern shots I received.

Now, as more of the country begins to open up, it is time to step up and get vaccinated. Do it for yourself, for your loved ones and your community.

Now for the Two for One part of this post. This is Memorial Day Weekend here in the States. It is a time when we reflect and give thanks for the brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country.

Betsy and I have attempted to show our gratitude for these people, as well as those serving today, by performing the Star Spangled Banner at many locations over the past 20 years. Please click on the link below to hear our rendition. (The harmony line was written and performed by Betsy)

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Remember Jesus

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(image courtesy of plymouthlights.com)

It was heartening to see so many other bloggers taking time on this Memorial Day Weekend to share their heartfelt thoughts about the importance of remembering those who gave their life for the protection of our country. As I wrote yesterday, I join my heart with yours in expressing my deepest gratitude to them all.

The preacher in me would like to take this opportunity to remind us all, including me, to remember Jesus. He too gave his life; not for the service of any one country, but for all humanity. The sacrifice that Jesus made makes it possible for sinners just like me to be welcomed into sweet fellowship with Him. The salvation that God offers is entirely from Him. I/we can not earn, nor could we ever truly deserve it on own merit. Jesus, motivated by pure love, bore the punishment that each of our wayward lives should bear.

And if that were not enough, His resurrection from the dead that we celebrate each Easter seals the deal: Jesus has won the ultimate victory over death. Whereas the brave men and women we remember during this time each year gave their only life and died, Jesus, who also died, is alive!

If, Dear Reader, you have a relationship with our Living Lord, I rejoice with you; asking only that you call to mind frequently the price Jesus purchased you with.

However, if you’re reading this and Jesus is nothing more than a historical or maybe mythical figure, I simply ask you to seek Him out. The Bible promises that He is available always to anyone who calls out to Him. Search your heart and mind and consider if there is an emptiness there that you just can’t seem to fill. If there is, won’t you consider asking Jesus to fill that void. My own experience with this process proved that there was nothing He couldn’t or wouldn’t do to fill me to overflowing with His love. I assure you He can and will do the same for you!

Once you accept the Lord’s invitation to salvation, you will find that remembering Him  will bring great joy.

Blessings and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

Remember

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(image courtesy of peoplesdefender.com)

For many, Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer. While the weather is actually trending toward that season here in Central New York, this year feels unlike any other as we all deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. No pandemic, however, should ever affect our memories.

In the States we use this day to pay our respects to all the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for the protection of our freedom. May we as a nation never forget the cost they paid for us.

I was reminded the other day about Nathan Hale, an American spy captured by the British in the early stages of the Revolutionary War. Just before they placed the noose around his neck, Hale has been quoted as saying, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” I’m sure this was a sentiment that many felt in the ensuing years and through our various wars and conflicts as they gave up their lives in the service of our country. I hope you will join me as we honor them this weekend (and always).

Blessings,

Pastor Chuck

 

Memorial Day Every Day

 

Memorial Day weekend means many things to people here in the States.  For some, it is the ‘first weekend of Summer.’ Others look at it merely as a chance to get away from work and maybe outside for the first time in months (other than for shoveling snow). Thankfully, a great many will take the time to remember those who have fallen protecting the freedom we live in.  Parades and memorial services will be held throughout the land, helping people to remember that this freedom does not come without a great cost.

Personally, I came to this greater appreciation after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  Prior to that, I took for granted all that comes with living in America.  As an under grad I majored in history, with a concentration in the 20th century.  I learned many of the important dates and the activities of historical figures from that era, but I never felt personally the sacrifices that were made that gave me the basic freedoms I enjoyed every day.

The attacks of 9-11 awakened in me a passion for our country I had never felt before.  It was seeing the graphic destruction in my homeland and the suffering of so many innocents that prodded me from the national lethargy I was living in.  Though I do not always agree with, condone or understand what the political machine is doing here, the love I feel for my country and what it stands for is unwavering.

From that point onward, I have made it a point to thank each member of the military I meet, wherever that may be.  I extend this greeting to law enforcement as well.  It may be a handshake and ‘thank you for serving our country’ or simply a nod of the head to a passing patrol car, but it is one way I attempt to let these brave men and women know I appreciate their efforts and by extension, all those who have gone before them.  In this way I carry Memorial Day in my heart every day.

There are similarities in my coming to faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.  As a spoiled and carefree youth, God and the things of eternity could not have been farther from my mind.  From my late teenage years to the age of 31, the hell that is alcoholism kept me selfishly focused only on me and my perceived needs.  This Jesus, if he existed, certainly didn’t have any desire to be associated with a drunk like me (when I finally read the Gospels, I saw how wrong I had been!).

It was in the earliest stages of recovery that I realized that not only did He exist, but He also was giving me the opportunity to be free from the bondage I was under.  Since then and over these past 27 years, I have been blessed to know the eternal relationship has been restored with my Heavenly Father because of the atoning death Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins.  His resurrection to life gives me the assurance of security regarding my forever life with Him.

Much as I make it a point to let those serving our country know I appreciate their efforts, I also attempt to acknowledge what Jesus has done for me (and everyone) in all I do.  I have found the best way to do this is to follow the example of the Lord; listening to people’s concerns and extending my hand to help.

I was taught long ago that gratitude is an action word.  If it is so, then my simply giving lip-service about what Jesus has done doesn’t truly show my thankfulness for His sacrifice.  Every person I meet and interact with offers me the opportunity to in some way express the love that God has for them.  In so doing, I am remembering daily the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In closing, allow me to again say thank you this Memorial Day for all those who paid the ultimate price while preserving my freedom.  May your legacy never be forgotten or diminished.

And every day, may we remember that the Son of God not only died for the forgiveness of sins, but that He is alive still today!  His message of hope continues to go out.  May we who know His love remember always to express it back to Him as we model it to the world around us.

Remember

Like many who live in Northeastern America, I welcome Memorial Day Weekend as a hopeful sign that the long, cold winter is finally over and that some sunshine will replace the gray skies and cold temperatures.  I also, like so many, have made plans that involve gathering with family and friends for good food and plenty of laughter.  This is all well and good, but I share these thoughts today as a reminder that the ‘why’ of this weekend must never be forgotten and to bring our focus on the most unforgettable person in history, Jesus Christ.

To get us started, let me tell you that I am an avid reader of the history of the armed conflicts our country as been involved with from the Civil War to Vietnam.  The more I learn about these wars, the more engrossed I become with the personal struggles all these soldiers faced as death and destruction surrounded them.  Whether it was the men who made up the local regiments on both sides of the Civil War, the Doughboys of World War I, the GIs of the Second World War and Korea or the grunts who were in-country in Vietnam, the awful experience of battle is unfathomable to someone like me who has never been exposed to it in real life.

It is for all those who did not return home from these wars that we have this annual time of remembrance.  May their ultimate sacrifice never be forgotten by those of us who daily live in the precious freedom they fought and died for.  I take this time to also remind us all to pray for those men and women who are serving in our armed forces around the globe today.  May they also truly know that those of us at ‘home’ appreciate all that they are doing to preserve our way of life.

Having memorials and remembering those who have sacrificed their lives is not unique to this country however.  The Bible is full of instruction on this topic as well; with its focus being not only remembering but also on answering the invitation to eternal life by coming to personally know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this plainly in his second letter to his young apprentice Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too my obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:8, 10)

That Jesus was an historical figure is beyond debate.  Far too many non-canonical writings make mention of Him to dismiss Him as being merely a fictional figure, created by a small sect of religious zealots as some have claimed.  The debate through the ages of course has been was/is Jesus really who He said He was.  Is this son of a carpenter actually the Son of God?  Please don’t skim over this question, for how you answer it has eternal implications for you.  Why else would it be so important that we remember this one man, as Paul instructs his readers to do.

God saves people by calling them to Himself through grace.  Grace is defined as being His unmerited favor.  I/we cannot earn it and our past transgressions are proof that we also don’t deserve it.  God simply bestows it because He loves us and wants us back in right relationship with Him.

He has provided the only means necessary for this to happen; His Son Jesus Christ.  If you are reading this and you the know the Lord as your Savior, I rejoice with you.  Please make today and everyday one in which you remember His sacrifice; that He died on that cross to take away your sins.

But if you are reading these words and have not yet made a decision about Jesus, I merely ask that you consider the following on this Memorial Day Weekend: One man, who died nearly 2000 years ago, is still remembered and worshiped by millions of people.  Why is that? What is there about this Jesus that persists through the ages? Please take some time to ponder these things and if you feel something move within you, find a professing Christian that you know and tell them about what is going on in you.  They should be able to answer at least some of the questions that you will have.

Please feel free to contact me as well with your thoughts, comments or questions.  You can simply respond to this blog in the space provided, or you may email me directly at: pastorchuck38@gmail.com

I would love to hear from you!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone and may you remembrances include Jesus always!