There is a lot to love about the church I am currently serving, the biggest being just how amazing the students I’m working with are and a close second is how incredibly supportive the people in the church have been to what we are doing here. But another big reason I love this church is the fact that we have so many men and women who have valiantly served our country. I had the honor of preaching just before this past Veteran’s Day and it gave me the opportunity to address them and thank them for the freedom we have here in the United States. I have also had opportunities to talk to many veterans in our church and hear their stories of bravery and comradery as they served our country. There are some truly heroic people in our church, like real heroes and I am so honored to serve with them.
The church of Philippi, who Paul wrote to while under house arrest, was filled with retired soldiers. The church was located in Macedonia and was the first church Paul founded in Eastern Europe, you can actually read about it’s founding in Acts 16. It was a Roman colony and a leading city in the district. One of the great things about serving with former soldiers is that you have this amazing group of leaders who know how to get things done. However, these men and women also have learned how to follow and aren’t all about themselves. They have been a part of teams and understand that the many can accomplish more than the few. Learning how to be a good leader came instinctually for me, through trial and error I became what I think is someone able to lead capably. Learning to follow has always been harder for me especially when I didn’t always agree with how I or the organization I was part of was being led. I have been blessed with some amazing leaders in my life, but I would say I have also been blessed to serve under a few who were not as great. I say blessed because I learned from both kinds of leaders. How to do, and how not to do. Learning what worked and what didn’t work.
Just before Covid hit and shut so much down I was actually working with a few people in our church on how we could serve our veterans better and even become a church that loved and supported veterans well. We were formulating a great plan and getting ready to launch our first event with the purpose of providing a space for men and women who had served in the armed forces to gather and share and support one another. My father and grandfathers all served in the military and I may not have honored that part of their lives as much as I should have before they were gone. I want to make sure that every man and women who served our county and protected our freedom know that they are loved and supported. I want them to have space to hear about the love Jesus has for them from other men and women who have experienced what they experienced. I look forward to seeing this program get off the ground once we get back open again.
Finally, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge those who were not with us on Veteran’s Day because they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. In John 15:13 Jesus says:
13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
This is the truest statement I can imagine. Love is about sacrifice, and there are men and women who need to be remembered for sacrificing their lives for you and me even though we were complete strangers. And think about who is saying this, Jesus, our Lord and Savior who would not long after saying this would lay down His life for you and me. I hope I can, like Abraham in James 2:23, call myself a friend of God. If you know a veteran, thank them and if you know our Lord remember to thank Him too. Sacrifice is difficult and thanks is easy.