Monday, May 31, 2010

A Veteran Remembers Memorial Day


A Day set aside in our country in remembrance of all those who died on the battlefields over the past 240 years fighting for America’s freedom. For many: this is a day for Americans to reflect on the loss of family and friends who sacrificed their life on the battlefields around the world. For Others: It doesn’t mean anything more than a paid holiday from work.

I served 20 years in the Marine Corps including two tours in Vietnam. 1st Tour: One of the first Marine units to be sent to Vietnam in 1965. I was a young lieutenant who believed in our country and was totally committed to the allegiance of combat priority taught to Marine leaders: Mission first – Men in Unit second – our own life was last. That is: Country – Men – Self: in that order. Sounds similar to the greatest commandments of our Lord:

  • 1st: God is our primary focus on the battlefield of life;
  • 2nd: Prioritize others before ourselves.

2nd Tour: In 1969 I was the commander of a unit on the DMZ which was a highly volatile combat area. However, our government and country had shown that they no longer were supportive of our efforts in the war. A war that could have been easily won in a couple of years was dragged out by politicians and media which gave inspiration to a young hippie generation crying out, “Make love not war.” As I witnessed some of my men and close friends killed, my priorities changed:

  • 1st – Lives of men under my command;
  • 2nd - Myself;
  • 3rd - Assigned mission.
We were no longer serving our country, we were protecting ourselves. Today, the American church is full of pacifists saying, “Make love, not war!” When in truth, our Commander-in-Chief calls us to “Make war, because we love!” Jesus Christ is the Lord of Hosts: By the way, the true meaning of hosts in both Hebrew and Greek is “a gathering army organized for war.” Jesus Christ was the greatest and toughest warrior that ever walked this earth. He fought because of His deep love for us. Look at His Priorities:

  • 1st – His Father, our Lord;
  • 2nd – Us, His called-out ones;
  • 3rd - Himself.
Throughout the NT, He calls us time and again to the frontlines of the battlefield. He doesn’t tell us that we won’t be wounded or even killed, but He does tell us that He walks alongside us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and we will not be killed until our calling is complete. Until then a thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but harm will not touch you until your assigned mission is complete.

Picture this in your mind: The vast and beautiful memorial cemeteries in our country and western Europe where tens of thousands of soldiers have died fighting for our freedom which we enjoy today. I certainly am tearfully moved when I remember my men and also my friends who died on the battlefields of this world.

These are those who died for their country. Yet compare this to the following: The masses of graves now covered with weeds in places like China, Russia, Africa, and India (etc., etc.), where millions of soldiers have died for our Lord and with no visible memorial of remembrance. These are those who died for the Kingdom of God.

The former soldiers who fought and died for our country did not voluntarily lay done their lives. However, every one of the martyrs of Christ had the opportunity to walk away if they would only compromise their faith in Jesus. Yet, they were faithful unto death and so, they voluntarily laid down their lives following in the footsteps of their Commander-in-Chief whom they loved more than this world.

Doesn’t sound like the common church message, does it? Know this: the church gatherings are not the frontlines of the battlefield. They have an important part to play in this war, but it is in the rear of the lines. From a military perspective the organized church is:

  • A medical center for treating the wounded;
  • A place that provides memorial services for those that die. (By the way, a funeral service is a place of one of the fiercest battles on the frontlines because of the great opportunities to capture hearts for the kingdom.) Attack here: for the enemy is at his weakest in the midst of grieving hearts searching for answers;
  • A bootcamp training place meant to prepare for the frontlines of the battlefield;
  • Providing advanced training as soldiers mature and are promoted into positions of leadership.
The real frontlines of the battlefield are where Christians live out life - in your family, in your neighborhood, on the mission field, or for most, in the workplace. That is where we are individually called to the battle. This is where we can impact many people in the truth of the Lord. So many men are searching for truth, even though they won’t admit it, but they would never come to a church believing that it is too “wimpy” or too “effeminate” for them. However, your impact on the frontlines will depend upon the strength of your relationship with the Commander-in-Chief.

For our light to shine in life-changing brightness, we need to continually seek the oil for our lamps. As more and more oil is provided, the bigger the lamp and the brighter the light shines in the midst of a dark neighborhood or workplace. This oil is continually provided as we spend time alone with Him seeking the intelligence needed to minister on the frontlines. The toughest battle in the young Christian life is maintaining the discipline to spend quality time alone in fasting, praying, and studying His Word.

There certainly is nothing wrong with going to the movies and eating popcorn, or enjoying a beer with your friends on occasion. In fact, these can be important ways of deepening relationships with your co-workers, friends, and family members. However, these things cannot control the time in your life. Time alone with family is extremely important, but the quality time you set aside in your private area to be alone with the Lord will determine the power of your light on the battlefield of life. This is truly the calling of all who discern the times that are coming over this nation we live in.

Great chaos, hardships, and times of tremendous grief are shortly ahead and more and more soldiers are needed for a tough battlefield that will bring forth a great multitude of people that will give their lives over to the Lord — people who will be looking for men and women of great spiritual strength in the midst of tremendous tribulations. Jesus Christ, our Commander-in-Chief is calling for strong soldiers with lamps full of oil to follow His leadership on the toughest battlefield known to man.

Ask yourself; do you want to be among fellow soldiers who embrace the following words of our Lord:
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:11-14)
Warriors, we need to become like David when we are confronted with the giants of darkness. We fight without fear for ourselves. We fight for the salvation of others and for the glory of His wondrous Name Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45).

Warriors for Christ; our true Memorial Day set aside for remembrance is: The Day of Passover! “Christian warriors, it is time to fight, not run from the battle.”###

Written by Dr. Donald Bell

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