Friday, November 11, 2011

Appreciation is More Than Saying Thanks .. Happy Veterans Day

Today we celebrate Veterans Day.  It is a day when we remember the sacrifice of those who volunteer to defend our nation.  Ultimately, it is God who preserves our freedom, but these brave men and women sacrifice much to defend our liberty.  This is not a date to debate our wars or politics but to honor those men and women because regardless of the legitimacy of a war or the morality of politics, these men and women joined the armed forces to defend our nation.  I truly believe that by and large these men and women in the military get into the military because they want to defend our way of life.  I truly believe that those in enlist in times of war, for the vast majority, do so because they believe the cause is national defense.  It is right that we take today to honor their sacrifice. 
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. John 15:13 NKJV
Every person in military service sacrifices something.  Many give the ultimate sacrifice and lose their lives in defense of our nation.  Many others are scarred physically, emotionally, or both.  Even those who make it home uninjured live with the memories of the horrors of war for the rest of their lives.  Even those who handle well the mental aspects of war, still give up many months or even years without their families.  It is not just those who fight who sacrifice, but the families they leave behind whether it be parents missing their children, friends missing their friends, wives missing their husbands, or children missing their fathers.  That is the reality of the sacrifice we honor today. 

I sometimes wonder is we truly appreciate what they do.  Sure many of us tie yellow ribbons on our trees, hang our flags, attend parades, and acknowledge it on Facebook and Twitter.  All of that is important, but it does not really show the right level of appreciation for all that they do. The right level of appreciation should be seen in living the freedoms they give their lives defending.  We just had an election last week and from what I heard about 30% of registered voters in my state of New Jersey took the time to vote.  I know all the excuses of it being an off-year and no "big" races on the ballot, but is that really an excuse?   I may disagree with President Obama on just about everything and while I think he was a terrible choice for president, the one good thing about his election was that people got excited about voting for him.  When was the last time you really got excited about voting?  Countless people have sacrificed everything to give us that right and yet for the most part we ignore it.  We do not get involved in politics in any way and even when we do vote, we are voting for a party we think we are supposed to stand for rather than a candidate we have really taken the time to get to know.  We are allowing the government to molest our women and children in the name of safety.  We are electing people who tax us out of just about half of all that we work to obtain.  We allow a system in place where we have to pay a feudal rent to our government for the right to live on the property we "own."  We live with and accept all the things that our veterans have fought and died to defend.  We know more about the status of the marriage of some Kardashian girl than we do of the people who lead our nation.  We follow more closely the paternity suit of one Justin Bieber than we do of the moral slide of our nation.  We care more about the sales on Veterans Day than we do about what it really means.  If we truly appreciated their sacrifice, we would be living in such a way to not make that sacrifice be in vain.

There is another sacrifice we also fail to properly appreciate and that is the sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Many live as though he merely died for us to go to heaven and live their lives how they want with their heaven ticket punched.  Many people think that the only freedom paid for with his sacrifice is the freedom from condemnation.  While Jesus did die so that we may live eternally and while his death has freed us from condemnation from our sins, it certainly does not stop there.  Jesus died so that we may experience life as God intended it.  Jesus died so that we might be free from our bondage to sin and not relish in it.  Jesus died so that we can be free to live the life that God has called us to and not to live after our former desires.  In other words, Jesus died to free us from our flesh so that we may live in Him and experience a life of spiritual abundance.  He died so that we are free to be who we truly are, who we were created to be.  His death is not just for eternal life, but to truly give us life even now.  Anything less than pursuing that life is not truly appreciating all that Jesus has done for you. 

So, on this day or any other day that you may read this, thank a veteran for his or her service and tell them about Jesus.  The greatest gift you can give the one who put his life for your freedom is to introduce him to the one who gave His life for his salvation.  One of the freedoms our military personnel fight for is our freedom of religion, express that freedom by sharing the hope that is in you.  Appreciate the freedoms the Lord allows us to have in this nation and live the freedom to live righteously for God given to you by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 
But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

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