Memorial Day Speech 29MAY2017

(Acknowledgement of introduction, distinguished guests, officers, Legion Members and Auxiliary, and others who are present)


Good morning and welcome.  I am grateful when I consider all the places you could be right now, with all that you have planned to do, and the fact that you could still be sleeping this morning, that you have chosen to be here at this place on this last Monday of May.


Today is Memorial Day, and I am deeply honored and feel greatly privileged to be here with you commemorating the sacrifices of those military men and women who have laid down their lives in service to this great nation.  Someone once said, “It is the duty of we who remain to make sure those who have fallen are remembered.”


They were devoted to this country, to secure our freedom.  They went off to war leaving home and loved ones behind.  They knew they might fall but they fought with strength and courage.  They served with honor and integrity.  Brave men and women gave their lives for the good of others.  They knew freedom is not free.  They died for you and they died for me.  Today we honor their sacrifice.


We live in a time when people are more focused on selfies than on sacrifice, but today you and I stand here in a place where the dead are laid to rest, to remember and to honor the ultimate sacrifice that was paid over there so we can live in freedom here.


General George S. Patton said, “It is wrong to only mourn the death of men like these.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”  Today, I thank God that such men and women did live and that there are still such men and women living, who even at this hour volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.


I would like to take a moment and acknowledge any of you among us who have lost loved ones in the line of duty to this country.  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed – no words of condolence can even begin to adequately console a survivor’s grief.  Those of you who have loved ones serving in any of our Armed Services today, I want you to know that our nation is grateful for their willingness to serve and I pray God would keep them safe and when their time in uniform is over, He would see them safely back home.


God safely brought me back home.  During my nearly 10 years of service in the Army, I spent 3 of those years forward deployed overseas.  I have never considered myself a hero, but I have been blessed to know and stand alongside some heroes.  On days like today, I find myself reflecting on those individuals who so bravely and instinctually risked life and limb in the face of grave danger.  And who did not come back home as I did.


The highest and most prestigious personal military decoration is the Medal of Honor.  It is only awarded to those military men and women who have distinguished themselves in extreme acts of bravery and valor in the combat theater.  From our own Civil War and to today’s Global War on Terrorism, there have been 3,515 Medals of Honor given to our Nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen.


More than 600 have been given posthumously.  They were given to loved ones in memory of and in recognition of their selfless sacrifice of their own life to save the lives of their comrades-in-arms.


I think it is fitting today, that we would recall and remember a few of them:


Individuals like Marine Corps Captain James Graham. Graham led a fierce assault on an enemy position in Vietnam in June of 1967 saving his platoon from annihilation, and though wounded himself, chose to stay beside a mortally wounded man while fellow Marines pulled back behind friendly lines. In his last radio transmission, Captain Graham reported he was under assault by a force of 25 enemy soldiers. He died protecting his fellow Marines.


Individuals like Army Sergeant Donn Porter who, facing intense mortar and artillery fire in Korea in September 1952, fixed his bayonet and engaged in close combat after his outpost was attacked by two hostile platoons. Though Sergeant Porter was killed by an artillery burst, his actions thwarted a surprise attack on the main line of resistance and forced the enemy to break engagement.


And individuals like Coast Guard signalman first class Douglas Munro who, during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines facing annihilation by enemy forces. Munro maneuvered himself to shield the Marines as they loaded onto boats, exposing himself to enemy fire and sustaining fatal wounds. Munro is the only member of the Coast Guard to have received the Medal of Honor.


These individuals and so many like them live on as some of the most courageous heroes in our history.  It is our responsibility to be sure they are never forgotten, and that their actions stay alive in our memories.


However, for most of us who served, we remember those, who even though they may not have received the nation’s highest honor, they nonetheless gave their lives while in uniform and many more were taken from us after as a result of injuries or illness contracted in service.


People like, Army Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson, a mother of three, who was killed in February 2005 in a vehicle accident in Iraq.


The first American service member killed in combat this year was Army Staff  Sgt. Mark R De Alencar, a 37-year-old Green Beret from Maryland, who came under fire in Afghanistan on April 8th.


Navy veteran Jack Crawford, who was serving aboard the USS Yorktown when it was sunk during the Battle of Midway in 1942, once remarked:


There aren’t many things you can take out of this world…but one thing you can take with you wherever you go, is the consciousness of a duty faithfully performed.”


Such is the way of all of who have served, where so often that ‘duty’ has required them to put their lives on the line.


All the men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation are – undeniably – HEROES.  When their country called, they answered.  Many volunteered and some were volun-told, but no matter how they found their way into the ranks of the military, each took it upon him or herself to serve faithfully and to their fullest.


This is especially commendable in a nation where so few among our citizens have donned the uniform and accepted the inherent risks.  And this alone makes them heroes worthy of remembering.


This is what this last Monday in May is all about – remembering!


As you leave here today, I hope you enjoy this unofficial start to summer, enjoy the cookouts, enjoy time with family and friends, but I would ask that you keep the fallen in your minds and keep their families in your hearts and prayers – for it is their immense collective sacrifices that have helped keep our country safe and free.


You see, freedom and safety are like oxygen, when we have it we don’t think about it.  However, when we don’t have it, it’s all we can think of.  The patriots remembered today across this country have provided that freedom and safety.


So, as we submit to the will of Him who made us, we pray together the words of Scripture: Lord, now let thy servants go in peace, Thy Word has been fulfilled.”


Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


May we who remain, never forget those who have fallen.


Thank you, may God bless you and keep you, may God bless American and may God bless our fallen Heroes.


CD&SAM Memorial Day

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Mothers Love Mother’s Day

I have never met a mother who did not love Mother’s Day. My mother loved being honored on Mother’s Day. My wife loves to be honored on Mother’s Day and I have loved honoring them both on Mother’s Day. From the jewelry store flyers, to the 1-800-FLOWERS ads, and Shari’s Berries commercials, we are reminded that mothers love being honored on Mother’s Day.

I like the cartoon that shows a mother standing in a family room that’s a total mess. She’s got a crying baby in her arms and another child is scribbling on the wall with a crayon. The dog is chasing the cat and knocking appliances off the counter. The dishes are undone stacked high in the sink.

Her husband, with a briefcase in hand has just walked in the front door and his eyes are bugging out at the chaotic scene. The exasperated mother barks, “You always ask me what I do all day long. Well, today I didn’t do it – and here it is!”

Mothers love Mother’s Day because it provides an opportunity for us as children and as husbands to say “thank you” for the tedious, little-notice tasks she does every day. This morning, we are going to honor our mothers here among our family of God at Ham Lane Church. If you have not already made plans to honor your mother and/or the mother of your children, then you need to get with it quick! Because mothers love to be honored and they deserve it!

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” (Proverbs 31:28-29 NIV)


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In my sermon today, I am taking the church through some of the “now” scriptures in the Bible.  The little word “now” is a very interesting word. The word means, “at the present moment of time; or without any further delay.” The Holy Spirit moved the writers and translators of the Bible to use that little word quite often. In fact, the word “now” is used over a thousand times in the Bible. In my lesson, we only cover a few of those Scriptures.  Below are a few for you to consider – these are what we as believers have NOW in Christ according to the Bible:

A Salvation that is nearer (Romans 13:11). Justification (Romans 5:9). Reconciliation (Romans 5:11; Colossians 1:22). No condemnation (Romans 6:22; 8:1). Light (Ephesians 5:8). Life (1 Thessalonians 3:8). The right to be called children of God (1 John 3:1-2). Mercy (1 Peter 2:10).

There are many many more.  Why not take some time NOW and read God’s Word to see what He would have you do NOW.

Do it now

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Of Angels & Jesus


Christmas is a time of year that within and outside of the church, we hear a little more about angels.  We read about them in the Christmas Scripture readings, such as Luke 2 when the angels appear to the shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem.  They are in the songs we sing and hear on the radio “Hark the Harold Angels Sing…”  They are placed atop of Christmas trees.  I am currently teaching a series of Bible classes on Wednesday nights on the topics of angles that I have entitled “Angels We Have Heard on High:  A Study of Angels.”  One of the things that fascinated me was how active angels were in the life of Christ as recorded in the gospels.

Angels are mentioned almost 300 times in both the Old and New Testament, but they are mentioned some 50 times just in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  They were very active in the ministry of  Jesus.  The Apostle Paul wrote this to the young preacher Timothy, “Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).  Here are a few instances from the Gospels of angels interaction in the life of Christ:

  1. They predicted His birth. In Luke 1:30-33 the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to announce to her that the Son she would have was to be named Jesus and that He was the Son of the Most High.
  2. They were present at the night of His birth. In Luke 2:13-14 there was an angel and a “multitude of the heavenly host” who announced to the shepherds in the field that Christ the Lord, our Savior was born and encouraged them to go see and worship.
  3. They warned Joseph that Herod had plans to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:19-20).
  4. After Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, the Scriptures say, “Angels came and began to minister to Him” (Matthew 4:11).
  5. An angel from heaven came to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and give Him strength on the night of His betrayal (Luke 22:43).
  6. More than twelve legions of angels stood ready to come to Jesus rescue at His arrest, had He but simply asked His Father to send them (Matthew 26:53).
  7. It was an angle of the Lord who rolled the stone from Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2).
  8. After His resurrection, angels announced that Jesus had been raised just as He said He would (Matthew 28:5-6).
  9. When Jesus ascended to His place at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, angels were present (Acts 1:10).
  10. Just as angels were involved in the first advent, announcing the coming of the Lord, they will be involved in the second advent, when Jesus comes again (Matthew 24:31).

The list above is not exhaustive and I have found other instances of angels’ involvement in the life of Christ through the Gospels besides these 10.  From His birth to His death and resurrection, angels played an important role in the ministry of Jesus.  Just as the Bible teaches that angels surround the throne of God in heaven and serve Him, they also surrounded Jesus and were active in attending to God’s only Son, God in the flesh, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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You’re Game Is Only Half Over

On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA. Picking up the loose ball, he lost his sense of direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line. One of his teammates ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team.

The strange play came in the first half. At half-time the UCLA players filed off the field and into the dressing room. As others sat down on the benches and the floor, Riegels put a blanket around his shoulders, sat down in a corner, and put his face in his hands.

A football coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime. That day Coach Price was qfootball-playersuiet. When the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.” The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him. Riegels didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.”

Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears. “Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the university’s reputation. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face that crowd out there.” Coach Price reached out, put his hand on Riegels’s shoulder, and said, “Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.”

Riegels finally did get up. He went onto the field, and the fans saw him play hard and play well. All of us have run a long way in the wrong direction at times. But remember, because of God’s mercy, the game is only half over.

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

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Why Go To Church?


I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”  Psalm 122:1 (KJV)

I had an undergraduate Bible Professor, for whom I had the utmost respect, who would always end his class by saying “Go to church on Sunday, it will do you good.” The reason we “go to church” is to seek to build and strengthen our relationship with God and others. Some may go to church to fulfill an obligation through some ritual, but that reduces going to church as merely an action without meaning. Church worship is all about an encounter with God and others that changes who we are. So, let me suggest to you… Go to church on this Sunday, it will do you good.


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Building A Biblical Worldview


 Sometimes it’s difficult to see God in our great country. The principles on which we were founded are no longer the principles by which we live. Slowly, our nation has forgotten where its freedom came from. As Election Day approaches this Tuesday, many of us are filled with indecision and insecurity. How do we make a choice when it’s so difficult to see the hand of God?

The Apostle Paul wrote these words of admonition to the young preacher, Timothy: ““I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NLT).  The truth is, there are times when we simply need to pray and trust in God. Because, even in the chaos, He is sovereign, He is holy, He is faithful and He is Lord.

This election season has taught has that we certainly live in a time of very diverse cultures, religions, and choices. What we believe affects how we act and how our lives are shaped over time. The good news is that God has provided a compass for us to follow as we navigate our way. This Sunday at Ham Lane Church, we are going to spend some time in the Word of God and see why, not only in this election year, but in all years of our time on this side of eternity, we must have a Biblical worldview.


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