Summary: A Sermon for Memorial Day. From the Heroe’s Series.
I can’t think of a better day to talk about Heroes…than on Memorial Day.
The US Military announced just yesterday, another 8 American casualties in Iraq…one of those was a 20 year old Marine from Spartanburg. I don’t care how you feel about the war, you cannot deny the bravery of those who go and give the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Those are our real heroes.
We had a little mishap on a job last week where a flag holder got broken on the front of someone’s house. The homeowner noticed it after we left and called me to get that taken care of. He said, “We’re going out of town for the week, but please make sure that my flag is flying for Memorial Day.”
It’s an important day…It’s not just a day off of work, it’s a day of thankfulness for those who paid the highest price for our freedom. Over 1 Million Men and Women have died for our country in the last 200 years.
ILL - Abraham Lincoln, as he peered across the battlefield called Gettysburg where so many had given their lives…his greatest fear was that he would be the last president of the United States. “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."
ILL - You’ve heard so much in the news lately about Pat Tillman, NFL standout turned Army Ranger…who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, and is the subject of one of the most embarrassing cover-ups in military history. The details surrounding his death don’t diminish the impact of his courage. As a matter of fact, when Tillman decided to enter the Army after September 11th, his words were, “I want to join the army. My great grandpa’s been overseas. Other people in my family have been in the military. And I haven’t done a damn thing. It’s time for me to do something for my country. I really believe that this is something I’m supposed to do.” The week after his death, The Vice President of the Cardinals in a news conference said, “In sports, we have a tendency to overuse terms like "courage," "bravery" and "heroes." Then someone special like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean."
I’ll be honest with you and say that I’ve been really looking forward to the long weekend…some much needed time off…and a couple of day to just “check out” from all the stresses of my job…but Saturday morning was somewhat of a spiritual experience for me as I stood on a ladder, repairing a flag holder for a guy who I realized loves our country much more than me.
•The Dictionary defines courage as: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”
•I think a lot about people like Anne Frank, who a Jewish girl who wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
•I think about the safety personnel who entered the World Trade Center with no thoughts of their own safety.
•I think of the university professor at Virginia Tech, a holocaust survivor, who put his own body in front of the door in order to protect his students…but lost his own life.
•But you don’t take classes on Bravery in school. You don’t just wake up one morning and of the sudden you are brave!
•Courage is born out of something deep inside of you. It is born out of Purpose.
•Purpose is having an understanding of your reason for existence.
•It’s like that Pat Tillman line, “I just know it’s something I’m supposed to do”
•The sub-title of “The Purpose-Driven Life” is “What on Earth am I here For?”. Everyone wants an answer to that question!
•But where do you find this sense of purpose that allows you to take a courageous stand for something valuable.
•It comes from FAITH…not necessarily a spiritual, Christ-centered faith like we teach here, but the belief that what you are standing for is REAL and worth Dying for.
•It’s been my privilege as a pastor to conduct funeral for several wartime veterans. It’s a somber experience listening to that 21 gun salute…and then the seeing the flag presented to a grieving widow with the words “From a grateful nation”
•IT’s a testimony for their bravery…but it’s a salute to their acknowledgement of their purpose, and their faith that what they are standing for is worth dying for.
WHAT ARE YOU STANDING FOR? What is is it that you are so passionate about that you would go anywhere you had to go, do anything you had to do, to accomplish the mission that is in your heart?