Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memorial Day Part Two!

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5th 1868 by General John Logan. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873 and is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The dictionary says this about the term memorial. It is something designed to preserve the memory of a person. It is Intended to commemorate someone or something such as a memorial service in the dead man's honor. And one of the synonyms for the concept is remembrance.

Those who have sacrificed themselves for the freedoms we now enjoy in America are indeed heroes. They gave their best and forfeited all of the things we sometimes take for granted. And one day certainly does not seem near enough to honor them properly.

But there is another solitary sacrifice that brought about far greater results and occurred on just one day in history. This one impacted both the physical and spiritual realms. That, of course is the voluntary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through the giving up of His own life, He procured the  forgiveness of sin for mankind and made redemption possible for all who would trust and believe.

And although this eternity altering act  would seem unforgettable to say the least, sometimes even those who have been saved do tend to forget. And that is why we find that all true believers are to observe a periodic and symbolic memorial celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance.

It is found in 1Corinthians 11:23-26 and is typically called communion or The Lord’s Super. There we read the words of the Apostle Paul as he related the Lord's own directive to His people.

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,  Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”

Millions of us today able to pursue our goals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is because of what so many others have done, for so long, to keep us free from tyranny and bondage. But only those who fully understand these two special elements can, and should, participate  in Christ’s special table. In doing so, we are reminded of our priceless eternal liberty and made thankful for the  transforming truth written in John 8:36. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mothers: A Special Kind of Love

Every second Sunday in May brings a very special holiday. It is none other than Mother’s Day. The official  holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis conceived of an official day for honoring the immense sacrifices mothers typically make for their children.

She began by receiving financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker. She then organized the first Mother’s Day celebration in May of 1908. It was held at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, and by 1912 many states, towns and other organizations had adopted the annual holiday. Jarvis continued promoting her work and in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

This year, an estimated $4.2 billion will be spent on Mother’s Day jewelry gifts:
$4.1 billion for special outings, and $2.4 billion on flowers. The total sum for all related activities will come in at about $21 billion in America alone. There will also be some 122.5 million phone calls made, more than any other Sunday throughout the entire year.

Many interesting facts surround this special holiday. But one in particular really seemed to sum up why moms are more than worthy to be honored in this way. According to, the annual salary you would have had to pay someone in 2015 to perform the tasks many mothers do at home would be approximately $62, 985 per year. And in my estimation and experience, that figure may well be a bargain!

But mothers were uniquely gifted by God for their roles in the family. Their impact on impressionable young children cannot be overstated. It is typically the moms that display an unconditional form of love no matter what problems and failures their precious children happen to be involved in. And this kind of love is a solid reminder of God’s perfect unconditional love for those he created but who all rebelled against Him. In Romans 3:23, we read that all have willfully sinned and turned their backs on their Creator. Verse 12 declares that not even one has ever really sought after God. And yet God’s response is spelled out in Romans 5:8. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Scripture confirms that it is crucial  for children to respect their parents. Ephesians 6:2-3 says, "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." And in the wisdom book of Proverbs, we find these words. “Honor your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice." (Proverbs 23:25)

To have a mother who is there when you are growing up is a wonderful thing. To have a mom that loves, guides and protects is a something of immeasurable value. But to have a mother who is all of that plus a committed believer in Jesus Christ and a role model of faith and sacrifice is a blessing beyond words.

If humanly possible, make sure to honor your mother on this holiday. Make sure you thank her for the sacrifices she made and the unconditional love she no doubt gave you on many occasions. And if there are some who may not have or have had the best relationship with their moms, for whatever reason, why not pray about that? Ask God for wisdom. His Spirit can guide, comfort and fully heal any wound. And perhaps some small initial effort of communication will lead to a big miracle of reconciliation. God is fully able to repair or restore any gaps or regrets, and He can bring His peace to any relationship no matter what the situation is or has been. Why not ask God to do right now what only He can do right now? There is everything to gain!

"She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed."
(Proverbs 31:27-28)

 Bill Breckenridge