Gettysburg Address

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

July 4, 2011, the United States is faced once again with events that threaten to destroy our great nation. The national debt is out of control, foreign countries own this debt, both threaten to undermine the very freedom we have fought to preserve since our inception. I am saddened that while our elected officials bicker and politic, the freedom that has been purchased with American blood is forgotten and dishonored. Only with God, “under God”, can we bring America back to what it once was. This issue is an issue of the heart, a spiritual civil war. One that can only be won through the saving and changing power of Jesus Christ.

I wish everyone a happy 4th of July! Enjoy that which has been purchased with a price.

Given Over

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Read an interesting article this morning in the New York Times. The article, which talks about a prominent gay writer turning away from homosexuality, can be found here. The article reminded me of two things:

1. Romans 1:18-32 (NIV) –

 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (bolded emphasis added)

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

2. The article reminded me of the moment in my life where I decided to take God’s path and not my own. Let me explain:

Sin = Death

Though there have been many instances in my life where I have felt God talking to me (never audibly), the night I decided to turn away from my sin is one of the greatest. There I was, alone in the car, wrapped in guilt over the sin I was slowly sinking in. I knew that I had been doing was wrong. Over the course of the years I had dealt with this sin, I always remember Him telling me, “you don’t have to do this.” That night, God showed me two paths:

  • The first path was a continuation of me living out the sin I was in. Ultimately ending in my destruction and death.
  • The second path was what God had in store for my life. It was my now-wife and our life together pursuing God. “This is what I have for you…”

I knew that I was at a junction point, I needed to make a decision. I could continue down the path I was on, indulging my flesh, and end up dead; or I could choose God’s path and accept the good things He had planned for my life. Why would someone choose death over life? Seemed like a no-brainer to me. So I aligned myself with God once more and walked away from the sin I was in.

Walking away from sin is never an easy task. Memories still exist… I have learned to call upon Christ in times of weakness, to walk Him through the memories and ask Him to be Lord over them. Alone I cannot overcome…but with Him anything is possible.

To the gentleman in the article that has walked away from his sin of homosexuality, I wish him the best. I hope and pray that God will use him to speak both love and truth to those that have been blinded and lied to. Just because culture says that something is “normal” doesn’t mean it is. Trying to make the issue of gender identity into something equal to the Civil Rights movement doesn’t disguise sin either.

Alleluia

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Two weeks ago, my church hosted the California Baptist University Choir and Orchestra. While not normally my type of music, I found the choir and orchestra to be absolutely beautiful! One of the songs they sang, Alleluia, has been stuck in my head since then. The chorus for the song is incredible! Almost haunting in a way… This morning I woke up with the song in my head…so I hunted it down on the youtubes. Enjoy!

Memories of My Grandmother

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I’m not sure what to write about today. My mind has been an accelerated mess since the death of my Grandma last week. Her death has affected me more than I could have imagined. The funeral is this Saturday…I have been debating on whether to write something or just speak at her funeral. I have concluded that I am going to talk about her. Her life, my memories of her, and about her faith in Jesus Christ.

My Grandma was an only child. I have recently read that children who grow up without siblings are like super firstborns. I would say that this was true of my Grandmother. Not only did she cook, clean the house, and take care of my Grandpa, she also made time to spend with her grandchildren. Now, I’m not going to get all sentimental and say that she spent tons of time with us. But I do remember going on dates with her every few months. She loved doing this. I remember her saying that she had to save up her allowance money in order for her to take me out. Burgers, fries, and a drink and Grandma was happy. Funny memory: Grandma chewing on a Big Mac, with her mouth open. 🙂

My memories of her, at least at this time, are highly polluted by the years she declined with Alzheimer’s. What I do remember though was a woman who was interested in both local and national news. She could carry on an intelligent conversation on just about any topic. More importantly though, my Grandma loved history. This is something that she imparted on me. I wish that I could have told her that I obtained a degree in History. She would have been proud.

In elementary school, I remember having trouble with schoolwork, specifically reading. Now, I wouldn’t work well with my Mom, so my Grandma came over and helped me. I remember loving this extra time spent with her.

My Grandma was also a woman who valued her freedom. She would wait all day, until my Grandpa got home, to get her hands on their pickup truck. This was generally when she would go shopping or come and pick me/ one of my siblings up.

Standing next to her at the Christmas Eve service, my family went to every year, I remember listening to her sing. I have been told that at one time she had sang in a church choir. She told me that she had loved doing this. She had a pretty voice.

I wish I could remember more. What I do know though is that I loved her. Grandma Hall was special to me. I felt like she took the time to actually engage me/ get to know me. She accepted me for me.

The best part about my Grandma dying is that she is now in Heaven. She is no longer a prisoner trapped within her own body. I know that my Grandma is in Heaven due to her belief in Jesus Christ. She knew that the most important decision a human has to make in this world is whether or not he will accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Those that choose to receive eternal life need only realize that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (John 3:23). Due to falling short, the wages of our sin is death (John 6:23). But God provides a way out, through His only son He sent to die for the world, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). All a person has to do is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is by grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I love you Grandma. See you soon!

Victory in Death

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“Stories of people who died after living godly lives are stories with happy endings.” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love

I recently had the privilege of attending my wife’s grandfather’s funeral. As words were said about him, I couldn’t help but feel convicted over where I am in my own spiritual walk and life. Her grandfather was a man of:

  • Prayer
  • Conviction
  • and Dedication

Married for over 66 years, my wife’s grandfather was a fantastic example (while still humanly flawed) of how a Christian should live his life.

Death, that thing that we shove into a corner for a rainy day, awaits us all one day. It is something that could happen to anyone of us, even in this very moment. If your like me, you don’t think that this is true. You somehow feel invincible. Guess what? Your not.

Of this we can all be certain:

  • One day we will all die.
  • On that day we will be judged.

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, – Hebrews 9:27

Even now, you might find yourself wanting to continue to push this topic aside. “It’s too morbid,” you might say. Making a decision to accept Christ, by simply believing in Him, is the difference between living a life of victory (in Christ!) versus one that ends in defeat.