This Memorial Day, my heart and mind have been on the sanctity of life and preciousness of self-sacrifice.
When I was a student and cadet at the University of North Georgia, there was a Memorial Wall with the names of former students who died in combat. When I arrived, there was only one name on the wall for Post-9/11 combat deaths, added just months before. Six names were added while I was there and another has been added since. Even then, I was the same age as some of my fellow students and cadets who died. Now, pushing 20 years later, I've lived longer than most of them.
I was particularly touched by one death: MAJ Kevin Jenrette. He lived in the same small town we did, a town of only about 2,500. I remember joining the crowds of people to welcome his casket back home and being somberly reminded of the cost of freedom. We lived in the same town, went to the same school, and both were married and raising a family.
Since that summer day in 2009, I have been blessed with more children, experienced the many joys of life, enjoyed the freedom to pursue goals, educate and raise children as I see fit, worship, speak, and assemble freely, and so much more. I am now almost the same age he was when he was killed and now wear the same rank. With all that, I'm just feeling the weight of such sacrifice; the cost of having a life cut short in defense and protection of your neighbors. So many have been robbed of the days, months, and years of growing old and experiencing the beauty in the changing seasons of life. I owe them a great debt, and I am very grateful to serve them and serve with them.
Today, my prayer is that I can be a good steward of the freedoms God has blessed me with, and that my kids have an awareness of the high cost to protect the life they enjoy every day.
I wrote the following devotional for the C&MA 40 Days of Prayer Devotional to be published in January 2023. My passage was Ephesians 6. It asked for a short biography, a devotional thought, and a prayer.
BIO: Lead Pastor, Alliance Bible Church (Baytown, TX). CH (MAJ) in the USAR serving as chaplain for the 7th Psychological Operations Group (POG). Husband to Alanna since 2005. Father to 5 beautiful kids. Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Passionate about equipping God's people to mobilize and training present and future Kingdom leaders.
DEVOTIONAL: You must remember that each day God permits you life on this planet, you are engaged in spiritual warfare. This is not simply a descriptive statement (acknowledging a truth). For the Christian, this is a prescriptive statement (a truth you must act on).
When Paul talks about putting on the armor of God to the Ephesian Christians (Ephesians 6:10-18), he makes it clear that it is a necessary first step for every Christian. It is the armor of God that gives you the strength to stand firm (v. 11), fight against the mighty powers of darkness who rule this world (v. 12), and be fully prepared for what He is calling you to (v. 15).
Are you feeling spiritually exhausted? Defeated? Overwhelmed? Unprepared? Are you ready to retreat? Circle the wagons? Wave the white flag of surrender to the world around you? Is the enemy too great and your own strength too small?
Your Father promises you His strength and victory when you lay down your armor and weapons and take up His. Don't be fooled into thinking that acknowledging this truth is the same as acting on it. Paul's final encouragement in this passage is to "pray at all times and on every occasion".
Make it a point today to spend time with Him in prayer. Confess your dependence on Him. Don't stop praying until you are encircled with His peace. Meditate on Scripture. Consider His truth and righteousness. His armor brings the victory today. Put it on, Christian!
PRAYER: Father, you have called me to spiritual warfare today. Without You, I cannot win. If I fight this battle on my own, defeat is certain.
Fill me with Your peace today. Remind me of who You are. You are the God of truth. You are the God of righteousness. You are the God of salvation.
I confess my dependence on Your Holy Spirit. Replace my exhaustion with Your joy and my fear with Your boldness. Fill me with Your strength that I may stand firm and fight faithfully today.
Just a man trying to save his thoughts and correspondence