Summer has arrived - three weeks early! The last several days have been about as hot as it gets in central Illinois, and as much as I don't dig the extreme heat, I'll take it over the ice and snow that defined much of late March and early April! Today - Memorial Day - is considered by many the unofficial beginning to summer. And yet, Memorial Day is SO MUCH more than that! Formerly known as Decoration Day, this annual holiday is not one we celebrate, but instead pay tribute and give honor to the men and women who have lost their lives serving our country, helping keep us the land of the FREE.
Many American Christians - my generation and younger especially - struggle with how to appropriately be thankful for the blessings of America without falling into the trap of worshipping our country or being deceived into thinking Christianity is only an American faith, or that God loves American Christians more than Christ Followers from other countries. I am absolutely proud to be an American - I will never apologize for that! But my greatest allegiance is to my Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ - I will never be ashamed of the Gospel! I would like to share a part of my sermon from yesterday - a quote from former President Abraham Lincoln from spring 1863 in the mid of our countries darkest hour:
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." Abraham Lincoln, March 30, 1863.
Several thoughts for American Christians inspired by this declaration from 155 years ago:
** May we never forget God and never stop thanking God for the blessings He has given us as a country, as a community, as families and as individuals - praise God from whom all blessings flow!
** May we never forget we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior - every single one of us. I NEED Jesus - and so do you.
** May we never apologize for being people of FAITH who live our lives striving to be the SALT of the earth and the LIGHT of the world.
Thank you to the men and women who died serving their country for over 200 years so we can enjoy freedom!
But thank you MOST of all to Jesus Christ - the perfect one - for dying a criminals death so I - and ANYONE else - can have FREEDOM from sin and the BLESSING of eternal life!
#1 - THIS Friday is the June Young at Heart gathering in the Family Life Center at 10:30am - CAMPOUT is the theme and Bob Phillips from Little Galilee will be sharing!
#2 - THIS Sunday at 3pm is Ben Dial's ministry ordination! PLEASE carve out an hour to come and support one of our own as he is "set apart" for Christian ministry!
#3 - NEXT Tuesday June 5 - area men's fellowship at Monticello at 6:30pm!
#4 - VBS starts two weeks from today! June 11-15!
#5 - Congregational Meetings for the purpose of voting on those nominated to serve as Elder - June 24.
On a personal note - three things:
First, just a reminder YOU are invited to attend our daughter Jordan's wedding to Jacob Vangen on Saturday June 9 at 2pm at the FCC Sanctuary! A dessert reception will follow in the Family Life Center until 4:15pm.
Second, this Wednesday May 30 is my 26th wedding anniversary - I'm so blessed to have journeyed through life with Marla for three decades and I would be lost without her! Love you Marla Taylor!
Finally, Saturday was truly an awesome day for our family, as my son Peyton Taylor won the state 1A championship in DIscus at EIU! Congrats also to Clinton High School jumper Austin Rauch - he won the 2A state title in high jump!
I'm so proud of Peyton (and Jordan too) and it was wonderful to see all of his hard work pay off this weekend! Next year Peyton will be a part of the track and field team at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and I cannot wait to see where this leads him! Great job PT! Love YOU!
Have a great week,