Memorial Day

May 24, 2012


Franklin Roosevelt, one week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor said, “Those who long enjoy such privileges that we enjoy forget in time that others have died to win them.” America is the greatest nation in the world. God has blessed us with great prosperity and protected us from much of the world chaos and violence. This weekend is a reminder that the freedom, prosperity, and peace we enjoy did not come without sacrifice.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on May 30th, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states, although the South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is in many ways a picture of what is good about our nation. Through the years many courageous soldiers have given their life for the good of others. They faced evil and oppression around the world and determined in their heart that they would sacrifice their life for the future of generations to come. “Thank you” seems inadequate. But, what seems appropriate for our generation today is to honor our fallen soldiers by being grateful for our freedom, respecting our flag, and rediscovering the value of hard work. America has a great heritage and on this Memorial Day weekend let’s celebrate by thanking God for those who sacrificed for us.

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

-Kelly Strong


Praying for Pastor Yousef

March 6, 2012

Praying for Pastor Yousef

Religious freedom is on trial. The Islamic Regime of Iran has given the execution orders for Pastor Yousef, a Christian. He has been in prison since 2009 being accused of apostasy. Pastor Yousef refused to recant Christianity and follow Islam. He was also “guilty” of not teaching his children the ways of Islam.  Today, I am not sure if Pastor Yousef is alive or if the execution has already taken place.

Pastor Yousef is married and has two children. His wife was given a life sentence for “lesser crimes.” The attention this case has received around the world is probably the only reason Pastor Yousef is still alive. Yet, when you look around our nation you see occupiers and protestors determined to get our government back on track. Certainly, change would be welcomed.  But, in the midst of all of our anger, protests, and occupying most remain silent about the great tragedy of Pastor Yousef. A real human being. A father. A husband. A Pastor. The case of Pastor Yousef will not affect your bank account. Then again, what price can you put on religious freedom?



June 1, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavour ended its final journey with a late night landing watched by a few hundred people. Endeavour had travelled 123 million miles in its space voyages making it one of the “youngest” shuttles in the fleet. Now, the shuttle will be placed in a museum in California. For the Endeavour, the end has come.

It is true sometimes you are just glad something is over and you feel relief and freedom. But, often, endings come with mixed emotions.

The end of a school year reminds me that my kids are one year older and time keeps passing by, yet I am excited about spending time with them over the summer. Those graduating from High School often have mixed feelings. They are glad it is over and they are ready to move on. But, there is a sense that something in your life has ended and if honest, there is a sense of sadness.

The end of life for a Christian leaves family and friends grieving and missing their loved one. There is an emptiness that is hard to explain unless you have been through it. Yet there is a peace knowing they are with Christ in heaven with complete joy.

Endings often come with mixed emotions. As I ponder endings it reminds me to make the best of every day. Today is God’s gift to me.

“Your landing ends a vibrant legacy for this amazing vehicle that will long be remembered,” Mission Control told Captain Kelly and his crewmates.

When the “end” comes for you, what kind of legacy will you leave?

The END.



April 18, 2011


Connection? What is Connection? Connection is a community Easter service that will be held at the Franklin County High School auditorium on April 24th at 9:45 am. Maybe you feel like you belong in a church but you have some questions about God and the Bible? Connection will help you in answering some of your questions.

We have three goals:

                Connect with God- We all need to know our Creator

                Connect with Others- No one wants to go through life alone

                Connect with the Community- We want to be the true Church, reaching out to the community and meeting needs.

The great part about Connection is I don’t have to worry about the message. It never changes. Jesus Christ is God, He died on the cross for our sins, and He conquered death by rising on the first Easter. I am glad some things never change.

I hope you to see you at Connection Sunday April 24th.


We Need God

March 16, 2011


We need God.

 You need God. I need God. We need God. If you read the Old Testament and the story of God’s people, it becomes clear that we have a lot in common. God blessed them, provided for them, called them, guided them, helped them, and protected them. How did they respond to God’s greatness, goodness, and grace? They rebelled against Him. They wanted what we think we want….to live life our way.

 We need God.

 Living life our way is always a foolish mistake. It devalues life and makes it pointless. After all, if I live life for me how significant could that really be? If that was not a reasonable enough conclusion then let’s think a little more. In times of earthquakes, tsunami’s, nuclear meltdowns, recessions, war, and drug violence where do you turn if it is all about you? Maybe we should be a little more personal, where do you turn when your marriage struggles, when your job ends, when the kids rebel, when it is cancer?

 We need God.

 As we approach Easter we are reminded that God recognized our need of Him. He also knew that we would think differently. He knew that we would rebel, sin, and try to live life our way. But out of His amazing grace He sent Jesus so that we could be forgiven and be connected to Him. God recognized our need and He met our need with His son.

 We need God.

 A Japanese lady in our church, who along with her husband are missionaries in Japan and are supported by our church, was in worship this past Sunday because of an unexpected family funeral. Thank goodness they have Jesus in their life for this difficult time. I asked her to pray for her country in our service and in her brokenness she read Psalm 46.

  1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging. 
 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 

 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 We need God.



November 12, 2010

 Revolution- A sudden, radical, or complete change.

By now the votes have been counted and the talking heads on TV have analyzed every detail of last week’s election. Do you know how much money was spent on the election last week? I researched this question and multiple sources say that the candidates spent over $4 billion dollars. $4 billion dollars! Let that number sink in. In this great democracy it seems that if you have enough money you can represent the people in our government.

$4 billion dollars. Think about that number when you compare it with these numbing statistics:

–          Over a billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day

–          30,000 children died every day either from starvation or a preventable disease

–          143 million orphaned or vulnerable children in the world

–          800,000 children pass through our country’s foster care system each year

It is time for a revolution, a radical, complete change.

Every Christian should be involved in the political process. God has blessed us with freedom and we should celebrate our freedom by participating in the political process. But, I also believe to the core of my being, that politics will not solve our problems. Only Jesus Christ can fix our problems. We need a Jesus revolution.

I pray that the passion and resources given to get someone elected will be given to the revolution for Jesus.


A Dramatic Change of Expectations

September 21, 2010

I am a college football fan. I enjoy watching the games and keeping up with the winners and losers. Unfortunately for me, this year looks to be a long year because my team, the Tennessee Volunteers, is struggling. If they have a winning record that will be considered a “good” year. That is a far cry from the goals and expectations through the years of this prideful program. In 1998 Tennessee was the National Champions and over the next eight years were their division or conference champions several times.

 But, times have changed. There are many reasons being given for the dramatic turn in expectations in Knoxville. After all, the team has had three different coaches in the last 15 months. A number of players either left the team, were dismissed, or were injured. Recruiting has struggled because of the uncertainty surrounding the program. And, now, the athletic program is being investigated by the NCAA. Add all of those issues together and you come up with less than a championship culture.

 The change in Knoxville reminds me of life. One day you are on the mountain top enjoying a great moment in life. The next thing you know, it all comes crashing down. Sometimes the crash is your fault; sometimes not.  But, either way, you find yourself in the valley wondering how it happened so quickly. At that point you have two options: To become angry and bitter and give up on God. Many have decided on that path for their life. Or we can do the wise thing and cry out to God and trust Him. It is easy for me to write those words. It is harder to put it into practice.

 I am reminded of what Paul wrote in II Corinthians when he was struggling. He began his letter reminding the church, and himself, of the comfort he had found in God. Listen to his words in II Corinthians 1:3-4 “ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

 Paul reminds us that it is God’s nature to comfort us in all our troubles. There are plenty of days I wish that Paul would have said that God removes all of our troubles. Life doesn’t work that way. So, I am still trying to learn that in the midst of troubles, rather than praying for God to fix all of my problems, like Paul I must focus on praising God as He comforts me in my troubles.

 It is not easy. God never promised life would be. But, heaven, that is a different story.