As I write this week I find I cannot overlook that Monday was Memorial Day. The impact of that particular day has been felt much greater for me and my family since the Passing of my brother CW3Gary Brown on July 1, 2016. Gary was a career Army man joining in 1991 and finally retiring in 2011. He served in Mogadishu, Somalia early in his career and later several tours in Afghanistan. Just a few short years after retirement, Gary was gone suddenly without warning on an early morning in July. Gary gave nearly the entirety of his adult life to keeping me, you and countless others free. Some might say that Gary did not die in war, but I would beg to differ. We did not have many discussions about his time in those theaters of conflict, but from what he did share it is painfully evident to me that no one who fights in battle ever gets to completely, successfully, leave war behind.

The Bible tells us in Romans 5 that it is rare, but some people will risk dying for others if they see them as worthy…that verse defined Gary and countless other soldiers, some who may be as dear to you as Gary is to me. But wait Ken, don’t you mean to say was? I thought you said Gary died? No, I meant to write the words “…as Gary IS to me”. Gary did give all. He gave his entire adult life to serving, and the rest of our entire lives will never be the same without him here with us. His dear wife Karen and my niece and nephews will never stop paying the price of his sacrifice. But He is not dead, He is completely alive, completely whole, never to fear, worry, or hurt over his experiences at war ever again. Why? Because though Gary was one of those soldiers so well defined in the words of Paul, and was willing to give all, and in fact ultimately did…There is One greater who became the Ultimate Sacrifice for Gary, for all the other soldiers, for you and for me.

All gave some, some gave all…Jesus paid it all! It is recorded for us in the Gospel of John that Jesus said “There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends…and you are my friends if you do what I ask”. I especially like the way Dr. Jennings interprets the words of 1 John 3:16 in his paraphrase, The Remedy, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ voluntarily laid His life down for us. And we who have been restored to Godlike love will also give all we have, including laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters”.

So as another Memorial Day has come and gone, and I am not ashamed to admit much of it through the view of eyes blurred with tears I say “Let us never forget”. Let us always be grateful for men and women who serve with the full knowledge that everything may be required of them someday…for you and for me. When you see a soldier present or former, thank them for their service…no matter what day it is. Be grateful for them…and to them. I also say to you, be grateful always for the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was willing to give His life up for us. He did become the Ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us. None of us could have true freedom, the kind of freedom Gary enjoys, freedom from sin and death, without Jesus paying it all. So likewise, be grateful to Him…every day. Allow the impact of Him, offering up of His life for you to sink in each and every day of your life…and see the change that so great a love makes in you.

“Thank you Lord for saving my soul…Thank you Lord for making me whole…Thank you Lord for giving to me…Thy great salvation so rich and free”

If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed! John 8:36 (NKJV)

Pastor Ken