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A Message About Veterans Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
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I had the privilege of being the speaker at several Veterans Day Celebrations this year and to preach the Veterans Day sermon at the church I attend. For a look at my view of just what I think about on that holiday and how I expressed it to the congregation click on read more.

The Few, The Proud
The Fewer, The Prouder, The Christian Marines

The Sacrifices Of Our Veterans Must Never Be Forgotten

I am honored to be here today and to be able to celebrate Veteran's Day with you. It is a very special day to celebrate, especially with family. And today I am truly celebrating with family, for all we who are gathered here, are a family. Some of us are uniquely connected by our many shared military memories and experiences and by our shared service, our shared commitment and sacrifice to our country. Others of us are connected by our relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ.

When I was a kid I thought each holiday was a special day that came only once a year, like a birthday and it was easy to remember what every one was all about because almost everyone in the country celebrated them as a way of life and, strangely enough, they were celebrated on the actual date they commemorated.

Today it seems they are moved around, sometimes haphazardly to accommodate school calendars, gigantic car and furniture sales, long weekends and personal convenience.

I can't imagine someone telling me I was no longer born on November 9th or that the Marine Corps was not born on November 10th 1775.

Let me ask you, how many of you remember the actual birth dates of our great historical figures like Washington, Lincoln or Lee, Jackson or Jefferson?

How many of you even remember that our Veterans Day celebration began life under a different name?

It was started as a day to memorialize the beginning of the armistice that ended WWI. “Armistice Day”, as November 11 was once called, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday some 12 years later.

On June 1, 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day and declared a day to honor all U.S. veterans who have served in “war and peace”. I apologize to Leo Tolstoy for using that phrase, but it fits so well.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must never allow Veterans Day to be relegated to the point of just being looked at by anyone as merely a day off of work. It is not simply a day to have a big sale at the Mall or the auto dealership or an excuse to go to the beach or have a BBQ.

For I truly believe that a country that forgets its veterans will fade into history and soon be forgotten itself.

Veterans Day is and should be a somewhat solemn occasion, a day set aside for memories, for reflection and for prayer.

Why you ask? I guess it is because I can't think of a better way to honor our brave men and valiant women who have served with so much honor, courage, selflessness, distinction, commitment and compassion and who reside in such exclusive company.

I learned a long time ago in Sunday School as a Child that although there is only one “Sun-Day” a week. There are seven “Son-Days” a week. And I choose to apply that philosophy to four very special national holidays.

As Far as I am concerned, every day is Veterans Day, Memorial Day, The 4th of July and Easter.

I said exclusive company a moment ago because I place our military veterans and our emergency service workers side by side when it comes to courage, dedication, commitment and integrity.

Our law enforcement officers, fire and rescue service personnel, paramedics and EMT's defend and protect us daily here at home against the seeming endless onslaught of evil, While our military trains and protects each of us and our homeland against evil's fierce attack and invasion from abroad 24/7/365.

All of these men and women have sworn an oath to place themselves in harms way whenever necessary and without a moments hesitation. None of them train to die, but each and every one of them willingly accept the possibility that at any given moment they may be called up on to make the ultimate sacrifice for someone they don't even know.

This principle of substitution was recorded for posterity in the scriptures as the words of Jesus Christ, when He stated, in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man, than that he lay down his life for his friend.”

Our veterans are not only willing to lay their lives down for their friends when necessary, but they continuously jeopardize them for people they don't even know and for freedom and a way of life that while it may not be perfect, is second to none.

However, while that commitment does not make them “God like” it does reflect the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior, Who willingly laid down his life for each of us on a person-to-person basis. Not after we were righteous enough to merit it, but He did it while we were yet sinners.


I served in the active and reserve military for 42 years 5 months and 15 days: The Army for 4 years, the Air Force for 2 years and The Marine Corps for over 36 years. During my service I saw action in both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Combat Theaters.

Many of the combat veterans I know dislike war and are even willing speak out against the concept of war. I said the concept of war not the conduct of war. I don't mean they express this by demonstrating or protesting against war. I simply mean that they as few other men now living not only know just how devastating war can be, they truly understand the human costs of war and nothing to them is more horrendous. If many of us combat veterans had our way war would be abolished internationally, because of its vicious impact on both friend and foe. We know better than most that it makes no difference, Victor or Victim, all turn to dust.

However, the wars we fight here on earth are considered but minor skirmishes in the war of good verses evil, the war that began in heaven long before man acquired such a devastating skill. Our constant conflicts are evidence that while that war itself was won on Mt Calvary, our adversary the devil will fight for every soul he can steal, kill or destroy as long as he remains unchained.

I may not speak about my combat experiences very often, even to my family, but I will never forget those years in combat and what they taught me about being always prepared.

I will never forget the names or the faces of those who served with me. To veterans, these friendships that are tempered through adversity contain memories that will stay in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.

Our combat forged relationships are ties that truly bind. It has been said before, “He who sheds his blood today with me in battle is truly my brother.” That is a sentiment that runs strong among those of us who served, especially in those of us who have experienced the chaos of combat.

The Bible in Exodus 15:1-18 describes for us a vivid example of Our God as a God who is a great combat leader, in fact in verse 3 it states "The Lord is a man of war:"

Wow!! Does that concept really seem to upset some folks. "The Lord is a man of war." These days, a lot of people, even some who profess to be Christians, (I am not sure if they are Cultural Christians or Convenience Christians) would consider this an insult and not a compliment to the Lord. Too many people want to reject any God who in their finite minds would allow the horrors of war to exist.

These folks espouse a theology that only emphasizes the ? "Merciful" character of God, the Jehovah Shalom, The God of Peace.

These folks are convinced that if they do enough good things and follow the Cub Scout Motto of “do your best”, that God couldn't possibly keep them out of heaven. Many of them feel the world already tells them how bad they are and treats them unfairly, so their desired theology is one that will only emphasize the good things God has in store for them.

This “Feel Good Theology” is a cornerstone for many mega churches and Tele-evangelists. The God is Good; without the God is Just image of God is like a “paint by the numbers” painting with out any paint being applied. Anyone who wants a true painting of God must apply the various colors indicative of His many characteristics and attributes.

Those who want to hold on to this myopic and Pollyanna view of theology must therefore reject large parts of the Old Testament, and even some parts of the New Testament, because they both include the recorded history of a warlike God whom I know as a Just God.

Yes, in their search for that peace that passes all understanding and that something that is missing in their life, some people have forgotten that our God is not only a merciful God, but He is also an omnipotent, omniscient and a Just God as well.

In Jeremiah 48:10 God informs us, “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.”

God wants the whole truth of the gospel proclaimed to all nations and he warns against only having “our ears tickled”. It is all right to hear what we are doing right as long as the message doesn't stop there. We also need to know what behavior and attitudes we need to change in order to do as Paul admonishes us and grow more like Christ.

Sure, I concede that, that is not likely to be a reachable goal while we are here on earth, but Paul also reminds that while we are here we must continually run a good race.

Folks, I want you to remember that life is a journey and not a destination. It is a long, long road and one without any rest areas.

In the military we say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. If a good soldier wants to become a better soldier, he trains hard, as hard as he fights in combat. He does this because he knows that the way he trains is the way he will react when he engages the enemy.

Now it is time, I think, that I ask you a few questions.

How well are you trained as a Christian soldier?

How well do you react when you engage temptation?

How well or how often to you train?

Are you a technically and tactically proficient combat ready Christian?

How often do you defeat the enemy and his minions?

Do you prepare every day to engage the spiritual forces of darkness?

Are you equipped with the full armor of God?

Do you know how to use it?

While I don't think God's primary desire, is for us to go around constantly slaying our worldly enemies with our sabers like the legionnaires of ancient Rome, I do think you better never forget, we Christians war constantly against the spiritual forces of evil; against powers and principalities as Paul puts it.

When we follow the Lord and join His army, we become Christian Soldiers and veterans ourselves. When we commit to enlist in God's Army, God then issues us a sword and expects us to learn how to use it properly. The sword He issues is the Word Of God, The Bible that Brother Larry holds up each and every week and from which pours forth a cascade of truth and grace.
We are told about this sword many times in the New Testament, like in Matthew 10:34-39 wherein Christ points out “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” and again in Romans 13: 1-7 (Romans 13:4 to be exact) and again in Luke 22.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, being a Christian is not meant to be comfortable, nor is it meant to be without conflict. It is meant to be a continual challenge; a challenge to change and to grow, a challenge to always be learning more, always understand more and always be more loving.
Our faith should continually challenge us to exhibit the moral and physical courage necessary to engage the enemy as we struggle to break through the barriers that keep us from fully living in the example of Christ's love.

If we as the Christian Soldiers of God's eternal army will make that effort and engage in that struggle, we will indeed effectively participate in our wars and our battles, and while sometimes we will emerge from them wounded and in need of healing. We need never fear, because the healing we require will come for that is also a promise found in this book of truth.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, for The Lord tells us through Jeremiah that He has plans for us and that we will not always be struggling. When each of our spiritual battles is over and we have prevailed over some temptation or uncompassionate attitude or other trial or tribulation, because of the strength that the Lord gives us, we will experience the kind of peace that follows an earthly battle; a peace like the calm that follows the storm.

As we engage in spiritual battles during our six days of work, we need to look forward to the Lord providing that seventh day of rest--a time of peace and unity for our soul, our mind and heart, and for our relationships with each other. These times of praise, worship and fellowship give us a little taste of heaven, and give us the rest we need in order to face our next battle and win it.

Now I want to ask you a couple of more questions.

What if America had no veterans?

What if we didn't have people who would serve our nation to the extent of giving their lives when necessary?

What if we had not fought the American Revolution?

What would life be like today in America?

What would life be like to today in the world?

As you think about those answers, I also want you to think about some spiritual "What If's." of a similar nature.

"What If" Jesus had not died?

"What If" all the soldiers in the army of the Lord had never served?

"What If Jesus had never started a revolution.

Some of you might be asking what do you mean revolutionary, The Jesus I know wasn't a revolutionary. Well most of the Jews would tend to disagree with you, as would many Romans.
Jesus began a revolution and Jesus through his church is still revolutionizing the world.

Something I want you to remember is that the fighting we do in the kingdom of God is changing the world. We may not realize that now, but our children, grandchildren, and generations to come will benefit. But, as I said, what would their future hold if there had been no kingdom revolution?

Our ancestral veterans also fought a great Civil War in this country and sadly we tend to still follow that example in many of our churches today. The Civil Wars in churches that result in the most casualties are not wars with the devil or darkness. They are wars among ourselves, battles with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We battle with people in our own church family and we often battle denominationally and inter-denominationally. The church just might incur more casualties fighting internally than we would ever have received fighting the devil. There are too many civil wars in our churches and “friendly fire” imposes a tremendously high cost and keeps the devil laughing.

Another "What If", what if we could have a church that avoided engaging in civil wars? Can that ever be? It should be!

"WHAT IF" there was a church like that? "What If" there was a church that revolutionized its region with the gospel of the kingdom, avoided civil wars, and didn't wait to be attacked, but rather attacked the gates of hell?

We are told about a church like that in the book of Acts. It was a church full of veterans with a very deep commitment. They were willing not only to stand in the gap and fight, but also to die for what they believed. I want to be a veteran like that.

"What If" American war veterans had not fought and some died? What would it be like around here today?

"What If" Jesus had not fought and died? What would it be like around here today?

"What If" the apostles and veterans of the first century had not fought and some died for the cause?

I have one more "What If." "What If" you never received Jesus? "What If" no one ever went to war for your soul and prayed and fought to bring you into the kingdom?

I thought about that this week. "What If" I was still in the kingdom of darkness? There would be no Life Gate. Surely some of the truths I know today I would not know. My family might not be serving Jesus.

My point is that veterans always make a difference. They make a difference for America. They make a difference for the kingdom of heaven. You make a difference. You are making a difference.

Most of us know the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. But do we know the Pledge of Allegiance to the Christian flag? Probably not too many of us are familiar with that pledge. Should we be? What I would like to do now is recite that Pledge for you.

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe."

There are many war memorials that reflect our country's need to say thanks - and sometimes… to say goodbye. These monuments were built because many combat veterans never got a chance to say goodbye to buddies. These monuments, and our celebration of Veteran's Day, are only some of the ways we have to commemorate and honor our courageous servicemen and women as they remind us of the human costs of war.

The Cross is the monument to the true cost of our salvation… and will always represent the battle between good and evil.

I'll close today with a few powerful quotes that seem to best summarize the reasons for our celebration today. Let me start with one from President Harry S Truman who said:

OUR DEBT TO THE HEROIC MEN AND VALIANT WOMEN IN THE SERVICE OF
OUR COUNTRY CAN NEVER BE REPAID. THEY HAVE EARNED OUR UNDYING
GRATITUDE. AMERICA WILL NEVER FORGET THEIR SACRIFICES.

I wish I could say that was true, but since that statement was made all too many times the American veteran has been disparaged, denied and defiled.
So May I add to that quote the words:

AND AMERICA MUST NEVER FORGET THEIR SERVICE AND THEIR SACRIFICE.


My next quote is from Admiral Chester W Nimitz, a Texan, who said:

THEY FOUGHT TOGETHER AS BROTHERS-IN-ARMS.
THEY DIED TOGETHER AND NOW THEY SLEEP SIDE BY SIDE.
TO THEM WE HAVE A SOLEMN OBLIGATION.


I pray that God has granted those veterans who have gone on before us that eternal peace that they fought so hard to assure, and that when our time comes His grace will also lead us home.

My next quote is from the newest memorial in Washington DC the WWII Memorial where on the flagpoles the following is written:

AMERICANS CAME TO LIBERATE, NOT TO CONQUER, TO RESTORE FREEDOM
AND TO END TYRANNY


To me that sounds a lot like John 3:16-17 with the emphasis being on John 3:17

The last two quotes are mine:

As long as one American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine stands in jeopardy on foreign soil let America never forget we are all at war.


And finally:

As long as one soul is lost or in jeopardy, let the church never forget that every Christian soldier is at war with the adversary of Christ

God bless America
And her Christian Soldiers


"Semper Fi" and "Firmus In Christo"

Chaplain (Col) Ray Fairman
CWO4 (Ret) USMC "63-96"




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