No Greater Love

Sixty-eight years ago a young Marine was stationed on a tiny island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean preparing for an invasion that unbeknownst to him, would become a pivotal battle of the war in the Pacific.

Neither he nor his fellow Marines knew exactly what they would be up against, just that the enemy was determined to capture this strategic location to use as a stepping stone to further their advance against them. They did know that they would be outnumbered in an unimaginable way, but if you know anything at all about United States Marines, you will know and understand that this did nothing except to deepen their resolve to stand their ground.

Each and every one of them was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for their fellow Marine.

Semper Fidelis is Latin for Always Faithful, and it was adopted as the official motto of the United States Marine Corps in 1883. But it is so much more than just an empty saying that really carries no meaning; to the Marine it is a code to live by. The United States Marine is prepared to lay down his or her life each and every day for their country and their comrade.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

The above scripture was spoken by Jesus to his disciples. Jesus knew that he would soon be demonstrating his love for us by laying down his life on the cross; his followers could not have possibly understood this at the time, but they would understand it later.

Jesus paid the price for our sin by showing his great love for us on the cross. And he then gave us the ultimate hope for salvation over death itself when he was resurrected from the grave. And he extends this hope to all who will die to self and follow him…

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I implore you to accept this great love that he extends to you.

The battle that I was referring to that occurred sixty-eight years ago would become known as the Battle of Midway, a reference to the name of the tiny island (which is actually two tiny islands) out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is so named because it is located about halfway, or mid-way between the United States and Japan. Midway Island was a strategic refueling point for the Pacific fleet based out of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. The Japanese, however, wanted it to use as a staging location to launch attacks on the U.S. fleet.

Ultimately, through a unique combination of Naval Intelligence, skill of the Naval aviators (pilots), determination of the Navy commanders, and what some would call “luck”, that I call the providence of a Sovereign God, the Japanese fleet was decisively defeated resulting in the loss of four of their front line carriers. When that happened their invasion force was compelled to withdraw.

And through it all, the small force of determined and fearless United States Marines held their ground, fiercely defending the island of Midway and their fellow Marine…

And the young Marine stationed out there that day, along with thousand of his fellow Marines, was PFC Grover Cleveland (G.C.) Fennell. To his friends he was called “Mike”, but to my two sons he was their Paw-Paw.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Now, just as it was sixty-eight years ago, and even before that, the United States soldier is prepared to pay the ultimate price, to make that ultimate sacrifice…

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow, don’t just let it be a day to be glad that you don’t have to go to work, or just a day to go to the beach or visit the mountains… take the time to remember the United States soldier that willingly showed their “greater love” and made it possible for us to live in a free nation that is “under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Take the time to thank a soldier, either current or past for their service to this country.

Thank you Paw-Paw… I miss you terribly… I could never have asked for a finer father-in-law. And

Semper Fi, Marine… Ooh-rah!

John MacCullen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time

 

You know, there are many things that we know about time… for example, we know that:

  • Time is a news magazine…
  • Jim Croce wished that he could put it in a bottle back in the 70’s… (If you are too young for that, just Google Jim Croce…)
  • It can be measured with clocks, watches, calendars, and the like…
  • It is money…

Likewise, there are many things that we don’t know about time:

  • Since it apparently flies, where does it go?
  • Where was it before it began?
  • Where will it go when it ends?

Okay, I know that the items that I’ve listed above are mostly pointed out in jest… except for one…

One of the things that can be said of time is that it is a great equalizer.  One of the richest men in the world is Warren Buffett.  According to the Forbes 2009 list of the world’s richest men, Buffett is number two with a personal net worth of somewhere around $37 billion.  Yep, that’s billion, with a “b”.  And yet each day of this life, Mr. Buffett has exactly 24 hours worth of time.  That’s 1440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds; however you wish to increment it.  That’s also the same amount of time as the father who just lost his job to a struggling economy.  Not a single second more…

Imagine… as far how much time I have, I’m pretty much as rich as Donald Trump!  On this day, the Donald and I have exactly the same amount of time at our disposal… So, if that’s the case, how can I ever say that I don’t have enough time?  After all, I have the same as anyone else, right?

Perhaps it’s not so much about the amount of time we have, as it is what we do with the time that do we have.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers there giving them instructions on living a holy life…

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

All of us have the same amount of time in each day that we live.  And all of us have the ability to choose how we shall spend the time that we do have.  And I know that most all of us, myself included, have commitments on our time that we must keep.  But we can learn to prioritize those commitments, not being foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  Like money, time invested wisely will almost always provide a valuable return.

Some of you may know that my earthly father passed away in 2007.  Dad was just a couple of weeks shy of his 86th birthday when the Lord called him home; by the way, that’s 31,390 days, or 753,360 minutes.  In the years that my parents were here, they managed to raise three children.  I like to think that they did a pretty good job of it too… time invested wisely.

But there was another investment that they made during their lives that was so wonderfully illustrated at my father’s funeral service.  You see, both of my parents were quite active in service to the Lord during their lives.  One of the ministries that they had the opportunity to serve in was as leaders of the Singles group (college age) in our church, and I really don’t remember exactly how many years they served in this capacity.  But I do remember that at my father’s funeral, all of the men who are currently serving as pastors, and who were a part of their Singles group, came forward.  I don’t know exactly how many there are, but as the tears filled my eyes, I watched these men come forward and surround my father’s casket… all because of an investment of time…

I Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

My parents made a wise investment in the time that they had been given.  The return on this investment is evident in that all three of their children, of which I am privileged to be among, as well as so many others whose lives they touched through the years, have chosen to be called Children of God… we are saved… we are Christians… we are His…

And this is but a part of my parent’s legacy.  All because they made a choice of how to invest their time… the amount of which was no more, and no less than anyone else’s.

If you remember, earlier in my list of things that I said that time was, I listed that time was money.  That, of course, is nothing but a cliché… and a false one at that…  Time is not money, time is opportunity!  You can use your opportunity to acquire money, wealth, status, whatever you desire…

Or you could use your opportunity to build on the foundation which is already laid, Jesus Christ…

What will your legacy be?

Spend your time, your opportunity, wisely…

John MacCullen

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Can You Spare Some Change

 

I am a student of the English language.  Having said that, allow me a moment to clarify the previous statement; I enjoy studying the nuances of the English language, albeit in an informal fashion.  I haven’t been a formal student of the English language for a number of years, but I still enjoy reading, listening to people talk, and other such uses of our language.

 

One of the areas that I particularly enjoy is reading public message boards and observing how most folks misuse words known as homophones.  Homophones are words that are pronounced alike but are different in meaning and spelling.  A prime example and among the most misused homophones are the words to, two, and too.

 

I am going too the store two by to gallons of milk.  Would you like to come to?

 

If you looked closely you would have noticed that I slipped in another homophone when I substituted the word by in place of the appropriate word buy. Others that show up frequently are the words your and you’re.

 

Your my best friend.

 

I am also fascinated by how certain verbs in the English language seem to have totally changed their meaning over the years.  For example, the word like used to mean that one enjoyed, or appreciated something…

 

I like listening to classical music.

 

However, now it apparently additionally carries a meaning that is completely synonymous with the words said or says.

 

And I’m like, “Are you going to the store?”  And he’s like, “No, I’m not”.  So I’m like, “okay.”

 

And then we also have the unique shorthand that has evolved from the world of texting on one’s cell phone…

 

R U going 2 the store?

 

Having presently observed all of this, I wonder how scripture might read were it to be brought up to this modern standard…

 

John 3:1-15 (My Modern Version)Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came 2 Jesus by night and was like, “Rabbi, we know that U R a teacher come from God, 4 no one can do these signs that U do unless God is with him.”  And Jesus was like, “Truly, truly, I say 2 U, unless 1 is born again he cannot C the kingdom of God.”  And Nicodemus was like, “How can a man B born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and B born?”  Jesus was like, “Truly, truly, I say 2 U, unless 1 is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I’m like, ‘U must B born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and U hear its sound, but U do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

Nicodemus was like, “How can these things B?”  And Jesus was like, “R U the teacher of Israel and yet U do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I say 2 U, we speak of what we know, and bear witness 2 what we have seen, but U do not receive our testimony.  If I have told U earthly things and U do not believe, how can U believe if I tell U of heavenly things?  No 1 has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent N the wilderness, so must the Son of Man B lifted up, that whoever believes N him may have eternal life.”

 

Now I know that it may have been difficult reading the above passage of scripture quoted directly from the first fifteen verses of the third chapter of the Gospel of John and taken from the My Modern Version Bible.  And if by chance you were offended that I took the liberty to apply modern vernacular to scripture, don’t be… the message remained consistent!

 

I did this to illustrate in a very specific way that we live in a changing world.  And our use of the English language is certainly not the only thing that is changing in our world.  Attitudes, morals, as well as what is acceptable to society, are all in a state of constant flux.  But there is one thing that never changes

 

Malachi 3:6 ESV“For I the Lord do not change…” (emphasis mine)

 

The very character of God never changes.  He is consistent to his word, to his promises, and to his expressions of love for us.  Having said that, let’s go back to the third chapter of the Gospel of John and begin where we left off, starting with verse 16; only this time we will read from the ESV:

 

John 3:16-17 ESVFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (emphasis mine)

 

Scripture says that the very character of God never changes, he is, and always will be, true to his Word.  We, on the other hand, must be changed.  We are stained by sin…

 

Romans 3:23…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

 

And scripture tells us what the consequences of this sin is…

 

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Did you get that last part?  “…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Now, you may be asking yourself, “How do I get this free gift?”

 

Romans 10:9“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

Recall the passage above when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus.  Jesus said that unless you are born again, which is synonymous with being saved, you cannot see the kingdom of God.

 

Don’t delay; don’t put it off another day!  God loves you.  The fact that he sent his one and only Son to die for you, to take your rightful place on the cross is proof of that love.  He, the One and only perfect Lamb of God took our sins on his shoulders, bearing the burden that we are incapable of bearing…

 

And his perfect love for us will never change!

 

 

John MacCullen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friends

 

 

 

It’s one of those words that we all too often toss around casually without fully grasping the full meaning.  And I’ll be the first to admit that I am not without sin in this respect, so cast the first stone in my direction.  What we sometimes refer to as a friend is often little more than a casual acquaintance, or a coworker, or even someone that we just met. 

 

So what exactly then, is a friend?  On a certain well known social networking site found on the internet, a “friend” is simply anyone who will respond to an invitation from you to become one.  It can be your spouse, an old school chum, or someone that you have never met in your life…

 

According to my friend (see previous definition) Mr. Webster, a friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion; or even simply one that is not hostile”…

 

God’s Word however, places a little more emphasis on the true meaning of friendship.  In the book of I Samuel, the author describes the friendship between Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David.

 

I Samuel 18:3-4 – Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

 

Understand the importance of this… the things that Jonathan gave to David were not mere items that could be replaced.  These were the things that showed the royalty of Jonathan’s family, and claim of Jonathan as heir to the very throne of Israel.  Jonathan’s love for his friend David was so deep that it even went beyond the value of his claim to the throne!

 

I have to wonder if any of us are as good of a friend as Jonathan was to David, to any of the people that we claim as friends…

 

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

 

Not that long ago, a friend of mine expressed his disappointment because he had invited many of those whom he calls his friends to come to an event.  Sadly, very few showed up…

 

And to go on and answer your next question; no, I was not one of the “no shows”.  And yes, he truly is my friend in that I can honestly say that I do love him at all times. 

 

Proverbs 27:9Oil and perfume (fine things) make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (Parenthesis mine)

 

A true friend is one who will go that extra mile, take that extra step, and provide that earnest counsel when needed.  A true friend is one who loves deeply…

 

In the week prior to his arrest, Jesus, speaking to his disciples says…

 

John 15:12-17“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  These things I command you, so that you will love one another”.  (Emphasis mine)

 

My encouragement therefore is this: take the relationship with anyone that you call a friend seriously.  If you call someone your friend, love them deeply; Jesus does.  Jesus gave his life on the cross for everyone that you call “friend”.  If a friend has a sincere, meaningful request, don’t question whether you should honor it… ask yourself why on earth you wouldn’t…

 

Love your friends like Jesus does…

 

 

John MacCullen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

With Apologies to Dr. Seuss…

 

With Apologies to Dr. Seuss…

Eggs and Ham are not all that are green

 

 

I’ve heard it said that if forty different journalists witnessed the exact same event and were then asked to document it, the result would be forty different accounts of what happened.  You see, anyone who writes about events writes from their own perspective.  At this moment, I am writing this narrative from my perspective.  The resulting point of view may be something that you completely agree with; or it may be something that you completely disagree with.  Nonetheless, it is accurate from my perspective.

 

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for beautiful green sky in the morning followed by scattered showers in the afternoon…

 

I think much of it may come from what is most important to the writer.  Some are very concerned with presenting the human interest side of a story.  Thus, their account would focus more on how the events documented affect the people involved.

 

There was such a stark contrast between the now beautiful green skies, so calm and lovely where only hours before, the angry swirling clouds produced such devastating storms.

 

Whereas others would be more concerned with presenting just the dry “facts”…

 

The sun rising in the clear, green sky allowed rescuers to begin searching for survivors.

 

Many of you may have heard the name, Joseph Goebbels; some perhaps have not.  If not, allow me to expound… Joseph Goebbels was a German politician who became Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.  As a matter of fact, prior to his rise to power under Adolf Hitler, Goebbels was a journalist.  Upon his appointment as Propaganda Minister, one of Goebbels’ first official acts was to seize and incinerate books that were rejected by the Nazi Party.  He also exerted totalitarian control over the media, arts, and all other outlets of information in the Third Reich.

 

It was during this time that Goebbels perfected a propaganda technique that became known as the “Big Lie”.  This technique is based on the principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated enough times, will eventually be believed by the masses.

 

“God Is Dead” ~ NY Times – January 9, 1966

 

Joseph Goebbels the politician was a master at the “Big Lie”.  So much so that he was able to successfully convince many Germans, and certainly nearly all of the members of the Nazi Party that the Jewish people were at the root of their plight, and that their eradication would be the first step in creating a grand and glorious new world.

 

More than six million Jews paid the price for Goebbels’ lie…

 

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie.  It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ~ Joseph Goebbels

 

“Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.  On the ordinary view of each species having being independently created, we gain no scientific explanation.” ~ Charles Darwin

 

We live in a world where one must carefully determine whether accepted axioms are based on truth or on “Big Lies”…

 

I John 2:21-23 – I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and no lie is of the truth.  Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father.  Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

 

Now, we know that Satan is the father of lies…

 

John 8:44b – When he (Satan) lies, he speaks out of his own character, for his is a liar and the father of lies.

 

But we also know that Jesus is the Truth…

 

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

You know, it would seem to me that with prayer and a genuine seeking of direction from the Holy Spirit, life’s questions could be answered with the truth.  And the truth certainly would have refuted Mr. Goebbels’ assertions about the Jews.   Indeed, it would also answer Darwinism as well as correct a few newspaper headlines…

 

John 8:31 – So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

I believe that we are living in the end times.  Scripturally speaking we have been living the end times for the last two thousand years, ever since Pentecost.  But I can’t help but believe that we are close to Christ’s return.  We don’t know exactly when he will return:

 

Matthew 24:36 – “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

 

But we see the signs:

 

Matthew 24:3-14 – As he (Jesus) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”  And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

 

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

Matthew 24:32-33 – “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.”

 

So, are you buying into all the “Big Lies” in the world?  They’re not hard to find; just turn on the news; pick up a newspaper; logon to the internet…  Read about the immorality of some lifestyles; listen to politicians and lawyers discuss murdering an unborn child, calling it a “choice”.  Discover how absolute rights and wrongs have been blurred into hazy shades of “whatever’s”…

 

So let me ask, “Are you ready for Jesus’ return?”

 

“See that no one leads you astray.” ~ Jesus Christ

 

Okay… so no doubt some of you are just a bit puzzled about several references of a green sky toward the beginning of this dissertation.  I am convinced (via the “Big Lie” principle) that were the news outlets to begin running daily stories that the sky was green, within a short period of time people would be remarking about what a lovely shade of green the desert sky was…

 

 

John MacCullen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment