ask a vet

Last-surviving-World-War-I-veteran-honored_2hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me – a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.   – 2 Timothy 1.13-14

before you tell me i’m a day late, let me remind you that thursday is my regular blogging day. not my fault that november 11 fell on a wednesday. so if this post seems dated, cut and paste it into your calendar for 11/11/10…

so… veterans’ day. how did you observe veterans’ day? how should you?

i have a few thoughts…

first, remember that veterans’ day is not memorial day. both days are meaningful and necessary. and necessary to distinguish between. while memorial day gives us to pause to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country with their lives, veterans’ day is for those still around. acknowledge their presence among us.

second – and this is a given – thank them. if you know someone, anyone, who has stepped up to the plate to defend your freedom, say thanks. there are lots of ways to do that. be creative.

so far, so good. most of us know this and probably do it to some extent. but there’s one more thought to toss out there. and one i think that oughta top the list…

listen.

listen to a vet. which may mean asking a vet.

if you wanna honor someone who has stepped up to do what’s right, ask them about the experience. about the courage. about the cause.

ask a vet why he or she IS a vet. ask them what motivated them to serve. and ask what they would like to see you do as an american, to honor the work that they did before you.

and here’s the cool thing – vets never tire of you asking. you don’t have to wait another year to ask. if you missed your shot yesterday, do it today.

(transition)

there are all kinds of veterans. we use the term not only for military personnel, but in sports, politics and business. even in ministry. in fact, if you can become a veteran pastor, you’ve accomplished something, given that ministry has one of the highest burnout rates of all vocations.

and if you wanna honor a vet in any of these arenas, do it the same way. acknowledge. thanks. and listen.

when paul writes his 2 letters to timothy in the new testament, he writes as a vet. he of all people, has stepped up for the case of Jesus Christ. he has traveled the world on several occasions, establishing new faith communities for the celebration, proclamation, and preservation of the good news. now his life is on the downslope. he is all but retired. but he has a few things left to share for those who will listen. and timothy, a young pastor who has volunteered to serve as a result of the influence of veteran paul, is willing to listen.

these two letters – read ’em – are awesome instruction from a Jesus-vet to those who come after. it’s paul’s way of saying: hey, you wanna honor me – better yet, honor Jesus? do this. i’ve been at this a while and i know what i’m talking about. don’t just thank me on your facebook page. continue the work i’ve begun.

in 2 timothy 3.10-17, he puts it like this:

you know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. you know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. you know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra – but the Lord rescued me from all of it. yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. but evil people and impostors will flourish. they will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

but you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. you know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. you have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. it corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

good words and good advice from a veteran of the early church, to anyone who will listen.

as you read these words, and as you think about your ongoing life in Christ, a few thoughts for your consideration…

1. what Jesus-veterans do you know? who can you go to who has been stepping up for the gospel longer than you? who can you listen to?

2. ask a Jesus-vet why they serve. what’s their motivation? what keeps them going?

3. ask them to honestly help you assess your life and service to Christ. how can you become a stronger vet yourself, so that one day, someone might come to you?

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