What Cost Freedom?


Today I share a repeat post because the purpose of pausing to consider the cost of freedom doesn’t end.

Today in the United States we pause to celebrate Memorial Day.

Most will celebrate it with picnics, boating, ball games, swimming, family, and friends. A few will pause for those remaining public celebrations to commemorate the day. Fewer still will visit the graves of those fallen for the sake of freedom or know when this commemoration began or the cost for those who gave us the freedom to celebrate it.

Originally it was called Decoration Day and that is the name I recall when I was a young child. Its purpose? To provide a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.

It was born out of the United States Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the day officially on May 5, 1868, and asked that the 30th of May 1868 be designated for the purpose of strewing the graves of those who had died in the defense of their country with flowers and flags.

Most of us would not recall that Memorial Day began with that bloodiest of all United States wars. The country would be torn in two with the Union of the North raising an army of 2,128,948 and the Confederacy of the South mustering a total of 1,082,119 troops. It was a war that would be fought in thousands of places from southern Pennsylvania to Texas, from New Mexico to Florida with most of the battles fought in Virginia and Tennessee.

Between April 12, 1861, when Fort Sumter, South Carolina, was fired upon until April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, 620,000 would die for the cause they believed in. They would die from combat, accident, starvation, and disease. Of that number, the three-day battle on the fields around Gettysburg, PA, in 1863, would see the largest number fall. A total of 51,000 would be dead by the end of the battle.

It can be easy to forget how significant the losses were during the Civil War. Yet, our love for freedom would stir the hearts of others to serve in battles far from our own coastline. In World War II 405,399 would give their lives following the brutal conditions faced during World War I when 116,516 would fall in battle.

Of course, these would not be the only battles where men and women would give their lives for the cause of freedom. In Vietnam we would sacrifice 58,209 and in Korea we would lose 36, 516.


To establish this nation, 25,000 would die in the Revolutionary War. Another 20,000 would die in the War of 1812 and 13,283 in the Mexican War. The Spanish-American War would result in a loss of 2,446.

More recently 6,626 would be lost in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan with another 258 falling during the Gulf War.

How much do we value this freedom?

How much do we take it for granted or use it to serve our own ends rather than for the good of our brothers and sisters?

When we speak of a fight for freedom, men, and women, despite their fear or condition, held the value for liberty and the release of tyranny so foremost among their beliefs that they were willing to leave those they loved most to serve those they had never met.


As I took time to visit a small country cemetery in Ohio near where I live, I was struck as I always am by the number of American flags that had been placed on the graves of our veterans. This cemetery is adjacent to a church founded in the 1840’s.

In the oldest part of the cemetery where the gravestones are often not readable, I found flags adorning the graves of two Civil War veterans. One had died in 1865 and another in 1866. I read their names: James Turner and James Shaw. I wondered what they had seen in their time on the battlefield and if their deaths shortly after the war came because of wounds that never healed.


We can never repay the debt we owe to so many.

We can also never repay the debt we owe to the One who came to give us grace and freedom from sin, the One who suffered for us at great expense to purchase what we could not gain without His payment.

During all the fun and celebrating we may do this day, let us not forget to be thankful, to sober our hearts, to give thanks for so many who gave all they had for our sakes. Let us also thank God for His love beyond measure in what He sacrificed for us.

Freedom is never free.

Others will always want to take it from us, to enslave us. Let us remember to cherish it, not abuse it for our own selfish ends, or fail to recognize the responsibility we must uphold and guard it because of the great cost paid to grant it.


Corinth and Us


When I look at the challenges of fellowship and community in the body of Christ, in the local church, few books in the Bible can match Paul’s letters to the people of Corinth.

Paul had visited Corinth around 50 AD. He had begun the church on his second missionary journey. It was there that he met Aquila and Priscilla, Jewish tentmakers like he was. He spent two years there preaching first to the Jews in the synagogue. When they refused to hear him, he preached to the Gentiles.

When he arrived there, Corinth was already an ancient city that had been in existence for a thousand years before the time of Christ. It was a wealthy seaport city, a center of art, athletics, business, and religion. Unfortunately, it had developed a bad reputation as an immoral city.

How like God to send His light into a dark place?

Paul sent others to minister to the church he established there after he continued his missionary journey to Jerusalem for a brief stop and then on to Ephesus for three years. He kept in contact with the churches he established by letter and letters came to him updating him on the church and how things were going as well. He desired to continue to disciple them and grow them up in all spiritual matters.


By the time he wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, it’s clear issues were blossoming and the church was not behaving as a Christ like church. The worldly wisdom of the day had been creeping into the church creating confusion and division.

Sound familiar even in 2023 in many places? We seem to have some common characteristics with the city of Corinth and the church there.


Paul’s words as a loving disciple are firm and direct calling them into account out of his love and care for them and his desire to see them mature. He let them know they were acting like babies. They could not be equipped to reach out to others, to look different than the world in Corinth. The church was to model Jesus. The church at Corinth wasn’t doing that.

We are blessed to have many strong, effective, loving churches in our country, but not unlike the church in Corinth our success and culture can slip into the church almost unnoticed until the fruit of its presence becomes evident.

In The Master’s Indwelling, Andrew Murray writes this about the believers in Corinth:

“We find in the Corinthians simply a condition of protracted infancy. It is quite right at six months of age a babe should eat nothing but milk, but years have passed by and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. We come in contact with them and there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s spirit in them.”

I think we sometimes bump into the same issue today. Protracted infancy will not let us reflect Him.

Can these things harm the image of Christ? Absolutely! Can they prevent healthy relational fellowship? Yes, of course.

Sometimes the church today (not unlike Corinth) can have a solid foundation with excellent teaching, but if we only rely on being fed on Sundays we will never grow up into Him and become mature. It is what happens on those other six days that make the big difference in whether or not we are truly growing.

Our churches bear a great responsibility before the Lord for the oversight and care of their body, but that is His to judge. We also have a responsibility. How we spend our time in pursuing the Lord beyond the teaching of the pastor will tell a great deal about the way we model Him. It will have a significant influence on whether we move beyond protracted infancy.

We come into a church looking for certain things. What do we also bring? Do we bring childish self-centered attitudes or a growing, developing Christ-life?

Perhaps what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) lays out the path for us:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.


What Kind of Soil Are You?


I grew up on a farm and never developed a desire to be a farmer myself, but as the daughter of a life-long farmer I had a deep appreciation for the hard work, wisdom, and knowledge it took to do this very important job. I listened to much of what my father would share about what he was doing from season to season trying to assure he would yield a good crop.

Certainly, there was a great deal that my father did not have control of related to the farming process. Chief among these was the weather. One of the areas greatly impacted by the weather was the condition of the soil and the soil was key to the harvest. Tending to the soil was an ongoing process throughout all the seasons of a year.

From time to time my father would do a soil test to determine what the soil on our farm needed. Under applying nutrients would retard plant growth and reduce the yield of the field. Over application of nutrients would be expensive and potentially create an environmental hazard.

Weather could influence what nutrients were added. If it was too wet, one choice might be made. If it were too dry, another combination would be chosen. I recall my father would also rotate crops from field to field since different crops take different levels of nutrients of the soil. Rotating helped keep the soil healthier.


A farmer knows that good soil is dark-colored and crumbly when you feel it with your fingers. He wants to keep the soil well drained, avoid erosion, not let the soil be too dry, and add nutrients to improve the soil and maintain its health and productivity. What a task! It is one never to be devalued as “less than” by those with title, position, or degree.

So, why am I talking about soil? Because we are the soil where the Lord plants the seed. You can read about it in Matthew 13:3-9 where Jesus tells the parable of the different kinds of soil and results when seed is sown there.

I think we often tend to think of that in regard to salvation and I would not disagree, but the condition of real soil does not remain constant. How the soil is used or depleted impacts whether the soil remains healthy and able to produce a rich harvest. Weather is also a major factor regarding that.

We have a choice about what kind of soil we are. We too are impacted by “weather”. The “storms of life” assail us from nearly every direction and batter us. The soil of our heart can be eroded. The heat of spiritual battle can also impact the soil of our heart.

All of these things that come against our heart can tempt us to harden and protect our heart, to cease to risk loving or giving. We can also lose track of how exhausted our heart (the soil) is from giving, loving, and serving for a great length of time and we fail to notice we are depleted.


To keep our heart (our soil) in the best condition, it must be fed and nourished regularly. Yes, time in the Word does that as well as prayer, but we can become locked into a pattern of those things without adding other nutrients we need. We can gain nourishment from rich fellowship with a few others who care for our hearts. Such nourishment can also come from time in the midst of His creation, listening to great music, viewing meaningful art in all its forms, and most certainly rest.

A good farmer knows the soil in his field needs to be able to rest in order to continue to produce. Rest comes in many forms beyond sleep. It can include solitude, changing our routine or areas of service for a period of time, or simply laying down the endless requests that come our way to do one more thing, be one more thing.

I have experienced many seasons and known periods of severe weather as well as drought. I have experienced rich harvest as well as depletion. I do not see myself as “old”, but I am no longer young.

I desire in this season above all others to be the soil of Matthew 13:8 (ESV):

“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”


Are You A Risk Taker?

Photo by Allan Mas from Pexels

Are you someone who loves doing things that get the adrenaline pumping, pushing you just a bit farther? You love the adventure of things that challenge you. You take the tallest, fastest roller coaster, jump out of airplanes skydiving, pick the toughest black diamond ski slope, and test your endurance with your scuba gear. You like to drive fast cars and fast boats and races of nearly any kind. If so, you are likely a risk taker.

I watch you with amazement and sometimes horror because I am definitely not that person. I suspect you are born that way or you’re not. If you’re not and start this sort of thing, you must be seeking to overcome fear at every turn. In our family we seem to have some of both basic types sprinkled among us.

Risk taking for me were things like taking a trail ride on a horse in some of our national park sites even though I had not ridden horses. It was reassuring to be told by the tour guide the horses knew where they were going, and it wouldn’t depend on me. It was hard to remember that on a narrow trail at Bryce National Park one summer vacation despite having been on such guided tours in Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain National Parks previously.

Photo by Ricardo Duarte from Pexels

It was harder to believe on a horseback trek guided in Yellowstone National Park just a year or so before retirement. I was with our daughter and her family on the trek that my wiser hubby decided to opt out of. I should have known it might be riskier when I was helped sit atop a horse called Big Bertha. Even so, I was ready for the trek and doing pretty well until Big Bertha slipped on a wet rock while crossing a small stream.

I could sense she was beginning to feel like she was going to go down on her side and with no guide near me, I was unsure of what to do next since my left leg would be under her if she went the whole way down. My decision was to try to get off of her before that happened and in a very messy attempt, I avoided that but not without slipping in the process and giving the trail guide a start. Everyone in the group on the trip seemed aghast and after checking to see if I was injured, they wanted to know if I wanted to go back on this same horse to the starting point. I decided against that option since we would need to go back up the uneven terrain before the disaster happened. So, I did what I think you’re supposed to do – I got back on the horse and finished the trail ride.

Needless to say, it gave our family quite a story to remember and laugh about ever since then. It was likely our last trip West and my last trail ride in the western mountains.

But guess what, there are things that can be harder to do than these for even the adrenaline junkies among us. What is that you wonder?

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Allowing you to see the real me when I am messy and my weaknesses, fears, or failures are slipping out and you see me as the “not together” person I want to be. Beyond messy hair, no makeup, and old clothes, showing the true me is a bigger risk. We all tend to try to fit in with what we believe we are supposed to be to be accepted in the culture and groups we are a part of to one degree or another. And it shows up in a lot of ways including styles of behavior, dress, and choices of words.

We may not admit it, but our families and closest friends know the truth. They hear much of what is held in check much of the time and if they are still in our life, they accept those tendencies that are less gentle, less easygoing, less positive, and more. We hope we don’t allow some of the messiest sides of us slip out beyond that group because life teaches us it’s scary and risky to let someone see us in those other ways.

And likely the saddest thing of all is when we don’t bring the “real” us with us to God. Too many of us put on our Sunday best (including our Sunday faces) when we spend time alone with the One who knows us best and we cannot hide from. We pray the way we have been taught or believe we are to pray instead of being open with Him. We don’t tell Him what is really on our minds like a young child would. We don’t tell Him a lot of things He already knows because we believe He does, so what’s the point?

The point is that He wants us to do that, and we need to humble ourselves and stop looking for fig leaves.

Photo by Hannah Bickmore from Pexels

“We can’t pray effectively until we get in touch with our inner brat. When we see our own self-will, it opens the door to doing things through God. Instead of singing Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way,” we enter into God’s story and watch him do it his way. No one works like him.”

Paul Miller

If that is hard for us, perhaps it’s time to visit some of King David’s Psalms among others in the Bible. You see David pouring out exactly where he is or admitting he isn’t sure of that at all. You see him getting into God’s face with his disappointment with Him and more. David’s story was messy (ours too) but his relationship with God was real and face-to-face. That led to the depth of relationship few others attained.

David took the risk that was greater than facing Goliath. Then he could let himself fall into God’s arms and trust Him even when he was at his messiest. ♥️

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Battle Lines We Must Not Forget

What do we love about The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien? Each of us might respond with a slightly different answer if we are fans of the books and the films. But perhaps key to the answer is our desire to see light overcome darkness, good prevail over evil, and the lust for power brought into subjection. Maybe we recognize that in the current time and our everyday lives we still live out that theme in the present, and we are all caught up in the story that began long ago.

One of the vital things we must remember as the battle lines are drawn is that evil is not always initially obvious. It never has been and that is why it can take territory before we even recognize it is happening. Doubt is put down to cause us to give pause to words that we hear, and never before have we had so many opportunities to be drawn off the path of righteousness as words bombard us from every direction, and possibly thought about less before they are spoken or written than ever before.

“With the great emphasis on words, you might think they are studied and valued and understood more than ever before. But that is where the odd thing appears. They are not. They are used badly, sloppily, carelessly. They are wasted away. It turns out that words themselves are not nearly as important as what they can do, and when they have done their work, they are tossed aside like Kleenex. Words are used in order to influence, to sell a car or a candidate, to seduce, to persuade, to win for propaganda or for advertisement. The skill of our times is not using words as words but using them as weapons, as tools.”

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet

In the midst of all the words meant to influence and seduce us we are faced with the dilemma of trying to sort out what is true if we are even recognizing that not every word we read or hear is true. Because we live in a swirling world of lies, we can get lost in the bombardment and the keenest of discernment can fail us if the words chosen are ones we long to hear. And that points to the unseen challenge of how much truth we know and how much it permeates our thoughts, heart, and behavior. We would like to think we are lovers of truth but whether that is truth is not something we should so quickly determine. Truth is not easy to hear oftentimes, and it is not easy to speak at times as well. It reminds us of the DNA we inherited in the Garden of Eden and even as “good” people and as believers it is not painless for us.

“One of the large and persistent tasks of living the Christian life is learning to tell the truth. The opposite of telling the truth is telling lies. We lie a lot. Most of us lie a lot. We lie more than we are aware of. We lie even when we think we are telling the truth. The reason we do so is quite clear; we want to be at the center of attention; we want to subordinate all reality, persons, things, and events to our willfulness. We want to control people’s responses and manipulate their perceptions. In order to do that, we arrange the data, filter the facts, and shape the information so that we can influence the way things will be heard and seen, so that the response will be congenial to us.”

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet

OUCH!! The words of Eugene Peterson in his powerful book, This Hallelujah Banquet, that looks at the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation in the Bible, are piercing. The chapter on “The Test of Our Truth” focuses on the letter to the church at Pergamum and pulls off the masks and attempts to deny the facts we frequently do not want to face. Too often they are easier to ignore because we fail in loving well enough to share truth and hold ourselves and others accountable to it. We forget that Jesus IS Truth!

“Lies are not usually blatant falsehoods. In order to be successful, they have to be mostly the truth.”

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet

And that is what makes it so easy to fall prey to in each of our lives and a truth we must recognize if we are to challenge this in our own lives. One thing that can help is how much of the Word is in us, not just what we can quote.

The author of lies, Lucifer, was skilled in the Garden of Eden when he used words to seduce Adam and Eve. He is skilled today as well. Not unlike our ancient relatives, we are prone to want to hide when lies are revealed.

“It is no part of the Christian duty to run away from a difficult or dangerous situation. The Christian aim is not to escape from a situation, but conquest of a situation.”

William Barclay in Letters to the Seven Churches

What is the lie that deceives us?

“To separate what we say from the way we live. To make a division between our confession in worship and our conduct at work. Truth is lived truth. Truth is not simply what we say but what we live.”

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet

So, how do we test for truth and pass the test?

“The truth test asks not What do you think? but Who are you? Not What is your opinion? but What is your decision?

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet

We must accurately discern the battle lines if we are to pass the truth test.

“The battle is not between good and evil but between truth and error. To fight it well means to throw one’s life on the side of truth, to discern between what is right and what is spurious.”

Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet