top of page

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

On the evening of July 22, 2006, I received a telephone call from my sister-in-law Kelly saying that two soldiers were knocking on their front door. My brother Gary, who at the time was serving as a police officer, was away at a training session. Their oldest son Chris had been serving on his third tour of duty in Iraq during the “Global War on Terror.” Chris, who was with the Army’s 82nd Airborne, was a believer in Christ and loved serving our country. And now, there were soldiers at his parent’s door. As Kelly invited them inside, I told her that I would be over as quickly as possible.

USA Staff Sergeant Christopher W. Swanson. was killed while serving his third tour of duty in Iraq during the Global War on Terror.

As I arrived at the house, Kelly met me with tears in her eyes. Soon after, my brother Gary arrived home, and the soldiers shared the news that no parent would ever want to receive. Chris had been killed in action earlier that day in Ramadi, Iraq. For Gary and Kelly, that knock on the door would turn out to be a visit that changed their lives forever. Their son died a hero’s death, and now, the War on Terror and Memorial Day would take on a more personal meaning.

Growing up, I always knew why we celebrated Memorial Day. It’s a holiday established by Congress to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. On the last Monday of May, this day is set aside to honor the men and women who died in serving the United States military. But for me and many others, it was more about the start of summer, picnics, baseball, beaches, and a day off work and school. However, the older I got, and especially in the aftermath of my nephew’s death, I realized that Memorial Day was much more than that. It was really about service and sacrifice.

As Christians, we have the ultimate example of service and sacrifice in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Throughout scripture, we find Jesus constantly serving others. He fed thousands and healed the sick, the lame, the deaf, and the blind. He washed the feet of others; He raised the dead, and He spent time with those that no one else cared about. Jesus lived a life of servanthood. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” As Christ-followers, we are called to put others first and look for opportunities to serve like Jesus served. (Philippians 2:3-4)

In Jesus, we also find the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. While the soldiers we honor on Memorial Day have sacrificed for our earthly freedom, Jesus sacrificed for our eternal freedom. His sacrifice allowed us to gain a spiritual victory over sin, death, and hell. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” On that first Good Friday, over two thousand years ago, Jesus willingly went to a cross outside of Jerusalem and laid down his life for us. Our sins, past, present, and future, were nailed to that cross with Jesus.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” I am so thankful that Jesus considers us His friends, and because of his death and resurrection, we have a promise from Romans 10:9 that says, “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.” When it comes to the end of life, there are really only two things that matter. They are:

1. Whether you accepted Jesus Christ’s free gift of grace and salvation

2. Whether you rejected it.

The choice you make has huge eternal consequences and is literally a heaven vs. hell decision.

This Memorial Day, you will most likely find my brother and sister-in-law visiting section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery and participating in remembrance ceremonies with other Gold Star families. As a nation, we hold the deepest gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have given their lives over the ages, defending our freedoms and families. For those that are in Christ, I am thankful for the promise given in Revelation 21:4 — “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

As Christians, we know that our first allegiance is to God and that our ultimate citizenship is not of this world. We are thankful above all things for the service and sacrifice of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not sure why the Lord afforded me the opportunity to live in this great nation, but He did, and I am thankful. I am thankful for the men and women who have served faithfully throughout the years, and especially for those who have given up their lives to protect our freedoms.

So, this Memorial Day, remember to say thanks and to pray for our nation and our leaders. This is an imperfect nation because we are an imperfect people. But the good news is that we serve a perfect God who wants a personal relationship with you and me. The reality is that one day, there will be a knock on our family’s door, a phone call, or a visit from a doctor saying that we have passed away. The question is, where will you be spending eternity? My prayer is that you will be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and he will say to you, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Please know that I love you all, and I am praying for you. If you have any questions about salvation and/or if there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at:

“All gave some; some gave All.”

* All scripture quoted in English Standard Version (ESV)

Glenn Swanson is the pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, and he serves as the president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

26 views0 comments

Thursday April 14, 2022

One of my fondest memories as a young boy was belonging to a local chapter of the Royal Ambassadors (RA’s) at my home church in Upper Marlboro. The RA’s is a mission-oriented discipleship program for boys in elementary school sponsored by Women on Mission (WMU). It has many similarities to the Boy Scouts (camping, badges, projects, and more), however, it is Christ-centered with a focus on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). (There are a variety of other WMU missions programs available for all children and older students.)

The purpose of the RA’s is outlined in their pledge, which I still have memorized to this day and have taught on several occasions. There are five core principles in the pledge.

As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best:

  • To become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ.

  • To have a Christ-like concern for all people.

  • To learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world.

  • To work with others in sharing Christ.

  • To keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body.

My parents, teachers, and RA leaders helped instill these principles in me, which in turn, helped to shape and mold my Christian life to where it is today. As followers of Jesus, we would all do well in living out these principles. In doing so, we give our BEST when:

  • First, “We become well-informed, responsible followers of Christ.” Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Store up God’s Word in your life by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it so that when someone asks you a question, you will be ready to give an answer that reflects Christ. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

  • Second, “We have a Christ-like concern for all people.” Every day we encounter people who are different from us. They may look different and act differently. They may come from different races, ethnic groups, backgrounds, and religions. We can point them to Christ by demonstrating that we genuinely love and care for them – no matter who they are or where they have come from. In Mark 12:31, Jesus reminds us that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” One practical way to do this is with random acts of kindness and serving others as Christ served us.

  • Third, “We learn how the message of Christ is carried around the world.” In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His followers that they will be His “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In Acts 13, the first international mission trip took place as Paul and Barnabas were sent out to Gentile territories. It is important for us to learn from the success and failures of those who went before us and to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us on mission.

  • Fourth, “We work with others in sharing Christ.” There is something special about coming together with other like-minded believers and churches in proclaiming the good news of Jesus. This is why being an active member of your local associations and state and national conventions is important. There is indeed strength in numbers and we are “better together.” Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron,” and Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

  • Fifth, “We keep ourselves clean and healthy in mind and body.” We need to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through our words and actions. In Romans 12:1-2, we are reminded that Christ-followers should “Present [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [their] spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

It is an honor and a high calling to be an ambassador. Whenever I get an opportunity, I enjoy driving down “Embassy Row” in Washington, D.C., looking at the embassies and residences of the various ambassadors from around the world. I am reminded that these ambassadors are in the U.S., each representing their nation and its leadership. These people are usually the best of the best and they want to represent their nations with excellence.

The RA motto, found in 2 Corinthians 5:20, says, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” As His ambassadors, there is no higher calling for the Christ-follower than to represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with excellence. My prayer is that you will be the ambassadors for Christ in your homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. In all that we say and do, may we glorify HIS name.

Please know that I love you all and I am praying for you. If there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at

All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

26 views0 comments

Several years ago, our student ministry team took a group of high school seniors to New York City for a special graduation trip. While visiting Times Square, one of the students informed me that he had purchased a “Rolex” watch from a street vendor for $69.95. When I explained the difference between an authentic Rolex and a cheap imitation, he was somewhat disappointed but, nonetheless, he was happy to have a souvenir to “impress” his friends back home.

A few weeks later, I saw the student at a youth group meeting and asked him how his watch was holding up. Somewhat embarrassed, he informed me that the watch was now broken and that it also turned his wrist a rusty green color. We both had a good laugh over what happened, but a valuable lesson was learned. There is a big difference between an “authentic” Rolex and a fake imitation.

When it comes to being a follower of Jesus Christ, the world is looking for authenticity, not fake imitations. There are far too many people who call themselves Christians, but in reality, they are just putting on a show. They may know the “Christianese” language by saying the right things and doing the right things when around church folks. However, when it comes to being in the world, they just blend into whatever environment they are in.

In the Bible, Jesus reminds us what His real, authentic followers look like. In Luke 9:23-27, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (ESV).

In these verses, Jesus is calling His disciples to surrender everything for Him. When we become followers of Jesus, He expects us to be “all in” for Him. When Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins, He went “all in” for us. Denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily means that we are putting away our old sinful ways and lifestyles and turning completely to Him. We put away our ego, our desires, our wants, and our ambitions and turn them over to Jesus.

When we are baptized, we are symbolically buried with Jesus in death and raised to the newness of life. An authentic follower of Jesus is someone who puts on His selflessness, His patience, and His sacrificial, unconditional love. We are called to surrender everything to Him and to be His witness in this world. Each day, our lives should be an open, living testimony of His saving grace, and we should never be ashamed to share the gospel.

The world is watching us, church. My prayer is that you will not have one foot in the church and one foot in the world. I pray that you will be “all in” for Jesus and that people will see that you are the real deal and an authentic follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through your words and your actions.

Please know that I love you all, and I am praying for you. If you have specific prayer requests or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Glenn Swanson is the president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and serves as the senior pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach.

27 views1 comment
bottom of page