A Sacrificial Thanks

A sacrificial thanksgiving. That’s a different attitude!

I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.” Psalms 116:14‭-‬15 NASB (Read verses 1-19)

Are we thankful for the people who have sacrificed their lives for us? Today, I’m reminded of the men and women who have unselfishly volunteered to dedicate their lives to keeping our nation free. They serve in our Armed Forces as Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force personnel. They serve in our Border Patrol, and they serve in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. These men and women don’t know me, yet they are putting their very lives on the line to provide me with freedom and safety from other nations who want to destroy us.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6‭-‬7 NASB

You know the truly astonishing thing about those people serving us? Many of them aren’t even Christians! They don’t know our LORD; they don’t have a personal relationship with Him, and yet they are ready to give their very life to save mine.

A humbling thought.

Am I prepared to offer my life as a sacrifice – a joyful sacrifice at that, overflowing with gratitude that I could offer my life for my LORD? Not even for a stranger, but for my Saviour, Who died for me? Am I thankful for the uncomfortable things that are happening in my life?

GOD, the Ultimate Authority

While there must be an institutional separation of church and state, there must NOT be separation between God and government. NO people, institution, or government has any authority beyond what has been given by God. GOD has the ultimate authority and power!

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Romans 13:1 NASB

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ ” Jeremiah 29:7 NASB

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; ……” Colossians 2:8‭-‬10 NASB

Just some things to keep in mind as we move into this season of campaigning and elections. The Deceiver is moving strongly throughout our nation, and it is easy to fall into his many traps and lies. Our nation is unique among nations because it is based upon Christian principles and values. Think hard, pray hard, evaluate each candidate by their lives, their families, their actions. Above all else, remember this:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Attention, Leaders!

“It is an abomination for *kings* to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness.” – Proverbs 16:12 NASB

We don’t have a King in the U.S.A., but we do have layer upon layer in our government: Mayors, sundry politicians, Governors, Senators and Representatives – both State and Federal, Judges, Legislative leaders, Cabinet members, President.

As I watch all the negative news coming out of our states and our Capitol, and lately, especially from the State of Virginia and Washington, D.C., I just want to take up arms and defend our country against those “leaders” who are undermining everything these United States was founded on. The

For We the People, the Bill of Rights should be our touchstone, inviolable. The first two items listed in the Bill of Rights are Freedom to exercise Religion and freedom of Speech and the Press; and the Right to Bear Arms. Without these two, we are no longer citizens, but we become subjects, required to do whatever the government deems “proper”, rather than the people. As Christians, we are to obey authority, to “submit.”

“Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:2 NASB

Does that remain true when our authorities themselves oppose the ordinance of God? Paul goes on to write this:

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:3‭-‬5 NASB

Here in the United States, we thankfully live in a Republic. In a Republic, by the votes of the people, we can change who is in authority. In fact, we have the responsibility to change who is in authority when those people, those leaders, become sources of fear and evil. There are no good or perfect humans, no one who is truly wise, so we must search God’s Word for our answers.

No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.” Romans 3:11 NLT

“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 NASB

I challenge everyone reading this to consider these words, especially the Scriptures, to determine the best course of action. For myself, praying for our leaders is critical. If the times call for action, then I will respond, and not sit by while evil takes over.

According to HIS Will

“God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4 NASB

HIS Will.

What’s your plan? Are you getting ready to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Saviour, or are you stressing out over presents and sending cards and decorating the house?

Slow down for a moment. Breathe.

We get so caught up in the “holiday spirit” that we forget what the “holiday” is all about. The decorations and the presents and the parties take over our thoughts and actions. We concentrate so much on everything being perfect, we forget why we’re doing all of it in the first place. Are the presents the focus, or the Presence?

Seriously.

I love the lights and the decorations. Opening presents makes me feel like a kid again (especially when they are actually wrapped instead of in gift bags 🤗 ) ….. I could happily leave the nativity up all year around as a reminder of the precious gift we were given by the Lord.

Especially this year, 2019, with the insanity happening in Washington DC, our focus needs to turn to Jesus. What is HIS Will in this mess? Celebrate His birth, His Presence, but be sure to take the time to pray for our nation and our leaders. What a mess.

To Honor Those Who Serve….

I wrote this 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth sharing again. I want to acknowlege a few of the pastors who have touched my life and helped me in my journey through life: my Dad, Bill Henry. Mark Hitchcock. Dennis Newkirk. Chuck Robinson. Lonny Lee. There are many others, and I’m not leaving you off to offend you!

As a nation, we have several designated days for remembering. Yesterday was the anniversary of an unfathomable tragedy for these United States. In May, we honor our fallen service men and women; in November, D-day.

EVERY day of the year is an anniversary for honoring someone who has given their life for another. It is Army and Air Force, Marines and Navy; Police officers and firemen. Ambulance personnel, EMT’s and ER doctors and nurses. Airline pilots and personnel. Everyday, ordinary people. Pastors.

Why would I add “Pastors” to this list?

Have you looked at your pastor lately? REALLY looked? I’m not speaking of preachers who stand in the pulpit on Sundays and lead separate lives during the week, or the ones who are all about appearance and wealth. I’m talking about Pastors, and missionaries who devote their lives to service. Men who love their spiritual flock as their own families. Men – and their wives – who sacrifice themselves to God and His work.

We, as their flocks, their congregations, are doing better these days to recognize their need for respite from their service, I think – but our pastors need our care and support. Physical care and support, obviously, but even more importantly they need our emotional and spiritual support.

My Dad served in the United States Merchant Marines as a radio officer during WWII. Over the course of his life, my Dad gave his life in total to serving his Lord and his flocks at the expense of his health. Wherever, whenever he was called, he gave everything he had, even at times at the expense of the family. Even during his last days on this earth he was witnessing to his health care workers. He gave all. What an example.

To me, he was and is a great example of a hero.

Every day, I miss him. I can’t wait to see him and have his arms around me in heaven. Let’s dance, Daddy. I love you.

Lest We Forget

July 4, 2019. 243 years ago, a group of men gathered, in secret, to forge ahead with actions that would end up costing many of them – literally – their fortunes and their lives. They did it in the name of freedom. Freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, freedom to decide their own fates. Freedom to escape the rule of ‘class’. Were these men perfect? Far from it! Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Yet they forged ahead, determined that their children and their children’s children and so on would have a place to live in freedom.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. No country, no nation before us was ever started with a Populous government! With all of the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike’s decision to pull their shoe that displayed it because it is a “slave” flag, let me refer to Article XIII of the Bill of Rights:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Was there slavery? Yes. It was in the form of both outright ownership of persons and indentured servitude. Was it against the Constitution? Yes, it was. Is it still occurring in the United States? Yes, I am sorry to say, although it is to a much lesser extent than in other countries. Our ancestors fought wars to prevent undue rule and unjust rule. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, the Middle East….. We are still fighting over unjust practices and inhumane treatment. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery; it was about States rights!

What’s my point?

There will never be a perfect place to live on this earth, because humanity is flawed to the core. No man or woman is perfect, and we will all do and say offensive and stupid things. Bearing that in mind, and knowing that in these United States we are all responsible for ourselves, we are Blessed! What other country allows such blatant disrespect to it to flourish within it’s borders? Where else on earth can people publicly make fun of and disrespect their leader without experiencing dire consequences?

Since 1776, millions of men and women, United States citizens, have given everything for our freedom. There are currently hundreds, thousands, military personnel putting their lives on the line, every single day, for our freedom. Ditto for the Police officers, Sheriff departments, Border Patrol Agents, every type of Law Enforcement; all First Responders – Fire, EMT’s. Where else in the world do these freedoms and protections exist? Nowhere, to the extent of those in the United States.

It’s a day to be thankful. We can worship how and when we please, we can speak out – and act out – against our government in freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

https://www.puzzlewarehouse.com

Sadly, this jigsaw puzzle is no longer available.

And Justice For All

Watch the Pledge of Allegiance, a word-by-word meaning explained by Red Skelton, on YouTube, recorded 14 January 1969….. and watch it all the way to the end. It’s only 4 minutes out of your day and totally worth it!

“For justice may be slow and invisible, but it always renders its true verdict in the end.” – Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

I am so blessed to live in this country where our Pledge of Allegience includes these words: “under GOD” and “with liberty and justice for all.” Is it true? Is there liberty and justice for all? Nope, not even close. But – why? Whose fault is it that we are so lacking in those two tenets? It’s very simple, really. This is a nation made up of human beings. We are not just, individually or collectively, thanks to our inherent sinful natures, but as a nation, we try. There is no other place in the world that has the freedoms that we have, and it is because of the strong Christian faith of the founders of our country. That said, it is also a country of severe injustice and prejudice. Those attitudes won’t ever be completely overcome as long as humans are in charge, and that is why it is so critical for us – the followers of the LORD JESUS CHRIST – to tell others of the Gospel. There will be JUSTICE FOR ALL in the end!

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.” – JAMES 5:7‭-‬12 NASB

Are you prepared for Justice to be meted out in your life? If I were to be judged on my own merit, I would be sent straight to hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go straight to jail. I thank Jesus that He is my Advocate, and that He has covered my sins with His Blood. The scales of Justice will show every human to have ever lived as severely lacking….. It is only through the Grace, Love, and Mercy of our God, and through the Blood of Jesus that was shed for us that we won’t be consigned to hell. We may not see justice in our lifetime, or it may seem to be slow, but there will be Justice for all in the end. GOD will see to it.

Are you ready to face Him? Have you pledged allegiance to Him?