Thanksgiving, even when we don’t feel like it!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”
James 5:13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.5.13.NASB1995

As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/jas.1.19/2932

Here’s another one, this time from John.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1jn.4.7.NASB1995

That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.

If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!

LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.

The Flag of the United States of America

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic
For which it stands
one Nation under God,

indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

The Flag of the United States of America is a symbol of us all — of all America. It is not a political symbol. It is a symbol that each American should respect, for it represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of those who struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: Freedom, justice and opportunity for all. Contrary to other flags of the world, the U.S. Flag is the flag of its citizens – the people of all ages that make and keep America a stronghold and an example of freedom.

“Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has evoked intense, sincere feelings of patriotism.” 

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States

Some of the history and etiquette for our National Symbol follows. Our politicians in Washington need to review these guidelines!

Even more than the eagle, our flag, the flag of these United States of America, is a living symbol. Many of us look upon it as the embodiment of the spirit of this great land. Sometimes referred to as “Old Glory’, it has been cherished for years as the embodiment of what we stand for as a nation.

It is a standard of Honor that we should respect. Our reverence for our flag is justified by past and present sacrifices for freedom and liberty. To me, it is a symbol of the incredible bravery and sacrifices of the children, and the men and women of this country. Yes, “children”, because children have fought for this country, from the Revolutionary War to WWII and beyond. From children barely able to carry a musket; to men like my father, who enlisted in WWII at the age of 17.

Throughout the world, our flag signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom. There is a magic in our flag. It brings hope to war-torn countries when carried in by our troops. Whenever I see the flag, my hope of a better nation is renewed; that this nation, under God, will continue to be an example everywhere for all people who love freedom with honor. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, our fellow citizens and the proud future we share.

The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag was written in August of 1882 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage. The celebration plans resulted in Columbus Day being designated a holiday for the whole country by President Benjamin Harrison. The original 23 words read as follows:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag
and to the republic
For which it stands
one Nation, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

In 1923 the original verse was changed from “I pledge allegiance to my Flag” to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.”  

When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing their right hand over the heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing it during the Pledge.

The United States Flag Code was first adopted in 1924 prescribes flag etiquette for a variety of circumstances ensuring that our national symbol is treated properly. The Code is explained in great detail on the National Flag Foundation’s website for anyone wishing to explore it in greater detail. The Code is a guide for civilians and civilian groups who wish to properly honor the United States of America’s principle emblem. Each military branch has its own flag code of military etiquette.

 In 1943 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that “No one – child or adult – could be forced to say ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’. To force someone to say it was in opposition to ‘freedom and justice for all.’  It was in 1954 that Congress added “under God” to the Pledge. It was pointed out that Abraham Lincoln had called the United States “this nation under God” in ‘The Gettysburg Address.’

When the flag is presented, all persons should come to attention. All persons in uniform should give the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may also render the military salute. All other persons should salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing any non-religious headgear are to remove it. Women do not have to remove their head covering. In parades and reviews, it is proper to start the salute as the flag enters your position and end when it has passed.

The Flag of the United States of America should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously, and is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. Each individual should stand at attention facing the flag and salute. It is also proper to salute whenever the national anthem is played. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the National Anthem whichever is the longest. It is not considered appropriate for US citizens to salute another countries flag or anthem.

Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. There are eight sites in the United States where the flag is flown day and night under specific legal authority: Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland; Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland; the United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia; Lexington, Massachusetts; the White House; the Washington Monument; United States Customs ports of entry; and Valley Forge State Park, Pennsylvania.

 

The United States Flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect. Remember, our flag represents a living country and, as such, is considered a living thing. For instance, the lapel flag pin, being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. The flag should always be displayed with the blue union field up. The only time you ever display the flag upside down would be as a signal of extreme distress.  

We should always carry the flag aloft and free — never flat or horizontally. The exception to this is carrying very large flags that are too big to be flown from a staff or pole. It is important to always keep the flag clean.  Keep it safe from those who would not respect it, or do not know enough to do so, such as young children.

I am very grateful to be born in the United States. We are so blessed to live in this great nation. There is so much unrest and focus on things that are irrelevant, and the most important thing that we as Christians can do is to pray for our country. Thank God that you live in what is still the greatest country in the world, despite what politicians and others are doing to tear her down.

“And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.”
Joel 2:13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jol.2.13.NASB1995

Remembering my Mom, Phyllis Henry

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15‭-‬19 NASB1995

Today we are celebrating the life of our Mom. Her children and niece, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, special friends, as many as can be here. It will be livestreaming, too, for you to see. Join us in celebration! http://www.faithbibleok.com at 11am CDT

Phyllis Henry lived a full, interesting life. She didn’t have an easy life, by any means, and she wasn’t perfect. Having a pastor for a husband and 6 children to deal with kept her running, but she found time to help in the nursery at church every Sunday, and to be involved with the WMU, church potlucks, hostessing get togethers and visiting missionaries and preachers, and keeping peace in the family. (You have to be a Southern Baptist to understand 🙂 ) Our house always had to present a put-together face for people to drop in, so that meant keeping kids and toys and the paraphernalia of life out of the living room, and ready to offer tea or coffee at a moments notice.

On top of all that, my Dad was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a few years into their marriage, and the medications prescribed caused serious side effects leading to angina (heart disease) and eventually type 2 diabetes. It didn’t stop him from pastoring full time, going to college at night for his doctorate, visiting the sick, and trying to be the husband and father he needed to be. Mom added nurse, dietitian, and driver to her resume.

Her kids didn’t make her life any easier. We did chores and helped cook and clean as we got older, but children can be pretty self centered and we weren’t that different. School, life, hobbies, church and school activities, music and art lessons, we all stayed busy, too. Add chauffeur and tutor to her list of duties.

There was a lot of rebellion from the middle 4 kids. One left home days before his 18th birthday. I dropped out of college after 2 years and rejected pretty much everything I had been taught. The next two had a lot of craziness in their lives, too. The thing is, no matter how far I went, where or how I got there, and knowing how hurt and disappointed Mom (and Dad) were, I knew they loved me. It wasn’t until years later, YEARS later, when I wrote to Mom to ask for forgiveness that I began to understand Agape love. Dad had been gone for several years, and she said this to me. “There were times when we didn’t like you” (I know it was probably most of the time) “but we never stopped loving you and praying for you.” It’s because of their examples that I have a relationship with my LORD. Their faithfulness, their forgiveness, their love and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ was the centerpiece of their lives.

That’s how God is, I think. As His children, His Creation, we hurt Him and disappoint Him, constantly. But know this. He never stops loving us. He loves you. Maybe your parents didn’t love you. Maybe they loved you enough to give you up for adoption (that’s a powerful love).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB1995

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB1995

Mom loved us, and Mom loved the people around her, because she knew God loved her. She showed that love to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. She is missed by so many. Her ready smile, her refusal to complain, her ability to listen. I know the angels rejoiced when she joined them.

I’ll see her again, in heaven. Love you.

Thank God!

A Psalm of David:

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple. And give thanks to Your name for Your Lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

“All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD. When they have heard the words of Your Mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the Glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your Hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your Right Hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your Lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your Hands.” Psalms 138:1‭-‬8 NASB1995

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Everything is a gift. Be thankful for His Mercy, Pardon, Patience, Lovingkindness, Truth. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,….” Psalms 92:1‭-‬2 NIV

Pray. God delivers His promises in fulfillment of His Word. Don’t forget to say Thank You, Jesus! “….. to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,….” Ephesians 3:19‭-‬20 NIV

Remember God’s Pre-eminence. Eventually, EVERYONE will give thanks and praise the LORD. ALL of Creation will praise Him. He is our protection. Be thankful for all the troubles that have MISSED us. God’s Grace and Mercy will sustain us. He gives us Purpose. He will complete and accomplish His plans for me. God made me and He has a purpose for me!

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

“….. being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

Thank God for His fulfillment!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

Open Letter to Our President, Donald J. Trump

Dear President Trump,

In this unsettled and unprecedented time, I have to thank you for your strong leadership and your continued persistence in working for our great and beautiful country. You and your family have sacrificed much personally in order to take on this tremendous, thankless task of the presidency of these United States.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

As I read these words this morning, I believe God put you in my mind for a reason. Unlike you, I struggle financially just to meet my basic needs, but I can’t imagine how much worse it will be for me and others like me, if the socialists and far-left take over Washington. God is with you. I believe that. Just as King David if Israel was pursued by his enemies, so are you being pursued by yours. Take comfort in David’s words.

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows And their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They dug a pit before me; They themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens And Your truth to the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth.” Psalms 57:1‭-‬11 NASB1995

Our God is in in control! May He continue to bless you and keep you safe; you and all of your family. Thank you for your service.

Sincerely,

Nancy K. Henry

Now to Him

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

It is so easy to be judgmental based on how a person looks. We can look at someone on a street corner & think “Get a job! Quit begging!” But do you know their circumstances? Personally, I find it difficult to understand how – and why – anyone is homeless with all of the resources available now… And yet, I spent several months living on the street years ago because of my own bad choices. I was too proud to reach out for help, so God used others to help me out of that pit. Not with money, because He knew that wouldn’t help me, but with a place to stay and food to eat until I got my health back, and I could get a job and my own place. We look at the outside, but thank God that He looks at the heart!

“I thank Him who has given me strength, CHRIST JESUS our LORD, because He judged me Faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received Mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief*, and the Grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received Mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12‭-‬17 ESV

*Unlike Paul, I was not ignorant of God, nor was I an unbeliever. Still, in His infinite Mercy and Grace, the LORD of the Universe forgave me and took me back into His arms. How thankful I am for His Mercy and my wholly undeserved forgiveness! I remain convinced that of those people who helped lift me out of the muck, some had to be angels in disguise. Take time today to thank God for what you have, and do something good for someone. We never know when we might be entertaining angels!

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Special

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16‭-‬17 NASB

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7 NASB

I am special. Every person who rejects the world to embrace Jesus as LORD is special! GOD, the very same God Who created the Universe, is a part of their life; He is an integral part of my life. We have this supernatural, incomparable helper that non-Christians can’t begin to understand. Too many times, we – I – forget that. Worry and frustration creep into our lives, despair begins to manifest itself, and all along, we have the means to repel them. The Holy Spirit is real. He is alive. He will defend us and defeat the enemy if we just allow Him control of our lives.

So simple, yet so difficult for stubborn humans, and I definitely include myself in that group. Once again, I’m reminded of one of the sayings that is repeated often in recovery groups: “Let go, and let GOD.” Just do it!

Enough

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15‭-‬16 NASB

“O Lord , You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Psalms 139:1‭-‬3 NASB

You know, I just can’t come up with anything today that can add to these verses. They are enough; JESUS is enough. He is all we need. AMEN.