Are You Thankful?

“The old advice of always spending less than you earn is kind of worthless when you hardly have an income….”

I don’t know who said this, but they have a valid point. It’s a problem I have struggled with, and the interesting thing I have realized is that it has been true regardless of my income. Americans are spoiled. We live in a country where poverty level is higher than many countries highest earners. I don’t deny that there are thousands here who really are living in horrible conditions. It would be amazing to be able to change, but the reality is just as Jesus said.

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Matthew 26:11 NLT

Search for the words “the poor” in scripture. They are referred to dozens of times. There are many people who believe that we should divide everything up among the entire population – I disagree, because it only encourages the lazy to become,more so, and it discourages those with ambition. Why should I work so that someone else can sit around?

My point is this: we should help those we can, especially family, the orphans and widows, and I have to add, our veterans. Give thanks for what you have, be it a little or a lot. Thank God for your blessings. A roof over your head, food to eat, transportation…. indoor toilets, heat when it’s cold. Family, friends, FAITH.

To me, this describes how Thanksgiving should be:

“This festival will be a happy time of celebrating with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows from your towns.” Deuteronomy 16:14 NLT

Waiting. Not My Strong Suit!

I don’t like to wait!

“Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the LORD our GOD be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.” – Psalms 90:13‭-‬17 NASB

I’m ready. SO ready for Jesus to show up! I mean, sure, there are unchecked boxes on my bucket list, and someone I really want to meet; things to do, foods to eat, places to go….. but, I’m ready. The absolute evil and insanity that is pervading our world makes me cringe and want to run away from it all, straight into heaven. Even the Psalmist asked God to hurry! And check out the wording here: Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. Yikes. Make us glad for our afflictions. Make us glad for the years of evil!

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 NASB

Today, this is how this reads to me: Rejoice in the waiting. Give thanks for the opportunity to wait. I won’t pray for patience. God in His infinite wisdom already gives me plenty of opportunities to learn it and practice it. What I will do is pray. Thank You, LORD, for the waiting; for all of the opportunities to rejoice in the anticipation of what is to come, both here on earth and later, with You, in Paradise.

Give Thanks to YOU Alone

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; Bless His Name!” – Psalms 100:4 ESV

Are you thinking about your blessings today? I am thankful that the Almighty Creator saw fit to cover my sins with the Blood of CHRIST, blessing me with eternal LIFE rather than the eternal death I deserve.

It is well with my soul.

Mercy Me sings it so well:
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone….”

If you can’t find anything to be thankful for, pick something from this list:

  1. Toilet paper (Thanks for the reminder, Katy!)
  2. Food to eat
  3. Clean water to drink
  4. Feet
  5. Hands
  6. Sight
  7. Family, whether birth or adopted or chosen
  8. Pets, and their unconditional love …. Just like our LORD!
  9. Life
  10. I am Born Again, thanks to JESUS!

Not everything on the list will resonate with you, but I pray that you can be thankful for the last. He is the only way to true peace and thanksgiving in your life, and without Him, ….. well, without Him, we’re sunk. Period. Remember this?

No JESUS, No Peace;

Know JESUS, Know Peace!

Pure, complete Truth. I urge you to explore the Bible, and if you are new to this, I encourage you to start with the book of John.

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” ….. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of GOD, even to those who believe in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of GOD.” – John 1:1-5;12‭-‬13 NASB

“For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His Only begotten SON, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have Eternal Life.” – John 3:16 NASB

It can all be yours. Just ask! AMEN

This is for you, Mom….

Mother’s Day has come and gone. I didn’t call my Mom. I did send a card, but it probably didn’t get there until Monday. I haven’t been to see her in a year. Just because she lives 1000 miles away is not really an excuse. Seriously. As the saying goes, ‘A day late and a dollar short’ …. story of my life. I may not call often, I certainly don’t write or email much, and I don’t make the trip out to Arizona with enough frequency. Quilty as charged; mea culpa.

I love my Mom. She’s my hero. I’ve talked about her before. She should have medals and trophies for the hardship and deprivation she has faced – and overcome – in her life. She is facing still more hardship in the physical and emotional, and she continues in her 90’s to carry on with courage. She is the Proverbs 31 woman (verses 10-31). Her tribe of 6 kids can never show sufficiently show her how much she means to us all. I’m just really impressed she didn’t kill* any of us when we were kids because of our attitudes and actions. (*Figuratively, of course!!) Actually, I can’t wait to see the crowns and accolades she’ll receive when she gets to heaven!

Mom didn’t only have to deal with 6 children, although that task alone scares the bejeebers out of me! She was a preacher’s wife, and not just any kind of preacher, but a Southern Baptist, super-strict, totally dedicated to his job kind of preacher. I loved my Dad (still do!), but the truth is that he was a hard taskmaster, and still demanded more from himself than from anyone around him. Mom was a full-time Mom, full-time wife, full-time helpmeet at the church and at home. I know there were times when she was exhausted both physically and emotionally, but I don’t ever remember her ever giving up. She has inspired and is admired by so many people, including me. My life has been full of poor, and definitely stupid, choices, and I hurt my Mom and my Dad. I have deeply disappointed them. Through it all, they continued to love me and to pray for me, even (maybe especially) when they didn’t like me. She has been steadfast in her love of the LORD, in her love for my Dad, and in her love for her children.

My Mom is my hero. I may not call or write or visit, but she is always in my heart and my mind. I love you, Mom.

(Photo from BayArt.org)

Oh, Give Me Back My JOY Again

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of GOD’s Armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of Truth and the body armor of GOD’s Righteousness. For shoes, put on the Peace that comes from the GOOD NEWS so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of Faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on Salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of GOD. Pray in the SPIRIT at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” – Ephesians 6:12‭-‬18 NLT

“Oh, give me back my JOY again; You have broken me – now let me rejoice. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” – Psalms 51:8‭, ‬10 NLT

I have to share this devotional from the NIV Ragamuffin Bible:

“A profound mystery: GOD becomes a SLAVE. This implies very specifically that God wants to be known through servanthood. Such is GOD’s own self-disclosure.
Thus, when Jesus describes His return in Glory at the end of the world, He says, “It will be good for those servants whose Master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Luke 12:37).

Jesus remains LORD by being a servant.

The beloved disciple presents a mind-bending image of God, blowing away all previous conceptions of who the Messiah is and what discipleship is all about.
What a scandalous and unprecedented reversal of the world’s values! To prefer to be the servant rather than the lord of the household is the path of downward mobility in an upwardly mobile culture.
To taunt the idols of prestige, honor and recognition, to refuse to take oneself seriously or to take seriously others who take themselves seriously, to dance to the tune of a different drummer and to freely embrace the servant lifestyle — these are the attitudes that bear the stamp of authentic discipleship.”

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your FATHER already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of GOD above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” – Luke 12:29‭-‬31 NLT

Can I get an Amen? These are POWERFUL words!

Royal Military College of Canada memorial window Sir Lancelot wearing the whole Armour of God

Authentic

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – Luke 9:25 NLT

Are you looking for something to complete and fulfill yourself? A man or woman, the right job? Are you at the top of your profession, proud of your accomplishments, bragging to your peers? Are you a phony, acting out like a proud peacock, ostentatious, or are you authentic? I like to think that I am authentic, real, not faking or pretending, but I know that in reality, I fake it a lot. I know lots of overachievers, people who have lived their lives with focus and with their faces to the future. My focus is easily fractured, leaving me going in many directions…. I know a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things. See, I can’t even seem to keep to my train of thought on one track today!

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” – Matthew 25:29 NLT

Growing up, our piano teacher pushed me because I had ‘pianist’ hands and a good ‘ear’ for the music. Well, piano didn’t work for me – it required too much practice (short attention span + easily bored don’t equal good practice time!) My art teachers pushed me to develop my drawing and painting and plastic arts. The art came easy, only it frustrated me that my hands wouldn’t – and still won’t – accurately depict what my eyes / brain sees. I love music. Choir was great fun, both in school and church, but I became discouraged that my physical voice didn’t match what I heard in my head. Then there were all of the English classes. J’aime l’anglais! (Heehee!) I got to read every book in the library! There were grammar and punctuation and spelling tests….. no problem.

Like the third servant in the parable JESUS tells us about in Matthew 25:14-30, I buried my musical talent for years, and consequently lost whatever good sounds I could make while singing. Of course I still sing, but it’s more like mak8ng a joyfull noise 😂 . I have continued to dabble in the arts by applying the things I have learned in different disciplines, including practicing my drawing by designing houses and kitchens. Had I focused on just that, there’s really no way of knowing how far it might have gone. Instead, I let myself be disillusioned by any perceived (or real) criticism, and bounced around to many other distractions. I became the Jack (or Jill 😁 ) of all trades, master of none. Obviously, I haven’t gained the whole world, and I’ve lost more financially than I’ve gained, although I am incredibly blessed in what I now have. I know these Words from Jesus are pure Truth:

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – Luke 9:25 NLT

I will probably continue to struggle financially, and I may struggle physically and mentally, but I KNOW the Truth. The Truth of JESUS CHRIST and His Love for me, and the Truth of my Salvation. The authentic JESUS. I know this world is not my home because my home is with Him, my Saviour. Are you authentic in JESUS?

UP From The Grave He AROSE

“He will swallow up death forever! The SOVEREIGN LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove FOREVER all insults and mockery against His Land and [His] People. The LORD has spoken!” – Isaiah 25:8 NLT

Robert Lowry (1826-1899) captured the essence of the reason I celebrate Easter in this hymn he wrote. I remember singing it in church while growing up, and I can still see so clearly my Dad standing and singing this with his whole being. Thank you, Dad, for preaching the Gospel, and thank you, Mom, for always having his back and making his ministry possible ❤ .

Low in the grave He lay—
Jesus, my Saviour,
Waiting the coming day—
Jesus, my Lord.
Vainly they watch His bed—
Jesus, my Saviour;
Vainly they seal the dead—
Jesus, my Lord.
Death cannot keep his prey—
Jesus, my Saviour;
He tore the bars away—
Jesus, my Lord.
Up from the grave He Arose
With a Mighty Triumph o’er His foes.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He Lives for ever with His saints to Reign.
He Arose! He Arose! Hallelujah! Christ Arose!

[And Repeat with gusto!]

The cross is empty, and most importantly, the grave is EMPTY. He Arose, He Arose, HALLELUJAH, CHRIST AROSE! Sin, you have no power over me; Satan, you can just leave! There is NO power that can separate me from my GOD. I believe in what Paul said to the church in Rome:

“And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from GOD’s Love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from GOD’s Love.” – Romans 8:38 NLT

And all the people said “AMEN!”

Horses In Heaven

Then I looked up again and saw four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains. The first chariot was pulled by red horses, the second by black horses, the third by white horses, and the fourth by powerful dappled-gray horses. [Red, yellow, black, and white, we are all equal in His Sight!!] “And what are these, my Lord?” I asked the angel who was talking with me. The angel replied, “These are the four spirits of heaven who stand before the Lord of all the earth. They are going out to do his work. The chariot with black horses is going north, the chariot with white horses is going west, and the chariot with dappled-gray horses is going south.” The powerful horses were eager to set out to patrol the earth. And the Lord said, “Go and patrol the earth!” So they left at once on their patrol. In a vision during the night, I saw a man sitting on a red horse that was standing among some myrtle trees in a small valley. Behind him were riders on red, brown, and white horses. I asked the angel who was talking with me, “My Lord, what do these horses mean?” “I will show you,” the angel replied. The rider standing among the myrtle trees then explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent out to patrol the earth.” Then the other riders reported to the angel of the Lord , who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have been patrolling the earth, and the whole earth is at peace.” – Zechariah 1:1-‬11 NLT

“I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.” – Revelation 6:2 NLT

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.” – Revelation 19:11 NLT

No horses in heaven, you say? Oh, I think know there will be!