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.

Open Season

Hunters love it when they know it’s open season on their targets of choice. I’ve enjoyed deer and elk hunting, squirrel hunting; even jack rabbit hunting. It feels like a different kind of open season to me now – open season on Christians. What do you think? In the States, we really have it good compared to much of the world, and for the majority of history, too.

Right now, today, it’s Open Season on Patriots, and especially on Christians…. what do we do; what can we do about it? We have to be realistic. Anticipate the blows of the Enemy. Don’t let him and his hate surprise you. Be aware it WILL happen. We are under attack – and if, like me, you are a Patriot and a follower of Jesus Christ, expect to receive even more insults, reviling, and slander. (1 Peter 4:12, Matthew 5:11, John 15:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:12)

But WHY? God allows all of this to PROVE, purify, and refine our faith. It’s not like we are the first society to be subject to these attacks. Look at history, all the way back to the very beginning in the Garden. The Enemy attacked Adam and Eve, although it was more subtle than the attacks on us today …… or was it? Society can be very subtle in getting us to turn from the Way. Books, television, movies, songs; just a little twist to move our focus, and each little twist is an attack. We should rejoice that we have the privilege to suffer with and for Jesus, and that our God considers us worthy to suffer for the One Who suffered for us! (1 Peter 4:13-14, Philippians 1:29, Acts 5:40, 1 Peter 1:6, Romans 8:18) Keep the goal in mind – Eternity with Him!

We also need to ask ourselves, is the persecution because of ME/something selfish I have done or said, or is it because of my belief in the Gospel? (1 Peter 4:15-18) Our outcome through persecution, our difficulty is nothing compared to what non-believers will deal with in eternity! It’s a sober warning for those people, if they can just see it. For us, as followers of Christ, our reliance is to entrust our selves, our souls, to Amighty God. He is the giver and the governor of life, the Achitect of the Ages….

“Persecution of Christians is the largest human rights violation in the world.” – Philip de Coursey

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history.” The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times. “Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution,” the report said.

A really good, albeit frightening, read on this subject is “The Dark Agenda” by David Horowitz.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” – 1 PETER 4:12‭-‬17 NASB

Have you obeyed the Gospel of God?

Have You Prayed About It?

“Have you prayed about it?”

Whenever we have a question or concern, or we are worried about something, that phrase should be the first thing that pops into our mind.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” – JAMES 5:13‭-‬18 NASB

Billy Graham wrote: “Faith pleases God more than anything else. The Christian life is dependent upon faith. We stand on faith; we live on faith. Faith is loved and honored by God more than any other single thing.

The Bible teaches that faith is the only approach that we have to God. No man has sins forgiven, no man goes to heaven, no man has assurance of peace and happiness, until he has faith in Jesus Christ.

You may be saying, “God, I believe you are a great person, but I do not believe your Word; I do not believe what you say.” In order to please God, you must believe Him. Perhaps your faith is small and weak.

It does not matter how big your faith is, but rather, where your faith is. Is it in Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross for your sins?”

I especially appreciate the last 2 sentences, because for years my faith was small… tiny, almost nonexistent. Because my faith was so small, my constant search for peace & happiness did not yield anything. Oh, I could sense them! I knew they were within reach ….. but I couldn’t quite get there. I knew, because of my parents teaching us while we were children, that true peace only comes thru JESUS. Scripture is quite clear on that:

“Without faith it isn’t possible to please GOD. Those who come to God must believe that He exists. And they must believe that He rewards those who look to Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Without faith, it is difficult to pray, and without prayer, it is difficult – maybe even impossible – to have faith. The thing I most hope to get across is this: No matter what is going on in your life, whether mental or physical, there is HOPE. There can be PEACE. Regardless of what anyone else says or does to us, JESUS is the answer. Claim it – claim HIM. Pray about it. Hold a conversation with God!

See that tiny flicker of faith that is hiding deep in your soul? Fan the flames. Let GOD supply the fuel!

Have you prayed about it?

Got to go back….

I skipped church for years. Growing up, I went religiously (pun intended) every Sunday, both morning and evening, every Wednesday night, and for meetings and groups and special events. I was there a lot. Left home for college, and I let life – i.e. the Enemy, Satan – sidetrack me. That became my new normal, and it lasted for years. I knew church / GOD was there, and I did go occasionally (mostly only when I visited my parents, which was not often. Guilt, you know), but Sundays were for sleeping in and recovering from the weekend of partying. It’s a great lifestyle if you are running from the Truth. Just for the record, please let me give you this real Truth, which is not the world’s truth: when you take God’s hand, His gift of salvation, He will never let go of you. Doesn’t matter how hard or how far you run, or into what darkness you descend, He is always – always – right there with you.

It can be pretty embarrassing if you think about what you have thought or seen or done in secret…. because when you remember that the LORD GOD, the CREATOR, is Omniscient and Omnipresent, you also remember there are no secrets. On top of that knowledge is this:

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

He – JESUS, Son of the Living All-Powerful GOD of the Universe – bore our sins …… for we [are] continually straying like sheep ……

I am humbled by this knowledge. I would like to say that I haven’t sinned since I returned to the LORD, but that would just be heaping insult onto Him. I sin every day. That He Loves me enough to forgive me each and every time, and He Loved me so much He died for me ….. oh. I encourage you to seek Him. If, at some time past you accepted His salvation gift, to find Him you only need to raise your eyes. He’s right there. For anyone who is seeking Him, I would say the same thing. Look up. Take your eyes off of the sin and lift your eyes to see Him, standing with you, hands outstretched so all you need to do is take them.

Find the song by Cochren & Co., “Church (Take Me Back)”. Play it. Listen to the words. Then do what it says. You will be amazed and surprised, maybe, but oh, so rewarded.

There was a time that I swore I would never go back
I was blind to the truth, didn’t know what I had
I was running, I was searching
But every place I turned for healing
Left me more broken than the last

https://awesomechristianmusic.com/cochren–co/church

In The Eye of The Storm

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6 NIV

In The Eye of The Storm is a song by Ryan Stevenson that really speaks to me right now. It’s not my walk, necessarily, that is stormy, but that doesn’t make it less real – or deadly. Whenever someone close to us finds out they are dealing with cancer or another health issue, we feel so helpless. What can we do? I’ve heard people say “I can’t do anything else, so I’ll pray…..” (or some variation of it). I wonder why we say that?

Praying is the most powerful thing we can possibly do, especially when the affected person might not be a Christian!

Seek the LORD. Call His Name. Search the scriptures. Pray. Pray more. Talk to GOD. He is there. Always. Whether you whisper to Him, or scream at Him; carry on a conversation…. all He wants, all He is waiting for, is us asking for Him. Of course we all want our loved one healed, the sooner the better. Isn’t that what we ask for, plead for? I don’t know why we have to go through these things – only, wait, I do know.

It’s called consequences, and just for the record, I despise that word. I hate that we have sin and evil in the world. So am I saying that that the person who has a diagnosis deserves it? Well…… yes, actually. Even the tiniest baby, the newest newborn. We are flawed, sinful beings, and we deserve much worse than anything we see on this earth. Why? Because we have taken the free will our Creator gave us, and we have rejected Him and chosen the world. Thank GOD that He has seen fit to deliver us from what we deserve through the sacrifice of His Son for each of us!

Truly, GOD doesn’t want any of His Creation to suffer, especially the innocent. When we ask for His deliverance from our consequences, He always answers. Always. His answer may be yes, it may be wait, and it may be no. We don’t ever want to hear anything but yes! As harsh as it may seem to you, we don’t often (ever?) get our happily ever after on this earth. We will suffer. I hate it, but it’s true. There is only one way to get the real happy ever after. Ready?

“JESUS answered, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 NIV

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His ONE AND ONLY SON, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

Once more, the words of JESUS. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but He knows that we will because of where we live (i.e. earth).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV

Like Paul, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…… that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of GOD. In the same way, the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the SPIRIT Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:18‭, ‬21‭-‬21‭, ‬26‭, ‬28 NIV

AMEN.


Hurricane Irma. Image from the Daily Express.

GOD Is – Thanksgiving

Chris Tomlin was singing this when I got up this morning. In the wake of more violence; more disasters, he sings about the one thing that brings peace into our hearts. Without GOD, is it even possible to have real thanksgiving and love?

You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation

You’re the Light in this darkness

You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless

The song was written by a band called Bluetree, who are from Belfast, Ireland, and it was first recorded in 2007. I encourage you to read the backstory on https://www.songfacts.com. Fascinating story; what a witness!

We are 2 days away from the National Day of Thanksgiving, a day set aside to remember where we have come from as a nation, as families, and as individuals. A day to give thanks for the freedoms we have as Americans. According to https://history.house.gov, “On Thursday, November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” Beginning in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to recognize the last Thursday of November as “a day of Thanksgiving.” A few years later in 1870, Congress followed suit by passing legislation making Thanksgiving (along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day) a national holiday.”

In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and VP Harry S. Truman wrote this in the official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation:

“In a year which has seen calamity and sorrow fall upon many peoples elsewhere in the world may we give thanks for our preservation. On the same day, in the same hour, let us pray:
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.”

They could write it for 2018, too, but I would revise the first sentence to read “…. many peoples here and elsewhere ….”

Thanksgiving has become a day for frenzied shopping and gross commercialism. People aren’t encouraged to spend time with family because they have to work. Even in corporate offices, people have to work. No respect for the traditions of our country, no respect for people’s personal lives or space. No respect for anyone except me and what I want. This day has become a travesty of the original intent. Shut the doors of your establishments, people! This goes for Sundays, and all National Holiday’s. Do you really need that thing on that date? It won’t kill anyone to have a day off! I know there are exceptions. Nurses and doctors, pharmacists, emergency personnel….. these need to be available, but Big Lots? Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Tractor Supply? The malls and commercial establishments? I say a resounding No. Let us join our families, whether they are blood or adopted, and give thanks that we can.

“Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His Presence with singing! Know that the LORD, He is GOD! It is He Who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His Name! For the LORD is Good; His Steadfast Love endures forever, and His Faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalms 100:2‭-‬5 ESV

If It Feels Good, DO It!

“And now we thank You, our GOD, and praise Your Glorious Name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” – 1 Chronicles 29:13‭-‬15 ESV

It’s hard to let go of people, things, and especially money, that we think we deserve. Oh, my friends, if we really got what we deserved, I imagine we would all be in some really rough, ugly circumstances. One of my ‘life-partners’ (yes, I’ve had too many, and I have married too many – but that’s for another time) liked to throw scriptures at me. One of his favorites was “Wives, obey your husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1a) In his mind, the words before and after that single sentence were irrelevant to him. He needed my obedience (read: servanthood) to make him happy. He expected me to accept his selfish behaviors, his affairs, to make him happy. My feelings and concerns were of no importance as long as I was catering to him. He had had a rough life and he considered ‘happiness’ his due. Like the hedonists who came before him; like his contemporary hedonists, and like the many who are still to come, He lived the creed “If it feels good, do it.” A commitment was just a tool to get others to support him and do as he wanted – the commitment itself was just a string of words to use as a tool. I read an article this morning that really nails this topic in relation to real happiness, which can only be found in our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

“A Deeper Look At What The Bible Says About Happiness,” by Owen Strachan on the websire “explore God” at https://www.exploregod.com/what-the-bible-says-about-happiness-paper

Every thing we have, every healthy relationship we have, every financial blessing we have, does not come about because of us. They are all from God. Like the author of 1 Chronicles, we should be thanking GOD for the abundance He has Blessed us with. If you think you don’t have any of those Blessings, take a look around you. Even bowing under the strain on me right now, I can count many Blessings (Be thankful for toilet paper! Thanks for that reminder, Katy). God doesn’t promise continual happiness on this earth; however, He does promise Grace, Mercy, JOY, Peace, and contentment within our hearts when we walk with Him. Happiness is fleeting; Joy is not. Happiness; abiding, forever Happiness, will be ours when we join our SAVIOUR in heaven.

And now I thank You, my GOD, and praise Your Glorious Name. …. For all things come from You, and of Your own have I have given You. …. My days on the earth are like a shadow .In JESUS’ Name we pray these things, Amen.”