Since it’s been over 6 months since I started the year with a question on how “happy” a new year it would be, I thought I’d give you an update — a little each day as I can find the time to breathe!
My father is still here (PTL!) but his mind is a little weaker and his pain a lot greater. His faith, however, remains unchanged. It’s as vibrant and as sure as it’s always been. His love for his family is steadfast and he takes joy whenever any of his 7 children, 21 grandchildren, or 21 great-grandchildren darken the door! But occasionally, he’ll sigh and say he’s really ready to go home — even seem a little impatient as he says it.
It’s increasingly hard to pray for him. I long for him to stay and teach me more but I know that means pain for him. I long for him to go and be healed once and for all, but that means pain for me. And so I try to spend as much time with him as possible and trust in God’s grace, mercy, and perfect timing. He has graced me with a loving, godly father; I know He’ll show mercy to Dad and take him home a the perfect time — and not a moment before.
My precious Dad — what a wonderful gift from my holy Father!
The following appeared in today’s eTHOUGHTS online devotionals and was so good I wanted to share. It was written by Dr. Andy Johnson, Senior Adult Pastor, Emeritus at First Baptist Church, Ruston, Louisiana, and a retired fighter pilot for the U. S. Marine Corps and chaplain for the U. S. Navy. Enjoy his thoughts and remember them throughout the remainder of this day and this year.
Balancing INDEPENDENCE with DEPENDENCE . . .
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
To some Americans, freedom means, “I get to do whatever I want.” Experience shows us that this is merely a path to bad habits and addictions that lead to broken relationships and unhappy lives. True freedom, or liberty, is the right to do what is right. This path leads to strong, trusting relationships and satisfying lives. Although not everyone chooses to live in true liberty . . . and in this present culture, their numbers appear extremely large . . . it is still our privilege as individuals, to stand fast in this liberty and to do and say what is right.
Leading up to our NATIONAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, 237 years ago, it had become apparent that King George of England was an autocratic tyrant, and Lord North, who led the British Parliament, looked on the American Colonies as a cash cow to be milked repeatedly through unjust taxes, tariffs, and restrictions on trade with anyone except England. . . . This led to speeches such as that of Patrick Henry to the Virginia House of Burgesses, in which he said in closing, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” His speech stirred the whole nation.
We are blessed to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We are a God built nation, which explains why we so quickly became the leading nation in the world. We acknowledge, every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, that we are one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. Why then do some of our leaders try to declare their independence from God and consider their thoughts superior to His?
Human ego appears to be an acronym for “edging God out.” This is why we, as American citizens, must stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. This nation did not begin as a polytheistic, multicultural, or “anything goes kind of nation.” It was a Christian nation, intended to be governed by people who were guided by the precepts of the Holy Bible. The evidence for this is clear, no matter how hard many are trying to hide it.
In summary, we should strongly maintain independence from human tyranny, but just as strongly maintain dependence on Almighty God who alone is able to preserve us as a great nation.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land . . ..“ Psalms 37:3 (which the Lord thy God giveth thee – Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16, 25:15)
(eTHOUGHTS is an online daily devotional newsletter written by a team of godly people. If you would like to receive the daily e-THOUGHTS, subscribe at www.eTHOUGHTSteam.com.)
Happy New Year! Happy? Hmmm…
My father is suffering from dementia and numerous physical problems. I fear that I will lose him in 2013, either physically or mentally. And being a true daddy’s girl, this loss will leave a gaping hole in my life.
My mother-in-law has stage 4 mesothelioma that has spread to her stomach. “It may be weeks; it may be months. Only God knows,” the doctor said. So 2013 will bring the loss of a close family member — and a dear friend.
My oldest son faces a child support court date next week. My son is currently living with us so I’ve had the luxury of seeing my grandson every other day but feel that the court may say (and it’s true) that this back-and-forth is not good for the child. My time with the joy of my heart may be greatly curtailed — and my heart aches.
My professional job is doing well but my desire to do it is fading. Perhaps it’s the stress of dealing with the things listed above. Perhaps it’s because my true passion of Bible study and writing is suffering from lack of time. My heart cries out, “Pursue your passion”; my pocketbook cries a different song. The battle rages on.
Happy New Year? Hmmm…
My father may be lost to me but he is not lost to Christ. So if I should lose him, it is only because he has gone home. How can I not thrill at the thought of his mind being free from strain, his body being free from struggle, and his family in whom he delights surrounding him once again? Praise the Lord! How happy the thought!
My mother-in-law’s body may be dying but her spirit and soul are only beginning to live. How can I not thrill at the thought of her body being whole and her lungs breathing freely again, all while living in the mansion of her dreams? And I shall visit her there! Praise the Lord! How happy the thought!
My oldest son is learning life’s lessons the hard way but his son is alive, not aborted! How can I not thrill at the growth I see in my son and how can I not want what is best for my grandson? My selfishness must be put aside and I must spend the year on my knees so that I might tell and show him the greatest of all loves, which is Christ’s love for him, his dad, and me. Praise the Lord! How happy the thought!
My professional life may interfere with my passionate life, but I know that this is just a season. How can I not thrill at the thought that 2013 might be the year when one season ends and another begins? That, beginning at some point this year, I could be spending the rest of my life writing about and leading others in the study of God’s Word! Praise the Lord! How happy the thought!
Happy New Year? Happy, indeed!
From the star that appeared at His birth came a message of joy for the world.
From the cross that took His life came the joy of salvation for those who would believe.
From the heavens into which He ascended came the promise of joy in the morning.
From God above through the gift of His Son came the joy of life everlasting.
Sunday, November 11, is an important day of praise and petition.
First, it’s Veteran’s Day. Please take time to sing praises to God for the freedoms we share and to petition Him on behalf of all those who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces. At this time, our military is comprised completely of volunteers, people who willingly and purposefully work to keep us safe. Having grown up in a military family and having a daughter in the U. S. Army today, my heart is filled with gratitude to all the men and women who serve and is filled with awe of those who gave the extreme sacrifice of life. Thank you, Lord, for these wonderful men and women!
Second, Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Thousands around the world suffer for their faith in Christ. They are rejected by their families, fired from their jobs, suffer violent attacks, taken into prison, and even killed. All the while we sit in our beautiful warm in the winter, cool in the summer church houses, oblivious to the plight of our brothers and sisters. Our country also turns a blind eye (e.g. designating China as a favored country while knowing that they imprison and execute Christians).
For more information on Christian persecution — on these veterans of the spiritual war around us — check out the Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.com. Or watch the video (link below) made many years ago by VOM’s founder, Richard Wurmbrand. And, please, pray for our brother and sisters in chains around the world.
The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men
and gives them to anyone He wishes…”
–Daniel 2:20-21, 4:17 (emphasis mine)
The sun rose this morning; God is on His throne. We awoke this morning; God is on His throne. Barak Obama is president this morning; God is on His throne. GOD IS ON HIS THRONE.
Sometimes God gives us what we ask for. Sometimes He gives us what we deserve. Sometimes He gives us what we need. With this election cycle, which is it? Only He knows at this time; we will know in due time. But one thing is sure: He gave out of love. Everything He does is based on love because God is love (1 John 4:16).
In Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus sent a letter to the lukewarm, complacent church of Laodicea, in which He chastised it for thinking it was rich, self-sufficient, and in need of nothing — not even Him. The truth — the spiritual truth? It was wretched (teleo – ceasing to be what it once was), miserable (eleeinos – worthy of pity), poor (ptochos – fallen from a better estate into abject poverty), blind (tuphlos — enveloped in the smoke of self-conceit), and naked (gumnos – stark naked before God). Sound familiar? It could be a letter to the Church in America or to America herself!
And then Jesus said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (v. 19). Love rebukes and disciplines! It doesn’t coddle and spoil! The warning of discipline is to the Church, but the invitation that follows it is to the individual: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20).
America’s problem is not the re-election of President Obama; it’s not Congress; it’s not governmental at all. It’s not financial; it’s not social; it’s not racial; it’s not moral. America’s problem is spiritual. And unless she repents, she will continue to be rebuked and disciplined by the one true and sovereign God of the universe who loves her. The discipline won’t be fun, but it will be necessary. It won’t “feel” like love, but it will be. The nation needs to repent. And repentance begins in the Church, within the heart of each believer.
So here we are for another 4 years. Therefore, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…”(Romans 13:1-2). Only when that authority goes against the Word of God do we have permission to disobey.
And so we must pray for our President, his Cabinet, and our Congress. We must be aware of the issues and let our voices be heard — respectfully. We must press on to protect the godly principles upon which this nation was founded. And we must continue to vote our consciences.
So as we await the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords — as we await His perfect, righteous, and just kingdom — what must we do?
I just exited the voting booth. It was an exhilaratingly sad feeling.
EXHILARATING: The right to vote is a privilege we have here in the United States, one we often take for granted. I never really understood it until 2007 when the company I work for held several contracts for rebuilding Iraq. A coworker returned and showed me pictures of Iraqi workers walking through the green zone gate, holding up their ink-stained fingers. They had gone together as one to vote, some for the first time in their lives, and returned almost too excited to work.
Since then, I take this responsibility very seriously. I not only cast my votes but I do my best to make them informed votes. What are the issues? What are the different platforms? What does the Bible have to say about such issues, or how do biblical principles apply to the situation? The last one is often very evident; at other times, very difficult.
SAD: The fact that we need a President and a governing body is somewhat sad to me. In Samuel 8-9, Israel broke the heart of God when they asked for a physical king. The perfect, righteous Jehovah was their King, yet they asked for an imperfect, sinful man-king. God even had Samuel tell the people what this king would do to them — take their children and their servants for his work and demand a tenth of their grain and land for his purposes — yet the people refused to listen. They said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (8:19-21).
Does that sound familiar? We want a king to “fight our battles.” Life is hard. If only someone, something could make it easier.
A human ruler will never meet that request, no matter how many laws or programs he/she passes. Life is hard; but, for the Christian, the hardships of life work in our favor. They refine us, strengthen us, and make us wise. Most importantly, the strife of this life keeps our eye peeled on the eastern sky from whence our salvation comes. Then the toils of this life will be over.
A few weeks ago, I was really in a funk. My husband asked what was wrong and I simply couldn’t answer. “For some reason, I just feel a little blue. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling the autumn.”
“Feeling the what?” he asked.
“The autumn. You know, how when you were a kid enjoying summer and all of a sudden you sensed autumn in the air? You knew school was about to start again and it was a little depressing. So, I guess I’m just feeling the autumn again.”
Feeling the autumn. It’s in my bones. It’s in my muscles and joints. It’s in my head. Aches, pains, forgetfullness, the inability to do the things I used to do. Grown children, a little grandson, aging parents. Yes, the autumn season of life has come. And it’s a love/hate relationship!
Over all the bodily pain and slowing down is the joy of seeing my children growing up into adults (finally!) and getting their lives on track. There’s the most precious smile of a grandson who’s always so glad to see his “Maaaaaa” (his version of M’Lew which is short for Mama Lewis). And there’s my precious husband, growing grey at the temples yet wearing it well. Yes, autumn has its joys and, I must testify, they are far above the season’s pains.
But that’s true about every season in life, isn’t it? If we could only learn to seek out the joys in each season and focus on them instead of the trials they bring. How much sweeter, simpler, and sacred life would be.
No matter what season you are in, dear reader, take it from a woman feeling the autumn of life: slow down and look up. Focus — daily focus — on Christ and all His blessings. And the trials, which will always be a part of any age, will fade in the brilliance of His glory and grace.
To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace
PS: It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything on my blog. And what a year it has been. Many painful times and stressful times, but many beautiful times as well. But now it’s time to get back up and reconnect again!
I had a very blessed Thanksgiving Day. My mother and father came and ate lunch with us, along with my oldest sister, her husband, daughter, and 4 grandchildren. A total of 14 people in this very small home of mine. The food was good, the conversation better, and the memory the best!
I confess, however, that I often pine about my small home. With two adult children that have had to move back due to unfortunate circumstances, we are a bit crowded. But I love having them around (especially the grandson that one brought with him!). We don’t have a fancy home, a lot of fashionable clothes, a budget for fun activities, or even a nice Christmas account. And sometimes I admit I whine. Then God puts me in my place, just as He did again yesterday.
My sweet husband was on security duty in the children’s building during the late service. The phone rang and, being a phone-junkie, he answered. “First Baptist Church. May I help you?”
“Hello, my name is Joe Kramer.* I was wondering if ya’ll had any type of meal ministry. I am here in town for a couple of days to do a job, staying at the [not-so-nice] hotel, and I am so hungry. I ate at your community meal last week but was wondering if you had anything available today.”
After church, Husband began to tell me about the call. Before he finished telling me what Joe said, I already knew the rest of the story. “So I’ve got his room number here and told him we’d bring him something to eat.” What a precious heart my dear one has — one that quite often puts me to shame.
We purchased enough “chicken and fixin’s” for two meals and drove over to the hotel. Joe told us his room would be the one with the door cracked open. Without going into detail, I watched my nicely-dressed husband shake hands with the oppositely-dressed Joe, hand him the bags of food, and then pause to listen for a while. If he said it once, Joe said it a dozen times, “Thank you so much. You just don’t know…”
As Husband climbed back in the car and closed his door, I quietly (and ashamedly) said, “We are truly blessed.” He smiled and we went on our way in silence.
“Lord, forgive me for my periods of whining. I have a warm house, clean clothes to wear, more than enough food to eat, and a wonderful, caring, loving husband. Thank you, Lord, for I am richly blessed.”
Not for another 1000 years will there be another date like today’s. Six one’s all in a row. Perfection.
As amazing as that is, however, do you realize that not even in 10,000 years will there EVER be another day like today. Never. This is it. At midnight, it will be gone.
I have no elegant words about the magnitute of TODAY and NOW, so let me simply share some scriptures. God says it so much better than I.
Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:13)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 4:7)
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. (1 Thessalonnians 3:8)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. (2 corinthians 5:16)
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. (2 Corinthians 8:11)
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13;12)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)