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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, America declared its independence from Great Britain.  The move
came as a result of grievances over the Empire's taxation and trade policies. The colonies felt they were being unfairly treated and so they rebelled. America now stands proud as a sovereign nation. Over the years, many countries have followed America's example, and today there are close to 200 independent countries.

As I think about this powerful nation, my thoughts go back to the book of Judges. This book  deals with a period in Israel's history when there was no king. Under Joshua's leadership, the people had finally entered the promised land, and they served the Lord well. But then Joshua and his generation died, and  "The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs" (Judges 3 : 7). 

We know the consequences of their actions. Israel went through a terrible time of  defeat and captivity at the hands of its enemies. Eventually, they cried out to God and He took pity on them. He appointed judges over them and they did well, but each time the judge died, they returned to their sinful ways. Then they would cry out to God again, He would appoint another judge, and the process would be repeated.

There's a line in the book of Judges that is repeated over and over:  "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17: 6).

Today in America, we have leaders over us, but we are doing what is right in our own eyes. The will of the people has usurped the will of God. Church attendance hovers around 40% while an average 60% of Americans support same-sex marriage. An overall "anything goes" is the pervading lifestyle in America. Policemen kill unarmed civilians and go free. "Every man does that which is right in his own eyes." 

But God is a good God. He is not like man. He does not punish us as our sins deserve. Isaiah 55: 7 says,     "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Happy Independence!

Here are two of my older posts on Independence:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Footprints In The Sand

Sometimes when I go to the gym or go walking I have to push myself to stay the course and not cut my
workout short. One day last week I was really tempted to turn around and go back home. The weather was humid and my legs felt unwilling to cooperate, but I persevered and eventually my muscles loosened up and I completed my exercise comfortably.

There will be other days like that one, just as in life there are days when we just feel like giving up. Our job, marriage, ministry, life in general may seem frustrating or even difficult at times, and we may think, why bother? But know this: wherever you are now it's God's will for your life. He has given you that husband/wife, those children, that position, and He has equipped you to carry out that task. So, don't give up! Persevere, fight the good fight of faith. You know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side. It only appears to be greener.

The apostle Paul knew what it was to become discouraged. He'd been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and suffered all kinds of hardship for the sake of the gospel, but yet he persisted and left a wonderful legacy for the church. He wrote,  "And let us not be weary in well doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6: 9). 

Sometimes I'm tempted to give up this blog. It takes time, even though I only post weekly, and I don't earn a penny from it. Working on my novel devours even more time. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be worth the trouble, but when I consider that the apostle Paul did most of his writing in a jail cell - dark, cold, wet and crawling with all kinds of unwelcome visitors - I have no reason to complain, or to give up. Besides, I know that  "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14 : 12).

Are you weary, feel like giving up? God never gives up on us. Ever read the poem Footprints In The Sand? If you haven't, you can read it here.

And here's a video to bless you further.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Satan Just Fired An Imp

As I looked at the extensive coverage of the massacre at the AME church in Charleston, SC a few days
ago, I couldn't help thinking that Satan must be furious. Not that the gunman was so easily caught - Satan couldn't care less - but about what ensued after the killing.

The Bible tells us that Satan uses people to carry out his plans, so the way I see it, he assigned an imp to influence the twenty-one-year-old white man to carry out the massacre. He did it, but failed miserably in what he hoped to achieve. According to Dylann Roof, his goal was to see the races separated. He wanted us to return to the days of segregation. And that's Satan's goal. He is all for division. He hates to see people, especially Christians, united. He divides families, friends, relatives, even nations. But instead of division, we saw on television people of all races and backgrounds hugging each other and mourning the senseless murder of the saints. This tragedy has brought unity in a way that has even crossed political lines.

But unity is not all that has been achieved. Every television reporter commented on the incredible display of Christian love and forgiveness expressed by the victims' families. One lady said, "Jesus forgives you, and I forgive you." Another one held up a sign that read, "Your evil doing did not break our community. You made us stronger,"  and one pastor said that this tragedy should strengthen our faith and bring us closer to God. Even businesses are showing their solidarity and pouring money into the city of Charleston. 

People are asking the question, "Why didn't someone take the gunman down?" Why was he given time to reload and kill nine people? One day we may know the answer, but I believe those people were martyred, not just because they were black, but also for their faith. They have joined the distinguished ranks of  early Christians who willingly surrendered their lives for their love of Jesus.

So now Satan is scratching his head, wondering how he could have underestimated the strength and resilience of God's people. I believe that scoffers and mockers will see Christians in a different light after this, and even though they may not know the words, they will realize that "the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (the church) (Matthew 16: 18).

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Those Lazy Hazy Days Of Summer

Portrait of Nat King Cole, New York, N.Y.
Portrait of Nat King Cole, New York, N.Y. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Those of you who are old enough may recall a song by Nat Cole that went something like this: Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer ... For many of us, our summer may be anything but lazy. Even though the kids are out of school, we may pack so many activities into our schedule that we have very little time to rest.

Occasionally, on Sundays after church, I stop off at the supermarket to pick up something I'd forgotten. Today was one of those days. I was surprised at how crowded the place was. When I was growing up, Saturday was shopping day. Oh, I know things have changed. People work on Saturdays and even on Sundays, in some cases. Which brings me to the topic of rest. 

Seventh Day Adventists observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and they do nothing except go to church on that day. This is according to the third commandment which God gave to Moses in which He said, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" (Exodus 20: 8).We Christians who worship on Sunday very rarely observe a day of rest. No wonder we are so tired. No wonder we contract so many colds and other illnesses. Our immune system has difficulty keeping up with the burden we place on it. Even our children are tired.

We need to make physical rest a priority. Rest has several benefits, not just to our bodies but to our minds.  Our muscles and organs get a chance to recover from the stress we place on them, our minds are refreshed and can process thoughts better. But there is an added benefit. As Christians, rest can give us a chance to commune with God. When was the last time you sat somewhere in your backyard, gazed up at the heavens and wondered at the magnificence of the One who created them? I believe David did that a lot. Here's what he says in Psalm 19:1 -  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Make time for rest this summer. Lie on the grass in your backyard and contemplate the glory and majesty and splendor of our God. Your physical, mental and spiritual health will thank you for it.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Did Someone Break Your Heart?

The young man was handsome, pleasant and financially independent. Yet, with downcast eyes, he related to
me how someone had broken his heart. Yes, ladies, guys are not the only ones who break hearts. Some of us do it too. I tried my best to reassure him that he was still young, and for him, life held a lot of possibilities. I'm not sure he was convinced.

What we need to realize is that if we live long enough, someone is going to break our heart. It doesn't have to be a romantic interest; it can be a child, a friend, even a parent or someone we trusted in. So what do you do when someone breaks your heart? There are many psychological books and articles on the subject, but for me, the best resource is the Bible.

Many of us suffer heartbreak because we elevate people to a position they are not capable of maintaining. We forget they are mere mortals like we are with the same weaknesses and inconsistencies that we have. They may want to do the right thing, but like Paul said, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing (Romans 7: 18 - 19).

If we understand this, we would not place unrealistic expectations on others. Someone said, "You may not always trust the person you love, but you can always love the person you trust." In other words, you love them unconditionally. Whether you can go on living with them is up to you. 

The Bible puts it this way: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man" (Psalm 118: 8). You know you can always trust Him and He will always love you, no matter how bad you are. King David was a very popular and well-loved king, yet he experienced heartbreak and betrayal from those he considered his friends. In Psalm 55 he said, "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend" ( v 12- 13). 

And what was his consolation? "But I call to God, and the LORD saves me.  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice" (v16-17).

That's your answer, my friend. Put your trust in God. When others disappoint you - as they will - cry out to Him. Enjoy the articles and the audio recording below and please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Story Of Two Guinea Pigs

Recently, I was given the awesome responsibility of taking care of my grandchildren's pets while the family was away. Since I love animals, I didn't mind looking after the two Guinea pigs and a very playful Lab.  Once Ziggy, the Lab, was fed and given a fresh bowl of water, he pretty much took care of himself. But Charlie and Arthur, the guinea pigs, caused me a bit of concern.

To begin with, once I'd removed the water bottle from where it hung at the side of the cage, I couldn't figure out how to replace it. I was later embarrassed when I saw how simple it was, but for the time I was there, I had to hold the bottle while Charlie drank and drank and drank. Whenever Arthur tried to get near the bottle, she (Charlie is a girl) pushed  him away with her mouth or with her butt. The same thing happened when he tried to get near the food. I began to worry that if Charlie kept that up, Arthur may soon be undernourished. Charlie used to be a very nice, docile pet, but since Arthur came, she has become selfish and aggressive.
Jayden and Jen with Charlie

Maybe that's the nature of guinea pigs, I don't know, but Charlie's behavior set me thinking about the way we humans treat each other. Are we kind and compassionate toward others? Do we willingly share what we have, or are we like Charlie, trying to grab all for ourselves, not caring about the other person? Let's examine our behavior in the home, the workplace and even in the church. If we find that we are anything like Charlie, let's ask God to give us a caring and sharing heart.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4 : 19). This is a verse we often quote, but when Paul spoke these words, he was referring to the gifts the Philippians had sent him, which he called " a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God" (v 18). 

When we give or do good to others, we make a fragrant offering that is pleasing to God. Think about it.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Comfort To Mothers On Mother's Day

This is a repost of a blog posted a few years ago. When I reread it, I thought the message still relevant to Mother's Day is a pleasant time when mothers and their children get together to celebrate this happy occasion. Gifts, hugs and kisses and expressions of love will be exchanged, and that's the way it ought to be. However, for some, Mother's Day may not always be a time of celebration. I hate to interject a note of sadness, but the reality is, there are people for whom Mother's Day is one to dread rather than a day to look forward to. For mothers, especially those who have lost their children, this day can be even more depressing.
today. For most mothers around the world