Clash of World Views

It happened in the days of Adam, in the days of David, in the days of Jesus and still happens today.  Worldviews are a politically correct way of explaining why people put their own ideas in front of God’s ideas. The majority of the world follows a post modernistic or an Islamic worldview (which will not be discussed).  Postmodernism is a term used to describe a way of thinking ruled by humanistic relativism.  Its beginnings can be found in the writings of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud.  These ideas are very close to new age thinking  which allows each individual to create his own reality and morality.  God and traditional teachings tend to be ignored.  There is no absolute truth, no absolute right and wrong.

This flies in the face of a Christian or Biblical worldview which is founded on the Bible and accepted by Christians and Jews to be the infallible Word of God.    It sets moral boundaries as found in the Ten Commandments and requires a total commitment to all of its tenants.  If you disagree with one part, you must then disagree with all.  In addition,  if you agree with a Biblical world view, as stated in James, you must live it for faith without works is dead.   A Biblical Worldview requires action while a Post-modernistic worldview requires adherents to do nothing.

We are constantly under a barrage of messages from a worldly view of today’s society through the  TV shows we watch, the commercials we see, the emphasis in most news reports to even the teachings in the classroom.  Just recently this country celebrated the legalization of gay marriage.  And those who would normally offer services for wedding ceremonies and would prefer not to be involved in such a union can be sued and their lives and livelihoods destroyed.  Those who did not agree with this were called intolerant, homophobic, haters, and a raft of other unflattering names.  Similar things happened in the days of Noah, people had left what they knew was right and fell into sexual sin.  As a result of the sinfulness, which went far beyond deviant sexual appetites, God had Noah build an ark and He flooded the world and started again with Noah’s family.   But people again fell away from God and it became most apparent in Sodom and Gomorrah which were eventually destroyed once Lot was rescued by angels.

It does not take long to see that although those with a post-modernistic view may say that everything is relative and truth is relative; adherents become extremely intolerant of a Biblical world view.  Those who believe in public prayer, disagree with sex before marriage, abortion, selling of fetal body parts, transgenderism, same sex marriage and the right to adopt and raise children are ridiculed, targeted as the object of crude jokes, skipped over for promotions, or run out of business.  The two philosophical concepts are totally diametrically opposed, there is no common ground.

There are many “Christian” churches that are not Christian at all.  They have set aside teachings in the Bible and replaced them with statements such as “God is Love” and theorize from that statement that God loves all mankind and would never sentence anyone to an eternity in hell.  While it is true that God does love all mankind He loves the sinner, but hates the sin.  Thus, if the sinner does not repent of his sin, there is no alternative but hell.  For if we do not accept the mercy offered by Jesus Christ, we must face the judgement of the law.  As Jesus stated in John:

John 3:16-18 (NIV)

“16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

One can say that he believes in Jesus Christ but then again, so does Satan.  It is not enough to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to die for our sins.  One must repent of sin and acknowledge that His only way to heaven is through the blood of Jesus Christ.  To purposely live in sin indicates that in your heart and soul, you have one accepted Him as your Lord and Savior because you are following your rules rather than His.  Think of what Psalm 19 says.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

If the law of the Lord is perfect and his statues trustworthy and the precepts right, then it is incumbent on a believer to follow them.  If an individual can set aside emotion and simply compare the two worldviews, it begins to become obvious that some serious introspection needs to be done.  I will leave you with one more bible verse to consider.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body,                                                                                       but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your                                                                                          bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?                                                                              You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Staying Safe

Staying safe in today’s world takes more than if you arm yourself with the best tactical folding knife made or a powerful stun gun or  a pepper spray, they could prove to be more of a disaster than a deliverance.  It takes more than arming yourself with defensive items, if you do not plan using a purse of the right size and accessibility and practice how you will hold yourself, how you will keep your hand free and on the defensive spray you could be worse off than if you had nothing with you at all.

Allow me to give you an example of what I mean.   I had an item on layaway in a store and went to pay for it but they had not upgraded their system so my chipped VISA would not work.  As a result, I had to drive to the bank and get cash from the ATM.  There were a number of people from the next county and they were angry, loud, and arguing with each other.  There was a younger, powerful looking black man behind me and he has started to try to talk to me. Another heavy set man was leaning over his car and had been leering since I had gotten there.  There I am in this group of people holding $440 all in twenties.  That is a big wad of money and was difficult for me to hide.  I had an excellent tactical folding knife in my purse along with some pepper spray but forgot I had any of it.  I couldn’t get back to my car fast enough and hit the door lock button and with shaking hand started the car, backed out and took off.  If anyone had walked up behind me I would have knocked them down.   By the time I got back to the store, I was shaking badly.

That should not have happened, in fact, I knew better.  I found I had been too sure of myself, too convinced that I could handle anything.  Since I have been out of the classroom, I have become lax.  After several conversations with my sons I realize several things, in no specific order:

  1. Do NOT deal with a store that does not have an upgraded system in place as a chipped card will not work in an older system, causing the problem I had to deal with.
  2. Make sure the purse you carry is roomy enough that you can keep defensive equipment in an easily accessible place. Do NOT carry a small purse that is over stuffed, you will be at a disadvantage.  Make sure you know how to use the defensive item.  If you have a knife, do NOT pull it.  Use your pepper spray or stun gun.
  3. When possible, do not go alone. Take a girlfriend, a group of friends, significant other or husband.  Those who mean someone else ill, will target a lone individual before they will two or more people.
  4. Watch some video’s on YouTube about self-defense using pepper spray and then stand in front of a mirror and imitate the move until it is automatic and smooth. Continue to practice once a week or so to keep the movement fresh. (Here are some I watched:  https://youtu.be/Xf5LjaE_JQ0 or  https://youtu.be/GIkB9r1oe8U  and https://youtu.be/pdjcF8stAgo )
  5. If you see a situation developing that has a potential for trouble, leave. You can purchase the item later, go to another ATM, see the movie another time.   The first rule in self-defense is to diffuse and avoid.
  6. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings; nearest exits, where people are, what they are wearing, how they are acting.
  7. Make sure you present a confident, self-assured image. Shoulders should be back, steps purposeful, meet people by looking them in the eye.  As a high school teacher of special populations (mostly emotional handicapped) I have stopped many a confrontation with teenagers while teaching high school by staring them down.   You are supposed to be scared; you don’t have to let anyone else know.  Make them think you know something they don’t.  Act like you do have that concealed weapon in your pocket or purse.  If you hunch your shoulders, look at the ground, act in a timid fashion, you are inviting problems.  Confidence will cause people looking to give you a problem to think twice.
  8. Use your voice. It should be bold, confident, and never belie any fear or concern.  YOU are the one in charge, act like it.  People will often back down just by seeing a take charge attitude.  I don’t care if you are five foot two and ninety-eight pounds soaking wet or a five foot eight body builder, a take charge attitude and voice goes a long way.  If that is not your usual demeanor, practice it.
  9. In a situation such as I was in on Saturday, do NOT brandish a weapon. It is uncalled for.  You can probably get yourself out of it just by a confident walk, meeting people in the eye as a take charge person, and using “the voice” if you need to talk.   Part of the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon is having the common sense of when to use it and when not to.  In nine situations out of ten, you will not need to pull it.

Had I done this type of preparation, I would not have panicked in the situation I faced on Saturday.  When you are prepared and know what you are going to do, you are far less likely to panic and over react.  The time it took me to calm down was time wasted.

So to wrap this up, it does not matter how good your defensive equipment is if you are not familiar with it.  So practice using it, voice and tone are important, no weak voice, be sure to be firm, meet your confronter and stare him in his eyes, do not look away, that belies weakness.  Walk with power, shoulders back, taking in your surroundings, nearest exits, where groups of people are.  Be sure you select purses that allow you to have a special spot for your defensive gear and practice keeping your hand near it and shopping with one hand.  Never, ever carry a weapon, even if you have a concealed carry permit, until you can develop that powerful, alert presence.  A scared person is a danger to herself and those around her.  It is just like anything else, practice, practice, practice.

There is no reason why you cannot go out, enjoy yourself, and have freedom of movement.  In today’s world, you simply need to understand the potential for violence and prepare for it!

 

 

 

Papa Learns to be Wise

 

It was a sunny afternoon in July and Papa Frank stopped by to see Jackson, Jasmine, and Jackson.  They had been to the beach and had just gotten home.  Momma had just given each of them a shower to get rid of all the salt and sand and was getting them ready for nap.  Of course, nap was not a favorite thing and they were complaining bitterly.

When Papa came to the door, Matthew, greeted him.  “Hey, Dad, come on in.  Is Mom out shopping again?”

“Her and her shopping; she’s getting her nails done too.  I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about.  Women are always worrying about nails, make-up, new clothes all the time.  I’ve been wearing this same pair of jeans for … oh I don’t know, three years now.”  said Papa Frank.

Matt chuckled; Teresa is the same way, when we have the money.  I think it is some sort of urge women are born with.”

“Daddy!  Daddy! Do we have to take a nap?” cried Jasmine as she ran out from the bathroom all clean and refreshed from her shower.   “I’m not sleepy and if you make me go to bed I will be very sad. “

“Hi Papa Frank”

“Hi Princess “Papa Frank responded. “Did you have fun at the beach?”

“Oh, yes,  Daddy and I built a sand castle but then my brother runed it;  and we went in the water.  I stepped on a star fish, I did not like that so Daddy threw it in deeper water.    We saw little fish swimming and then a heli…helichopper came and told everyone to get out of the water because there was a shark!  We waited and waited but Mommy and Daddy said we had to come home.” Jasmine said.

“Well it sounds like you had a wonderful day.”  replied Papa Frank.

“Yeah, but it’s nap time and I hate nap time!  It’s not fair!  I’m not sleepy, I don’t want a nap!”

Momma was just walking out of the bathroom with a very fussy Jackson who also did not want a nap and said, “Now you know tonight is the first night of Vacation Bible School.  You want to be ready for that, don’t you?”

“Oh, Yes Mama!  We are going to King Solomon’s Court tonight!”  Jasmine was jumping up and down with excitement.  “Is my shirt ready?  Did you finish my special hat?”

“Everything is already,” Momma assured them, “and you need your nap so you can have fun in King Solomon’s Court tonight.  Remember, we are learning about being wise.”

“What’s wise, Daddy?”  Jackson looked up at his dad, yawning.

“Well son being wise is knowing how to make the right decision even when you really want to do something else that seems to be more fun.  Having wisdom is very hard unless you look to God and know His Word.  We are not wise, but we can be wise by reading the Bible.”

Papa Frank had been listening to this.  He was quiet for a minute and then, in a soft voice said, “You know, it’s my naptime too.  But all this talk about being wise has made me remember a time when I wasn’t very wise.

“When was that, Dad?” asked Matt, sitting down with Jackson in his lap.  Jasmine clapped and scrambled on the couch to get close to Papa Frank.  Teresa just shook her head and sat down too, knowing the story would come before the nap.

Well, when I was younger I was in the Air Force….

“Did you fly those big fast planes, Papa?” asked Jasmine.

“No, Princess, I never piloted any planes, I did other stuff.

It was in 1971, before even your dad was born, the Air Force sent me to work in a country called Turkey.”

Jasmine giggled, “You lived in a bird?”

“No, Princess, it was a country like the United States where we live is a country.”

“Well, it sure has a funny name.” countered Jasmine.

“I’ll agree with you there, Princess,” chuckled Papa Frank.

“Well, what about this story about wisdom?” Teresa said.

“Turkey had a lot of people living there who did not like Americans or people who believed different from them.   They wanted to shoot Americans.”

“That’s mean, Papa.  Didn’t Jesus say we have to love each other?”

“Yes, Princess, but not everyone believes in Jesus and these people did not.  The Air Force told us we should not walk around the city alone so when we left our base, a whole bunch of us would go.  One night, we went to a place to have dinner and some fun.  We had a really good dinner and I was having such a good time I did not notice how late it got and did not pay attention to the group I was with.

After a while, I looked around and the people I came with had gone home, I was alone.  I had no choice but to go home alone.  That was very stupid.  I should have paid attention to what the rest of the group was doing. “

Jackson was curled in Dad’s lap, he had fallen asleep.  Jasmine was struggling to keep her eyes open; she wanted to hear the rest of the story and why Papa said he had been stupid.  She was not even allowed to say that word!

“The Air Force let me live in the city and I had to walk five or six blocks to get to my apartment from where the club.    I put my head down and walked as fast as I could.  I wanted to get home and be safe.  Suddenly I heard a car coming up behind me.  It didn’t go passed me just stayed going really slow behind me.  I figured it was those people who wanted to kill Americans.  I thought they were going to shoot me and I got ready to run.  I knew I was going to be shot, probably eventually killed and at first I was really scared, then something happened I decided They would have to kill me, they would never take me alive.  So I took one quick look behind me before I took off running and saw it was a sport’s car, a Mustang.  I knew that terrorists did not drive Mustangs and it turned out to be someone dropping off their friend.  But I had gotten myself so worked up thinking I was going to get shot that my knees got weak and I couldn’t walk too well.”

Jasmine, despite all her efforts had fallen asleep while in the cradle of Papa’s arms.

Papa looked down at her, “Looks like an angel, doesn’t she?”

Matt looked over at his daughter fondly, then at his father.  “I seem to remember that story, Dad.  Your point about wisdom was a good one.  You should have paid attention to your group.”

“That’s right, Matt,” responded Papa.  If I had learned my Bible I would have learned I can have fun and stay safe at the same time.  Solomon even talked about it in Ecclesiastes.”

“That’s right,” responded Matt.  “It’s in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, a time for everything.”

“That’s right, son.  As I recall, pretty much all of proverbs is about wisdom too.”

“Well, we will have a whole week to talk about it in VBS and around the table at dinner.  Don’t forget, dinner is early this week because of VBS.”

“I’ll remind your mother, see if she wants to eat early when she isn’t working.”

“Good idea, Dad.  Hey, thanks for helping get the kids down for a nap.”

Papa laughed softly.  “Well, my stories are good for something!”

“Oh, Frank, they are great! “  said Teresa.

“Well, let’s get these young’uns to bed.  I’m ready for a nap too!”

 

 

Proverbs 4:5-9 (NIV)

Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom.
Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14  (NIV)

 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

*When fear is used in this way it means respect.

Dolls on a Shelf

dolls

As adults, we have all had wonderful old dolls. They are different for each of us, some tall, some short, some blonde, brunette, lots of hair, no hair. They are all very different and diverse but in every case, very precious to each of us; bringing a source of comfort, love, joy, frustration, sometimes even anger or tears. We take them out periodically and spend time with them, then when some moment happens, the dinner is done, the church service over, the magic hour chimes and we put our dolls back on their shelf, at first somewhat casually and as time goes on, more and more carefully.

As we mature and move on with life our dolls watch our achievements with joy. The excitement and demands of life, eclipse them; our own families, careers, life in general. Our dolls just seem to become crowded out with other seemingly more pressing or more interesting avenues and undertakings that life presents to each of us. We do not mean to ignore them, time just gets away. Today turns into tomorrow and tomorrow into next week or next month, and so it goes.

Sometimes the dolls feel lonely, overlooked, forgotten but they wait, trying to be patient, hoping their people will notice and remember they want to share in those happy and new things. Yet as much as they may knock on the glass, their people do not think these old, dusty dolls would fit or they are just too busy to notice. The dolls never stop loving, but a new sadness enters into their eyes and hearts.

Eventually, either the appointed time rolls around and it is time to take the dolls off the shelf again. But wait, one doesn’t seem quite right. The doll is broken. How did this happen? Why didn’t we notice? Our heart breaks, we didn’t realize if only we had spent more time with both the dolls. As we put that doll away, sadly, with tears and prayers, we look to our remaining doll; it looks much frailer than before. We explore different possibilities to make our remaining doll safer, and put it even more carefully on its shelf.   Bring in others to look after the doll, after all, we have families of our own, jobs to do, appointments to keep ….

We continue with our life and check  to make sure our one remaining doll is in good hands. We  take our precious doll off the shelf ever so carefully, and promise we will not take it granted; but as happens, the loss of the one doll becomes a memory and we forget. We still take the other lone doll out, but less and less frequently. Then one day we come and our remaining doll, oh no. Wh-Wha-What has happened!

Next comes the mad rush to the hospital, the painful decision, the transfer to hospice.  Our doll, in its last days has once again become real, and as we watch the one that raised us, skin so pale, translucent, hair, so thin and white, our parent smiles that smile always made things better; from when the bully down the street called us a name, to when we fell off our bike and scraped our knee.

“Mommy.” “Daddy.” we say, heart again broken, tears flow freely as we remember all the times we could have spent but something else seemed so much more important or vital or interesting. We think of all the times we argued when we could have stayed quiet.  We spent so much time doing the ever so important things forgetting what was truly important,  wasted precious time. Time we wish we could have back, but it is gone.

Then, in a moment, that precious doll, that precious parent is gone. The tears run down our cheeks in great torrents, our tummies hurt from the pain crying and trying not to cry.  No time for mourning, put grief aside; there is too much to do; arrangements to make, the service, the burial, the reception to thank those who came.  Then come the thank you notes to write, the attorney’s to see.  Finally, the things that belonged.

“Some day this will be yours.” we remember hearing.  We laughed and said, “I know, I know, but I’d rather have you.”  Now the reality hits.  Now as we hold that ring, that pendant, sobs wrack our bodies  and those sobs come and come. We remember the conversation, we pick up another item and remember the day we gave it to them, the pleasure on their face.  But with them come the “if only’s.”  These drive us to more action, to dull the ache, the hurt, the regret.

A year goes by we are getting it together. We visit that empty shelf less, our tummy hurts less, as long as we don’t think too hard or too long.  “It was a blessing it happened as peacefully as it did.” we share as others inquire how we are doing.  But, oh, what we would give for one hour, with our parents again. We remember their love, their smiles. We ask, “Have I made you proud?” There is no answer, we can only hope, for our dolls are gone, only memories remain.

The story does not end here, for as you and I turn around, we realize that shelf has become ours. We live in our homes, call the kids, but they are so busy with their own lives, all those important things to do and people to see, they take us off the shelf on special days: birthdays, some holidays, church on Sundays. We see their Facebook posts, try to send enticing emails, but, we have become the dolls on the shelf.

DINNER WITH PAPA FRANK

Frank with avacado

This is an excerpt from my husband’s memoirs.  He grew up in SW Florida before and during WW2 and remembers what it was like with no electricity, outhouses, iceboxes, and the freedom of growing up a little like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.  He lived with his grandmother and grandfather, Will and Lulu Curry until his father came home from the war.    When his father remarried, he went with his father and stepmother to live in Minnesota for a bit where he was not accepted.  The family then moved back to Florida where his step mother gave birth to three daughters.  Frank left his father’s home when he was 17 to join the Air Force.  His days of living with his grandparents were happy times as were his times in the Air Force.  His experiences so poignant and sometimes unique I wanted them preserved.  We are working together on this, he does the remembering and I apply a biblical lesson.   If this is ever published, it will be intended for families to enjoy the stories and engage in family discussions as to how the Bible has a real use and relevancy today.  

I hope you enjoy this story about Jackson learning to appreciate what Momma puts on the table for dinner through what Grandma Lulu did when Poppa was growing up in the early to mid 1940’s.

It was Tuesday night, Mama was fixing dinner and Jackson looked over hoping for mac n cheese and hot dogs.

“What’s for dinner, Momma?” he asked.

“Leftovers, sweetheart” Momma responded.  “We need to finish up this chicken.  There is plenty here for one more meal.”

“Is Mac ‘n Cheese with it?”  Jackson was still hopeful.

“No, baby, we ran out last week and it’s not time to go food shopping again.  We will finish off this rice. Some gravy with carrots and green beans will be just right.  Don’t worry; it will be a good dinner.  Then when we go back to the store on Thursday we can buy more Mac n Cheese.”

“AWWWWW! Jackson complained.  We had that ‘hicken      yesterday and I don’t want the carrots and green beans and   rice, ugh, I hate rice.  I want something else!”    Jackson whined,   his voice growing louder and louder.  “I don’t want it!  I don’t   want it!  I won’t eat!”

Momma was frustrated with Jackson’s complaints.  “Now young man you know better!  You know we have to be careful and we can’t afford to let perfectly good food go to waste.  Now you hush or do you need a ‘Pow-pow?”

Jackson’s wails simply increased and Momma looked with askance to Papa Frank who was watching a football game.  He sighed, shook his head and called out, “Jackson!  Come here, boy!”

Jackson haltingly walked over to Papa Frank, his alligator tears running down his face and with little hiccups complained, “I don’ want hicken, I want mac n’ cheese and hot dogs.”  His little lip pushed out in a pout.  Patrick had been sitting at the computer desk doing his homework and muttered under his breath.

“What was that, boy?” Papa Frank asked.

“Nuth’in Papa” responded Patrick.  “Why can’t Jackson stop his whining and let me finish this homework so I don’t get in trouble again?  Why does he have to complain so much?  Aunt Teresa is mak’in dinner and we either eat it or we don’t.”

Papa smiled.  “Reminds me of when I was his age living with my Grandma Lulu…”

Sensing a story coming on, Jackson hushed his whines and Patrick put his pencil down.  Just then, Jasmine rushed in from ballet class, having been dropped off by Miss MaryAnn, Momma’s friend.

“I twirled!  I did a real pirouette and didn’t fall down!” Jasmine crowed.  She did one to show everyone her  new skills.

“Who cares” countered Jackson.  “It’s just a dumb girl  thing.  It’s not important, not like my soccer practice.”

“What do you know; you’re just a stupid boy!”   Snorted Jasmine, her eyes flashed and her long dark hair whipped around  with instant anger.

“Enough!” shouted Momma. “Everyone is quiet this instant or it’s to your rooms!”

“What’d I do?” complained Jasmine, anger still sparking from her eyes.

“Jackson is complaining about dinner and I can’t finish this stupid homework.”   Patrick was really getting mad.  “I don’t know why I have to be here anyway and listen to you two brats.  I’m old enough to be home by myself while my Dad is at work.”

“You know perfectly well why you are here, Patrick.  You won’t do your homework.  I’ll not go through this with you again.  And you will not be calling any names in this house, you know better!” Aunt Teresa corrected Patrick with fire in her eyes.

“Yes ma’am.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to call them brats.  Hey, Jaz, you want to show me that spin thing again?”  Patrick apologized. “Besides, you are a better cook than my Dad; I get tired of those subs.”

Aunt Teresa laughed and rumbled Patrick’s blonde hair.  I know and we love having you here, Patrick.  You are a great help and I love you a lot.”

Papa Frank had been waiting patiently and with a lull in the arguing, he called all three children over to him.  “I thought I would tell you about Grandma Lulu, that is if you can stop fighting and sit quietly.

Jackson quickly sat down on the floor; he loved Papa Frank’s stories.  Patrick quieted down and sat back down.  The story would give him a break from the math homework he didn’t want to do.  Jasmine’s anger evaporated and she ran to sit down to hear Papa Frank.

“Well, Papa Frank said, settling into his chair and turning the TV off, I’ve talked about my grandmother before, do you remember?”

“She was in that book,” said Patrick, was she the first girl to live on some lake?”

“No, Patrick that was your Great-Great Aunt.  Grandma Lulu was my father’s mother.  She was part Indian and took care of me when I was as old as Jackson and Jasmine.  She was in that book; you are right about that, though.”

“Grandma and Grandpa were not rich people.  Grandpa was a fisherman and didn’t make much money.  We didn’t have much except what we caught or grew.  We lived on collards, grouper, homemade cottage cheese, and sometimes ham if grandpa butchered a hog.

“Grandma would get up early every morning and cook a big breakfast.  We had bacon or sausage, biscuits ‘n jam, hotcakes, oatmeal, fresh milk, cottage cheese she would clabber in her kitchen…”

“What’s clabber,” asked Jackson.

“That’s a good question, Jackson.  Grandma would let milk sour and then put it up in cheesecloth and let it drain.  Now when milk clabbers, the whey is the liquid and the clabber is the chunks that are left.  That is what cottage cheese is.”

Jackson made a face.  “Wheewww”

“Well back to the breakfast.  Grandma would put everything out on the table and you could eat what you wanted as much or as little.  When we came in for lunch, there was breakfast still on the table.  She added some stuff to it … some fried mullet maybe, more bread or biscuits.  We ate what we wanted and headed back out to do our chores.

“Did she make mac ‘n cheese for dinner?” piped up Jackson, ever hopeful of getting his favorite meal.

“No, Papa Frank chuckled, “Not quite.  Grandma would make beans and rice, tomato gravy and rice, if we had one a pork roast, or fried grouper and cornbread.  We had a lot of leftovers, you have to remember, and whatever was left over from breakfast was still on the table for dinner.  We didn’t have electricity; we had a real ice box with a big block of ice so we couldn’t store much food.  What was fixed had to be eaten.  There wasn’t enough to throw things out.”

Did you have mac ‘n cheese? A determined Jackson asked.

“I didn’t know what mac ‘n cheese was until I joined the Navy,” chuckled Papa Frank.

“We didn’t have hamburgers, fried chicken was a real treat and what was on the table we ate ‘cause there was nothing else.”

“Reminds me of how the Israelites acted in the desert, Jackson.”

“Why, Papa, did they have mac n cheese?”

“No, they were in the desert and they didn’t have a whole lot to eat or drink and had to depend that God would take care of them.  God had taken them into the desert so they would learn to depend on him and to get rid of the bad habits they had learned while they were slaves in Egypt…

“Those Israelites didn’t much like being in the desert, eating the same food, and started to complain.  They thought it might be better if they went back to Egypt and were slaves again.  They had forgotten their God and all He had done for them.  They got very mad at Moses and spoke against God.  They complained and complained to Moses and Moses went to talk to God.

“I bet God didn’t like that very much,” commented Jasmine.

“You’re right, princess, God became very angry with them.  He had saved them from slavery in Egypt, given them the Ten Commandments and they made a golden calf to worship, totally forgetting about God’s mercy, and then they wouldn’t go into the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God.  They didn’t trust God.”

“They were pretty ungrateful, huh, Papa,” injected Patrick.

“They were like all of us, boy.  We all forget sometimes.  We forget where our blessings come from and start to complain that we want more of this or less of that.  God had to teach them a lesson.”

“So what did he do?” asked Jackson.

“Oh, I know!”  Jasmine triumphantly answered.  “They got pow-pows!”

“Oh brother!” sighed Patrick.

“Well they did get punished, princess, but a lot worse than that!  There they were, rescued from slavery, but in spite of their teachings and customs and all that they had seen, they had no trust, no faith, and all they did was complain.  God sent snakes to punish the Israelites. “

“Oh,” said Jackson, “I wouldn’t like that much. “

“And the Israelites didn’t either.  Moses prayed to God and he asked if God would forgive the Israelites for their complaining and selfishness and their lack of faith.

“Did he — Did he make those nasty snakes go away?” shivered Jasmine.

“In a way,” said Papa Frank.  “He told Moses to fashion a pole with a snake wound around it.  If the people looked up at the pole and remembered God the snakes would not bite them.   He was reminding them to keep their eyes and   minds on Him, and to stop all their complaining.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, that is the sign doctors use today to symbolize their profession.”

“So, stop complaining about your leftovers and remember to be grateful for the gifts God has given you.  For if you forget Him and take what you have for granted you may lose what you have.”

“Dinner is ready!” Momma called, Dad had come home while Papa was telling the story and Jackson ran to him.

“How’s my boy?” Dad grinned as hoisted Jackson into his arms.

“We learned about Grandma Lulu and leftovers!” Jackson crowed.

“I can do a pirouette!”  Jasmine bragged and promptly tried to do one in the carpet, tripping in her efforts.  “Well, I DID do one.”

“I’m sure you did princess, and you can show us again after dinner.  By the way, what’s for dinner?”

“Chicken!  Leftover chicken!  And we are gonna like it and have mac n cheese on Thursday and God will be happy!” Jackson exclaimed.

Momma laughed and Dad cracked a big grin.

“Come on, Patrick; let’s enjoy this left over chicken.  How are you coming with that math?

“I don’t get it, can you help me after dinner, Uncle Matt”

“I think we can do that, Patrick.”  Uncle Matt looked over to his wife, “Chia, the table looks great, plenty to go around.  It’s been a day and I’m glad to be home.”  With that he swung her around and gave her a kiss.

“Wait until you see what I got for dessert!”  Momma said, Eyes sparkling with pleasure.

“What!  What!  What!”  Jackson could hardly contain himself.

“Well, I had some cake mix and chocolate chips, and I knew you would like a treat, so I make some chocolate chip cupcakes!”

“Wow! “  Jackson was jumping up and down.  Can you be like Grandma Lulu and put them on the table now?

“What’s this all about?”  Dad asked

“Oh, Papa has been telling another one of his stories, Momma said.  He gave me the time to make these cupcakes!”

Thanks, Dad.  I’m glad you’re here tonight.” Matt said.

“Glad to help said Papa Frank.  Now I’m hungry, let’s eat!”

“They all sat down to the table.  “I want to say grace!”  Piped Jackson who discovered he was very happy indeed to have chicken and rice and carrots and green beans.

“Alright, son, go ahead.”

Jackson folded his hands and bowed his head.  “Jesus thank you for taking care of the Is – Is – Israelites and teaching them not to complain.  Thank you for not getting mad at me and not sending snakes and thank you for Papa Frank’s Story and Momma’s cupcakes and for mac n cheese!  Amen!”

“What kind of prayer was that?” snorted Jasmine.

“It was a fine prayer and I am sure it made God very happy.” said Papa Frank.  So let’s eat this excellent meal and enjoy your mother’s surprise dessert.”

“Uncle Matt is it true, what Papa told us about the snakes and the Israelites? “  Patrick asked.

“Yes, Patrick, yes it is.  In the book of Numbers it tells us ….. and with that, everyone enjoyed dinner and dessert and Jackson did not complain about leftovers, at least out loud, ever again!

 

Bible Passage

Numbers 21:4-9

New International Version (NIV)

The Bronze Snake

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, [a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

 

Money

In the Bible, Jesus talked about money more than sin, heaven, hell, or any other topic.  Proverbs spends more time talking about money again, than anything else.  Money is a blessing and a curse, depending on your view of it and how you use it.

Money should never be accumulated for the sake of money.  It is a tool, and like all tools should be treated as one.  I think most of us have a problem with that.  We want that nicer car or that fancier home, a better wardrobe or the upscale vacation.  Money is essential to a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but it is not a goal in itself.  People can get confused on that point.

Money is used as recognition as a sign of a higher level or skill at a particular job, a recognition for a job well done,  payment for hours spent in the employ of another.  All these are fine things.  One also obtains monies by dabbling in the illegal, activities that hurt others such as prostitution, drugs, thievery, and a host of other inappropriate things.    There are day traders who play the stock market all day hoping to come out the big winner.  All too often they either break even or loose.   Fortunes and made and lost in the stock market and inside trading is not as uncommon as one might thing all in the name of the almighty dollar.

There is a price on everything from food to medicine, from a person’s time to a person’s life.  Yes, there is truly slavery in this world, in this country, the USA, in every country. But what I am talking about is the value an actuary will put on a person’s life.  If an individual is in the beginning of their 20’s there is a higher value on their life than on the life of a baby or a retiree.  A baby has unproven potential, a retiree has used up his or her potential thus when settling a wrongful death suit, it matters little how loved or how important to you Grandpa Jack was, he wasn’t worth what Young Ben, age 26 and an up and coming stock broker was.   In today’s world, everything is broken down into dollars and cents.

Knowing this, it is easy to forget that money is but a tool, not a goal.  In the Book of Proverbs, it talks about wisdom and who wisdom should be valued:

“Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Money is often wasted because  people do not respect it for what it is, use it foolishly, and fall victim to those who would take advantage of that fact.  The most common form we see today is in the form of usury, payday loans that charge one thousand percent per day, and once you have taken out two or three or four of these, you are working to pay the usurers, not the electric bill or the power bill, or to put food on the table.

Why does Jesus and the Bible put so much emphasis on money?  You would think it would be on heaven or such.  Money tends to be the root of so much sin.  You either sin trying to get money, or in keeping it or wanting what it can buy.  If you do not use wealth or money as the tool God intended it will be a cause of great strife and grief and upset.

 Let’s take a look at the rich man.  Remember the rich prince who came to Jesus and said he had kept the ten Commandments and wanted to know what else he must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you remember what Jesus said to him?  He said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and follow me. ”  The young prince hung his head and left.  You see, Jesus knew his sin, he could not give up his stuff .  He did not have the faith that He would receive enough to keep him content from God.

I wonder, are we like that?  How often are we down to our last hundred or twenty or ten and see a need before us, but stop because we better keep it until payday?   True, we may make it by a hair, or God may see a need we  have and meet it.  Perhaps that need will show up in a week or a month or a year and that is when He will meet it.

There was a lady ahead of me in the supermarket one night before Christmas.  She had a baby, maybe three months old with her.  She was short nine dollars and change.  As a retired couple, and me having no understanding of money (why can’t you spend it twice?) I studied on my wallet trying to be grownup and responsible.  She was at her wit’s end.  The “me” part of me took over and when I got up to the cash register, I told the girl to put the nine dollars and change on my ticket.  My only regret was that I had not done it sooner, before she got so upset.  I was not after recognition or thank you, I remembered being with my boys when they were little and trying to handle everything with them.  Then too, it was Christmas.  I ran into her in the parking lot, what she could not have known was that she would have had to reshopped her entire basket, they could not hold the sale.  I told her to have a Merry Christmas and kept on going and I am sure one day she will do the same for someone else.  Could I afford to do that, not really, but trusting God to get us through I just did what seemed right.  We are getting through just fine.

Why do we think we will suffer if we give something away?  I don’t think our God is like that.  However, if we are foolish with our money, do not set up a proper budget, do not live within our means, do not  give tithes and offerings, well, that is just like saying we don’t need Him or the Wisdom He offers.

It just seems funny.    it does not matter what topic we bring up, to do it correctly and well, we always wind up with God.  He is the Maker of all things, He is the Alpha and Omega.  He is  the answer to everything.  Amazing, wonderful, and so encouraging.  For if He is the answer to everything, then if we ask for something in His Name and plan to use it for His glory, will our Heavenly Father, who will deny us nothing unless it is harmful say no?  He may say wait, but our prayers will always be answered.

So when it comes to money, follow the Wisdom of Proverbs, set up a Godly budget, and use money as the tool it was intended to be used as.  You will find you can afford more, live better, and be happier!

Relentless Mercy

 

Jesus

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35, 37-38

 

 

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “Yes, Jesus Loves me!”

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “The Bible Tells Me so!”

Jesus with the little children

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We should believe with the innocence of children, for we are His children

My Personal Testimony and Reason for this Writing.

I am an apathetic Christian.  This is a confession I do not take lightly.  I read books written by these wonderful authors who are truly on fire for God.  I read the Epistles and see how Paul counted his life as nothing, then wonder, “Why don’t I feel like that all the time?”  Oh, to be sure, I have my moments.  But so often the cares and living of this life just wear me down, I get so tired just coping with the day to day drudgery, God gets lost in there and I go to bed, get up, do what I must, go back to bed and before I know it an entire day has passed and I have not spoken to Him once.

Now realize, I am not talking about the bakery clerk or my neighbor or even my husband, I am talking about He who created the universe!  I am talking about a powerful being, one who has so much power I cannot even conceive of it!  I am talking about the One who made me, the One who died on a cross so I could be with Him, the One who, no matter how much I ignore Him, no matter what my sins are, be they purposeful or not, continues to pursue me with that wonderful, sometimes frightening,  overwhelming message:  “I love you, come to Me!”  He is there, calling me, holding out His arms to me.  Me?  “Not now, I’m too busy.”  So glib, so foolish.  Sometimes, when I take a moment to recognize exactly WHO is calling me, I don’t answer at all, instead I hang my head in shame, a tear may drop and meander down my cheek as I say in a voice filled with shame and unbelievable sadness:  “I am not worthy.  If only you knew what I have done.  I am not worthy.”  And I walk away from that offer of total forgiveness, of total agape love, tears running down my face, knowing I am not good enough to be approached by, to look at, and definitely not be a part of His universe.

Have you done that?  I think we all have at one point or another.  After we have said we were too busy or too sinful what happens?  He comes back, doesn’t He?  He calls out to you again, He holds his arms out again.  If you are quiet and listen you can almost hear Him tell you how precious you are to Him, how He loves you exactly as you are, that He knows all there is to know about you.  It is enough to stop you dead in your tracks, to bring you to your knees.  You catch your breath, for an instant you feel the beauty and peace of his touch.   Then the realities of life call you back as a horn blares or one of the kids starts to cry and you run back to that drudgery we all call life.

It’s so weird, if I am talking to someone about Jesus and following Him, my passion is palpable.  Sometimes I even get too intense as I turn from Old to New Testament showing how Jesus has always been with us, how we are in a time of grace that is fast coming to an end, I describe hell, read from Psalms, Proverbs, even Song of Songs so that whoever I am talking to can try to comprehend Christ’s love for us.  I usually give too much information and give it so intensely I make the receiver uncomfortable.

I love Jesus, I love and believe in Him so very much.  Why am I so lazy about spending time with Him?  To a point it is so very me.  I tend to care about and love people from a distance.  I don’t get to close to anyone, not my bestest BFF from school, not my BFF from church.  They usually have to chase me down.  I don’t know why; it is certainly not that I enjoy my own company so much.  More than anything else, I guess it is fear of rejection.  Ok, insecurities.  But I don’t have to be insecure in Christ, did He not say,

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:2-5

            There is one thing we have forgotten.  We can turn this life from drudgery into joy!  He will lighten our loads, put a spring in our step.  The same chores will be there, but somehow, with Him at our side, they seem lighter.  But we have allowed the cares of this life to eclipse the most important thing of all, our relationship with our God and our Savior.  So, does He walk away and go to someone else?  No!  He is determined, His love for each of us is so deep He does not stop, He does not rest, until as little children, we are enfolded into the loving care of His arms.

His pursuit of us is relentless.  I kind of liken it to something once said in “Terminator” when Kyle Reese told a very frightened Sarah Connor:

“Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

Jesus has something better than pity, He has empathy.  He knows where we are coming from, He understands our pain, our hurt, our hopes and dreams, our temptations, even our sins.  Just like a true lover, He looks past all of it, He sees only the person He loves so dearly He died for them.  You can’t bargain with Jesus, He knows your yesterday, your today, your tomorrow.  Jesus has no fear, there is nothing He needs to fear.  He made it all, He can break it all!.  He will absolutely never stop until you are dead.  Once you have moved to that phase of life, your eternity is set.  He either welcomes you home or says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Which words do you want to hear?  “Welcome home, good and faithful servant”   or “Depart from me …” .

I took the time to think about eternity the other night.  I just finished an article about what heaven is really like.  I was trying, as best as my finite mind can, to grasp the idea of eternity.  For some reason I pictured hell.  The burning, the pain, but what eclipsed everything was the total absence of that love I have felt all my life.  Jesus was nowhere.  Nowhere.  Then the horror fell on me.  This pain, this aloneness was never, ever, ever going to stop.  There would be no rescue, there would be no gentle voice calling to me, just the horrendous screams of others who were also there.  Behind it all was the almost maniacal laughter of the lost one himself, Satan.  This would never end.  I couldn’t even begin to grasp what that meant but I knew after ten thousand years of this pain, it would continue, for another ten thousand, and another ten thousand after that and for the first time in my existence I felt a total loss of hope, I came face to face with complete and utter despair.  Then I realized I had put myself in this position.

All I had to have done was say “Yes” when Jesus would call to me and hold out His arms, but I was “too busy” or too cool to give him an answer.  Now, NOW I understood why He had been so relentless in His approach.  He knew what my future would be, He has tried oh so very hard, but me and my “oh so cool” free will chose and chose very poorly.  NOW I understood, when it is too late.

I woke up from my reverie, cold chills ran down my spine.  I prayed desperately, as a drowning woman, “Please God, oh please, don’t let me go there.  Oh please, forgive my sins.  Oh please take my will, take all of me, don’t let me go.  I am so scared, I know I should go there.  Please, please, please don’t let me go there.”  I almost sobbed the words out.

Jesus came, He comforted me, held me in His lap, reminded me how easy it would be to start my day with him, easier yet to end my day with him.  Heck, I don’t even really enjoy the stupid TV shows I watch and my puttering on the computer is just a way to pass the time.  Why not put all that wasted time into Him?  He was right.  So what do I do now?  Watch stupid television shows and putter aimlessly on my computer.

So, I am not proud to say it but I am an apathetic Christian who needs to be turned on, plugged in and tuned up.  I thought to look at the relentless mercy, grace, and love Jesus offers us, of His Relentless Love and as we begin to better understand, and truly fall in love with the true Master and Maker of the Universe.

So, that is my story.  I read Genesis and see how from generation to generation humankind was more interested in their here and now than in their Creator.  So we from what I can see, even with the benefit of the New Testament, we have not grown a whole lot.  What is real, what is necessary for each of us to have the peace in our hearts and souls that we crave is not through things, or stuff, or that new car, or promotion at work; it is getting ourselves right with our Creator.

It is my simple hope that this testimony brings some closer to Jesus Christ, to a saving walk with our creator and savior.    As relentless as His love is for us, we must be as relentless in following Him, in spending time with Him, seeking His wisdom and Grace.

Christmas Spirit?

Christmas …..  Happy Holidays ……. Kwanzaa …….  Black Friday ….. Cyber Monday.    So what is Christmas?  The stores play special music  starting
Halloween or even before urging you to buy.  They are so anxious to give shoppers the best deals they stay open Thanksgiving and on into the frenzy of greed called “Black Friday”.  Let us not forget the deals we can Presentsfind in cyberworld on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  The message is if you care about someone you will buy, buy buy.  So, is that what Christmas is, a time to spend money you don’t have on things people probably don’t want?

Then there is the tree.  Millions are cut down every year.  There are tree farms where the perfect trees are cultivated and grown for this very reason.  EaChristmas Treech year families go out and select a tree for their home decorate it with lights and baubles, put all those presents they are told by retailers they need to give to love and feel loved.  Then  in 2 or 3 weeks they will take that tree  down and drag to the curb.  Just another piece of trash.

Maybe it is all those parties.  People have a lot of parties during Christmas.  Oh, so much fun, perhaps, if you go.  They can also be a source of pain, drink too much, forget yourself, do something you never would have done. Have you ever noticed the smiles on so many of the party goers, so plastic, so fixed.

Then there is the music, makes you feel so warm and tingly inside.  The Snoopycookies, the fudge, the goodies that come in from everywhere!.  An extra hour of workout this week!  Now don’t forget all those TV specials.  The kids jump up and down, watch for a bit and somewhere along the way you realize you are watching “Rudolph” or any of the myriad of Christmas specials they run year after year after year.  You can sing the songs along with the characters you know them so well.

All these things can add to a feeling of happiness, warm fuzziness, or they can lead to despair.  So many are alone, so many cannot face their family again with no job, no money, no tree, no gifts.    All that happens for other families, not for them.  Those who are single often feel a pain, a lonliness.  They just want to get through the “holidays” and get back to normal.

So, as they say in the song, “Is that all there is?”   You make yourself get all excited, then you don’t know why but you feel this … emptiness.  No, that’s wrong, this is Christmas!  How can you feel sad?  Empty?  How can you be asking “Is that all there is?”    Well, if that is all you look for, the tree, the gifts, the parties, yup, that is all there is.  But there is more.

Christmas is the Day of the Savior’s birth.  It is a religious holiday.  It isNativity the day Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity left His heavenly throne to come to earth as a helpless baby to lay in a trough, a place where animals ate.  To live a human life, to stub His toe, scrape His knee, to have to listen to Mom and Dad, to be hungry and thirsty, to have to submit to elders.   All the while having been the One who created the universe, the earth and all that was in it.

As you truly dwell on the enormity of that, of what Christ gave up to come here, to Earth, to allow  beings as sinful and insignificant as mankind to  mock Him, nail Him to a cross all so we could be with Him in Heaven.  As we consider Christ’s whole reason for coming to earth; to teach us how to love, to die on the cross so we could join Him in heaven.  NOW things are starting to fall into place.  Now we begin to see why those other things left us feeling a little empty, now we begin o understand the rest of the story.  For it is not just a babe in a manger, it is the decision of a loving God coming to live and walk among us.  To allow us in our conceit and false wisdom to nail Him to a cross and allow His physical body do die, only to be reanimated proving His conquest over the grave.

Some reject this offer of love, of mercy, of forgiveness of sin, they turn instead to a god of hate, lies, and cruelty so we see scenes like this                 isis2using their hate and love of anarchy and violence to claim to fight for their god.  They steal childhood from children, kill indiscriminately, rape, torture, all in the name of Allah.    I feel no joy in this, my outward joy, it is measured.

We live in a world where the very standards upon which this nation was founded are now considered not politically correct.  We live in a time where our leaders do not lead, where “Black Lives Matter.”  Today, babies can be killed when half born because a woman has a “right to choose”.    In today’s world, all that Jesus said was right is now criticized and what He said was wrong was applauded.  We live in an age when public prayer is forbidden as  is mention of God.  Our post modernistic world is one of the most humanistic, hedonistic civilization that ever lived.

As long as we have children who go to bed hungry or cold, who cry Syrian Christiansthemselves to sleep because they or their parents may not survive the night.  As long as we have such hatred in this world as to allow families to die of cold or starvation as happens in Syria right now; as long as we have drive-by shootings that kill innocent children so some punk can qualify for a gang, I take little joy in the trappings of Christmas.  Oh yes, the tree is up, the presents in all their profusion are slowly making their way under it.  Plans for a feast that will leave everyone groaning from too much food are in full swing, and I will love all of it.   But in my mind’s eye, I will see the children I sponsor who may not survive because they are in the wrong place to be Christian, I will see little children forced to kill, others dead because of the cruelty of a belief.  I will think of those who have given up, who can’t face another Christmas alone or without a job and I will think of the Reason for the Season, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.    We are His floJesusck and He is our shepherd and He will look after each of us as lovingly as we see Him nurture the lamb in His arms.  My spirit is in my heart, in my prayers for those I know in harm’s way,

So before you buy that next present, you know, the one you forgot for Uncle Joe?  or Great Aunt Penny, stop and offer a prayer for the protection and provision of those not as fortunate, take a name off that tree in the store, slip a dollar in the Salvation Army Bucket.  Help to make someone else’s Christmas better than it would have been.

Christmas spirit does not come from shopping, TV shows, carols, or any of the trappings.  It comes from remembering why came to this earth and why.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

A Fortress is My God

Image result for a mighty fortress is our godCan you see it?  That great stone fortress?  It is there; I just need to keep my eyes on Him, my mind and heart in His Word and It is there.  Mighty and strong in the distance, the sun sparkles like diamonds on those great stones, and I know once I reach it I will be safe from the harm and temptation, the evil and pain of this world.  I must keep striving and as I race, running with all my might.  The fear begins to leave, and as I look around I see I am flanked on either side by mighty soldiers!  They are tall and mighty, they fight off the enemy and shout encouragement to me!  A new strength flows through me; I am renewed!

As I reach the ramparts of the fortress, I see so many others calling encouragement. The prayer warriors from all over.  Their prayers sent the soldiers; their prayers sent encouragement and strength to my soul!  As I stayed true, even as I began to faulter, they prayed and prayed on.

My God is my mighty fortress!  He is my rest, my portion, my safety, my strength.  I turn and see the horde of evil that pursued my beaten back by that army of God.  The Lord is there, His arm about my shoulders.  “It is good you are here, loved one.  Rest and refresh, regain your strength for soon you will once again join the good fight.  As I sink into the couch, I find His Word sitting on a table next to me.  Beside it one simple glass of water.  I open the Bible, sip that wonderful, life giving water and I hear Him, in the distance.  “Give your burden to me, loved one.  Take my burden for it is lighter and shared by many.”

I slip off the couch into a deep rug and on my knees, confess my sin.  In simple humility I share my joys and fears, My sins and my blessings.  I share my sorrows, my hopes, and my dreams.    And in that sweet hour of prayer, my rest from the real world, I again begin to feel that overwhelming love. It is hard to realize how much He loves me, but He does.  My breathe catches, it is so hard to breathe with the intensity of His love.  As I rise from the floor I see that fortress fall away,  my comrades are there, still fighting the good fight.

Refreshed and strengthened from my time in the safety of His love, I draw in a breath.  Just before I plunge once again into the struggle against sin, the struggle against the evil one, I look up and utter a thank you, “Thank you, Lord, for loving one such as me.  Thank you, Lord, for believing in me and for loving me.  “