A Lesson in Forgiveness

Katy Curry©

Those boys!  Her foot pressed ever harder on the accelerator while her brow furrowed in anger and frustration.  Tears ran down her cheeks while her mouth was set in a firm grimace.  How could they?  She had worked so hard to make everything perfect!  The leg of lamb, garlic smashed potatoes, asparagus garden salad would have been perfect.  They were her favorite dish; dessert was homemade lemon meringue pie; perfectly browned.    She set the table as beautifully as her mother had taught her and planned everything for a quick and easy clean-up so she could enjoy the day with her family.    It was to have been, should have been HER DAY!  Mother’s Day!

She stood on the brakes and pulled off the road as she realized her rage could make a bad situation worse.  “Get ahold of yourself, Kathy.” She scolded, and then allowed herself to collapse into the steering wheel in a cascade of tears.

She was furious, scared, angry, disappointed, horrified, and hurt and so much more all at once.  She did not know how to react first.  Her son, her youngest, got himself arrested Saturday night.  ARRESTED!  Thrown in jail on a marijuana charge!  His brother had come over to tell his parents.

She and Frank had been sitting in the living room, watching their favorite Saturday night show when their older son had burst in and sat down on the couch, clearly upset.

“Mom, Dad, I have to tell you something.”  JR started.

“What’s wrong, Bud?” Dad sat up straight in his recliner.  “What’s happened?”

“It’s Jackson.  Jack has a problem.    Well, more than a problem, um, he’s in trouble.”  J.R. managed to get out.

He had Mom’s full attention.  “What is the matter with Jackson?  Is he hurt?”

“No, Mom, he’s, he’s, Jackson was arrested and is in jail!   But if we go down we can bail him out, I called and checked.  We can make it all right.  He had a roach, oh sorry, marijuana…”

“I know what a ‘roach’ is, J.R.” Mom said tersely.  “I thought he was at work.”

“Well, yeah, he was, he was delivering a pizza and lit one for the drive, but then he ran a red light and got pulled over,”   Frank explained.  “We just need to pay his bail, and he can get out.  His bond is six hundred dollars so we can bail him out for sixty dollars and get him home!”

She had sat there in disbelief.  Drugs.  Jail. Bond.

Mom reached out her hand as only she could.  “Give me the phone.”  She commanded.  She dialed the non-emergency number for the sheriff’s department and asked for the jail, gave the man her son’s name and asked if he was there.

“Yes ma’am, “responded a bored jailer.  “If you come down to the jail you can bail him out….”

She cut the jailer off, “Can you give him a message for me?  Can you tell him to enjoy his night and he can figure out how to get home because no one will come?  He buttered his bread, and now he can sleep in it.  It is his mess.”  Her voice was tight the fury barely under control.

“Yes Ma’am, I’ll be happy to give him the message!”

She thanked the jailer, got off the phone and pointed at J.R.  “Don’t you dare bail him out!  He can figure his way home, do you hear me?”

“Now, Babe, don’t you think that is a bit harsh?” Frank, Sr. suggested.  “After all, it’s not like he robbed a bank or killed someone.  J.R. and I can go down to the jail in the morning…..”

“I’m going to bed.” She said and walked out of the room, took her shower, her sleeping pill and climbed into bed in a fury of motion.  She had suspected both sons were smoking pot, and it angered and terrified her.  She said one simple prayer that in its own strange way would be answered the next day.  “God, get me through this!”

Mother’s Day dawned, she got up, went to church, left through the back door so no one would have the chance to talk to her, ask where Jackson was, wish her Happy Mother’s Day.  At home, she went through the motions of preparing the Mother’s Day meal, but her heart was no longer in it.  About noon, J.R. walked in and behind him was an exhausted and chastened Jackson with a bouquet of flowers.

“Now Mom, I didn’t bail him out, he was released on his own recognizance.  I just couldn’t leave him to out there; the jail is in the middle of nowhere.  Look, he has flowers for you; you know how you love flowers.”

Mom looked over at Jackson; ice and pain were in her eyes.  “I don’t want those.  I don’t care what you do with them. “

Jackson reacted as if his mom had struck him.  Never had he expected this type of response from his mother.  She was always the one who had fought for him in high school, always the one who spent the extra time to get him to do the homework he tried to hide from her; she had championed him from his earliest memories.   She had always seemed to understand.  Other kids had wanted a Mom like he had.  He got his answer quickly.

“How could you?  Everything I have done for you and you repay me with, with this?  Arrested?  Drugs?  You were brought up in the church!  You were taught right from wrong!  Now you do this?  Get out of my sight!”  Mom was sobbing.

Jackson tripped over a chair as he backed up, struck a second time by the physical blow of her words.  “Mom, I’m sorry,” was all he could say.

Almost hysterical, she grabbed her keys, stormed out of the house, jumped into the car, and taken off.  We join her as she drove maniacally into an undeveloped area where she knew she would not have to watch for people or dogs.

As she sat, sobbing into her steering wheel, beating it with her fist there was a knock on her window.  She looked up, and a sheriff’s deputy parked behind her, light’s flashing.  Oh great, they always show up when you don’t need them.  She wiped her face with her hands and lowered the window.  “Am I doing something wrong, Officer?” she asked.  She had pulled over in a deserted area, so she knew she was not disturbing anyone.

“No ma’am.”  He answered carefully.  “May I see your driver’s license and registration?”

“Oh sure, sure,” she answered; wishing she had not quit smoking as now would be a very good time for a cigarette.

He studied them for a moment and made some notes, then handed them back.  “We got a call from a very concerned family about you, ma’am.  I am glad I found you in one piece.  I need to call this in that you are okay.  Can your family come out and talk to you?  They are pretty upset.”

“THEY are upset?  THEY!”

“Your son told me about what he did.  You know, he isn’t the first kid to get into trouble.  As bad as you feel right now, I can guarantee you he is in worse shape.”

“Oh yeah, I bet.” She answered, bitterly.

“Jackson said you go to church, over at Freedom, right?  My wife and I just started going there.  Good Pastor.”

“Yes, I go to Freedom.  Not that it did my family any good.  What did I do wrong?  What didn’t I do right?”

“You were fine, I am sure.  Kids are kids, Kathy; may I call you Kathy?”

“Sure, that’s my name.” she answered with a ghost of a smile.

“I don’t want to preach, I’m a cop, not a preacher, but something that struck me was something that Jesus said.  He said in Matthew that we should forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven times.  I think that means every time.   What do you think, Kathy?  Did Jackson sin against God or you? “

“Well, both…..”

“You are right there, but his sin against God is between him, and God and his sin against the State of Florida is between him and the State of Florida, right?  So that leaves just him and you.”

Kathy had no words; she just stared at the deputy wondering at the wisdom he had shared.

“Now I don’t mean to overstep here, but my guess is you have had to say you were sorry a few times.  Now your son wants to tell you in the worst way how sorry he is.  Jesus said seventy times seven….  Looks to me like you have a pretty simple decision to make, whether or not to show him, Jesus.”

Kathy stared at the officer as the truth entered her heart.  It was true.  Jesus had already forgiven Jackson.  She knew she had to, not only because of Jesus teaching but because of her love of all of her family.  She needed to forgive all of them as badly as they; especially Jackson needed to hear her forgive him.

Kathy looked over at the Sheriff’s Deputy; “Deputy  … D’Angelo?  Are you a deputy sheriff or an angel here from God?  I want to thank you.  You helped me to realize something I needed to remember.  Thank  you, and God Bless you.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Deputy D’Angelo smiled.  “Now I really have to go, seems there’s a problem that needs handling.  You be safe now.”  He climbed into his patrol car, turned around, and well, where did he go?  Kathy shook her head, wondered if she had just had a conversation with an angel, there was no trace a police car had ever been there.

Kathy put her car in gear, turned around, and drove home.  She walked in the door and Frank Sr. and Jr. and Jackson looked up at her.

“Mom…” Jackson started.  That “Mom” hand stopped him.

“I need to say something to all of you.  I let this get out of perspective and punished all of you for Jackson’s mistake.  Dear, I should have let you finish what you were trying to tell me last night, but I was too angry.  J.R., you did the right thing by getting your brother when he was released this morning.  Jackson, thank you for bringing me flowers, it was very thoughtful.  I know you never meant to spoil Mother’s Day, I know you made a bad choice that you will have to deal with.   I am sorry I was so harsh to you, and I need to ask that you forgive me, that all of you forgive me for behaving so badly.”

Jackson was up and had his mother in a bear hug.  “I am so sorry Mom, so sorry, forgive you?  Please forgive me, I was so stupid….”

J.R. was there to giving his lop-sided grin.  “It’s okay Mom, no harm done.”

Frank Sr. sighed with relief.  “Jackson, where are those flowers you got for your mother, let’s get them in some water.  J.R.; let’s get the water on for the asparagus.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am hungry!”

“Oh, one other thing, I was surprised the police were out looking for me, I didn’t think they did stuff like that.”  Mom commented.

The three men looked at each other confused.

“Babe, we never called the police, why would you think we did?” Frank asked.

“J.R., you know the deputies around here,” Mom said.  “Do you know of Deputy D’Angelo?”

“Uh, no, or he’s new, but there is no D’Angelo that I know of,” J.R. answered.  “Why?”

Mom smiled, she remembered that angry statement she had made as an excuse for her evening prayer.  “My prayer last night was answered in an unusual way.  Now let’s get this meal going so I can love on my family.  Where are Joe and Irene?  Jackson, will you say blessing today with a special thank you for blessings received?”

Jackson gave his huge smile and gave Mom another hug.

The doorbell rang, and Joe, Mom’s eldest son, and his wife, Irene were there.

“Come in!  You’re just in time for dinner!” Frank said as they came in.  “We have had quite a time here.”

“Talk later, food now!”  Jackson said.

Everyone sat down, Jackson prayed, and Mom watched her family and realized what a perfect day it was, because of God’s answer to prayer.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Part of this story is autobiographical.  Jackson (not his real name) continued to have problems with drugs and ‘graduated’ into cocaine.  I only wish I had had that angel when “Jackson” was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of pot and possession of paraphernalia.  The next ten years were to be the most challenging and frustrating Frank and I had ever faced as we struggled to get our son out of the drug scene. 

The following year, on Mother’s Day Eve, sheriff’s deputies showed up at the house to arrest Jackson on a violation of probation from that original drug charge.  I asked them if they knew what Sunday was.  They had forgotten and were somewhat sheepish as they confessed they had forgotten to get cards and flowers for their own moms and wives.  I asked if I guaranteed Jackson would be waiting for them Monday morning, would they let me have him for Mother’s Day.  They agreed.  Jackson was taken into custody that Monday morning.  He called me at work to tell me they were there.  I warned him to be cooperative; his voice shook with nerves and shame.  That will be another story.

 What I can tell you is this.  Love your children where they are.  Don’t sugar coat, don’t try to protect them from consequences of their actions, but don’t turn them out.  Tough love is not kicking them to the curb.  Tough love is loving them through earned consequences and being there to try to provide guidance, reassurance, and most importantly, unconditional love.  They need you, more than you know and more than they will admit.  It was love that brought Jackson back.  Love from God and from his family who never gave up on him. 

Verses referred to:

Matthew 18:21-23 (NIV)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

 

The Quiet Joy of Mindfulness

boy with a hat

Mindful imageEvery day we have so many things to do and so many tasks and goals to complete that it can be difficult to be mindful, to be aware of what we are doing and how we are doing it, to be present and awake, to attend to our own existence, to let ourselves be enveloped by the here, by the now, by the moment we are living in, which is the most valuable thing we can ever have. But being mindful is essential to reaching the depths of who we are.

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The Holy Highway

This is a piece I submitted in a writing contest.  I would truly appreciate some critical feedback so I can improve my writing.  Promise, I won’t get mad.  In this setting, I did expand some description in the story, but not much.    Thanks.

highway_to_heaven_wallpaper_by_vuenick-d5193zf

 

Isaiah 35:8-10New International Version (NIV)

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The air was thick with fear, the trees and fallen logs made for slow going and he needed to move fast.  He needed to get away.  He vaulted over some fallen logs and ran, ran as hard as he could; his breath coming out in ragged gasps.   The crashes behind him suggested whatever it was in pursuit was huge and fast.

“Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown, Was the baddest man…..”

Matt sat up with a start reaching blindly for the cell phone.  His heart was pounding; he was covered in a cold sweat, felt it dripping down his back.  He sort of remembered the dream, he remembered the terror that had crept up his spine.

Finally his fingers closed over the phone.   Hullo?”

“Matt.  It’s Frank, from church.  Listen man, we need to talk…”

“Hey Frank.  Listen, I just woke up, I’m late.  I gotta go.  I’ll give you a call later.”  Matt cut Frank off with a promise he did not intend to keep.   Church.  No time for it.  A small bit of guilt pricked at the back of his mind, but he had been explaining it away, the guilt was less and stayed around for a shorter period of time.

“Sure, Matt, but don’t forget.”  Frank’s voice belied the frustration he felt at Matt’s avoidance.

“No problem.  Call you later.”  Matt replied without thought and hung up.    He looked at the time, 10:46 AM.  He could sleep for another hour; and let himself fall back onto the sheets that used to be white but were now grey.  He caught the sour smell of sweat, body odor and knew he needed to put fresh ones on the bed.  Maybe tomorrow, if he thought of it.  He was back asleep in moments.

The dream began again; this time, Pastor Frank was running alongside of him.

“Hey, what’re you doing here?  Shouldn’t you be doing ‘church stuff?’” Matt asked.

“Ain’t no more church, Matt,” Frank panted.  “Some monster out of hell devoured it.  It’s gone, I called you,  remember?”

“I remember, I was tired, haven’t been sleeping, keep having this dream … watch that log” and they both leapt over it.

“Beast from hell?  Sounds like what ‘s behind us,” Matt panted as the roar of an ungodly being rang through the woods.  It was hungry, hungry for souls.   “I can’t run much longer, we need a tree, a big one. “

They saw one in the distance and made for it with all the strength they had.   As they sat on the branch the creature burst into the clearing; it presented the most terrifying sight either man had ever seen.  It was a dull greenish-gray,  like  sick Spanish moss.  Tendrils that ended in sharp pincers dangled from it as did long octopi arms with suckers on the inside and eyes on the outside.  It’s mouth was a circle with rows and rows of sharp dagger-like teeth.  It was six feet tall and almost twice as long.  It was the ugliest most fearsome thing they had ever seen.  “R-R-OU-WGH-R!

 The sound was furious,  so loud it hurt their ears and the evil behind it spit right into their souls.

“What is that thing?”  Matt whispered.

“Do you remember what I talked about when we last met?” Frank asked.

“About the highway?  Yeah, you called it something … the, holiness, that when we got to it we would be safe. You were talking about salvation.”

“Yeah, that’s right, the Highway of Holiness,  from Isaiah.”  I explained that as you drew closer to God, Satan would attack to keep you from that Highway of Holiness.  He had promised it to the Israelites and He promises it to us.  You don’t get it.  You’re so close and Satan is after you.  You must be something special because he has set his beast after you.  You’ve been called, in a very big way.

“Your mother had a hard time.  She dreamed she was in hell; saw the people, heard their screams, felt their despair and hopelessness.  Now it’s your turn.  This is your wakeup call.   WAKE UP!!!!”

Matt sat up with a start.  He looked at the time, 10:53.

He sensed the malevolence; there was a smell, brimstone?  “It’s time to see Frank.” He decided and began toward the shower; caught the flash of movement, a tail?  Then the growl, so familiar….from his dream!  Something told him to get down on his knees yet he continued toward the bathroom.

 “DOWN ON YOUR KNEES!”   The force knocked him backward.  He fell to his knees just as the demonic beast jumped toward and over him, tendrils and octopi arms reaching, eyes staring, mouth agape, teeth grinding.  He prayed to God, rededicated himself.

“Dear God, Jesus!  What is this thing!  Okay!  I have messed up, first it was the job, then when I did have a Sunday off I got lazy, wanted to sleep in.  God, you got my attention years ago and had to let me put myself in a bad spot.  Now Satan is after me.  God, I’m your man.  I promise, no more messing around, no more being lazy.  Please, Jesus, you were then and are still my Savior.  My sins can only be forgiven through your blood sacrifice, I know that, there is nothing I can do to earn heaven, so I accept your gift of salvation and will honor it and you.  With all my heart, Christ, I swear!  Amen and…”

The beast had been facing him sizing him up, preparing it’s final assault .  As it leapt toward Matt, Matt finished his prayer with “Amen!”  The hell-bent creature had started with a great roar but ended in a scream of pain as it seemed to try to protect itself from blows or something causing it pain.  It just disappeared and with it the stink of brimstone and sulfur.

“Oh, Wow!  Talk about spiritual warfare!  Thank you angels!”

Matt stumbled back into the bedroom, picked up the cell phone and dialed.

“Frank?  Yeah, man, I’ll be right there.  We need to talk.”

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.  “

Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Worship?

Of late, the term Freedom of Worship has been gaining popularity.  So, is Freedom of Worship the same thing as Freedom of Religion?  You guessed it, I am talking about the First Amendment.  I do not know if you realize it, but many of our rights have disappeared, especially during our present administration.  We have lost a lot because Barrack Hussein Obama believes he knows what we need better than we do.  Basically his decisions are based purely on his own personal agenda.  Anyway, that is a blog for another time.

Let me explain the politically correct meanings of Freedom of Worship and Freedom of Religion.  Freedom of Religion is exactly what it says.  The freedom to believe what you want how you want.  This implies a particular world view.  For instance, the world view of someone who embraces the Islamic faith is different from a person who embraces the Christian faith, which is again, different from an atheist.  This is the freedom expressed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The concept of Freedom of Worship is a new term.  It refers to what an individual does in his or her place of worship for an hour or two a week.  This does not dictate actions outside of that time of worship.  It implies a global world view as the act of worship, according to the individuals who coined the phrase does not impact actions once outside of the room, church, temple, etc.   Are you seeing the difference?

Freedom of Worship means that, in my case, I give worship and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every Sunday, but on Monday I follow the world view and actions set forth by my government.  Thus I will support Planned Parenthood, if I am a service provider I make no distinctions that would be biblical in any way.  You see, biblical decisions and actions would ONLY take place during my worship time or in the privacy of my own home.  The teachings of Jesus Christ could not impact my actions outside of my church or my home.  This I would not live and act with a Christian world view but with an Obama world view.

So, by a clever use of words, our Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed by our First Amendment, is wiped away.  Those in power would say no, we do not understand, we still have Freedom of Worship.  We would be offered re-education classes in human rights, sensitivity, and non-discrimination so we could be “welcomed back into the fold” so to speak.

You may ask, why this differentiation is so important.  There is a huge difference between these to terms.  Our forefathers came to America to practice their faith in God as they chose.  The Pilgrims, actually Quakers, had a specific belief in Jesus Christ, more Calvinistic than the Church of England and this formed their world view.  You see, one’s belief in God dictates their actions in their life.  For instance, compare the world view of an atheist, a Muslim, and a christian.  The atheist has no higher power to be responsible to, no set of morals to live up to other than the laws of the state and his own viewpoint.  He believes in the relativism of right and wrong and will say that what is right for one person may not be right for another, all is relative to the situation and the individual.  On the other hand, the Muslim is controlled by the Q’ran.  His treatment of family, friends, eating habits, business practices, worship are all found in the Q’ran.  His world view is dictated by his religious belief.  The same goes for the Christian.  The Old and New Testaments of the Bible shape the Christian’s behavior not only in church and with his family, but in the real world.

If this nation were to adopt a Freedom of Worship policy, Christians would be forced to accept abortion, sale of fetal body parts, even the purposeful harvesting of fetus…..heck, BABIES, for their pieces and parts, Christmas would be gone and something else would be in it’s place, Easter would become Bunny Day or some such thing.

Those are not the only ways we would be affected.  Books with a religious theme, be they fiction or non-fiction would not be found in book stores,  Publications from only world-based publishers and authors would be available.  Children would receive worldly teaching with regard to sex education and birth control.  Chaplins in any organization would become mental health workers.  Think of other basic changes;  in court, who would you swear to?

Fodder for further thought … Our liberal leadership has already discounted, ignored, “modernized” our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution; history is being rewritten to suit the post modernistic philosophy of relativism; today’s students are being taught that capitalism is bad and socialism is good, the list goes on and on.  At what point will we, as citizens of the United States of America say ENOUGH!!!!  When will we stand up and honor our founding fathers?  If you read, I mean READ the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and it becomes evident that these papers as well as the Federalist Papers are as applicable today as they were when they were written.

We have a choice, remain free and stay vigilant and protect our freedoms or lay down and let narcissits like Obama tell us how we can live.

Hey Lady Hey!

lonely lady

 

Verse 1

Hey lady!  Hey!

What you doin?

I see you lots , all alone,

Alone at church.

Alone at the store.

Alone with your dog.

Verse 2

Hey Lady, Hey! What you doin?

I see you with people, But you’re still all alone.

Why don’t you join in?  Why not have some fun.

Hey, you leav’in?

Why?  The fun is inside, the smiles, the laughter

Why you leave that behind, to go be alone?

Verse 3

Hey lady, hey!  What you do’in

I don’t get you, not one bit.

You could be happy, you could be smil’in.

You could be laugh’in  yo’self silly

With people who care.

You don’t give them a chance.

Verse 4

Hey, lady, hey,!  What you doin’?

God gave you friends.

He put them there, you just need to stay.

Why can’t you take the gifts He gives?

Ain’t no one in there better or worse than you,

He thinks you is special, why can’t you?

Verse 5

Hey, lady, hey, what you doin?

Maybe you wouldn’t be so sad if you’d stop your mopin’

What’s that you say, “Done too much wrong?”

Did you hear?  You is forgiven!

You ain’t no victim. So stop hidin’ from the world;

Stop hidin’ from yo’self.

Verse 6
Hey, Lady, Hey!

God had lots for you to do!

And you ain’t gonna do it act’in the way you do.

You get yo’self up; you read His Word.

You get outta your chair, get out in His world.

His joy is out there, no more of this junk.

Verse 7
Hey, Lady, Hey!

Throw that pity party out and pick yo’self up.

Do His will, with joy in your heart. He’ll put it there; you’ll see.

So walk by faith, be brave if that’s what it takes.

Next time I ask, “Hey Lady! What you doin?”

I want to see a real smile on that face.