There’s a great deal of red, white, and blue appearing in the panorama view of our world today, Memorial Day, 2016, and I find myself smack dab in the middle of it all. In a day of protests, stand-ins, and revolts of every kind, it’s about time for the heart’s core of America to protest, stand up, and reclaim our nation’s heritage. Yes, there are some skeletons in our closet that we wish were not there, but our focus should not be on the dark moments that transpired in the past, but on the great environment America presents to us today. God has blessed America and we pray that He is not finished with America.
War is inevitable. Conflict is a part of everyday life. If you look at the first book of our precious Bible, you will see conflict’s ugly head in the Garden of Eden. (Gen. 4:8) Cain murdered his own brother all because God’s favor fell on Abel’s offering. (4:4,5) People become jealous when they perceive God’s favor falling on someone else. Our country presents one of the most desired environments available to the world. It’s no wonder that others look on and want to destroy our land of opportunity.
This land of freedom and opportunity appears somewhat of a dream world to those who look on from the outside, a plethora of choices for a future filled with happiness – but this utopia did not come cheap. They see the affluence, the abundance, yet the high cost of America’s freedom is the underlying foundation of our land. When knuckles became white while gripping weapons of warfare, when hearts were saddened and blue while far from the safety of home, and when blood ran red with the ultimate sacrifice, America was birthed and freedom continues to cost our people in colors of red, white, and blue.
For a country surrounded with the struggles of an election year, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on our blessings instead of our conflict. Just for a few moments, take a knee and thank God for His blessings upon America and while you are on your knees, ask Him to draw the hearts of America’s citizens back to the knowledge of their beginning, to form a land and a government that would be for the people and by the people, a beginning where people sought a land of freedom to worship God. The history books no longer tell our next generation the true story. Maybe you will??
God bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside Her, and guide Her through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam;
God bless America – my home, sweet, home! God bless America, my home, sweet home.
Irving Berlin, 1918 – Kate Smith, 1938 (Her signature song)
Old – but still Useful to God
I like to rescue things – unraveled garments, cracked or flawed glass, and rusted heirlooms. Restoring damaged items is much different than simple recycling. These items have character; they are valuable pieces of history that have been used and abused worse for the wear. Easy? Not hardly. Timeless treasures require a big investment of time and energy. The search for these items takes me places where I often encounter people who need salvaging too, those used and abused and in need of someone to reassure them of their worth. It’s God’s will that no one perish (2 Peter 3:9) so, I’m happy to be used in this way.
The ‘go-to’ source for these valuable pieces of history happens to be garage sales, junk stores or stashes of twisted junk piled on and around private property. When I select a piece, I’m already aware of the work it will take to transform it. Recently, I pulled the iron base of an old Singer sewing machine out of a trash heap recognizing the work this rusted surface would require. But once a rustic slab of wood was attached on the top, it made a perfect and unique table. This process always reminds me of the value of people, scratched and dented from life, like the teenager God put in my path, a girl who appeared wounded, unloved, and of little worth. Now this was a treasure worth salvaging!
Watching her transformation into the beautiful young woman she is today has been a blessing! It took years of patient love and encouragement to enjoy the sight of her today, ready to face a future of hope. I was only a tool God used to point her back to the Savior who loved her and had a plan for her life. She may have felt like junk, she may have been told she was worthless, but the Spirit of God moved my heart to see her worth. This happens often as I look through the eyes of Jesus and see His view of people. And through this process, I’ve come to understand just how much we all need salvaging – just how rusted and worthless we really are.
Jesus repurposed a life from uselessness to reveal His ability to see the value and worth in a wounded individual through the story of the paralytic man whose friends brought him to see the Master. Can you imagine four of your friends coming to physically carry you to meet a total stranger? But the ailing man allowed them to carry him and he heard the words of Jesus, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (Mark 2:11) Immediately his lifeless legs became strong as he stood on his own. Can you imagine the surprise on the faces of his family when he returned home in his own strength, now ready to be useful again? Physical miracles were only the beginning; spiritually He transforms us into His best work!
Jesus STILL wants to rescue and salvage the wounded today. Of course, He could do it miraculously on His own, but He allows us to be hands and feet to reach out to help these. Isn’t that an awesome thing! Who will God put in your path to rescue today? Do you know someone who has listened to the lies of the enemy and has been left feeling worthless? Give your hands to Jesus and He will use you in ways hard to imagine. Be blessed yourself in the process!
Predicting the Future
Sometimes they get it right: weather forecasters. According to their predictions, rain would come in the night so I labored to sow the seeds for our 2nd planting of radishes and lettuce. And right on cue, I heard the pitter-patter of raindrops on the skylight during the early hours of pre-dawn. Perfect! This makes me think of God’s faithfulness; when I am faithful to read God’s word on a daily basis, I can rest assured the direction I find there will be right on target in guiding the decisions I will make today. Too bad the weather predictors aren’t as dependable as God’s word. His faithfulness is proven again and again to me.
Sometimes they get it right: financial advisors. My investments are small, but others depend highly upon these people who study stock market trends. Retirement funds grow or dwindle to almost nothing on the advice of professionals in the trends of Wall Street. Does this worry me? Not hardly. I’m finding confidence in God’s provision; once I determine to spend wisely, save modestly, and give generously, He will look out for my interests! “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house *(provision for the Priests of that day and the pastors of today)* And try Me now in this” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
(Malachi 3:10) *My added input*.
Always, not sometimes, but always: God gets it right. The foundation of the knowledge I possess begins with God’s word. “The fear (respect) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by Me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you.” (Proverbs 9:10,11) My days are numbered and the number is getting smaller, but I trust God to direct me and continue my life as long as He finds purpose and glory for Himself within my activities.
God’s word assures me of purpose! “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13,14) Old Testament advice is still valuable to for us today. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) As long as we keep our eyes on the word of God, treasuring it within our hearts, God assures us we can depend on Him!
The future is uncertain – that’s a given. Yet, God’s promises are true and eternity is His home territory. Jesus said it this way, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also,”
Start your day with God’s word. Let it tutor you through the day. He is worthy of trust! Trust Him with your todays and tomorrows!
(Scripture from the New King James Version)
School’s out for Summer! Can you hear the playing of the familiar tune from our younger years? Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner so we are in full swing with summertime activities. As daytime temperatures heat up, I welcome the only time of year when my yard begs to be mowed more often than once a week. Spring rains team up with warming trends and green stuff grows everywhere, the garden, flowerbeds, and the yard – my favorite time of year. This is also the time to get out your calendar and schedule those IMPORTANT things like vacation, reunions, and don’t forget volunteering where God leads you to help others!
Since reaching retirement age, volunteering is much easier than when I balanced a job and family responsibilities, but truth is I’ve always volunteered. Summer camp and Vacation Bible School were big parts of my childhood so as an adult; I want to give children’s ministries high priority as I give back to the family of faith. These activities allow a new generation of children to learn and grow in the faith. I’m praying that you can be inspired to consider giving a portion of your summer to such activities. It may cost you in time off work (or your paycheck) or in consumption of energy, but it will pay back in priceless dividends unseen to you today.
Ministry to children was important to Jesus as He walked and taught upon the dusty trails of Galilee and regions along the Jordon River. Crowds followed Him wherever He walked and of course children were a part of those crowds. As still happens today, children were looked upon as a bother by the disciples revealed by their words to the parents of these children who most wanted Jesus to bless their offspring. “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15)
Look at the leadership in your fellowship of believers. If they tend to ignore the importance of children’s ministries, please do what you can to promote the teachings of our Bible to our children. It takes passion, finances, and many volunteers to make these ministries successful. If Jesus used the humility and innocence of childhood to demonstrate the fabric of the kingdom of heaven, shouldn’t we pay close attention to the loving development of our children? Put feet to your good intentions! Get involved! There’s a place for everyone’s contribution.