A National Debt of Gratitude

This is a phenomenal post by Melinda K. 

Have we become ashamed to show patriotism?

It may depend on where one lives and whether or not one was raised to appreciate our military and our freedom they protect. I wonder, however, if most of the holidays established to celebrate our heroes and our country have not been reduced to nothing more than picnics and parties. Have burgers and hot dogs replaced flags and memorials? Do we now ignore their sacrifices and hold “sacred” the three-day weekend?

While we enjoyed the freedom to gather with family and friends for cookouts, did we soberly consider the sacrifices that were made to give us our freedom?

Please read this whole article at The Bottom Line … 

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Vacation!!

Hi Readers!

Just a quick note and no video this time. My husband and I are taking short vacation from the “real world”. But, I’ll be back by Thursday and we’ll be on schedule again next week.

Have a wonderful week!

The Conclusion of It All

Just a few brief thoughts this morning. Do you have any idea what the term “Maundy” Thursday means? I didn’t! So allow me to share my new found knowledge:

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”, the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of
John 13:34 (paraphrased from Wikipedia)

Jesus’ words there have been pooling in my mind all week, also the following words, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

Think of it! Today is the very day (some 2000 years ago) that we recognize Jesus telling His disciples the secret to evangelizing the world; the secret to complete obedience to Jesus Christ, the secret to all God wants from you.

It is love for one another. Look again. Jesus single commandment to His disciples: Love as I have loved you.

Also, it is in that love that the world will recognize us as His! It is in that love we find our own identity. 

I want to share one short devotional that I wrote recently for http://www.swagga4christ.com, as well as three songs that bring me to my knees. 

 

 

 

 

Short Devo: The End

“I finished the laundry!” My husband said.

“Now you can rest because there’s nothing left that you have to do!”

I cast a glance at the stack of clothes on the top of the washer. They weren’t folded the way I fold them. The didn’t look like they do when I’m finished doing laundry. I sighed. There was no way I could rest, the laundry needed a little more work.

John 13:1 says, “…having loved his own which were in the world, [Jesus] loved them to the end.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished,” John 19:30.

The words “end” and “finished” have the same root word in the Greek: telos. Telos means: that by which a thing is finished, it’s purpose.

Jesus loved us to the finish. His love for us, shown by His death and resurrection, put to an end all of our works to please God or to earn His forgiveness. All the payment for sin that God required were finished by Jesus.

Think how it would hurt my husband’s feelings if I refused to accept his gift of doing the laundry for me and decided I could do it better myself. It is the same way with Jesus. When we think that we can or must do more to please God, we are actually saying that Jesus didn’t do a good enough job paying for our sins.

You only have to believe in Jesus. All the work is finished!

A Greater Christmas

I have never met anyone who argued that the man Jesus didn’t exist. Historians, secular and religious alike, recorded his footsteps through the dust of history. Religions that deny His deity, dare not deny His humanity.

But from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, God set up time to declare the greatness of His one and only begotten son, Jesus. In Genesis 1:24, God declared that His creation was good. All aspects of creation met God’s favor in His three word blessing: mammals, fish, birds, plants, light, water, everything… except man. When God made man, He observed His masterpiece and declared that man was very good.

And Jesus was a man. Jesus came in human flesh, so at the very least He was good. But He was so much more.

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

Declare the Greatness of Jesus today, our Deliverer and Salvation.

Peace Presents

I see the boxes ‘neath a verdant tree,

Of size and corners, of soft and flat.

Of tiny bows and licked envelopes.

Near are socks pinned to the mantle

Empty, gaping, hungry for the treats of Christmas Eve.

 

One question remains.

 

Good or bad? Worthy or not?

Will favor extend till Christmas morn?

Or with harsh words or one false step

This bounty quick be shorn?

 

Tiny, faceless, serene nearby

A wooden manger scene. A Prince of Peace.

One given and never recalled.

Given for liars and lonely, good and bad.

Given a bounty for hearts who will believe.

And behold, a gift again,

Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

 

This Peace eternal

Not as the world gives. Not for reciprocating or to the worthy.

Not wrapped or hidden

Never retracted.

Peace given.

Peace left.

In a name, in a babe.

Through a Prince who knew no peace.

Spread to me before assailant and foe.

Peace, a feast.

Amid green meadows, still waters.

 

This verdant tree will wither.

Gifts peeled, received or returned.

Praise the Prince! This giver of Peace!

Not as the world gives

But for the eternal enjoyment of my soul.

Where is the Peace on Earth?

 I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~ Wadsworth

I wonder if when Wadsworth penned those words, he expected to someday see peace on earth. Or was he speaking wistfully about some day hung in eternity, about as accessible as the stars? Certainly, no one even today, nearly 150 years later, would dare to say we have achieved peace on earth.

Here in America, we have come as close to peace as anyone. Most of us live safe, predictable lives. But even here we have domestic violence, natural disasters, political arguments, road rage, rivalry, and worse. Even at this season when we blissfully sing of peace, havoc reigns. Just last week: An inexplicable mass shooting at an elementary school – 27 people killed.

Why is this? What can we do? This morning on talk radio, commentators were asking, “What law do we need to prevent this kind of thing from happening?” The answer isn’t in a Christmas carol. It isn’t in Washington. The United Nations can’t bring about world unity. However, Peace will come from authority. 

Think of it, what do you do when you feel anxious? If you’re like me, you set out on a frantic course to determine the problem, find the solution and relax once more in your manufactured peace. The trouble is, in no time, you and I are in turmoil again.

Do you ever say something like, “Oh to be a kid again, no cares in the world.” The reason kids have no cares is that they are happily submitted to the authority of their parents. Their peace comes from knowing that Mom and Dad will feed them, clothe them, tell them what to do and when to do it, answer their questions, calm their fears, kill the boogieman, dry their tears, tuck them in and teach them what they need to know. What would you give to have that kind of peace again?

This is what the LORD says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Is. 48:17

World peace, personal peace, eternal peace is found under authority. And therein is the main reason we miss it. The older we get the less we like the idea of taking orders from someone else. The older we get the more confident we become that we can take care of ourselves. But, what if there was someone worthy to exercise authority over us? And what if that someone was implicitly good and trustworthy?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

We have been given PEACE, peace incarnate. And yet, this peace is a prince; he has come to rule.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Col. 3:15

Do not think that you can experience His peace unless He has full authority over your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

The peace of Christ is for those who like little children with a benevolent parent, bring their troubles to Him, instead of insisting on their own solution.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is. 26:3

The Prince of Peace gives peace to those who look to Him for truth and trust His answers.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

And this Peace of Christ is for today, it is peace on earth (Luke 2:14). For even the peace that we desire in our homes, between our political parties, between our nations, is only experienced under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Missing Beauty

Like a child at Christmas

New to a world of unbridled joy

Toys and gifts unshelved and labeled just for me

Scantily wrapped in bows to entice

And to celebrate the more beautiful giver

With an eye to Glory and Grace.

 

But I ran through the piles,

Stepped on a few.

Past love and peace and a new set of eyes.

Past my new heart and a clean mind.

I reached for the lowest branch,

And plucked an eye catching bauble.

As I turned the plastic charm around in my palm

Narcissus, I boasted in my glossy reflection.

Oh the prize of this cheap decor.

 

But a hook skewered my finger

Biting my pink, immature flesh

It held and my blood dripped upon

The beautiful gifts meant for me.

I Am Resolved To Lose Control

That doesn’t sound like a very good New Year’s resolution, does it? But then, I told you I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are mean’t to be broken; they are almost laughable. I work at  South Run RECenter, so already this year I’ve met hundreds of good intentions cloaked in tired bodies. I’ve sold probably 50 years worth of memberships, most of which will never be worn out, for that matter neither will the Asics on the feet of the purchaser.

We have all met (or made them ourselves) the individual swearing to start journaling this year. Or, they promise to get more rest, or get up earlier. We, or they, pledge to spend more quality time with our kids or spouse, to control our eating or spending, to get a grip on our gossip habit.

What do each of these examples have in common? We want to take control of ourselves! We long to to master our circumstances, our desires, our impulses and even our relationships.

I just picked up a new book recently. As usual, I heard the author interviewed on Janet Parshall’s show. Chantel Hobbs is the woman you want to hate. She is scary gorgeous and used to weigh 350 pounds. She’s the author of several books, the one I’m reading is called, Love Food and Live Well. 

 You know my story. I have had a ridiculous fear of food since the age of 14. So, the concept of loving food is foreign to me. I’m not interested in Hobb’s weight loss prescription. At least I didn’t think I was. But Chantel takes a whole new, holistic approach. I’m not talking about organic products, deep cleanses and special herbs. I’m talking about taking a look at your whole body, spirit and soul. Hobbs doesn’t separate the belly fat from the idolatry of food lust. She doesn’t endorse sit-ups and long-distance running, ignoring the exercise of faith. She doesn’t encourage you to get a grip on your physical appetite, while starving your spirit.

Personally, most of my recovery from anorexia has been overshadowed by the discouraging thought that I had to get my behaviors right before I could get my fellowship with God right. Once I had control of my idolatrous behaviors, THEN I could ask God to take control of my life. Do you feel that way?

Too many of us confuse love with control. In the past, most things I really loved I loved poorly. I know this becasue as I tried to control them I always felt out of control. Whether it was food, friendships, jobs, or material stuff, I lived in fear – the fear of losing whatever I was trying to possess. – Chantel Hobbs, Love Food and Live Well

Ouch. How true of my perverted love. I noticed recently that I feel angry when I think about my sisters – the three women I love more than anyone in the world. I can’t control the fact that they can see each other every single day and hold my niece or drive to my mom’s house. So, feeling disconnected and out of control way over here on the east coast, my love for them simmers – poisoned by anger.

I say that I love working out. I don’t even know if that’s true on any level. I do know that I love the feeling of being in control of my body. Take away that control, tell me I can’t exercise tomorrow or that I have to take a week off, and my “love” just might explode in deadly rage.

So, I will set a New Year’s dissolution. I resolve to dissolve control.