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The year was 1944. Americans were exhausted. The losses and the victories of wars on two sides of the planet were stretching us thin. That winter was the coldest in European history, and the hardest for the Allies. We lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
I had never seen any road so grand. The White Horse Pike was three lanes wide made of broken, whitish concrete with grass growing liberally in all cracks and between lanes. Vehicles were with our troops in Europe or the Far East and common folk either walked, took a bus or rode a train everywhere. We were lucky. Grandpa had some extra gas coupons and during the war we rarely ever drove a car. Americans just could not afford cars while a war was raging and we saw only a few cars on this road.
Grandpa, being a farm boy at heart, was there to pronounce doom on a turkey for dinner. Turkeys were a North Eastern staple based on pilgrim tradition. No steroid-stuffed mass-produced fowl like today. And Grandma made creamed white onions, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans, dressing with celery and giblets, creamed fresh corn, stewed cranberries from nearby New Jersey bogs, plus pumpkin and mincemeat pies.
The rest of the year we had Spam and grated carrot salad, and once a week maybe a baked chicken. I got the leg. This meal was a real change of diet.
In our small town there were no working age men and very few young women. My parents were off doing war work, my mother taking the train home for an occasional weekend. Those were dark times.
But we were thankful. We could see the end of the war. God had spared us bombs on our homeland. We were a praying people and we knew God had made this possible. The first sign of sin, says Romans, is lack of gratitude. We are missing a lot of that today.
Romans 1:21 although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Now 75 years later we are digging out of another war – a war against the Constitution, against people of faith, against prosperity, against morality, against anything God ever said. This time we cannot be sure we will win. Most everyone has enough to eat, people have cars, TVs and rights, and sometimes free healthcare. But they lost the greatest things because their nest was so full of toys. They lost the ability to be thankful.
Thanksgiving weekend is not “turkey day,” or football game day, or get out at 3 a.m. to shop at the big box store day; it’s the day we notice that God made all this possible to hard workers, sincere pray-ers and moral believers. And to those who thank him.
Only two nations celebrate a day of giving God Thanks – Canada and the US. And if you’ll notice the statistics, these are two of the most prosperous nations on earth. I doubt if this is a coincidence.
No it can’t be. God hears real prayers from His people and when He does He responds with blessings.
This year, notice that each generation has its wars, its tests, its victories and failures. They come in different packages but they are all for our instruction. Let us be thankful.
The once popular notion that ontogeny recapitulated phylogeny, which claimed that embryos can predict future development, is no more scientifically valid but I see an interesting application of this to how we understand Jesus from the most basic “I never heard of Him” to the Kingdom-active life of a completely committed believer.
God’s people began ignorant
The apostles (disciples) were, just as we are, completely ignorant about who Jesus really was, and what his program and purpose on earth might be. They started out believing, because they were part and parcel of his activities, that he was a nice man with special God-given powers. When he died they scattered not because they were disloyal but because they thought he was like other men, the way any person who recognizes that his hero is dead and he needs to find another hero, another leader.
A dead Jesus is better than a living one
The Children’s Crusades were endorsed by the failing Roman Catholic Church to boost its sorry ratings. The black plague was raging for over a century in various places. Nearly 25% of Europe and in some places even higher percentages died in spite of pricey priestly prayers.
Enter Obama’s failing presidency with every age and voter group, even blacks, and he needs something to boost his image. Just like the Children’s Crusade debacle, it’s all backfired. The sacrificial lambs are now languishing in barracks with scabies and TB. Drug dealers may be evil but they’re not stupid, entering with machine guns along with hundreds of pounds of drugs so far confiscated thanks to an aggressive Texas governor’s National Guard.
In 1212 many of the kid-crusaders died on ships, worked to death or starved, or kept as slaves for the sex trade. Ugly business then as now. Americans may have endorsed abortion but they still don’t like people killing live humans or using them as pawns in a deadly political scheme.
You wondered if history repeats itself?
My old friend Kirby said when she sat down for her Bible and prayer time she always asked Jesus to join her. One day He said, “I would if I had a place to sit.” Kirby was not much of a housekeeper and every chair and table was covered with books, clothes, and papers. After that she always cleared off a chair for him, although it got stuffed up with junk between times.
A teenager once reported that she cried to Jesus after she got the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke her tongues. The leaders asked her to leave her church. “Don’t worry, honey” Jesus replied,” They don’t want me there either.”
Several years ago one of my best friends died. It was not a surprise but it was still a loss. I sat on the corner of the bed and said, I could be in heaven with Jackie singing gospel songs and having a good time. Then I heard quickly but audibly, “Don’t be in such a rush!”
Most people don’t know a Jesus as a person like that. Stuffed shirts such as the leaders of the Temple could not know God personally because they were too focused on serving God, on what they were doing and their own opinions. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, they treated either with contempt or fear. But the guys at Oktoberfest got along with Him just fine. Jesus doesn’t fold at the sight of a glass of beer.
Being real about oneself is the 1st step to intimacy with the Lord. Yes, He is Lord, and yes He died for us, and yes, He is coming again in great power. But for now, He also said, I call you friends.
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.
That is the Jesus we need to know, and how He wants to know us.
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Bobby’s mother spent a month that summer buying clothes and talking to him excitedly about the first day of school. He had a smart little blazer, a new Batman lunch box and a drink container and lots of goodies in the backpack. The day finally came. Mother took him to school.
The following morning at 6 a.m. she awakened him for school.
“What,” he said, “not again?”
Yes, Bobby again and again and again. That is what discipline and faithfulness are. The life of faith is doing it every day. You mean I must study the Bible every day? And pray every day? every week?
Right. Salvation is not an event but a walk from the beginning to the end. Of course there are ups and downs, days we think we can’t possibly be a Christian or that the whole thing is impossible. But faith grows as it is exercised like a muscle that gets stronger. Someday believing will not be so hard or demanding.
It is called the bread of life for a reason.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to be faithful and patient with myself when I falter so I can stay the course in life.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
We prepare New Year’s resolutions when it is cold and dark, when we are forced to stay indoors. The frenetic lifestyle of summer, the business of fall and the growth of spring do not fit in with a blanket of white snow on which to write one’s plan. That clean sheet says the past is not to intrude into today or tomorrow. As the song from Frozen says, we must let it go. God wants us to keep our eyes forward, in hope and anticipation.
2019 will be filled with changes. We see thorough the future’s dark glass, covered with both doubt and expectation. The anarchy in our streets says we have a country to save. We also have the next generation to lead back to stability and hope. We have promises to keep, forgiveness to share.
There is no better New Year’s resolution than that – to follow God’s personal plan, and to keep those promises we made to ourselves, to God and to our country.
One of the surprising and satisfying things when you obey God is finding out that you have obeyed by faith (that is without knowing why you were doing this) and the results are beyond what you imagined.
Several decades ago I was washing my laundry at a local self-serve machine. It was a dull, boring Saturday, a place I had never used before. Only one woman and her teenage son were in the laundromat. He was acting strangely; she was casting ugly glances at him and sharp threats. He sat nervously and silently in a chair most of the time.
I felt the scene was unnatural. As a person who was badly abused as a child I recognized that his behavior as a teenager was abnormal. Boys especially are all over the place, eating snax, reading magazines, bouncing balls outside on the pavement – but none of that. He never smiled; she never smiled. For a moment I saw myself being controlled in every public situation by a hostile parent. So I wrote down the license plate of the little hatchback out front.
When arrived home I wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services local office, Child Protective Agency. I knew someone there but I had not seen her for literally years. I told her I suspected this boy was abused; it made me uncomfortable. I mailed the letter but including the license plate. I had never seen this woman or her son, nor did I ever again. I thought nothing about it.
Several years passed and I was attending a Chamber of Commerce event when I spotted my old acquaintance. I asked her about my now long forgotten letter. Her answer startled me.
She said, “We removed the boy from the home and gave custody to the father. The mother was livid thinking her Ex had promoted this whole thing. Your letter confirmed what the father had been telling me. But we could tell her it was a total stranger.”
I thought to myself how happy I was they had not pitched out my letter as just a nosy old grandmother. But even more importantly this father as well as the son had wanted a new custody arrangement but could not catch the mother in the act. My letter did the job. I could never be identified by any of the participants. The prayers of one very unhappy child and his father had been answered simply because I did what I believed to be right. God had stepped in.
That is how God uses obedience. He is not obligated to tell us why we do what we do. After all, faith is NOT knowing; obedience is doing anyway when you don’t have a clear reason.
God wants more than anything for us to be coworkers with him in the reformation of a good and happy world. The old song, Trust and Obey, means so much more when you see obedience not as a test, but as a life’s work.
My seminary professor told us to listen to the evangelists trying to be another Billy. They even faked his southern accent. Maybe that is good training but it can’t substitute for what God has called you to be. God is not looking for carbon copies of anyone or anything, a fact we can verify in our un-copy-able DNA.
Young girls want to be movie starts or famous singers, swathed in furs and diamonds. But the story of fame is a difficult burden. Boys want to be high paid sports stars with a pricey car and a gaggle of groupy-girls.
The “beautiful” people are surrounded by insincere hangers-on hoping to bask in their fame. Money buys opportunity but many famous people are never told the awful truth about their bad behavior or attitude. Just because you have a lot of money does not mean you should be buying cocaine. And erelong you are trapped, thinking the money that bought you in can also buy you out. It won’t!
The happiest people are those who know who they are and what they are supposed to be doing. Older people usually get to this point and their calm and self-confidence helps their grandchildren.
Everyone call a plan for his/her life.
Jeremiah 29:11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
Everyone has gifts and a calling.
Romans 11:29 (The Message) God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
Your gifts match your calling. And God will train you for the work. Maybe you thought all those music lessons would send you to an early grave, but lo and behold, hours of concentration on another language (reading music is a language unto itself) now you need that discipline even though you never touched the piano after age 15. That job you had working for an idiot and being paid next to nothing taught you patience and to keep your mouth shut, a skill you find you need very badly now. All those camping trips with Dad, hating the flies and mosquitoes and falling in the lake as a child have made your work now in forest management easier and actually, fun.
At one time children thought religious work always meant the church. Today moderns know that God uses his people in every corner of the world and in every profession and job. Coming to the realization that you are in the center of God’s will as a secular worker opens up a brand new view of yourself. Happy people are those who are fulfilled in their own call, not in someone else’s.
God said this: I am the Lord. I change not. (Malachi 3:6)
What this means is that you change in order to come into His presence. If you are uncomfortable in your own skin, talk to him.
This may not be your story, but there are many out there, adults who have such painful memories of Christmas Past that they have nothing to do with the holiday. One year they will paint a bookcase if the weather is right. Or do a thorough housecleaning just so they are busy on Christmas day. Or a movie. No elegant dinner with family for them.
This year we are gathering a few of them here for Christmas dinner. We decided that instead of bracing ourselves for a onslaught of memories of drunken parties, beatings from dad, a last minute divorce or death in the family, an only child with few friends and a family far away, we are going to start on our new collection of memories. We may be old now, but it is not our fault that Jesus’ Birth is contaminated by people in our past who had little or no regard for the King of Kings.
One woman left high school without getting her diploma to escape a man who had a fight when ever he was home – any day of the year. One man lost his family of four children when his wife disappeared with them over 15 years ago. A third buried her daughter 20 years ago of a drug overdose; now her granddaughter is on meth somewhere. Who knows where, and pregnant again.
We could make this a Pity Party with glasses of Whine. But not this year. We jacked up the fireplace because there is snow still on the ground, everyone is bringing a special dish, – sliced ham, horseradish-cranberry sauce, and a special orange marmalade dip for the diabetic, creamed spinach with a hash browned potato casserole, English cucumbers in sour cream, mayo and sweetened apple cider vinegar and a giant rum cake. There will be little gifts for everyone and carols playing on the computer’s online radio. We’ll have a quart of cocoa.
We’ll talk about how wonderful next year is going to be. No point in bringing up the past. Because as you know, God is all about the future. He told us to be preparing for the Kingdom of God. This life is brief. And one day we will all look back and thank God he helped us shake off the works of darkness that haunted our lives.
We will make a new Christmas with new people.
Years ago I heard this true story and go back to it many times because it shows that God has a sense of humor even in the worst times. Remember He is not caught off guard by any situation we get into.
The pastor at Almighty God Assemblies of God Church was working late on Sunday night at the office and decided to call home to tell is wife he was on his way soon. But the phone rang repeatedly with no answer. Thinking she must be in the shower he just closed the office and left. When he got home his wife said she’d heard no ring from him and they forgot about it.
Monday morning at the crack of dawn there was a man on the steps of the church with this story to tell. He had been in his apartment with a gun on his lap planning suicide Sunday night.
As a final ditch attempt he said, “God, if you are really there, let me know and I won’t go through with this.”
Then the phone rang. He looked at the Caller ID – It said Almighty God.
Frozen with fear the man stayed awake all night. Then he checked on the church address and ended up at the pastor’s office to hear a word of hope.
There are several things about this story that stand out. First, God is able to mess up phone lines when He needs to. We don’t consider how God can get around man’s opinions, his technology, his people, his church, his nations, even the bad ones. The Bible repeatedly says, He is Able. We allow our doctrines to hamper what He can do or will do.
Second, the man had to respond. He could have looked at the Caller ID and thought, well, a phone call doesn’t count. Sometimes our negativity is so thick we are unable to respond when we have the chance. It clouds our mind. This man realized something otherworldly had happened.
Third, and this is perhaps the most important lesson, I cannot prove it but somewhere, someone had prayed for this man. Perhaps a family member, a coworker, even a person on a bus might have seen this man and thought, “He looks depressed and hopeless. He needs God.”
So, add a person you don’t know to your prayer list – the cashier at the Food Lion, the person in the next cubicle that you do not know, or the guy who is panhandling with a sign, “Will work for food.” It doesn’t matter that he probably needs drugs too. Your job as a believer is prayer. That is a Christmas present you can give anyone.
With prayer you can be ‘Almighty God’ in your town too.
It was a beautiful fall day in 1970 when we learned that Little Tate was coming to dinner. He could hardly be called little anymore. He was the son of Tate and Brown, our aunt and uncle, a freshman at East Carolina University, full of himself, full of life and promise. His parents had waited to marry until after WW 2 so he was the prized child of old age, a success in high school, untouched by the drug culture, HIV, constant sex-immersion – all the ills of decades to come.
He was coming to dinner! I marshaled my younger kids – get out the long table, the white tablecloth with the lace covering, the $125 water goblets from my grandmother, the best china and all the best serving dishes. Being from small families my husband and I had few relatives for meals. This was a treat.
It was truly a day when nothing went wrong. Little Tate was full of the hope only an 18 year old could have as he prepared for a radio and TV career, personable, friendly, easy to like. My children enjoyed him as though he were an older brother. When the sun started to set he headed back to school.
We had no reason to believe this would be the last time we saw him alive, but he got on the back of a motorcycle without a helmet (it was not against the law then) and before October was finished he was dead. It was a terrible blow. Our aunt and uncle never really got over it but we had something – we had the celebration of preparing for his burial.
The story of the woman wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair with a costly perfume which represented about one year’s wages is something Jesus said “would be remembered forever.” Isn’t it interesting that we speak of this without really knowing what it means? It is a memorial of a special life prior to death, not a morbid sad time filled with the regrets of loss and hopes dashed. It was the costly elaborate celebration of a life well lived.
Jesus, like Little Tate, died before his expected time, a child of promise, loved and loving, a special person with a future. It was our unique privilege and blessing that we could say goodbye in this spectacular way. And like the woman at Jesus’ feet, completely unaware of what we were doing or how soon his death would occur.
When I told of this blessing to my friend from Grandfather Mountain she said, “Oh, I had a day like that with an old woman. We spent an afternoon looking for one button to replace on her winter coat.” And then the woman died rather unexpectedly.
How many of us have rued the day we neglected to call someone or write, or send a note – thinking of you – only to learn later they had gone without our hearing a single word. One Christian artist sings, “No Regrets” – If we celebrate another’s life before they go, we should have no regrets.
Mark 14:7-9 New King James Version (NKJV)7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
A pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze.
BROWN’s Crippled B-17 Stalked by STIGLER’s ME-109
with Franz STIGLER, with his wife, Hiya.
They met as enemies but Franz STIGLER, on
“In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter.
You have friends – I have friends who honestly believe that because they are of the generation of flower children and embrace love, joy and peace that they are headed off to heaven when they die. I puzzled about this because I noticed that no matter how cogent my arguments, how based in solid Biblical theology and the experience of the ages, they didn’t budge an inch.
I agonized about how to approach one such psychology graduate of Berkeley in the 60s, and then it hit me. This man believes, he really believes that after dies he will have free choice. He thinks hecan choose his own heaven; he can choose to play rock music with his buddies in a comfy place surrounded by always blooming hydrangeas, rose bushes without thorns and cooling streams – a dream straight out of the Sierra Club brochure.
But – and there’s always a but. The whole purpose of free will in this life is to prepare for the next. Free will is not needed in heaven because the essential decision was previously made. Of course we expect God will allow us to choose what to enjoy in heaven. I want to hit the books and talk to the authors from the ante-Nicene era. Hey – to each his own.
You may want to talk to your ancestors from Europe, or Peru. You may choose to spend time with the animals or learn what happened to the lost colony at Jamestown.
No choice in Hell
But if you are in hell, choice is gone. On the contrary, God has many versions of hell from fiery flames to total isolation and blackness, without sound, without access to a single human voice. Your choice? No more.
No I’ve not spent any time on the other side but there are dozens of people who have gone and come back both to heaven and hell. Their stories are in books and online.
Make your choices here and live. God says always. “I put before you life and death. Choose life.”
Isn’t that neat. He gives you the question and then He provides the right answer.
#mandarin #chinese #allemand #espagnol #cantonese #francais
For the past 7 or so years she firmly believes that Jesus would return in 2016. He might anyway, but her reasoning is only based on her needs which are financial as they face even greater business loss, the failure of family, friends and business associates to pull their weight, her several physical disabilities and surgeries. unwelcome attacks from people who think they should determine what she is to say, and the failure of her family to make the necessary changes in their lives to guarantee a peaceful future, and finally old sins not yet straightened out.
Jesus is not going to return just because we are not happy. If there is any reason at all to believe the 2nd Coming is this year it would be the immense cruelty and persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the ongoing violence against Israel especially in never ending raids and military incursions, and the deterioration of the American Church which is historically been a bulwark against error and demonic attack, now clearly AWOL on all fronts, compromising itself out of business by sleeping with the enemy. ALL churches have bowed an unwilling knee to political correctness, which we now pray is no more.
If God would not intervene on account of this kind of attack against His People, why would He interfere just now with someone who has personal miseries?
Maybe He will return in Israel’s year 5777 which just started Maybe not But no theology of God is to be based on our own unhappiness and loss. Unhappiness and loss is the human condition, not the barometer by which God does or does not act.
he acts on the basis of our prayers regarding His promises, not just for individuals but for whole nations and societies. As the Middle East and Europe explode in rape and murder, across the world Asians and Muslims everywhere are finding Jesus as Savior. The numbers are so astounding no one will ever again think that Jesus is white and speaks English. These kinds of statistics are a shock even to people like myself who have faith for the strangers among us.
The 2nd Coming is called the Blessed Hope, and indeed life would be hopeless without believing in His return. God’s predictions about the EndTimes is of increasing trouble for the world and blessing for believers in the midst of them. Climate Change Panic is because people have not read what God said – that He and He alone would destroy the world by fire.
Yes, we can plan on a hotter and hotter environment. And our political environment will get hotter and hotter too yet He gave us everything we need for life and godliness. He has not given us a calendar of events; in fact, we have the opposite – a guarantee that even Jesus does not know the final date and time.
Our job is faith in His promises and obedience to His word, not letting the fallen World dictate our deeds and expectations.
Prayer: Dear Lord, give us your peace, not the world’s peace, and keep out of my brain anything that speaks against you or your plans, In Jesus Name, Amen.
Years ago when I was working at a juvenile prison for boys I learned the practical value of asking the right questions. A child psychologist had said that if you want to teach boys you walk with them and ask them questions. The quality of the questions will influence the quality and quantity of the answers. Clearly Socrates knew this secret. So I started walking with the inmates as often as possible and I saw results.
(Girls apparently work better with information but I haven’t tested that out.)
So let’s take a walk. Your life as a believer is in the mud, or a state of boredom. You’ve been doing the same thing for years. And you are not closer to God – maybe farther away. Years ago there was a question going around, “If God seems far away ask yourself who moved?”
Perhaps a better question would be, why have you not changed? The Christian religion is about change. (If we presented Jesus as a change agent maybe we’d have fewer interested people.)
God said, “I am the Lord. I change not.” Malachi 3:6. What this means is, if you want to come into the presence of the Lord, you must change. That process is given in the Bible.
2 Peter chapter 1 presents a game plan for change. And Peter, who lived through humiliating change, is the right person to encourage us, and give us a series of goals.
5 For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; 6 and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; 7 and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (MEV)
God is not expecting us to do everything at once. You start with faith, in the case of Christians, faith in the written word of God, which describes virtue, then knowledge then self-control. How many if us start at self-control or knowledge but then we are ahead of the list. So many believers will ask a counselor or their pastor, or even themselves, “What does God want me to do?
Here is a chance to pull out Peter’s list and apply the list to the problem. Is this an issue where you apply discipline or patience, are you being tested in your character or your concern for others, are you to step back and watch God do it, or enter into the situation? The question as you walk with God is always, not what would Jesus do, but what would Jesus have me do?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus guide us all in your plan for our life. We have so many tasks, so busy lives, so much to burden us we forget what we are all about. Gently remind us each day that we have God’s Holy Do List to guide us as we raise children and answer to our leaders and family. Help us also not to be hyper over the results. We thank you for giving us a lifetime to prepare for the rest of our eternal journey, In Jesus Name. Amen.