N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

For the Soul

The Beauty of the Earth and God’s Creation

God’s Holy Word tells us many things about the Beauty of the Earth and God’s creation:

For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.  Colossians 1:16-17

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations so that it should never be moved. …   Psalm 104:1-35

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  Genesis1:31

 

God’s love for us through His Son should make in us a freedom that is not known through anything else.

This music is for your week’s pleasure.

Video:  Peaceful music from Born Free by John Barry and the earth’s beautiful creatures.  Turn up sound.


Amazing Grace

Church to Lydia inside.23 beautiful bestpg

Church of St. Lydia in Greece

To God be the Glory and we thank Him for His Amazing Grace.

For my readers’ listening pleasure!    Boyer Writes

Video:  Andre Rieu and Bagpipers


CHRIST IS RISEN!

risen Christ

 

HE IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED.

2019 has been a year of great sadness around the world with disasters, wars, people fleeing oppression and other events:  the burning of one of the world’s great Christian cathedrals and the deliberate burning of black churches in the U.S.  Our soldiers still serve and die on foreign fields. There are a great many things to be concerned about in our world.

Nevertheless, we turn our hearts this Easter Sunday to the Great Hope for the world in the resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. On this Easter, we rejoice in the glorious hope for through His giving of Himself that we may be saved and the looking for His return to the world.

The grave could not hold Him.  Hallelujah!

Blessing to all Boyer Writes readers!  N.W.Boyer

(VIDEO: Turn up the sound)   Hallelujah Chorus

 


The Bond of Love

The love we develop for the animals of the world is a bond that is hard to explain.  It is one so strong that even after the animal is no longer alive, the love is still there and the memories.   We know it is true with our beautiful Golden Retrievers that we have had the joy of knowing and loving during their life span.

Gracie in kitchen Howey

Our Gracie Girl

They are loyal and ready to do the job they were trained to do.

9-11 Bretagne and Denise Corliss

Bretagne, the last known 9/11 rescue dog, is pictured with owner Denise Corliss

 

Do the animals feel the same bond?   It is hard to say, but we hear of those who have traveled miles to get back to a home where they once lived and were loved.  They have the special senses that God has given them…smell, sight and a keenness far beyond human abilities.  Their survival skills are many, but just as human infants, they often must rely on care and intervention to make it to adulthood.

Our military often owe their lives to the bravery of the dogs who have fought alongside them.

soldier and military dogdogsoldier1

Recently I watched a story of love and care by one of a Marine stationed in Syria. His story and bond to a little dog caught up in the brutalities of war is worth sharing in this blog.

Video:  Turn up sound

 


Countdown to Christmas…Day 5

Boyer Writes presents Christmas music for your inspiration.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

 


Acts of Kindness

President George HW Bush called for a “kinder nation” and from time to time we will see evidence that there are many kind people in the world.  The shame is that most stories we see on TV or on the internet are of the violent and outrageous.

I began looking for some actual videos of kindness…or pictures to prove that it does not matter to what nationality or race one belongs…KINDNESS is kindness…and it crosses all boundaries.

I read about a woman on an airline who had a crying 2-year-old and a 5-year-old.  A woman offered to help and hold a child throughout the flight.  The mother was so grateful.

woman holds boy for mother on airline

A woman holds a little boy for a mother flying with 2 tired children.

I understand this well in that I had three children on an airline from California to Florida.  My daughter, who was a baby, cried off and on the entire trip. My sons tried to ignore it and curled up on the floor to sleep. That, in itself, was a no-no.  I’m certain the other passengers were beside themselves with hostile thoughts, but no one wanted to reach out to help and make things better.  We all lived through it…but barely.  One does not realize that it is sometimes impossible to silence a tired, upset child who is used to his/her routine, safely back at home in the bed.

Another act of kindness was a young 13-year-old  who went outside in the rain with an umbrella to help an elderly gentleman get home.  There is definitely hope for the next generation.   This young man made his mother proud…and he should be also.

boy helps elderly man to his door

I happen to be an animal lover.  It is easy to love all animals.  It is not so easy to love the down and out who may or may not have made their own bed and are now lying in it.  Nevertheless, these are exactly the kind of people to whom Jesus Christ reached out …the beggar, the harlot, the unclean and pathetic.  He calls us to do the same…not just during Christmas when we have a warm, cheerful heart… but always.   We may be the only face of “Christ” that they will see…or the only hands and heart that shows God’s love.

 

Below is a video that calls for people of all walks of life to reach out to a fellow human being…or an animal that is in distress.   Saving a life or making one just a little better is what we need today…this Christmas…and always.  Bring your kindness to someone today.

Mathew 25:40  “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto Me.”

Video

 

 


Where is your Path Leading You?

Was your path filled with a crowd today?  Sometimes it is good to find a quieter, better path to bring thoughts into a quiet place of the soul.  Try it!  Make a new path for yourself, wherever it is taking you.  Look around you.  The world is filled with beauty that so many do not take the time to soak into the spirit.  Distractions and worries cloud the heart, mind and life is less than it can be.  Find a new path to enjoy as the busy season approaches us.  You are in control.  Make it your time to reach out and really see…yes, really see…the glories of God.

peaceful person

Video to help you in your thoughts today.   Click and then enlarge to full screen for best viewing.    (by Tim Janis)


Unfailing Love…Give Thanks

Thanksgiving

For your peaceful mind and heart…the unfailing love of our Lord and Savior.   Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!    from Boyer Writes

Giving Thanks

Golden Retriever and Thanksgiving pumpkin

 


Peace for the Soul

peaceful person

Sometimes all we want or need is quiet…rest…and PEACE.     In today’s world, there is no real peace unless we actively look for it.   We have to make a peaceful place to be quiet, wherever that might be.   Therefore, I ask you to find that place and remember the promise given and the beauty of the world through the music that is shared with you now.      Rest…my friend….rest.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   (Philippians 4:7)

Click Video  (Turn on sound…and relax)

 


Eternity…What is it?

Eternity is a word without a real meaning.  If we look it up, the closest definition would be something like this:  “…a state to which time has no application; timelessness.”   The simple words would be “forever and forever” which is definitely difficult to understand.

Almost all religions have a belief in an eternity.  Some think that they have to work for it.  Others believe that it is a gift of God, through His Son Jesus Christ.   Another faith thinks that life just begins again and they hope that they will return as a more elevated human and not one of the lowly animals or insects.  The whole concept is so broad and “endless” that the mind cannot comprehend.   The question then is whether we should even be concerned about something in which we do not have a real answer?    I think so. We plan ahead for many things: Our wedding day, our place of residence, our finances, our grave-site…but why not think about the eternal? Somehow I think it should be thoughts of joy instead of foreboding…especially when we have had loved ones who have gone before us.

We know we were born.  We also know that we will all die eventually.  Our love for each other draws a great well of desire to want to see each other again in eternity. Do we have the perfect answer to eternity…no…not in ourselves, but yes, in the Holy Scriptures we have promises.  We are told, “...to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:8)    That verse alone should give us great hope. We are promised a resurrection of the body, just as Christ was resurrected.  When I decided on cremation after death, my thought was to wonder how all of those dust pieces were going to be put back together.  How juvenile a thought was that!  If He can sling the stars into orbit and match up molecules, He will have no trouble with the resurrection!

 

Pieta by Michelangelo 1499 St Peters Basilica Rom

The Pieta… Mary holds her dead son, Jesus, Who she will see risen from the dead 3 days later.

 

 

As a Christian, I believe in eternity.  It may be hard for an atheist who thinks when one dies it is the end of everything, but I have always felt that if there could possibly be any truth in this belief, I would have lived a happier life because of my own joy in believing in God and the comfort it has given me.  How sad and morbid to believe that there is no one who will enjoy eternity with the Maker of our most glorious universe.  Those who have had a near-death experience recall a wonderful feeling of love.  They speak of seeing someone that appears to be God waiting for them in a bright light.  According to some records, surprisingly, 75% of those thinking they were dying as atheists have told of this same experience.

near death experiences

Representation of a Near-Death Experience   (from Piotr Żabicki/ iStock.com)

 

Recently, I saw a special on the amazing new parts of the universe that have only been identified by the most powerful telescope sent into space.  The most familiar and powerful so far has been the Hubble Space Telescope.  Nevertheless, there is “a new kid” in the making.

hubble_helix-master1050.jpg Eye of God

“The Eye of God” is the planetary nebulae nearest to Earth, extending 2.5 light-years across, making it larger than our entire solar system. ( Hubble Space Telescope)

 

The newest and most powerful telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope.  It is to be the successor to the Hubble telescope and will be launched in 2021.  Here are a few facts concerning the future launching:

 The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch vehicle is part of the European contribution to the mission. The Ariane 5 is one of the world’s most reliable launch vehicles capable of delivering Webb to its destination in space. The European Space Agency (ESA) has agreed to provide an Ariane 5 launcher and associated launch services to NASA for Webb.  (Nasa)

300px-James_Webb_Space_Telescope_2009_top

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space telescope that will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The JWST will provide greatly improved resolution and sensitivity and will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology. One of its major goals is observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies. These types of targets are beyond the reach of current ground- and space-based instruments. Other goals include understanding the formation of stars and planets, and direct imaging of exoplanets and novas. (Wikipedia)

Why do I digress from writing about eternity to telescopes?  It is with delight that I think those who are experiencing their eternity are having a perfect understanding of the formation of the universe and all there is on other planets. If there is life on other worlds, our loved ones would have the joy of knowing this. (Forget about the Hollywood version of the “little green man with a pointed head.”)

Thinking of the possibilities makes “eternity” seen a little shorter than “forever”…mainly because it would take forever to know all there is to know, which is impossible without the mind of God. Could it be that He will provide His mind for us to know and understand all these glories, that we have only slightly seen through the telescope, and be able to experience the glories for eternity?

(A side-thought:  I can’t imagine that we will be going from planet to planet as on some fast-moving whirlwind because the Scriptures also says that there will be a place of peace.  He promises that the lion will lay down with the lamb. Could that mean that at the Savior’s return to earth that He will also bring those with Him who have died and bring absolute peace onto a new earth? )

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Isaiah 11:6 (NASB)

Jesus also prayed a prayer to his Father in Heaven, who made the universe that He wanted us to know the glories of the universe:  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”  (John 17:24)

Regardless of what eternity may mean, we will draw our last breath and then we will know it all.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY

VIDEO  (Turn on sound)

 

 


Rest for your Soul

The need for rest is a fact of life in all God’s creation.  After a long summer, the trees shed their leaves and rest throughout the winter until the Spring comes again.  Animals build a place to rest. In particular, the bear goes into hibernation as do many other animals.  These creations of nature seem to have been given a time-clock that makes them listen and do what God intended.

Why would a human not know that rest is all important for his/her well being?  Here are some of the health benefits of general rest:

1. Improved Memory – Lack of sleep can make it difficult for you to concentrate and retain information. When you sleep, your brain goes through all the activities and impressions of the day which is important for memory formation.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight – Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same area of the brain. Sleep releases hormones that control appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat.
3. Heart Health – A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
4. Reduce Stress – Sleep and stress have similar effects on your cardiovascular stress. Being well rested can reduce stress levels and improve your overall health.  (from Florida Hospital site)

man sitting by tree

Another scripture also tells us, “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10 We cannot be still unless we actually stop what we are doing.  That takes a concerted effort:

  • Putting down the phone
  • Turning off the TV/ Computer
  • Moving to a quieter spot
  • Stop thinking about what you need to do next

One may ask, then what do I do?

  • Just listen…to a bird singing outside, to a quiet music selection
  • Talk quietly to God and then listen to what comes into your mind as His Spirit speaks to yours
  • Take a walk alone…even if it is just around your yard
  • Put your feet in the sand at the beach and listen to ocean slap upon the shore

woman relaxing

 

  • Look for a flower, a leaf, and small insect or butterfly
  • Concentrate on quieting your spirit and your inner-self
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset

men watching sunset

” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

So how does one rest when things are falling apart or life is too difficult to bear?  We remember, with the choir of Libera, how difficult are the memories of the Holocaust or 9-11 and so much more. Yet we are promised a restful soul through God’s grace.  It is following the courage that is put in the heart by God through every circumstance.

 


Icons…Lesser Known in Modern-Day Faith

Only the students of religious history may be aware of how much icons play a part in the worship of Christians now and in the past.    Some faiths, such as more contemporary Christian groups, previous leaders of various churches and those of the Muslim faith have either condemned outright pictures of these great men and women of faith or believe that religious paintings are not necessary for worship today.  The reason for opposition to the use of icons was mainly that they did not want them to become an object of worship. That would often include statues of the saints and  Jesus Christ. Making them any type of idol was not the purpose intended even though it had its many critics then and now.

Oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on Panel 6th century at St. Catherine's Monastery Mt Sinai, Egpt

The oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt).

Either way, I found that these works of art had great meaning throughout history.  Sometimes it was the only way a person, who perhaps could not read or was not allowed to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures, was able to think of and be reminded to pray in their everyday devotions outside of the actual church.

Some interesting facts and pictures:  (from Wikipedia)

  • Christian tradition dating from the 8th century identifies Luke the Evangelist as the first icon painter.
  • At least some of the hierarchy of the Christian churches still strictly opposed icons in the early 4th century. At the Spanish non-ecumenical Synod of Elvira, (c. 305) bishops concluded, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration”. 

After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I, Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature. This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society. Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect…

The Annunciation icon in Macedonia

A key piece of Palaiologan Mannerism – the Annunciation icon from Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia.

 

Icons can be found in private homes, in churches to remember martyrs, as seen in the pictures below.  They also could be made from different materials as in the one made of metal.

 

 

Some icons were so special that they were decorated with precious jewels.

elaborate Russian icon Jo of All Who Sorrow 1862

Russian icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow” 1862

 

This past week I have been privileged to find out the difficulty in which actually making an icon can be as I was taught how to enjoy painting and praying while working on a special design.   Kara Nelson visited St. James Episcopal Church in Florida to share this knowledge with those interested.  Being an artist with my own style, I decided to see exactly how much talent this would take.  Because all of my own artistic endeavors have been of a freestyle, I was somewhat amazed at the detailed work involved in painting an icon of the Good Shepherd, who is Christ my Lord.

First, in our week-long retreat,  we had Holy Communion with Father Tom Trees and my husband, Fr. Bill Boyer,  and then shared our own walk of faith and concerns.  After instructions by Kara of the steps to be taken, we began to draw a design, which was to be our own painted icon when finished.  (shown in slides below)

 

 

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I chose to paint The Good Shepherd, which called for layers upon layers of paint.  Kara kept telling us that the first layers would look rough and not to be discouraged because as we progressed, the painting would improve.  Miraculously, she was right…as seen in my rough draft.

process in painting the Good Shepherd

Rough beginning of the icon: My lamb is unpainted and the orange color will eventually be filled in with real gold leaf.  See finished icon below.

 

 

Finished Good Shepherd icon 2018

 

the Good Shepherd and the Madanna and Child icons

Madonna and Child and Good Shepherd painted by Kara Nelson. Students in the class had a choice to paint either icon.

 

What have I learned about painting icons?   A great deal.  It is difficult work.  Nevertheless, the act of doing this painting represents the love of a Christian for the Savior, Christ Jesus, and the stories of the saints who have gone before…many of whom were martyrs.

Just as the first Christians and monks who wrote the Holy Scriptures by hand, the painters of Icons showed a similar dedication.    In a world of turmoil, the joy of knowing that Christ’s love has transcended throughout the centuries through this beautiful art form is indeed inspiring. After finishing our icons, we placed them on the altar for dedication and prayed that God would use these as a special blessing for whomever we had made them.

Fr. Tom blesses icons

Fr. Tom Trees prays for a blessing on each icon made by individuals in the group at St. James Episcopal in Leesburg, FL

Take special notice in churches and cathedrals that you may visit throughout the world of these beautiful icons.  Museums may also have special rooms to display the art of dedicated Christian believers.  Look at the details, imagine the hand that painted it and the stories behind the lives.  Show them to a child that may be with you and retell the Bible story that each may represent.  Many a young person may not even know what the word “icon” means. We must not lose the appreciation of this great art form and those who painted them.     To God be the Glory.  Amen

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410   

12 century icon Archangel Gabriel called Golden Locked Angel in State Russian Museum

12th Century Archangel Gabriel in Russian State Museum

For information on Icon Painting Workshop/Spiritual Retreat

Contact Kara Nelson at karanelson314@gmail.com

 

 


God’s Glory…for your Pleasure

Caras Lonut73jpg

Photo by Caras Lonut

Music and Nature are a perfect combination for your listening pleasure.  May you make time to contemplate on both.   The road of life may seem long, but actually it is quite short…so enjoy it and be glad.

 “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 
 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”   (Psalm 96: 11&12)

 

VIDEO  (turn up sound)  by Mark Knopfler


Confidence

The word “Confidence” means many things to different people.  Somehow in just saying the word, it seems STRONG and ASSURED.  Even writing those words in all caps makes me feel energized.

There are few things in life for which we would put our full confidence. There may be a few people that we are close to or in some cases, we actually put our entire life in their hands. (The pilot who flies your plane for example.)

For some, confidence has never been part of their being.  It is a word out there for the famous or the rich…not the ordinary person.  YOU ARE WRONG…if this is your thought for we are promised a great deal of confidence through a faith in Jesus Christ.  (from the New Testament…Philippians 4:13 shown below.)

Confidence

There are other scriptures that are just as powerful.  (from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 31:6)   Now we don’t have to go so far as to tattoo it on our bodies as some may do…unless that is your thing….but we can keep these words in our hearts and minds daily.  Remember that God knows what is in your heart and just thinking it becomes a prayer to Him. Never leave Us

The word confidence comes in every language in some form.  Here are a few:

Hebrew:   mibtach: confidence  Original Word: מִבְטָח
Japanese: “Self-Confidence”.. use kanji word “自信(じしん-jishin)”          Spanish:  (trust)  la confianza (f)   I have every confidence in you  Tengo entera confianza en ti.

Here are some of the words that are associated with confidence:

words of confidence

Looking those over, you may say, “Oh, that is all well and good…but I have very little motivation. I’m no genius.  My courage level left a long time ago…and I certainly can’t say I am or have been a real success in all areas of my life. ” 

 All that you said there is human weakness. We all experience it one way or another.  Young people may feel they haven’t had the opportunity for some of these things.  Older people may look back and wish they had done things differently.  Life definitely has its ups and downs. The past is finished and can’t be undone.  The present is what we have and much of the future depends on what we do with the present.

Here again is where we depend on faith.  The Apostle Paul wrote the following about himself and his belief in what God wanted of him.

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”   (2nd Corinthians 2:9)    The term “boast” here is not the meaning we think of today, but one of telling or acknowledging…not puffing out the chest in pride.

The Grace of God is His power to help when we have no power.  We call this in English “to be gracious”…and God’s love is certainly gracious.

There are other things that are believed about confidence.  It is often believed that someone who is outspoken, forthright and even belligerent at times has real confident.   A person like this is often trying to cover up for the weaknesses that he/she actually have within.  There is the fear of letting anyone know, so being loud and forceful is the cover-up.   My friend, we have all known people like this.  Do not give them the honor of believing they are truly confident.  Inner-strength is not always seen from the outside. 

“In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15.

J.R.Miller wrote in The Strength of Quietness …” quietness never can come through the smoothing of circumstances, so that there shall be nothing to trouble or irritate the spirit. We cannot find or make a quiet place to live in—and thus get quiet in our own soul. We cannot make the people about us so loving and sweet—that we shall never have anything to irritate or annoy us. The quietness must be within us. Nothing but the peace of God in the heart—can give it. Yet we can have this peace—if we will simply and always do God’s will—and then trust Him. A quiet heart—will give a quiet life!”

people on railroad

Yes, CONFIDENCE is found deep in the heart. Sometimes unknown things around the corner may cause you concern.   Even though you may not know where you are going or how you’ll get there, with Christ you will NEVER WALK THAT PATH ALONE.  He will give you all the confidence you need and lead the way if you will pray and ask Him to do this for you.

Another way to find your own confidence is to do something for others to find theirs. Look at your abilities and use them for the purpose of good.  It will definitely come back to you.

Teen Helping elderly with confidence

Teen from Royds Hall Community School helps elderly with confidence in shopping

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 


Coming Home is Hard to Do

Family members are the ones who know us best.  There are often things that break families apart…even if it is not understood why.   There could have been arguments or no argument at all.  A decision was made to walk away…to go a different direction.  Sometimes it is through the influence of others…or a decision is made by the one member who decides to leave.   Whatever the reason…coming home is a difficult thing to do.  It means facing the people that we have loved the most in the past.  It may even be hard for those who were left.  To take the step to go home again may be like a bitter pill.  Swallowing the pill of the unknown…the hope for acceptance…or the possibility of rejection is even harder.  We are human and we don’t like to admit we made poor decisions.  We are also told that “forgiveness is divine.”

Someone reading my blog today is saying to his/herself that this sounds like my situation.  You either have a person who has left you…or you have left those who love and know you the best.  Life will go on even if you decide to never face your family again, but is it really what you want?   Will you never know the warm embrace that is there waiting for you?  The longer time goes on and you walk away in your mind and heart, will you ever have another chance?

 

Is it worth it to pick up the phone, show up at the door, or write a letter to those you have left behind?  You may not really know how much it would mean to even one person that was always a part of your life. You may have never left your family, but have someone that you have avoided or have not spoken to in years. Reconciliation is a word not often used, but a very important word. Only peace and happiness can come when there is reconciliation.

Only you can decide.  God will give you the courage if it is a “Yes”…and He will weep  tears along with yours on the lonely nights if your decision is “NO”…but weep you will.  Eventually weeping is assured because no one will force you to do anything you do not want to do…not even God.

In the Holy Scriptures, the Prodigal Son’s father did not run after the child he loved, but allowed him to leave and waited patiently until he finally saw the familiar figure approaching him from afar.  His joy could not be contained!   Who is waiting for you?

 

The video below shares not only the beautiful music of the choir, but a message within its drama.  No, it’s not Christmas as the video indicates, but your decision may be the best present ever.

people hugging

 

VIDEO  (turn up sound)

 


Suicide Prevention in the U.S 1-800-273-8255 A Light is at the End of the Tunnel

It’s a subject no one wants to approach.  Why?  It’s too final… too disturbing…too somehow “unreal”.   Yet, everyday someone is saying to his or herself, “I just can’t go on. It is just too overwhelming!”

worried man

It is real to them, but probably not to those around them.   How could they do such a thing?  How could they even think such a thing?

When a high-profile person with everything to live for, such as Anthony Bourdain, commits suicide, the news media gives out briefly a phone number (listed in this title)  and begs the watcher to call “if you feel that you are having dark thoughts.”   This is good advice, but reaching out for help is usually before a person gets to the place of extremely dark thoughts which leads to irrational thoughts.

worried man2

Mental health and how to deal with depression as well as other problems needs to be readily available and taught by parents, schools, churches and other institutions.  The afflicted person needs to see the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel.  Mostly, they have to be given HOPE and support.  

So often those who don’t think there is a light or can’t see there will be something better waiting for them just around the corner need intervention before it is too late.  Families who suspect dark thoughts have to reach out.  Parents may think that their teenagers are “just going through a growing up stage.”  All phases of mental anguish should be taken seriously.   When you see a problem, give the person the opportunity to talk and know there is help and most of all… that they are loved by you and by God.

woman consouling another

Conversations and questions cannot be too late.  According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, these are some of the statistics that we would rather not think about…but should!

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Almost 45,000 Americans die of suicide each year
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day. 
  •  White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016….highest in middle-aged white men

Mental illness and depression can hit all people regardless of age or skin color. We all know this is true and that statistics will not fix the problem.

worried woman

 

  • Based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months.
  • Girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6% vs. 5.5%) and teens of Hispanic origin reported the highest rate of attempt (11.3%), especially Hispanic females (15.1%) when compared with white students (6.8%) and White females (9.8%)
  • Approximately 2.8 percent reported making a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or nurse.

What are the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal?

  • Talking about suicide, hurting themselves, death, or dying
  • Seeking access to firearms or pills
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Having severe mood swings
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sleeping all the time or having issues with sleep
  • Uncontrolled rage or agitation
  • Self-destructive and risky behavior
  • Giving away personal belongings
  • Telling people goodbye for seemingly no reason

People who suffer from a mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse, a family history of suicide, history of trauma or abuse, terminal illness, chronic pain, social isolation, or a traumatic life event such as loss of a loved one may be at an increased risk for suicide (credit: Jenae Sitzes)

There is help for you or someone you know.  Believing in the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel is God’s way of showing you that He has something good for you!

light at the end of the tunnel

 

God has a plan for your life.   Reach out for the help you need!

NEED HELP NOW? CALL1-800-273-8255 or  CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR CRISIS TEXT LINE and Information

 


Relaxing Music of the Christian faith

adam-and-god

 

May you be blessed this week as you go about the things you are doing.  Take a few minutes to play this in the background…for peace and comfort.

God is in the wind, the rain and the stars.  He is beside you now…unseen, but present. Make time to feel His presence through music.

Video:   St. Paul’s music for your relaxation


Holocaust Remembrance Day….”NEVER AGAIN”

Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Hall of Names in Israel

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Hall in Israel

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember and proclaim “NEVER AGAIN.” 

Having just posted about the horrors of Syria, which may be another Holocaust if a solution is not found to bring peace to the area, it is fitting to think about World War II and all those who perished under the Nazi dictator, Hitler.  It is estimated that over six million men, women and children died in the death camps.   Memorials can be found around the world.  One special one is the children’s memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.  The day my husband and I visited this memorial, there were little lights on the ceiling and the name of each child was read aloud continuously.

Yad Vashim Children's Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

Yad Vashem Children’s Memorial

 

It doesn’t seem like any time since I took Student Ambassadors to Poland and we visited Auschwitz, one of the death camps.  None of us will ever be the same.  I, as a Christian, walked beside a young Jewish student who laid flowers at the very wall where so many were executed.  I noticed that he wore his shorts but respectfully put on a tie and sports jacket as he approached the wall.

Auschwitz memorial at Yad Vashem

Auschwitz pictures at Yad Vashem (Photo credit Getty Images)

 

As we traveled, this same young man also wanted to find the apartment building where the Israeli Olympic team had been murdered by terrorists.  We looked and looked; finally finding a small plaque outside an apartment building to remember the event.  Given the gravity of this terrible tragedy, it seemed far too small.

Our student group spent time looking at the ovens where the bodies were burned.  One amazing fact was that the home of the military commander and his family was right next to the grounds of Auschwitz.  We saw the place where he was executed after the war by hanging.  Eye glasses, shoes and suitcases were piled high in glass cases.  One could see the torture chambers where a cross was scratched into the wall…indicating that not only Jews were interned there, but political prisoners and Christians.

shoes-yad-vashem

 

Steven Spielberg has made it his mission to record the lives of survivors so that future generations will understand what hatred, prejudice and war can do to people. Once the people who fought WWII and the Holocaust survivors have died, their voices will be silenced forever….except for these recordings.  Just as our World War II veterans are passing away by the hundreds each day, so are the survivors of the Holocaust.

It was my privilege to have the veterans and survivors come to my classroom of 5th graders and talk to each one of the students about their experiences.  Because each person’s story was different, the students took notes that they wrote us and presented orally to the class the following day.  Those students are adults now.  Many have finished college and have families of their own.  I pray that they have not forgotten that experience and are passing along what the Holocaust was and why we can never let this happen again.

After returning from that trip, I felt that the students in our Florida county needed to know as much about the Holocaust as possible.  With financial help from the community and parents of students, we raised enough funds to place in every school library tapes, books and age-appropriate material about the Holocaust.

Holocaust plaque St Annes Church Poland

I read about a grave-digger who was told to bury all the Jews in the woods. These were those shot on a death march.  Instead, he buried them in  St. Anna’s Roman Catholic Church in Swierklany, Poland.    This is only after he had carefully copied all the numbers from each victim’s arm.  Some seventy years later and with research from Yad Vashem in Israel, some relatives now know that Christians carefully buried the bodies of their loved ones.  A new memorial has been erected with a cross.   The new plaque at the previously unmarked grave in Swierlany, Poland now reads:

“In memory of the death march victims from Auschwitz-Birkenau”

and lists the victims’ concentration camp numbers or names.  The caring of one grave digging man, who believed differently from those he buried, made all the difference over 70 years later to a family who simply wanted to know what had happened to their loved one.

Today on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as the sirens wail,  in some places people will stop in the streets and cars will stop on the highways …wherever they are…to remember again. We too must never forget!

It is not our purpose here to try to re-create the horrors that went on here.  Probably the closest to that would be to watch Schindler’s List, produced by Spielberg, about a Christian businessman, Oskar Schindler,  who saved many Jews by taking them to work in his factory.

Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.   (Wikipedia)

VIDEO:     This music is played in honor of John Williams and his contribution to the telling of this story of the Holocaust and the saving of many lives.    (Turn up sound)

The Music from Schindler’s List, written by John Williams.


Why do Christians call it “Good Friday?”

Crucifixion was one of the most gruesome deaths that a person could endure.  Because of this, it is difficult to understand why the Christians remember that day as “GOOD Friday.”   Let me explain.  It is not the torture of the crucifixion that is considered good…but the message of what this death meant to the people of the world.

1Peter 2:24 tells us, “He Himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds, you have been healed.”

Mary cries at the foot of cross

Christ’s Mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross

What exactly is crucifixion?  Have we ever really given it sufficient thought? Perhaps this description taken from Wikipedia will help:

Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation… Crucifixion was most often performed to dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating similar (usually particularly heinous) crimes. Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period. The Greek and Latin words corresponding to “crucifixion” applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree…  Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher, wrote: “I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet”…In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 lb…Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post. The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails and other sharp materials are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian, Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem,  “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest”…While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape criticism by some eminent Roman orators. Cicero, for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”…Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person.

Christ on cross

Painting by Guido Reni 1575-1642

From the writings of those who heard the last words of Jesus, He said these sentences as the hours past and He eventually died on the cross:

  • “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”   Luke 23:34
  • “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43  This was said to the thief dying on the cross next to Him.
  • “Woman, this is your son.” (Said to his Mother, Mary, who had given Him birth)
  • This is your Mother.”  (Said to His disciple John to take care of His mother Mary)   John 19:26-27

    Sorrowful Mary at cross

    Sculpture of Mary, the mother of sorrows

 

  • My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (This was after 3 hours of darkness, which was only 3:00 o’clock Judea time in the day.)
  • “I thirst.”   (This was the expression of his human suffering. He had been scourged, crowned with thorns and was losing blood.)
  • “It is finished.”  John 19:30
  • “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.”  Luke 23:46

It was by His death that we are redeemed.  “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave Himself as ransom for all.”   1Timothy 2:5-6

Procaccini_Giulio painting

Procaccini_Giulio painting

 

 The Biblical Text of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ  taken from Matthew 27:33-56  And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull),
 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.   And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;   then they sat down and kept watch over him there.   And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”   Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,   “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.   He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”   And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.   Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah.”   And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink.   But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”   And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.   And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split;   the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,   and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.   When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”   There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him;   among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

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What exactly is LENT?

Temptations_of_Christ 12 century mosaic st mark's basilica Venice _(San_Marco)

In St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is the painting of The Temptations of Christ

For readers who are not Christian or do not understand why Christians practice a somber period of time before the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it may be good to give an explanation of LENT.

The word “Lent” is derived from Old English lencten, meaning ‘spring’, the lengthening of days after winter is over. This was a period of spring fasting known in Old English as Lencten-Fasten, or in its abbreviated form, as Lencten or Lent. The ecclesiastical name for this once mandatory period of fasting is the Quadragesimal Fast, or the fast of the Forty Days, in imitation of the forty days of fasting performed by Jesus in the wilderness.” (Encyclopedia.com)

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_.

From the Brooklyn Museum is a painting of Christ in Desert during 40 days.

As Christians, we decide in our own ways, a time of reflection and serious thinking about the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus for our sins. Because Christ was born into mankind, he had to resist the temptations that men and women have had to face throughout history.  His ability to do so was no different from the soul-searching and agony that many of us face in difficult situations. That was because He was completely human even if He was the Son of God.

I would encourage our readers to take a few minutes to look for these opportunities to contemplate the life of Christ as part of your quiet times in LENT.

In the video below, the actors portray Jesus and His 40 days spent in the wilderness.  In this setting, Jesus was away from the crowds that followed Him and only had God, His Father to share His earthly conflicts.  It is during His time in the desert that Satan, dramatized here as the source of evil, appears to Christ and offers Him the kingdoms of the world and food for his hunger…with a condition.   Our own temptations often have compromises and conditions as well as consequences.

Parts of this video are difficult to watch, but there was nothing easy for our Lord and neither is resisting easy for anyone.   Perhaps understanding what Jesus the Christ went through will help us understand the season of LENT a little better.

Video   (turn up sound)

 

 

Credits:  The Bible TV Series,  Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) extract by Tomas Viluckas 2014

 


A Message Heard Around the World

The Reverend Billy Graham at crusades

 

Some points of interest as Billy Graham is laid to rest:

  • His casket was in the Nation’s Capitol Rotunda for two days.  Only a few private citizens have had this honor. Dr. Graham’s son, Franklin, was given the flag that flew over the Capitol while he is body was there.
  • The casket, shown in the pictures below, was made of pine plywood by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.   It is lined with a mattress and topped with a simple wooden cross. The names of the inmates are carved on the casket.

 

 

The Reverend Billy Graham died at age 99, but his message of faith and hope was heard around the world in that brief time in history.  One of his favorite sayings is also memorable:

” This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.”   We should all remember this.

His message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ spoke to every human being…the gang member, the elite, Presidents, the average person, and those who felt hopeless…everyone…because it was the message of love from God to all mankind.

The song that always was a part of the Graham ministry was “Just as I Am”.  The hymn was written, first as a poem,  in 1835 by a British woman, Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), who had convinced herself that her physical disabilities left her nothing to offer God at midlife.  A minister asked Charlotte whether she had truly given her heart to Christ. The question upset her in some ways but later she told the minister, “I want to serve God but I don’t know how.” He replied, “Just come to him as you are.”

Perhaps we should hear Billy Graham’s final message to the world as he knew his time was drawing near.   If you watch this video to the end, there is a special invitation to you from Dr. Graham.

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 

Franklin Graham heads the international Christian relief ministry to help people in distress,  called Samaritan’s Purse.

“After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said “Go and do likewise.” That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel.”   

Go back to the video above for Dr. Graham’s message.

 

 


The Healing Touch

Occasionally, I will be going toward the altar at church and will see an elderly person waiting quietly in the pew for the minister to bring to them the Holy Communion. They are usually frail and do not feel that they can walk on their own very well.   I am reminded of what my husband, who is also a priest in the Episcopal Church,  often says about the elderly…“If they have lost the love of their life or have no family close by, they rarely have the human touch…the hug…the warmth of another human.”  Knowing this,  I might reach down and pat her (or him) on the shoulder and take their hand, without saying a word just so they know there is a touch in their life.

On researching this need for human touch, I found out the following:

“Upon birth, some babies require a little more attention at hospitals before they can leave with their parents to begin their life. Babies who receive stimulation in the form of touch have shown to grow and gain weight at rates faster than those who lack touch. They also experience fewer health issues in their first year. The simple act of a touch can lower stress levels (specifically the stress hormone cortisol) and regulate a proper body temperature in a baby’s body through the release of hormones.

The connection was realized upon finding out that children who grew up in environments such as orphanages, with less contact and engagement, had higher hormone levels compared to children raised with parents. In turn, this difference in environment can lead to many issues later in life – from a struggle to bond and behavioral issues.

However, some of the damage caused by touch deprivation can be reversed due to a change in environment – a study done in Romania in the 1980’s supports this, showing that in children aged six to twelve, those who lived in an orphanage for eight months or more possessed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who lived in an orphanage for four months or less.”  (taken from Youngzine..Renee)

When my youngest son was born, he had to stay in the hospital for several days because he was under-weight.  As I went to visit him daily, I would often walk in and find him being rocked by a nurse or nurse’s helper.  They called him their “Little Cowboy” because his hair had little sideburns.  Seeing that he was being loved meant so much.

baby-mother

I also learned the truth about the need for touch and human development when I was teaching at a University in Ukraine.   I visited two orphanages.  One was State run and the other was a Christian run home for children.  The children in the State-run orphanage did not smile.  When we put them on our laps to try to talk with them and hug them, they did not seem to know how to respond. Nothing brought a smile to their faces.   On arriving at the Christian orphanage, the atmosphere was completely different.  The children were laughing, hanging onto their adult workers and seemed well adjusted in so many ways.

Recently my husband posted a video about a man who has made it his mission to give the tiny, often sick or premature babies the human touch they need.    I’m going to share this video with my readers today because it is the life story of a senior person giving of himself to a new life on earth.  He is making a difference.

 

David Deutchman in Atlanta holds baby

David Deutchman comforts a baby at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

 

Let this video touch your heart and think of reaching out yourself to someone who may need a “touch” of love.

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Don’t Lose Perspective

woman praying

In a world filled with strife, wars and all kinds of bickering and discontent, we must not lose perspective.  God is watching and in control…even if we are unable to do so.  Look up and around you…see what He has done.  Don’t lose hope.  Place your daily walk in HIs hands.

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 


Memories of my Mother at 100 years old

 

This blog is in the honor of my Mother, Alta. If she had lived longer than 93, she would be 100 years old on December 6, 2017.  We miss her so much, so on her birthday, our son, Steve and husband, Bill,  and I will take a red poinsettia to her grave site.  It’s also appropriate for Christmas because this was also a holiday that she loved.

What does one say about a life that was lived so long?  My Mother was a lovely lady who grew up in North Carolina.  She was Alta Ellis West Barker Bishop.   Such a long name, but each part of the name was almost a life within a life.  As Alta Ellis, she was the daughter of a farmer in N.C.  Her Grandfather was a country doctor who ministered and saved lives during the American Civil War.  Alta grew up with five siblings.  Now there is only one of them with us today… my Uncle John who will soon be 95 and still playing golf.  Hopefully I have some of their Ellis genes.  My mother’s mind was sharp even until the day she died.  So was her ability to laugh and make jokes.  Her heart doctor came into her room to check on her and said,   “Mrs. Bishop, you are looking great!”    As he walked out, she turned to me and said,  “Boy, is he a salesman!”    Just that week she had consulted with her financial advisor and made her own decisions to enter Hospice for care if it was necessary.  She died a few hours later.

There are so many details in remembering the life of my Mother.

  • After graduating from high school at the age of 16, she left home to pursue a career in hair design and care.
  • She married and had her only child at the age of 21.  (That was me.)
  • Alta was a patriot. During WWII, she worked in a munitions plant to help the war efforts.
  • Always beautiful and glamorous, she opened her own hair styling business to give other women the same opportunity.
  • During those years as a single parent, she worked hard to support me and better our lives.
  • Two of her husbands died from illness and Mother always kept strong when facing adversity. I have tried to learn this value from her in some of my own difficulties.
  • As an older woman, she lived with my husband and me for a number of years and was a loving Grandmother to our children and proud to be a great-grandmother.  She always expected them to be loving, honest, appreciative and a part of the family.

We only have one birth mom. Alta was the one who gave me life.   She saw me through some difficult times… never blaming or demanding…letting me, as an adult,  make my choices for good or for bad.  Perhaps that is why I have followed the same policy with my own children.  In the end, I would never have knowingly hurt her.   This is why I honor her today with these few memories for they are too many to count.

Thank you, Mother, for all that you have meant to Bill and me…as well as all of our family.    I pray that my  soul may be happily united with yours when the time comes.  We miss you.

Slide show of Alta : Her love of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, her garden, the Florida beaches, her time cooking great meals for the family.

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These words may describe her best: caring, consistent, giving, genuine.  Just before her death, she asked my husband, Bill, to give her Holy Communion for she was ready to meet God. He did this and prayed with her.  Her Christian faith was strong.  We should all live our lives so that we may have this peaceful transition from this life to the next.

Probably her favorite scripture verse was John 3:16     “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

My Mother, Alta, wanted others to know the love of Christ that she knew…and the peace and joy knowing Him brings.   We lift up her memory and the Cross that she cherished.

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