A real birth…a real Child born of a Virgin…a real Savior of the world.
Music video and dramatization Turn up sound (Josh Groban)
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.
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.
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.”
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)
If you have been to a major department store recently, you will see that the Christmas decorations are already out…and it is not even Halloween! This may also seem that a blog of this type is way ahead of the season, but even though it mentions the birth of Christ, it is actually the message of “giving of ourselves” even if it does make us go a little out of the way.
How often we don’t want to stop what we are doing to help out, but throughout the Holy Scriptures we are shown that going out of the way is God’s way. Remember those who crossed over to the other side of the street, but a man needed help. Only the Good Samaritan stopped to give assistance. There was a reason that he was named “Good”. Then there were the beggars and the blind, but Christ reached down to heal and give new meaning to a life. Just a moment of our time can change things more than we realize for someone else.
Think of this as you go about your weekend for I’m certain something will come your way that will make you stop and think that you can reach out and be helpful. We can GIVE of ourselves.
Video (Turn up the sound)
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!
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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
- 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
” 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.
The JOY OF LISTENING to calm the soul
In memory of those lost in Hurricane Florence and those in Distress
Beautiful nature photographs by N.W. B. (See right side /”Visit Site”)
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.
VIDEO (turn up sound) by Mark Knopfler
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.)
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.
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:
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!”
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.
VIDEO (Turn up sound)
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.
VIDEO (turn up sound)
Today I want to introduce my readers to a man who has found his direction in a most unusual way. I write about him because in my previous blog, I talked about “New Directions.” This man has followed his passion after leaving a profession as a sailor and it has led him to more than he could have ever imagined. His name is Caras Ionut (or Ionuţ Caraş in the Romanian language ) His specialty is manipulating photography in a surreal style.
“In his work, he uses his own photographs, which he inserts, composes and colorfully adjusts in a suitable way. In his dream works, physically impossible scenes arise, such as a little girl hanging on a swing hundreds of feet above the ground, an elephant riding a bicycle, a little girl riding on the back of a huge fish, and the like. Ionut often puts man in his paintings. Often they are small children, but also special people not fit into the standard society. Roamers, beggars, comedians, and so on. Their image is enhanced by a dark landscape with old trees, dark sky, mist, mountain scenery or rainy weather. Often, the element of umbrella, ships, water, rocks or birds (such as ravens) is repeated in his work. Ionut’s inspiration for his works draws from his dreams in the night, from the colors of autumn and winter. He works as a professional photographer and a retoucher, offers courses and tutorials for those who want to learn how to digitally manipulate photos… Many of his images have been used for book covers, audio cd, bank advertisements, website materials, local publications, prints, and many other uses. He now has many clients…such as Stephen King and others…” (Wikipedia)
Below are three sets of slides for you to enjoy. Take your time and study them for the creative side is excellent. I’m not certain if the child he often incorporates in his photography is his own, but the combination of the “impossible” with the real is somewhat chilling, but very interesting.
- THE IMPOSSIBLE
- DRAMATIC NATURE
- THE WARMTH OF ORDINARY PEOPLE
Look around you for the beauty that is in YOUR path…
Credit: All photography by Caras Ionut
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. (Michaelangelo)
We as parents often think we know what is best for our children. In one case in history, the parent had it all wrong. Michelangelo’s father did not want him to become an artist. To be an artist was considered below his social class. ( Born March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Republic of Florence, Italy and died February 18, 1564 in Rome.)
“Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then, he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.
The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are probably the best known. Michelangelo became an art apprentice relatively late, at 13, perhaps after overcoming his father’s objections. He was apprenticed to the city’s most prominent painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, for a three-year term, but he left after one year, having nothing more to learn…In 1504 he agreed to paint a huge fresco for the Sala del Gran Consiglio of the Florence city hall to form a pair with another just begun by Leonardo da Vinci. Both murals recorded military victories by the city (Michelangelo’s was the Battle of Cascina), but each also gave testimony to the special skills of the city’s much-vaunted artists…Pope Julius II call to Michelangelo to come to Rome spelled an end to both of these Florentine projects. The pope sought a tomb for which Michelangelo was to carve 40 large statues… Pope Julius had an ambitious imagination, parallel to Michelangelo’s, but because of other projects, such as the new building of St. Peter’s and his military campaigns, he evidently became disturbed soon by the cost. Michelangelo believed that Bramanti, the equally prestigious architect at St. Peter’s, had influenced the pope to cut off his funds. He left Rome, but the pope brought pressure on the city authorities of Florence to send him back. He was put to work on a colossal bronze statue of the pope in his newly conquered city of Bologna (which the citizens pulled down soon after when they drove the papal army out) and then on the less expensive project of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508–12).” (Credit Encyclopedia Brittanica by Creighton Gilbert)
The Sistine Chapel: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam. (Wikipedia)
After viewing the chapel, click your back arrow to see the VIDEO below. (turn up sound)
Recently a friend of mine lost her Mother and I remember when my own Mother died. There have been other parts of my life that have held pain…as with most people. All sadness in this life moves along with us, but I believe there are things that help us “live through” those times.
As an author, artist and photographer, I decided to set up my own art room where I could lose myself in a world of quiet and creativity. I also saw a person who visited Japan and experienced the Asian way of “Nature therapy”. The person was encouraged to actually reach down to a bed of moss…touch it and sniff the smell of it. They continued a walk through the woods, noticing all the different plants, leaves and trees. I live in Florida and we have amazing skies here. The sun rises over the lakes; clouds gather in the deep blue summer afternoon bringing the streaks of lightning and in the evening the setting sun streams through the hanging moss. Nature is truly beautiful here.
Wherever we live, we see life around us…but do we see it…really? I think our souls need that interaction with God’s world if we are truly to have peace and joy with what is around us. It takes only the time we are willing to give to it.
Below is a picture of my art and writing room. I’m fortunate to have a space dedicated to these activities.
My husband has turned the garage into his wood-working space. Often he will call me out there to see the beautiful grain on a piece of wood that he is making. Nature…even after the tree is long gone…lives on in his beautiful wooden trays.
My Uncle Archie loved nature and carved the beautiful bird that you see below. Our dear friend, Tom, passed away recently, but he was gifted beyond measure in the turning of bowls shown below on my husband’s tray. These are treasures to be kept always and reminders of those who have gone through hard times, but through their faith in Jesus Christ have “passed through” with great courage and honor.
The young woman featured below is Zaria Forman. She is a true artist and shares her feelings about nature and loss. It is worth listening to and a reminder that there is much beauty in the world. We must seize the day that has been given to us.
VIDEO Turn up sound and click link given (credit National Geographic)
Today is a good day! I am looking forward to a new book to hold in my hands and share with others. Over a year ago, my husband, a retired Navy Chaplain, and I started interviewing our American veterans in the Blue Ridge mountains for a new book called, Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge. This week I sent it to the publishers. We are excited to share this news with our readers. Stay tuned for a special availability announcement of the book hopefully in the next couple weeks on Amazon.
We think the people whose stories were shared with us will be a real inspiration…and their stories needed to be told. Some are in their 90’s and are in nursing homes. We are losing our American World War II veterans and those of our allies at an alarming rate. Hopefully, there will be many books that share their stories. During the terrible battles to keep freedom alive, hope often seemed dim as the bombs dropped and men and women died. There were many prayers for miracles. Our book covers other men and women who served in Korea and Vietnam. It gives honor to those serving their country in the fight against terrorism in more recent battles.
Below is a video of some beautiful children singing in honor of all World War II veterans as they walk on the very ground where furious battles were fought.
One Voice Children’s Choir, under the direction of Masa Fukuda, performs “When You Believe.” Filmed on-location at Omaha Beach and Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. Performed in English, Hebrew and French. This song is dedicated to all the soldiers who fought in World War II, including those who fought at Normandy’s Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches in the D-Day Invasion; and to the millions of Jewish victims who lost their lives during the Nazi Holocaust. (video credit)
We add our appreciation and honor for American and Allied veterans in all wars since WWII.
VIDEO (Turn on sound)
The secret to longevity may be a simple thing like MOVEMENT. Of course, we are removing other factors of genetics or sudden accidents that could supersede activity. Having watched my Uncle John move about with almost no help, I am becoming even more convinced. At almost 96, he still works in his garden and has played golf just this past year with his daughter. I believe movement may be the key. We sit too much…especially at the computers at home or work…or before the TV.
My son is swimming in a Triathlon in Germany as I write. He is certainly not in his 20’s or 30’s…but keeps fit and “on the move!”
He sent me the video below that I hope you will enjoy. It will be even better if you speak French, but this lady emphasizes that at over 100 years old, she just keeps “moving.” Maybe 100 is the new 80.
Therefore, for your weekend, enjoyment, here she is. Sometime today take a walk. It could add years to your life.
Recently I read an article written by a man who calls for people to “Quit Church”. The title is stirring and probably got a number of people to read his book with that same title. His whole point was to either give it your all…or not at all! Leave and Get out…now!
I’m sure he believes that this will stir people to support fully all that Christ would have them be and the end results would be that they would be totally committed and there would be no deficit in the church budget and the air conditioning will keep running during the hot summer months and their neighbors will be won to Christ…but he may have convinced the marginal believers to do as he said…QUIT!
If his advice is taken by those with a weakness of faith, eventually churches may look like the one shown here.
We must not forget that only a few church members from all types of churches and denominations, grand or small country gatherings, are often the ones who reach out to the homeless, addicts, victims of disasters and many other needs around the world. When the government or Red Cross is slow at trying to handle the matter, they step in. A hand-full of Christians run many of our hospitals and great universities were started by a few Christians who wanted a better life for everyone. None of them quit even though at times they may have felt that their faith to accomplish was weak and wanted to give up.
There will always be those who warm the pews and others who get fully involved. These people will be at every meeting, on as many committees as possible and are always available. Others will run the other way from such activities for whatever reason. Do we want them to leave forever? How will they replace God in their lives? The emptiness deeply felt and the void will surely be replaced with something else.
God does His work in the heart and the church is sometimes the only safe place that a person may have during times of trial or personal torment. Sometimes it is the stranger who is not a church member that walks into a church and sits on the pew all alone…seeking something…anything to help him or her find a way. They often don’t know that Christ’s Holy Spirit is there waiting in the quiet.
A handful of Christians may have reached deep into their pockets to keep that door open…just for this person sitting alone. It is what they have done as unto the Lord. Not everyone will do this, however, and the church leaders expect this even if they wish that it were different.
When the Church was first founded by the Apostles they had to give it all that they had…and most died a martyr’s death because of it. There is not a pastor alive who would not like to see his church pews filled to overflowing and not have to worry about church politics or any other matter. If only preaching the gospel could bring all people to give their full efforts, it would be grand. Unfortunately, a pastor or priest does not often see the fruits of their labor. Years later, someone may have remembered what they heard or felt in the church service even though their life was less than totally committed at the time.
Sometimes people will say “I’m not getting involved because I have been there and done that in my younger years.” They may have not been told that being a prayer warrior is also being involved. Not everyone can manage to be out-front all the time.
Yet, the minister continues to work with what he or she has and with those who decide to crawl out of bed on Sunday morning and make their way to a pew and to the altar for Holy Communion. Maybe that person never heard a word he said in the sermon, but he finds solace in the grace of the wine and bread, God reaches out to the heart whether the church is full or not.
It is entirely possible that God doesn’t care about church membership or even the church buildings in which we worship. These have been handed down by people who built them to honor God and to not forsake the assembling together as Christians, which we are admonished to do in the Holy Scriptures.
As a church body, we have what we have…those human beings who may be strong or weak. If the church closes because of lack of involvement or funds to operate, then it will close. Others will open even if they are fellowships within homes where they were started by the first Christians. Quitting is still not an option.
Perhaps Chris Sonksen of California who advocates quitting if you can’t step up to the plate, can think about some of these points. He says his organization gives “personal coaching to more than 200 churches and impacts thousands of leaders” with his book Quit Church ( if you can’t give it all). Has he lost sight of the fact that God can reach down and touch a life that is less committed? We would emphasize again, that it may be the open church door that still stands open where one can sit quietly and find relief from a noisy, violent, and often unfriendly world. The Christian church founders, through their courage, brought Christian faith to the world. They never quit when their faith wavered, but encouraged the believers to be “strong in the faith” through every problem.
I remember hearing a minister years ago standing before his congregation and telling them, “I have nothing to say to you today because I am in a desert place.” He then served Holy Communion and I have never forgotten his honesty. Should he have resigned (or quit) his call to ministry at that point? Of course not. He needed the prayers of the people for the rough time he was going through. No, quitting is not an option. How many times must it be said? We pick ourselves up through God’s grace and continue on. He will show the way.
Let’s talk about children. Your child or grandchildren may be the next “apostle” to the world. Removing them from church worship is also not an option because you don’t think you can give your all. Are we going to teach them to QUIT in other areas of their life…if they are somewhat reluctant to give it their all? Are you going to show them by your example that religious faith is not important because your faith is weak? Should we instead teach them that not everyone has the same spiritual foundation or strengths and there is hope for everyone. The theory of “All in or All out” is actually not realistic. We hardly do anything to that extent in life. Nothing is all black or white.
For many people, they baptized their children when they were only an infant. Did that promise you made at that time to raise them in spiritual grace mean only if you yourself were in perfect harmony with God? I doubt it. You have an obligation and vow that was taken for that little one.
I share with you now some special young people who have a message. They are imagining what it will be like when they finally see God face to face. We all will, you know. They also have dreams of the future. Encourage them to love God…even more than you think you do. Help them to take up the banner of faith…even when we may be lacking. These children, like those in our churches, are the future. Don’t quit on them.
Robert Frost penned this poem, The Road Not Taken. We share it with our readers today as we have just come from a three-hour hike up to and down from the top of Buffalo Mountain in Virginia.
Spring is showing the first light green leaves delicately coming through the branches, leaving a view of the Blue Ridge below. A gentle breeze blows and when finally we reach the peak, the great boulders of rock greet us and make a place for us to rest our weary steps.
The path is filled with little blue flowers as they grow amid the rocks.
It is a path less traveled for most, but one we are glad we found even if our parting words, just like those of Frost, meant that we probably would not be there again.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Robert Frost is a famous and an oft-quoted poet. During his lifetime, he was honored with several prizes which include four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. Frost was born on March 26, 1874. (Wikipedia)
Even though our path today was one filled with the beginning of Spring, the mountains here in the Blue Ridge will fill with lush, summer green and finally make their way into a beautiful Fall…until the first snows begin to drift down onto the paths and roads. Mr. Frost must have, like us, also loved the seasons.
VIDEO credit (Turn up sound) by John C. Catlin
While much of the nation has been piled with snow, the eagles have weathered it all until their little ones could be hatched. Here is the great event from the live cam above Washington, D.C.
God’s world is so amazing. We give thanks for all its glory. Welcome to our world, little eagles…for you make it a better place!
Video Credit: Turn up sound Cheryl Loheit. © 2018 American Eagle Foundation
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
There is one person in our American history whom you probably do not know. His name is Hiram Bingham IV. Some may recognize the name of his relatives, however.
Hiram Bingham IV’s descendants found documentation about his bravery and decided to let the world know what he would not. A Distinguished diplomat, Hiram lost his job as a diplomat from the State Department for daring to go against regulations. Yet, years later he was honored by the same U.S. State Department. Colin Powell presented the family with the honor entitled Constructive Dissent in 2002. A U.S. stamp was made in his honor and his son, Robert Bingham Sr, has written a book called Courageous Dissent.
These are some words of Hiram’s son, Robert, taken from an interview and from the Hiram Bingham website concerning him: 1)Harry’s personal motto, taught to his children, was relevant: “Give the Best that You Have to the Best that You know.” During the Holocaust, saving lives was “the best that he knew.”
2) He believed there is a “spark of divinity” in each human being. He saved not only luminaries but also many ordinary refugees. It was painful for him to remember the long lines of individuals outside the consulate desperately seeking exit visas. He once told me he thought they were “treated like cattle.” He could not talk about his experience without displaying agony and a deep frown on his face.
3) His family’s missionary “zeal” may have augmented his motivation: Hiram the 1st led the first missionaries to Hawaii in 1918 (he was depicted as Abner Hale in Mitchener’s “Hawaii”); Hiram II was also a missionary in the Sandwich Islands who single-handedly translated the entire Bible into written Gilbertese; Hiram III was a public servant who also became an explorer (who discovered Machu Picchu in Peru) and later became a US senator of Connecticut. Hiram IV neither converted souls nor entered politics, but, with equal zeal of his forbears, he “quietly battled to save lives” from the Holocaust…”
This story of a man who stood for those who could not stand for themselves. It says much to all of us today. There are times when we have to do the right thing regardless of the cost. Coming from a Christian background, Hiram Bingham believed that every human has worth. He knew what he had to do…and did it.
After his death, Hiram Bingham IV was also awarded posthumously the Medal of Valor along with Sir Winston Churchill and Pope John Paul II. More than 450 supporters of the Simon Wiesenthal Center gathered for the 2011 Humanitarian Award Dinner.
Now that you have read about the awards and honors, you may be asking, “How exactly did he save the lives of so many people? The video below will give you the full details.
As we have just had the Holocaust Remembrance Day, this would be a worthwhile story to share with your family to remember history and one who bravely did what was right.
Put down your phones…and give this some thought. This post is especially for the young people of our country.
When you look at older people in a restaurant or some other place, what do you see? Would it occur to you, as a young person, that this person may have made it possible for you to sit there playing with your phone? Yes, I know all the Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin (and more) founders are young. However, I’m not talking about them. I am talking about those who didn’t become rich, but gave their all for us and liberty.
What do I mean? I’m going to tell you because it is possible that you have missed knowing some of the greatest people in the world because you have not learned the art of asking questions. What kind of questions? Something like….”What did you do when you were my age and didn’t have cell phones?” That person with the grey hair and a limp may have something very interesting to share with you. In fact, it could change your life more than anything you might see or learn on social media.
Another thought ran through my mind as I began to write this post. A neighbor’s husband had passed away. She had a set of encyclopedias that belonged to a distant relative who would have experienced World War II. They were written in German. When asked about them, I heard a story of a family who emigrated to America after the horrors of that war. She said that none of her children wanted any of the things that were part of their history.
I have been hearing this statement many time recently…that the young families don’t want anything that belonged to Grandma or Grandpa…or even their own parents. Why? It is “old stuff.” Is family history not as important to our youth and their parents as their cell phones?
You will notice that I have mentioned electronics several times. This is because more often than not families who have gone out to spend time together are rarely doing so. The children are playing their games or texting. The parents are checking emails or answering their phones. Little time is actually spent talking to one another. Don’t get me wrong. Cell phones have their place, but I would encourage you to put them down for a while and experience life around you. If you know an older person, ask a few questions that will give you special insight into life. They are often the brave who left everything to keep us a free nation.
When I took students to Auschwitz in Poland, the one thing they learned was this…“Those who do not remember history will live it over again.” Too much was sacrificed to let that happen. Young people, there have been many sacrifices for you. I hope you are asking right now…what do you mean?
- Men and women fought and died to prevent aggression into our country. They are still doing that.
- Men, such as Dr. Martin L. King Jr., fought to give all people civil rights.
- Mothers and fathers have worked hard to give you the things of life that you need. That may include your cell phone…but food and a warm bed are more important. Remember that you are not entitled, but blessed.
By the way, if you see a person wearing a uniform or a hat that reads where they served, don’t be shy. Go right up to them and say, “Thank you for your service.” That will make their day…especially coming from a young person. This also includes policemen, medics and fire fighters.
In the video below, you are going to hear a song about an Old Army Hat. There may be one in your house or it could be an American flag neatly folded and displayed in a wooden box. Ask about it. There is a story there. Then, if you must, use your phone and tell someone about what you have learned…or better still, tell them face to face. That way they can see you smile and point to something important to you and your family history. If your family member with the grey hair is still living, let fly the questions. I bet you’ll get amazing answers that could change your life.
VIDEO (turn up sound)
When we are in Virginia, we receive an email telling us when the Space Station will be flying over our home and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because we have no street lights, it is quite clear and the Station can be seen moving on the path above our heads.
The video I’m sharing with my readers today shows a working relationship between the U.S., Russia and Japanese astronauts. It is a good thing that they are professionals and want to do their work and experiments without political interruption. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
The tour of the Space Station is given by Sunita Pandya Williams, an American astronaut and U.S. Navy officer of Indo-Slovenian descent. She formerly held the records for total spacewalks by a woman (seven) and most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes). Sunita was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expeditions 14 and 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33. (Wikipedia)
Thank you, Sunita Williams, for your great tour. As we watch from the ground, we know better what the crews in the Space Station are experiencing amid the stars. Long live international cooperation!
VIDEO (Turn up sound)