An Old-Fashioned Love of the Red, White and Blue

With an old-fashioned love of the red, white and blue,

Soldiers raise their right hand for the job they’re to do.

Then loved ones at home say goodbye with a sigh,

For they know that the price of the oath can be high.

The days can bring loneliness and far-away places,

Even fighting for peace in some dark unknown spaces.

 And if for freedom they give up their life,

We should forego the endless political strife;

And honor a love of the red, white and blue,

That went into the fire and proved to be true.

The Return of Mommy Guilt

Dear Moms,

Sunday was your day. There was honor and recognition; and as it should be, we celebrated you. By now though, it’s back to the work, worry, and wishing for more time in the day before collapsing on the couch or bed. And with the celebration over, that pesky thing called “mommy guilt” may be returning. Over the years in ministry, I’ve heard moms talk about various feelings of guilt associated with motherhood, and if that’s happening to you, please consider a few thoughts today:

  • There really is only one of you – Contrary to popular belief, there were no extra hours added to the clock when you brought your first “bundle of joy” home. The daily limit of 24 hours forces us all to make choices. The cyclical nature of a day is a creation of God, and is for our benefit. Make your decisions based on the right priorities before the Lord, then choose not to worry over the rest. Once you do, don’t let circumstances or people cause you to second-guess your choices.
  • Don’t give up on discipline – Being consistent with discipline can cause all kinds of anxiety. The fear of being the “mean parent”, or the threat of the “silent treatment” from a teen can bring a strong temptation to give in. And yes, the same kid that gave you a sweet card on Sunday, can also be the one defying you today. Proper discipline is born from a heart of love. The Bible teaches that the Lord corrects us because He loves us, and wants the best for us (Proverbs 3:12). Please don’t give in, (they really will be better off for it).
  • Leave the results to the Lord – There is a natural inclination to feel responsible for the “end-result” of our parenting choices; but the truth is, we’re responsible for the parenting, not the end-result. Our job is to teach, model, and reinforce the truth. There is a point where our children must own their faith, and own their choices. Our culture doesn’t teach personal responsibility anymore, but those of us in the family of God must because it’s a biblical principle. Yes, continue to love your kids and invest in them, but trust the Lord and leave the results to Him.

Moms, thank you for holding our families, our churches and our society together. You’re often the unsung hero behind many personal stories. Please don’t let guilt rob you of joy today, and please keep doing what you’re doing!

Living Among the Dead

Sometimes as believers, the world around us can seem quite lifeless; and in a spiritual sense, it is. Last week, leading up to Easter, that thought captivated me while preparing for Sunday. To me, the angel’s question to Mary at the tomb is so relevant today;

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” – Luke 24:5 NKJV

We should be the happiest generation of all time. We have the most modern conveniences, no real threat of military invasion, famines, or diseases. We have numerous opportunities for education, career, and business ventures. However, when you watch people at the mall, their faces often don’t reflect a happy generation at all. The truth is, a world without Christ is lifeless and dead. Not unlike the environment surrounding Mary and the other women at the tomb.

Perhaps the world you live or work in feels that way sometimes. If so, let me offer three thoughts of encouragement today based on the powerful victory Jesus won over death.

I. There is hope while living among the dead

Hope is forward looking. When hope is lost we often go back to where we once had it to recapture a feeling or emotion of a time when things “were right”. However, the life of faith looks forward. John tells us that Mary once anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil (John 11:2), and was affirmed by the Lord for it. There is a similarity with her early morning trip to the tomb to finish the work of anointing the Lord’s body. I imagine she had hoped for a sense of closure by demonstrating her love in a way she had done before, but the body was gone. At that moment, her dilemma wasn’t so much Jesus’ death, as it was her inability to complete a task. And as she frantically asked about the body, she heard a familiar voice speak, “Mary!” Suddenly, everything changed! The emptiness of the tomb wasn’t a problem, it was the answer! Hope isn’t about trying to go back, it’s about following Him forward.

III. There is joy while living among the dead

Life can deliver a lot of unexpected things. The women didn’t expect Jesus to be crucified, and they stood outside the tomb with compounded grief. Not only were their hearts broken, they also felt “kicked while they were down” with someone stealing the body. However, right next to them in the shadows was the Lord. He was never far away and His voice brought an overwhelming sense of joy. What circumstances had stolen, the Lord restored. Don’t allow the dead world around you to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. Our joy comes directly from the Lord Himself.

III. There is abundance while living among the dead

Life in a fallen world can leave us feeling empty at times. Jesus described the enemy as one who “steals, kills and destroys”, but He said of Himself:

“I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 NKJV

In Christ, we don’t just exist while waiting for heaven, there is abundance! He didn’t go the cross just to provide a bare-minimum salvation, He crushed sin and death, so that we may live a life of freedom. In Christ, we are forgiven. In Christ, we are loved. In Christ, we are heard. In Christ, we have hope. In Christ, we have joy. In Christ, we have peace. And in Christ, there is abundant life among the dead!!

Happy Easter!

HE IS RISEN!

HAPPY EASTER!

Avoiding “Sudden Speech Syndrome”

When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (in the presence of Peter, James and John), His heavenly glory burned bright as the sun. Excited by what he saw, Peter immediately began talking of his plan for monuments, but the scripture says while he was still speaking, God interrupted and this happened:

“…a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him! And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.” – Matthew 17:5-6 NKJV

Once again, Peter was talking when he should’ve been listening. Seeing the glory wasn’t about memorializing a “moment”, it was about a heavenly endorsement of actionable words; “Hear Him!” the voice of God commanded. Of course, Peter isn’t the only example of “Sudden Speech Syndrome”. We too can suffer from the urge to start speaking (or sharing on social media) about an experience, instead of truly listening and applying His words.

Have you caught a glimpse of His glory? Has your heart been overshadowed by His presence? If so, be empowered by recalling the moment as you apply what He said. If you haven’t, today would be a great time to prayerfully look toward His majestic presence…and truly listen.

Principles

A Sober Washington Looks Rough

Now that we’re a few weeks in, President Trump is like the host who’s closed the bar at Washington’s decade-long party (and being blamed for the hangovers). The whining and dishonesty is embarrassing to watch; and the people claiming to represent us are busy with self-preservation. I’ve thought about many things over recent months leading up to the election and after, but here are a few things that keep coming to mind:

  • First, a Representative Republic is hard work. I’m convinced more than ever that the Founding Fathers were brilliant and constructed something amazing under God’s guidance. However, the tough part is, longevity requires due-diligence of the citizens. Only “we the people” can hold ourselves and our leaders accountable. Let’s get honest, Washington has been working for itself for years. As Christians, we have an obligation to take an interest, to speak biblical truth, and defend the founding principles that made our country great.
  • Second, the Federal Treasury can’t pay for everything. Have you ever thought about how much a trillion dollars really is? That’s how much we’re over-spending each year. That’s not the budget, but how much we borrow each year to cover spending beyond the budget. You may say, well I’m not the one over-spending, it’s Washington. True, it’s their actual votes that appropriate money, but our expectations are high when it comes to federal grants, subsidies, social programs, and refunds. If we’re to ever get the spending-spree in check, we’ll have to expect them to prioritize the role of the federal treasury (even when it reduces the size of a popular program).
  • Third, we must teach “consequences” again. A generation has come of age believing life should cater to their every desire. The problem is, the “real world” didn’t get the memo. Choices have consequences. In generations past, it was an understood reality, and they worked/made decisions accordingly. For those of us raising children (or grandparents influencing children), we must do the tough part of teaching this principle. In other words, adults don’t ask for “safe spaces”, they saddle-up and get to work.

Yes, the elites are having a tough time getting things “back to normal”, but my prayer is that it never returns to what was “normal”. We’ve been on a path toward irrelevancy in the world, and I’m not ashamed to say that the world needs us to be Americans and lead. A solid, secure America is more benevolent in charitable giving around the globe, a stronger light for freedom and a job-creating machine for those seeking to better themselves. That’s our heritage. Let’s start expecting that for our future too.

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