God’s Secret Service Detail

I don’t know about you but I truly believe that there are angels that guard me from the evil in this world.  I have had too many close calls while driving to not believe in angels.  I have felt that tug in my spirit to stop and turn around and not go down a certain path or to a certain place.  I always listen to that little tug because I have learned it is very reliable.  There are some who scoff at the idea that we have an army of angels watching over us, maybe you are one of them.  But I believe in angels and here is why.

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.  He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler.  You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday.  A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.  Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.  For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.  You shall tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the serpent shall you trample under feet.  Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name.  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.  Psalm 91:1-16, (King James 2000).

So what is this Psalm saying exactly?  First of all it is written to a specific set of people, to those who believe in God, and I would add those who believe in Jesus Christ.  A person who dwells in the secret place of the most High is going to be someone who believes in God and believes that God is in control of this world.  And that person will be under the protection of God and His army of angels.  I find that comforting, don’t you?  When you are a walking, talking, believing, doing Christian God is your protector.  There is a list of things that God protects His own from, notice that in this passage?  God protects us from traps that are to meant to destroy us.  That can mean many kinds of things, adultery, porn, pride, anger, hatred, comparison, and so many more evil things.  We are also protected from infestations of evil, the deadly pestilence, which I think of as bad health.  What do you think of when you study this passage?  Notice how the words are as a protective bird, an eagle or a mother hen or a robin, we are covered by the feathers of God’s protection and we trust that He will take care of us.  How safe this makes us feel, wouldn’t you agree?  We don’t have to worry that while we sleep some awful thing will happen to us because we are being protected by God.  We don’t have fear overflowing from us and we don’t fear anything this world can throw at us.  We witness the destruction of those around us because they are without God’s protection but no one can touch us.

Okay, some of you may be thinking about the stories we hear almost daily of Christians who are killed or lose their homes and possessions and have to flee to another country to start over again.  I know.  It happens because the evil one of this world wants to make all of us question our trust in Jesus, our trust in God.  Jesus warned us that this would happen because the world hated Him they will also hate us, (Matthew 10:22, John 15:18).  Jesus also says to fear the One who can take your soul but not the one who can kill your body (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5).  We must always be prepared to face death because it is not the end of our life but the beginning of eternal life and knowing that I am walking into God’s house when I die makes me strong enough to face death in the physical realm of this world.  I can only speak for myself here but I hope you also feel the same way.  Those who are murdered for being Christians are spoken of in the last book of the Bible, Revelation chapter 6 verse 10.  They are crying for justice and God says to wait a little longer because it will come.  The evil done to these dear precious saints of the cross will be avenged and judged soon.  Wow!

Back to our passage in Psalm 91 I want to draw attention to  how God protects us.  For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  I have heard some preachers say that this passage is speaking of how Jesus was protected while living on earth and I have no doubt that this is true.  I also believe, however, that every Christian is loved by God and protected in the same way that Jesus was.  We are God’s children and He loves us and so it is only logical that God would protect us, don’t you think?  The army of angels is watching over all of us, I think that is pretty cool!  I can’t see them and neither can you but I do not doubt of their existence and protection.  I can’t imagine going through life without God’s protection.  I see people often and I am sure that you do as well that are living life on the edge, drug addictions, alcohol addictions, sex addictions, porn addictions, anger, pride, violence, these are just a few of the examples of people living their life without God’s protection and it is sad I think.

Another really neat thing about this passage is that when we are under God’s protection He hears our prayers and He answers them.  I began a prayer journal a few years ago and I was looking through it the other night and what a great way to be reminded of all the prayers that have been answered over the course of time.  Not all were answered with what I asked for but all were answered.  Just like a parent doesn’t give a child everything they want and have to limit it to what they need so God does with us.  I may ask for a prayer for someone’s marriage to be restored and they end up divorced.  God answered my prayer but not in the way I asked and then later I may find out that the marriage was having one person walking away from God entirely and it was important that person be ejected out of the marriage to protect the other person and keep them faithful to God.  So God answered my prayer.  But there were many more prayers that were answered in the positive way that I had asked, such as a friend who went to Egypt for a mission trip and came back safely.  Or a person who was healed who had been ill.  God always hears our prayers and always answered them, always!

Every Christian can be thankful to be under the protection of God and that He has given his angels orders to watch over us and protect us.  In the world as it is today we need that protection because we can’t really see what the future will bring to our life.  I feel comforted and encouraged to know that I have a personal body-guard that keeps evil away from me and protects me from the snares of the evil one.  I feel pretty special and that is how we all should feel.  God is so good to us, don’t you think?

Until next time…Katherine

Growing Your Faith

I planted a flower-pot last year with geraniums to have on my front step to enjoy all summer long.  When the frost came they were in full bloom so I decided to move them indoors and kept them all winter.  They bloomed almost all winter and when spring came this year and there was no danger of frost I placed the planter back outside.  The Nebraska winds broke off the strongest and tallest stems of the flower and so I saved them and placed them in water.  They seemed to love the water and got over the shock of being severed abruptly from the mother plant.  I have started many plants by getting a root system to develop from a stem in water but these would not develop a root system at all.  It was later when a friend of mine visited that I learned that geraniums need to be propagated by a different method.  While the leaves continued to grow and the stems looked very healthy in the water in order for them to grow I needed to place them in potting soil.  My friend suggested dipping the end of the stem in honey before planting.  I thought she was nuts!  But I looked up on the internet how to start a geranium plant from a broken stem and sure enough she was right!  So today I prepared them for planting and we shall see how they do.  So far they look healthy and happy so I hope I am on the right track now.  But this little experiment got me thinking about faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.  Hebrews 11:1-3, (English Standard Version or ESV).  

The Bible gives us a great definition of what faith is, something that we hope will happen but it hasn’t happened yet nor do we see it happening.  We just have a strong belief that it will happen.  I think about being a little girl and hoping that I would get a bicycle for Christmas.  I wanted to believe that Santa would bring me one even though I had never seen Santa and was a little unsure the he really existed.  I did get a bike and I remember how getting that present seemed to help my wavering faith in Santa.  As an adult I realize that Santa was really my loving parents and now I know the truth.  We can have faith in almost anything.  For instance I have the faith that when I turn on a light switch there will be light overhead instantly.  I can’t see the electricity working but I have the faith that it will.  As adults we can have faith in things that do not help us grow.  Just like the geraniums looked healthy and happy and contented with their stem in the water we can also think that we are doing well when we believe in something other than God.  For instance some people have faith in Buddha, or Hindu gods, or Allah, or in no eternity, or in science, or in nothing.  They live contented lives for the most part.  When I meet them they are breathing and walking around and eating and laughing and appear to be contented in their belief system.  But just like my geraniums they are not growing in the true faith and they will not be capable of making it to heaven.  They won’t grow a root system that can keep them planted into eternity.  We need to be sure what our faith is in.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2, (ESV).

Jesus is the founder of Christianity and the one who perfects our faith.  We transfer our souls to Christ and begin to grow and our faith blooms and blossoms into healthy Christians.  God recognizes Christians because we believe in His Son Jesus Christ.  If we accept that Jesus is God’s Son and we live as Jesus teaches us to live then we will grow a strong root system and will be called into eternity, into heaven where Jesus is seated next to God.  But if we have faith in anything other than Jesus Christ then we are not growing in the kind of faith that develops deep roots and just like the geraniums in water we will not survive.  How can we be sure that we have true faith in Jesus and not the world’s idea of faith?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:7-18, (ESV).

Our faith will produce results and the results won’t be riches or fame.  So many of the world’s religions are seeking wealth and fame but Christians are not seeking such things because we know they are only temporary.  We are seeking something deeper, we are developing roots that will spread and will grow in others, we are seeking something not seen and a reward the may be deferred.  The roots of deep faith make us so tough, so resilient, and so strong.  The world will hurl all it has against us to keep us silent and to harm us yet we perplex them by continuing to thrive regardless of our circumstances.  Our faith keeps us going and keeps us strong.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.   For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  2 Corinthians 5:1-10, (ESV).

You see we don’t have to know where we are going because God will direct our path, which is how we walk out our faith on this earth.  The Christians that have been murdered because of their faith in Jesus Christ already knew that!   They knew that the world would not understand them nor would the world want them to live.  We understand that as well, but when our earthly bodies die that is not the end of us for we go to our Father in heaven next to Jesus and the seeds of faith that we planted here on earth will continue to grow long after we are gone.  I find this exciting, don’t you?  So my warning to you all is to make certain that your faith is being rooted into the soil of the Gospel and not the water of the world.  Just like my flowers, the water made them look good but it didn’t help them to develop roots so you can look good but you have no staying power because your faith is in the wrong things.

Until next time…Katherine

My Favorite Things

One of my favorite things to do only happens once a year, usually about now.  I love to smell the beautiful fragrance of a lilac bush in full bloom!  Someone who lived in my house before me planted two lilac bushes just a little to the left of my bedroom window.  I think it was God’s graciousness that prompted them to plant them just so I can enjoy them!  Okay, maybe that is going a little too far, but I sure am enjoying them right now.  Nothing is better than to walk down the hallway to my bedroom and smell the light and lovely scent drifting on the breeze from my open windows of the lilacs.  I find myself often standing in front of the open window sniffing with delight as I take a few moments to just breathe in the beautiful fragrance.  For me it is a little slice of heaven, but for my son it causes an allergy reaction and he begins to sneeze something terrible.  I am so glad that he isn’t here in the daytime so I can enjoy the opened window while he is at school.  Life is good when the lilacs are in bloom!

All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers.  You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.  Deuteronomy 8:1-3, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).

Another of my favorite things is toast.  I know that Jesus quoted this scripture to Satan when Satan tried to tempt Jesus after He had fasted for forty days (Matthew 4:4).  However, I think sometimes that I could live on toast and butter and perhaps some jam as long as I am also having a little coffee or tea.  I love toast.  I like to use the good bread for toasting, the kind that has something like seven grains or perhaps sourdough, or maybe that bread that has nuts and raisins in it.  I don’t really care for the cheap white loaf of sandwich bread but if that is all that is available to me then I will toast it and butter it and put a little honey on it and enjoy!   That is my idea of a good breakfast!  But Jesus is right; I need a little more than bread because toast without butter is rather scratchy and dry to swallow!  Yes, I like toast.

Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.  Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.  Psalm 96:1-2, (NASB).

I love to sing.  I love to play the piano.  I love to write songs.  I love to play what I call piano doodle where I just play whatever song is in my heart.  I also love to hear others sing and listen to the radio while driving.  I love to hear songs that are sung in different languages.  One of my most favorite memories is being in a church in Hong Kong and hearing God praised in three different languages through song.  I love to hear God’s creation sing too.  So often I think of the songs various birds sing and I wonder if they are singing their praise to God.  I even love to watch snowflakes coming down silently and often think that they are singing their praise to God through silence, so peaceful and so beautiful and as lovely as any song!  Yes, I love to sing.

  She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.  Proverbs 31:13, (NASB).

I love to make things.  I love sewing anything but clothes.  For instance right now I am in the middle of a marathon of making baby quilts for some of the missions I work with.  It is such fun to plan and create a cute little blanket for a baby yet unborn!  Just love it!  I also love knitting and crocheting blankets, hats, and scarves.  I am not really all that good at crafting but I do enjoy doing these projects.  I also love to embroider and have done much of that in the past.  To me giving a gift to someone that I have hand crafted is like giving a part of me to them.  We can go to the store and buy something that will be pretty and functional but it won’t have any emotions attached to it, but when you hand make a gift, it is often greatly appreciated so much more because it speaks the language of love.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.  Psalm 1:1-3, (NASB).

I love to study God’s Word.  I love to reach into the sentences and pull out the deeper meanings and to learn from the examples that are written in the Bible.  I love to learn from others as we share our thinking in Sunday School or Bible Study groups.  I love to read books written by people so much smarter than I am and learn from their perspective of what the Bible says.  I love to hear good preaching and teaching.  I love to be challenged to think and to learn.  I love God and the rich history told in the Bible.  I love to put into action what I have learned and I try to live as a good example, a good ambassador for God, to anyone watching my life.  I love the soothing ointment the words of the Bible give to my hurting soul.  I love to write about the things I am learning and to share my thoughts with others, with you.  I hope you enjoy my meanderings through words as well.

Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers.  Proverbs 17:6, (NASB).

I love my children and in-law children and grandchild!  It is not always easy to love our children as adults because they grow into their own person and they don’t always think the way that we do.  I have struggled in how to continue to let my children all know that I love them even though they may live many miles away and it isn’t easy to just pop over and take them out to lunch!  But I do deeply love them and I love my little granddaughter too!  She is such a delight.  I may not be the best grandma in that I don’t give her lots of presents and stuff but I pray for her and will continue to just as I do for all my children every day!  They are such a blessing to me and I love to get together with them and just sit back and watch the show they all put on!  Such fun!!!  Family is definitely one of my favorite things!

Well this is a small list of some of my favorite things in life on this big earth!  I hope it will inspire you to slow down and take a moment to think of what your favorite things are also.  Have a wonderful day.

Until next time…Katherine

In The Name Of God

We have a group of radical religious people today that want to take over the world and the way they are going about this is to kill everyone who doesn’t convert to their ideology.  In fact the Middle East and Europe has been nearly destroyed from either the fighting or those poor people who are running away from the fighting.  There are pockets of Christian enclaves that have been completely wiped out either through death or migration.  This is not the first time that a group of killers thought they were doing God’s work yet were completely deceived.  Jesus forewarned all of us in His original words to the disciples, let’s read them together.

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.  They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. John 16:1-4, (English Standard Version or ESV).

You see there is a test we can do to know whether the message we are hearing is from God and that is to compare it to the words taught by Jesus.  The Old Testament has many stories of revenge and seeking revenge and keeping the races separate.  When you read parts of the Old Testament but not all of it you might get the sense that it is alright to kill those who don’t think like you do and you might become very intolerant of others.  But when you read and understand the entire Old Testament you will see that separation was only for the group of people God set apart to worship Him.  Jesus’s coming was foretold many times in the Old Testament as the one who would rule and reconcile all the tribes of the earth together under one Kingdom.  The Psalms and Isaiah are full of such promises.  Jesus becomes the test by comparing His teachings to whatever message you may hear today.   If the message you are hearing doesn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son then the message is false.  If the message you are hearing involves murder and rape and ten virgins in heaven then the message is false.  Jesus taught to forgive and to love your enemies and to be kind to your neighbors and if you don’t believe me then go and read Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7 and see what the words of Jesus really are.  Then you will see the difference.  The message of hate is so much easier to follow than the message of loving those whom we don’t like.  It is so much easier to hate a person who has been mean to us than to love them, but the true message teaches us to love our enemies and to not just stop at loving them but to bless them as well (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28).  Love can be given from afar but a blessing means you have some kind of contact with them.  Praying for someone who has really tried their best to destroy you is hard to do and to be honest my first prayers were more like the Old Testament than the messages of love from Jesus.  I prayed that God would remove them from the earth so that no other person would be harmed by them again.  Thankfully God was patient with me and through my prayers and over time as I prayed for these people my attitude toward them became more like Jesus’s attitude, and I saw how lost they really were.  Then my prayers for them became one of asking God to give them time and to be patient until their rebellion spins out and asking God to give them many opportunities to repent of their sins.  Funny thing how God took my prayers and changed me even if I never see the change in them!  I think that is the point, don’t you?

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:33-35, (ESV).

If you truly come in the name of God then you recognize Jesus as God’s Son and you will show love to even those who want to harm you.  In some parts of the world today there are many people who have had to face death because they refuse to give up Jesus.  I admire them greatly.  I always hope that I will also be that brave if that time ever comes for me.  I love how Jesus calls the disciples Little Children because in truth that is what we all are, we are the children of God and in our family, God’s family, we live so differently than the world lives.  We pray for each other, we meet each other’s needs whether that is emotional, or physical, and we extend love to our neighbors whether it is the person in the house next to us or the person in a hut thousands of miles apart from us.  We think of others before we think of ourselves.  We are kind and compassionate and loving and caring and share and everything you can imagine that is good and righteous we are doing.  And like children we don’t worry about tomorrow because it is only today that is important.  Like children we know no strangers.  Like children who are molded into good behavior by parents we are being molded into mature Christians by our Heaven Father, God.  For some of us learning to share is difficult or learning to show kindness and respect is not easy.  For others it may be learning to put God first in every situation in life.  And for some of us it is learning to truly forgive and let go.  We all have our struggles but at the end of our life here on earth we will be mature and complete and perfect and ready to move on into eternity.   Heaven awaits us and it will be mind-blowing and wonderful but there won’t be ten virgins ready to service you, no, that is not the correct narrative!

In the name of God what are you believing and doing?  Have you thought about that lately?  Are you kind and loving or are you impatient and angry?  Are you helpful to others or are you their stumbling block?  Are you praying for only yourself or are you praying for others before you ask for what you need.  Are you generous with others or are you stingy?  Are you putting God first in your life and asking for His guidance in decision-making or are you forgetting to ask.  Have you matured in your faith or are you still an infant.  Are you really a part of God’s family or do you just think that you are a part.  Only you can answer these questions.  In the name of God what are you doing with your life?  In the name of God are you truthful with yourself and your message to others?  In the name of God are you thinking you are safe from judgement blinded by the truth or are you seeing yourself in truth.  Sometimes a little self-analysis is useful to really think about where you are today.  I hope you are in the name of God following Jesus!

Until next time…Katherine

Always A Soldier

My uncle John was a soldier in Korea and the war he experienced never left him until the day he died.  He was young when he went to Korea and left his pregnant wife in Nebraska.  His son was born while he served our nation overseas.  John never really talked about his war experience but if you looked closely you could see that it marked him for life.  He didn’t have any physical scars but he hated fireworks because they reminded him of war.  If a car backfired as it drove past him he would jump and look worried.  He would make a joke about it but I knew it bothered him.  When he came to visit us after a devastating series of tornadoes destroyed our community we drove him and his wife around to see the damage and Uncle John just couldn’t contain his nervousness and so we cut the tour short because he was so anxious.  He told me later that it bothered him because it looked too much like the war in Korea with all the destroyed homes and businesses.  He was apologizing but I told him he didn’t need to.  I know my aunt could have told of many more problems my uncle had but she never spoke of it, never!  Uncle John brought back some horrible memories to deal with from his war experience but he brought back something more.  As so many from his generation and the generation that experienced fighting in previous wars he came home with a good work ethic and a strong patriotic attitude.  Uncle John worked hard all his life and provided a living for his family and did so with a great attitude.  He also was proud to be an American and never took that for granted.  He contributed to his community honestly and with integrity.  He was always a soldier with a big smile and a positive attitude and I miss him.  His family misses him too.

So many of those who fought in previous wars have passed away and this one weekend in America is set aside to honor them.  It is Memorial Weekend and I want to celebrate by honoring the men and women who have served our country so well.  I have so many friends and family members who have served this country in one of the armed services.  Some have made it a career while others stayed for a few years.  I have one family member who volunteered to go to Vietnam four times, now that took courage and he bears the emotional scars from that time in his life.  He told me that he is the only one left from his circle of fighting buddies and he looked sad when he said this.  He also said that ever soldier who goes to war has demons to contend with when they return home and sometimes the demons win.  He said that he has made peace with his demons but it took most of his adult life to do so.  I thanked him for his service.  There was really nothing more that I could say except that I had prayed for him for years as did so many in our family but he already knew that.

I will never forget going to the funeral of a classmate’s brother who died fighting in Vietnam.  It brought the war home to me in a way that I had never experienced before.  I never knew Vincent Bernal but I stood at his funeral because there was no room to sit down.  I will never forget seeing that large American flag draped across his casket and the stark reality that a young man had lost his life in an Asian country that was in the midst of chaos and turmoil.  I will never forget the tears of his family and the profound loss they felt as their family was altered for eternity.  He was a good son, a good brother, and loved by everyone who knew him and he was gone.  So many parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and friends have stood at the foot of a casket with a flag draped over it for a war that was fought on foreign soil where their loved one gave his all.  Thank you Vincent Bernal, I will never forget you even though I never knew you.  You are not forgotten.

Memorial Day is so often celebrated casually as the unofficial start to summer.  But that is not the purpose of this day.  Today I want to honor the families who have an empty seat at the table because their soldier is gone.  I want to say words of comfort but truthfully I can’t.  So many people today just don’t understand the sacrifice of a soldier’s life for their freedom.  So many don’t realize the price of freedom paid in blood and sweat and tears.  History doesn’t talk about the cost of human lives in war.  Many more soldiers come home than don’t but that doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering for the unseen scars are hidden sometimes for years.  I hope you will stop and thank a vet today because they are always soldiers whether in uniform or not.   Tell them you understand and appreciate their service to our nation.  They will appreciate your thanks.

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, (New International Version).

I always think about something an Army commander said to me once.  He served in Vietnam and he said that whoever spends time in a foxhole with bullets flying overhead in the heat of battle never doubts that God exists.  He said that you might go into a foxhole not believing in God but you never came out of one not believing.  He said you are constantly praying to God asking for protection.  He knew that his own faith grew because of that time in a wartime foxhole.  I believed him.  The battle belongs to the Lord and the outcome of war is always under God’s watchful eye.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do the work of war but it gives me courage knowing God is there.  Evil always tries to triumph and that is why we have wars.  It has been that way forever and we humans can only do our part in keeping evil from winning.  It is our duty to our neighbors.  While some think war is never to be I for one take the larger view of it all and realize that it is always going to happen as long as evil exists in our world.  I am thankful for our soldiers and their families and I pray for their safety.  A day like today reminds me to be thankful for those who gave their life for me to enjoy freedom.

Until next time…Katherine

Don’t Lose Your Flavor

My son and I went out to eat recently and he asked if he could order dessert and I said yes.  It is a special treat to order dessert as I don’t usually let him and so he ordered a good-looking dessert that was composed of chocolate cake, ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel sauce.  When it came to our table it was actually a dessert for two and so I got to enjoy a little of it too.  This chocolate dessert had great eye appeal and I was excited to taste the first bite which consisted of a combination of cake and ice cream.  Mmmmmm delicious!  I slowly enjoyed it and marveled at how tasty it was.  Second bite was taken with great anticipation and so was the third and so on.  Funny thing happened though, with each succeeding bite the dessert lost flavor and it wasn’t long until I felt that I didn’t want to eat any more of it.  My son was happy to eat the rest of it all by himself.  I pondered this experience as I was preparing for bed that night and wondered why the cake seemed to have lost its appeal and then it hit me, it lost it’s flavoring in the mix of all the other flavors that were going on.  I thought of this Bible passage.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-16, (English Standard Version or ESV).

Many of you may recognize this passage as being a part of the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus at the beginning of His ministry.  He was talking to the Jewish people and about the Jewish nation.  The entire world knew about the God of the Jewish nation, the God of Israel.  God had made His name known among all the peoples of the earth in various ways.  Everyone knew about how the Israeli God led them to the Promised Land from Egypt (Joshua 2:18-13).  Everyone knew about the wisdom given to King Solomon by his God (1 Kings 10:1).  The nation of Israel had a reputation of being protected by a powerful God not to be messed with.  And what about the sailors who threw Jonah overboard, they certainly knew the Jewish God was powerful and they worshiped Him too (Jonah 1:14-16).   Yes the Jewish nation had been the salt of the earth and the light on the lampstand showing the world that God was with them as long as they remained faithful to God.  But there were times in their history when they lost favor with God because they no longer acknowledged His commands and God would deal with them harshly.  I guess you could say that they lost their saltiness and were not a good witness for God in the world.  Kind of like the cake and ice cream dessert lost its flavor after a few bites and I just didn’t want any more of it.  Jesus knew that the Jewish people were losing their witness to the world but it didn’t stop Him from trying to rekindle the fire for God in their hearts.  I admire that about Jesus because He didn’t want to see this nation be judged for not recognizing Him as the Son of God.  We can all relate.  I have family and friends that I don’t want to see judged and found unworthy to be in Heaven as I am sure you do as well.  Yet there is little we can do for them except to pray for them and ask God to work in their lives in such a way that they will see Him and hopefully acknowledge Him and repent and become a follower of Jesus.  And yet that is the most powerful thing we can do for them because we are shining light upon them to help them find their way to Jesus and salvation.  We are like the flavoring of salt added to food to give it a good flavor or salt used in preserving meat to be eaten at a later date.  We who follow Jesus and are Christians are the nation that points the way to salvation so don’t lose your flavor or snuff out your light!

I have often thought about how horrible this world would be without the church in it.  Think about it for a moment.  The Christians are the ones who keep goodness in the world.  The Christians are the ones who keep hope alive.  The Christians are the ones who continue to show God’s love to everyone.  The Christian is the one who forgives others and lives a life of forgiveness.  If Christians were removed from the earth, and one day we will be, the world would be a much darker place, a place that would be much more evil and unpleasant.  As much as the world hates Christianity it is the light in us, the saltiness of our faith that keeps goodness and righteousness in this world.  Evil is always dark but God is always light and Christians are shining lights in this world.  We are what holds the flavor of enjoyment in this world.  I just love that, don’t you?  Kindness, forgiveness, and love are taught and are passed on from one generation to another.  Our world needs more Christians passing along kindness, forgiveness, and love I think.

Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Luke 14:34-35, (ESV).

If Christians lose their flavor then they are of no further use to the Kingdom of God.  Salt can’t be restored once it goes flat.  When salt is no longer effective to flavor food or preserve food it has to be thrown away and becomes part of the dirt that covers the earth.  We must keep our faith active and continue to pray and hope and love.  The warning is clear to those who hear it.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.  And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’  For everyone will be salted with fire.  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”  (Mark 9:42-50, (ESV).                                                                       

Yes the warning is clear.  When Christians lose flavor they twist the Gospel into something that is no longer truthful.  That is called heresy and you don’t ever want to be judged as a heretic.  Stay salty and full flavored, don’t lose your flavor dear Christian.  How can we be sure that we are staying salty?  Are you reading the Bible daily?  Are you doing what the Bible says to do?  Are you loving to the people in your life?  Are you looking for ways to show God’s love to those you may never meet here on earth?  Are you attending church and actively participating in the local church as well as in the global church through mission projects?  Do you financially support your local church?  Are you humble and a servant to those around you?  Then you are taking the warning seriously.  Stay flavorful dear Christian and don’t lose your saltiness.

Until next time…Katherine

Random Blog Post – Tyrants

I decided to choose a subject for this post by randomly selecting a book, chapter, and verse in the Old Testament not knowing what I would find and write about it.  I love doing random things like that.  Often I will pick up my Bible and close my eyes open the book and wherever the page lands is where I begin to read.  I had a preacher tell me that this is not good to do when looking for answers to problems.  He may be right, but I enjoy the unexpectedness of what awaits for me to read.  So that is what I did today and look what a gem I have found!

“Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you.  On the day that you were created they were prepared.  “You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.  “By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.  And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.  I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.  “By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries.  Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.  “All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.”’”  Ezekiel 28:12-19, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).

Wow!  Talk about the favored one!  This guy had it all, looks, riches, education, and a great heritage.  Notice how he was wanted and planned for and given everything!  On the day that you were created they were prepared.  “You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there.  He was to be the next king and rule his people from the time he was born and was groomed to be a great leader and then became that king over his kingdom.  He had every advantage possible known to mankind and was even favored by God’s placing him in that family.  Yes, this guy had it all!  But what did he do with it?

We see this in our own world today if we are looking.   A child is born to a rich and famous family and we say they were born with a sliver spoon in their mouth.  They are good-looking just as their parents were good-looking.  They are given the best education money can buy.  They are a great influence on teenagers and are emulated by many.  They are the cream of the crop and so often it isn’t long until they are in rehab for becoming an addict.  We shake our heads and wonder what happened to the kid who had everything and wasted it all.  It is an old story and yet we don’t seem to learn from it.  Have you ever considered the possibility that God intervened and brought them down from that prestigious mountain top?  Hey, if God brought down the King of Tyre way back then and God still exists today then God is probably behind the downfall of the kid born with the silver spoon in his mouth!  You see God is at work in every person’s life.  He is either working in you because you say you want to follow Jesus or He is working in calling you to Jesus.  When you have everything the world lusts after, looks, money, breeding, education, talent and so forth one would think that person would be happy all the time.  But God sees the heart and knows the truth and it isn’t long before the rest of us see the truth too.  Money can’t buy happiness.  Sex can’t bring happiness to the heart.  Power and position can’t bring happiness.  Alcohol and drugs can’t bring happiness.  The truth of the matter is that the world craves happiness above all else but nothing in the world can actually make you happy or sustain happiness for very long.  Only a real and true relationship with God can fill that longing for happiness.  The rich and famous are just like the rest of us, miserable until they accept Jesus Christ into their hearts and minds and lives.

The King of Tyre began to think that he was the power broker and deal maker and the controller of every person’s life through his business dealings.  He thought that he was the architect of all the riches and lavish lifestyle that he lived.  He never gave God any praise for all that he had and had been born into.  In fact the King of Tyre began to think that he was God and that was his biggest mistake!  God will not tolerate this kind of blasphemy for long.  Have you ever thought what happened to leaders in our own time that have thought they were a god?  Where is Hitler?  Where are the Marcos?  Where is Pol Pot?  Where is Gaddafi?  Where is Hussein? Where is Peron?  Where is Salazar?  Where is Ho Chi Minh?  And I could go on and on and on!  Never doubt that the one behind the dictator’s fall from power is God.  God uses the world leaders of the day to break these out-of-control regimes just as He did to the King of Tyre.  God lets the entire world see the evil and watch that evil be trampled to death.  I don’t know about you but I am thankful that God is in control of our world today even though so often we think He isn’t. If I were living in some of the countries who are being brutalized by their own government leaders I would probably be praying for relief soon.  God doesn’t always hurry the way that I would like, but in the end God always wins.  We must never forget that!  Hey!  I wonder if the word tyrant comes from the root word Tyre!  Hmmmm!  It would make sense I suppose!

I think it is important for all of us to see the warning in this passage from the Old Testament.  It isn’t the riches that made the king fall from grace.  It isn’t the privileged birth that made him fall.  It isn’t the good education that made him fall.  It isn’t his parents that made him fall.  What made the King of Tyre fall from his position and kingship is his attitude toward God.  The king replaced God with himself and that is blasphemy and God punishes such an act with death.  We may not be born into a wealthy and privileged family but we can begin to think more of ourselves than we should.  When we believe that everything we have achieved was done by the sweat of our on work and wisdom then our hearts are not giving God credit for all that He has done for us.  It is a dangerous line of thinking and leads only to death.  So let us all thank God for where we were born and what circumstances we were born into and for His help and protection and guidance in our lives.  After all we are where we are and who we are today because of God’s blessings aren’t we?

Until next time…Katherine