Tuesday, June 30, 2020 8:51 PM

Our Freedom Struggles

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 8:51 PM
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 8:51 PM

Independence Day is so much more than fireworks even though they have been part of the celebration since 1777. This day in the United States is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 244 years ago on July 4, 1776 by the Continental Congress. The second paragraph of the Declaration speaks of our freedom. It says, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What is the freedom they speak of? It is the condition of a citizen to live in a free society, but not a lawless society.

In years past, July 4th has been thought of as a time for vacation and fireworks. But things are different this year. Perhaps the state of our nation as we approach Independence Day has caused us all to think deeply about what is at stake. Now more than ever is the time to bow the knee in prayer for the revival of this country that we love. As a people, we Americans have enjoyed our freedom at the expense of those who have gone before us. May we never forget the wars fought, and the lives lost to grant us this freedom. May we have the courage to stand strong in faith and justice.

The Bible talks about freedom. but it does not excuse lawless, ungodly behavior. God gave instructions for how nations were to be governed. But the greatest freedom is that which Paul talks about. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) What he is speaking of is the freedom from the burden of the rigorous demands of the Old Testament Law as the means for gaining God’s favor. This did not represent the freedom given through Christ. In fact, this demand impeded the development of the Christian life.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free exempting us from the penalty of our sinful state. This is explained further in Romans 7:4-6. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” This is not talking about being released from the laws of the nation. It is talking about the laws of the Old Covenant.

Freedom addresses the state of citizenship. We are born as citizens of the country of our birth, but with freedom in Christ, our citizenship is in heaven according to Philippians 3:20. Once we become citizens of heaven through Christ, we are in this world, but not of it because our eternal home will be with Jesus one day. And if we are citizens of Heaven, we should act like it by patterning our lives after Jesus.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:16-17)

Therefore, pray for our nation as never before. Pray for another great awakening to the saving grace of God. We need revival that none should perish but all have peace and eternal life.

BIO: Virginia Grounds has a passion for God’s Word and serving in ministry. That passion is Virginia’s motivation for speaking and teaching women of all ages the wonder their faith journey. Her love for women’s ministry and passion for God’s word have given her success in speaking, teaching and writing for more than thirty years. Learning to live through difficulties and challenges in a way that honors God have given her messages of hope and encouragement for those facing challenges today. You can find out more on her website: www.majesticinspirations.com.

Monday, June 1, 2020 2:30 PM

Go Directly to Jail: Do Not Collect $200

Monday, June 1, 2020 2:30 PM
Monday, June 1, 2020 2:30 PM

I’ve never liked the board game Monopoly.  There’s so much not to like.  First and foremost, I was never any good at it.  Even if I happened to be first to land on valuable property—which I seldom was, I was too cheap to buy it.

I personally find the game extremely boring.  It takes forever to play.  I could watch ten full seasons of “SpongeBob Squarepants”—with commercials—in the time it takes to play a single game.  Around and around the board, and for what?  Financial gain.  Store up wealth with property, houses and hotels and collect from other saps playing along.  Woo-hoo.  

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like I’ve drawn a “Go Directly to Hell” card.  Times like this morning when Lenise, my twenty-two-year-old daughter who has Downs Syndrome, had diarrhea.  She was determined not to sit on the toilet or even get in the bathtub with a handheld showerhead because she wanted to do her business in the jet tub—with the jets on.  

Instead of sitting on the toilet, she ran. The results, diarrhea all over the house. Literally.  In her bedroom.  On the back porch.  In the enclosed patio.  And all over the living room floor where I pinned her down until she stopped purging.  By this time her system was cleaned out so I relented to let her in the big tub.  Score one for Lenise.  

What appears to be a simple procedure actually involved a lot of yelling and screaming prayers for help—both on my part.  I prayed for help in getting Lenise to the guest bathroom and for help resisting the temptation to do serious bodily harm to her.  My latter prayer was answered, but not without yelling and leg slapping.  Again, both on my part.  We were both doused with feces.  The difference being, Lenise was covered externally.  I was minimally contaminated externally, but was internally saturated.   

And so, as with similar times through the course of Lenise’s life, I’ve again felt I’d received the “Go to Hell” card for ungodly display of anger.  Not to mention seriously ugly thoughts I have no wish to disclose.  Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence, but still…  

Yet, this time was vastly different.  In the past, I’d easily fall prey to the feeling like I may go to hell because of these rare episodes.  This time, however, while I received no assistance and no clue as to how to prevent further defilement throughout the house, God handed me a “GET OUT OF HELL, FREE” card.  How?  

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” —2 Corinthians 12:9  

And as King David said, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!” —Psalm 32:1

Though I didn’t like Monopoly, there was one time when I enjoyed playing.  It’s the only time I recall our family playing any game together.  I was nine years old.  My father was the bank keeper.  My brother Alan and I were losing so every now and then Dad slipped money under the table to us.  He was cheating and I loved him for it. 

My heavenly Father is cheated on my behalf, too.  I was lost in sin.  The penalty for sin is death, but God sent His Son, Jesus, to take my place.  His resurrection cheated Satan and the grave.  He continues to cheat death not for me alone, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him.  Even when we fall short, we can come to Him in repentance and receive His loving grace.

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” —Col 1:14

That means we WIN!  We win a victor’s crown of life which makes all the wealth of this world look like phony money.   

My Father cheated death.  And I love Him for it.

BIO: Vivien Chambers spent many of her early years in Tacoma, Washington.  She moved with her husband to Texas in 1981 and now resides in the Fort Worth area.  Vivien has served as a Stephen Minister and presently enjoys volunteering as an assistant in a Multiple Sclerosis swim class.  Vivien is currently working on her first book.  She has five grown children and six grandchildren.

Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM

The Endless Roll of Toilet Paper

Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM
Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to toilet paper shortages and hoarding. Why? Is toilet paper made of silver and gold? Toilet paper is important, but it’s only temporal. It eventually gets flushed down the toilet. This phenomenon reminded me of a sermon I heard several years ago.

Visualize a roll of toilet paper that is unrolled. However, instead of ending, it goes on forever. This is like the timeline of your existence that lasts for eternity.  

Notice that toilet paper is divided into squares. Think of that first square as your time on earth. Assorted brands of toilet paper have different lengths of squares, just like people’s lives on earth have different lengths. The average human life expectancy is 78.6 years. Yet we do not know how long our life will be because it can end at any second. Our bodies will fail. They are temporal like the first square. The world and all its temptations is not anyone’s home forever.

Eternity is much longer than the first square. However, the first square is the most important. Why? Because you get only one chance with the first square. There are no do-overs. Some people don’t realize that what you do in the first square determines what happens to you in eternity. Many people live life partying and sinning and think: I will clean my act up when I get old. This strategy will not work because we are not promised tomorrow. I told my son many times that once you graduate from high school your life speeds up. It’s like stepping on the accelerator of a car. According to Psalm 39:5, You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. Time flies by and is a blip in eternity. The temptations and pleasures of this world are not worth gambling your eternal security.

Ask yourself, Am I storing up treasure in this world or in heaven?  After the Apostle Paul met Jesus, he lived for eternal rewards that last and not for those that will be consumed by fire. He said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:18. Set your sites on salvation and being a citizen of heaven.

Hebrews 9:27-28 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

BIO: Mark Cragle is a blogger and retired Field Sale Engineer. He earned his Mechanical Engineering degree at RIT and worked in that capacity for many years living in upstate New York. Mark is married to his wife Teri and they feel blessed to travel together. They have 2 sons, and daughters-in-law, and 2 adorable grandsons. Mark likes volunteering with special needs kids at his church and advocates for people suffering from brain diseases and injuries. 

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM

Shut-In and Strengthened

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM

No matter where you are today, chances are hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and Lysol spray are nearby. Just days ago, we were minding our own business, making summer plans and looking forward to springtime carelessly. And suddenly, those plans took a disturbing turn where you find yourself held hostage by the cable network news. These networks constantly feed us updates on our dire situation and warn us that we may never leave our homes again. Let’s all scream, STOP!!! Stop feeding our fears and just report the facts, please.

Our homes created to be our safe haven are starting to take on their own personality. The walls are alive and moving closer. The dust is hissing and staring from the ceiling fan. It used to be so well behaved. Sharing space with family members (whom we love dearly) is becoming crowded – gentle reminders of the social distancing policy. If you choose to embrace this thinking, you are in for a very long haul. Is there really any other way to approach this madness?

Let’s face it, we are shut-in and shut-down from our typical hectic and sometimes stressful lives. How do we maneuver our present-day new reality? In times of uncertainty, as believers, our first frame of reference is the Bible. What were the outcomes from Bible figures who found themselves shut-in? If we look to the Bible, we will gain insight into how best to handle our situation. 

Daniel was faithful in serving the living God, refusing to alter his worship in any manner in order to honor King Darius. As a result, Daniel found himself shut-in the lions’ den for destruction. Surely, Daniel was not expected to survive his shut-in period. Daniel, the king, and other men witnessed a truly miraculous experience. God didn’t leave Daniel shut-in with the lions alone. God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and dismissed any harm to Daniel. Did Daniel, the king, or the others anticipate God to reveal His power in such an unprecedented way? Absolutely not. Daniel did not resort to grumbling or complaining about his untimely circumstances. Instead, he humbly trusted God which yielded supernatural protection.

Rahab, a harlot, chose wisely in aligning herself with the spies from Israel. The word spread on how the Lord dried up the Red Sea and permitted the Israelites to cross. Rahab received these words as a powerful truth. Her alignment indicated that she wanted to experience that supernatural power personally. She believed that the Lord’s limitless power was available to her and her family. The spies gave her specific instructions to gather her loved ones, display the scarlet cord and shut-in. Careful adherence to these instructions was the difference between life and death. Rahab followed the instructions precisely. As a result of her obedience during shut-in, lives were spared and faith in the living God was proclaimed.

Daniel and Rahab are speaking to us today. Let our shut-in be an opportunity to experience God’s protection and strengthen our faith. Grumbling, complaining and entertaining discontentment enhance the enemy’s territory. Follow Daniel’s strategy: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action (Dan 11:32). Commit to using your shut-in to becoming a stronger and bolder witness upon your release. Blessings!

BIO: Gwen Burno is the founder of Wisdom & Wellness LLC, an organization that provides sound principles and strategies which equip others to pursue a well-ordered life. In this capacity, she serves as a Life Coach, Ramsey Preferred Financial Coach and Christian Speaker helping others to reach their God-given potential. She is a contributing writer in Stories of Roaring Faith, Volume 3. Her passion is encouraging and supporting others to live intentionally and purposefully according to tried and true principles. Contact Gwen at www.displaystrength.com or gwen@displaystrength.com

Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM

Blunders to Blessings

Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM
Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM

Where is it? I felt along my right side for my little black purse. It wasn’t there! My heart leaped in terror. Where could it be?  I had attended the Christian Bookseller’s Association (CBA) Convention and was now returning home to Texas. Traveling alone in the Orlando International Airport gate area, I was hurrying to the Disney store to buy a gift for my granddaughter when I discovered the missing accessory. Yikes! I must have retrieved my attaché case at Security but not my purse. Will I ever see it again? My credit card, driver’s license, a few dollars?

With pounding pulse, a sickening emptiness, and silent prayers, I ran to catch the people-mover for a ride back to the main airport lobby.  I accidentally boarded the wrong one that took me to the opposite side of the huge reception area. So, I rode back to the gate and found the correct people-mover to my original Security checkpoint---all the time thinking… It will be a miracle if my purse is still there.

When I arrived at Security, I asked the female attendant standing by a desk if she had found a small, black purse. Without hesitating, she reached in a drawer, asked my name, pulled out and opened my purse, examined the drivers’ license, looked at me, and said, “This looks like you. Here’s your purse.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  

The plane now boarding, I stepped onto the correct people-mover and raced to the gate. When I finally took a middle seat with a sigh of relief, I thanked the Lord that I made the flight. A distinguished white-haired gentleman on my left introduced himself as the consultant for Word of Life Press, responsible for selecting materials for Christian publishing in Korea. We engaged in a lively conversation and he expressed interest in what I had brought to CBA. Imagine our thrill several months later when my “Hen Friends” and I were notified that our Courage for the Chicken-Hearted books were being translated and published in Korean.

Romans 8:28 came to mind as I reflected on all my boo-boos that day: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB). It reminded me that when we love God, we can make the best of everything because we want to fit into His plans, fulfill His gracious purposes, and follow Christ.

It is a privilege to serve a loving and compassionate God who is for us. Either directly or indirectly, He can use providential events for our spiritual growth and for His glory. Just as varied ingredients of medications work together for the intended result, the word of God, the Holy Spirit, our own experiences, and the testimonies of other believers prove that God does work all things together for good when we have a heart for Him and want to fulfill His goals. Sometimes the benefit is realized with temporal blessings (like finding my purse), and/or spiritual and eternal joys. Perhaps, through the Scriptures in our chicken books, someone in Korea will be drawn closer to God, introduced to Jesus, become a believer, or expand God’s Kingdom.

I had never lost my purse before and haven’t since, but when I think about that incident, it reminds me that our sovereign God is in charge. He allows divine appointments and causes all things to work together for good if we love Him. He can even turn our blunders into blessings.

 

BIO: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist and a core group leader for Community Bible Study. She is the author of See You Later, Jeffrey and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith and co-author of others.  Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven, a beautiful married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

 

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