Freedom!

We often engage in war to gain freedom.

Freedom was the goal of the American Revolutionary War. Freedom is the reason for our celebration on July 4th. We look back and remember the battles fought for America’s freedom in 1776. Today, we value the freedom experienced by Americans because of these historical battles.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The document declared the 13 American colonies’ freedom from Great Britain. The actual dates for the American Revolutionary War are April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783. However, the British actually surrendered in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Within this time frame, there were many battles fought and countless lives lost. Freedom did not come quickly in 1776. Freedom was costly.

Freedom is our goal in the Medical War of 2020. Freedom from the COVID-19 disease is the ultimate goal. Freedom from the required quarantine and social distancing is the immediate goal we would like to achieve.

The exact dates of this war are unknown. We believe it started early this year. It has not yet ended. Battles have been fought and lives have been lost. Attacks have lessened in some areas but have increased in others. Freedom continues to be costly.

Freedom is the goal of spiritual wars. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Galatians 5:1 declares, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Spiritual freedom is costly. It cost Jesus His life.

Although we may not physically see spiritual warfare, battles are taking place. We may not always be aware of the fighting. However, warfare is occurring in the spirit realm. I Peter 5:8 warns, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The starting date of the war against satan began in the garden of Eden. Spiritual warfare will only end when Christ returns. Revelation 21:4 declares, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Currently, the enemy is always trying to attack. However, we know we will achieve victory. In Isaiah 54:17, the Lord declares, “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.II Thessalonians 3:3 says, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That sounds like war! However, we must remember that we fight spiritually in a unique way. Zechariah 4:6 reveals how these battles are fought and won.Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.

II Corinthians 10:4-5 gives the following description. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

We are given specific uniforms to wear while engaged in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-17 says, ““Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

In Romans 8:37 we have a wonderful promise. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Therefore, we can declare I Corinthians 15:57. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Whatever the nature of warfare, the goal is freedom. Military wars are fought with physical weapons and artillery. Medical wars are fought with proper hand washing and social distancing. Spiritual wars are fought with spiritual weaponry.

As we celebrate the Independence of the United States of America, let us be thankful for freedom. Remember, freedom comes in various forms. However, freedom is not free. It is always costly.

Fathers as Builders

It is my privilege to honor fathers this week. On Sunday, we will be celebrating Father’s Day.

Fathers are builders.

God, our Heavenly Father, created the heavens and the earth. He is a builder.
Joseph, fulfilling the earthly father role for Jesus, was a carpenter. He was a builder.
A husband is the father of his children. He is a builder.

Fathers are biologically builders of families. They are also builders in additional ways.

Providing a pay check is a vital role for fathers as builders. The majority of fathers head to work most weekdays. They invest their time productively to earn a living. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of fathers have struggled to build financially for their families. For many, working from home has presented new challenges. Some dads have experienced a decrease in dollars. Other fathers have lost their source of income.

However, fathers have not quit building. The “stay at home time” required by the coronavirus created opportunities for fathers to build in other areas.

Some fathers have undertaken home construction projects. Hammers and saws have replaced meetings and appointments.

Fathers have taken time to build stronger family ties. Dads have had the opportunity to interact more frequently with family members. Extra time for meaningful conversations. Time to go for family walks. Board games became popular.  Now interactive outdoor games are prevalent. 

Fathers are building deeper relationships with the Lord. Men become better fathers when their relationship with the Heavenly Father is built on a firm foundation. Jesus describes a faithful father in Luke 6:47-48. Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

With the Lord as the Master Builder, biological fathers will succeed as builders of families and homes. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Through scripture, dads obtain the blueprints and plans from their Heavenly Father.

God builds men to be fathers of faith – not just fathers of finances. Fathers who have faith firmly built upon a relationship with the Lord are able to provide positive construction and instruction for their families. The role of being a faithful father (a father full of faith) is just as essential as being a financial father for the building of a family.

Jude 20 says, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.It is interesting that the Greek meaning of “to build” is “to build a home.” Marilyn Hickey says, “One of the ways we allow the Holy Spirit to make a home within us is by praying in the Spirit.” By allowing the Holy Spirit to live in their lives, fathers are able to build better foundations and homes for their families.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a builder as “a person whose job it is to make buildings.” Yes, fathers are builders. However, they build something more valuable than buildings made of lumber and bricks. They are builders who help shape the lives of loves ones. Their time and energy, as well as money, is well invested.

Happy Father’s Day!

Let’s Remember on Memorial Day

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:5

Memorial Day is an American holiday observed the last Monday in May.  It is a day to remember men and women who died while serving in the military. May we never forget to honor these special people who have given their lives for our country!

Unfortunately, many of us have allowed this holiday to become merely a three-day weekend with a reason for a picnic. This year, large picnic gatherings are being discouraged because of the continued need for social distancing caused by COVID-19. I challenge all of us to take more time to remember those who have died for our nation.

The history of Memorial Day is complex and includes many myths – some true and some false. However, we do know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was started following the Civil War. The graves of those who lost their lives during this war were decorated with flowers. Soldiers were remembered.

The reason for this holiday was a war fought on our soil. However, most wars taking the lives of our military men and women have been fought on foreign land. We can go back as far as World Wars I and II. Or, we can remember more current wars as the Iraqi War and ongoing battles in countries like Afghanistan. Currently, we are engaged in a different type of warfare – a medical war. It is fought throughout our homeland as well as around the world.

Today, I want to pay tribute to those who have become warriors during this medical war. Too many soldiers (patients) have lost their lives during their personal battle with the coronavirus. The statistics continue to change regarding the number of lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many new graves in cemeteries. Some bodies have not yet been buried. We weep with the families who have lost loved ones.

Additional soldiers have fought the fight and conquered the disease. With them, we shout hallelujah! Others are still in the midst of the battle trying to overcome the virus’ affects upon their bodies. As these warriors fight for their next breath, we breathe a prayer to God for their healing.

Our medical militia is huge. Staffs of hospitals and nursing homes are soldiers who line up for duty every day. We salute doctors, nurses, aides, cleaning workers, etc. Also on the front lines are our first responders. We express our thanks to these workers who place themselves in harm’s way!

As we approach Memorial Day, let us focus upon its purpose and meaning. Maybe we should think about this holiday’s original name – Decoration Day. Decorate the graves of those who have served in our United States military. Honor both the living and the dead. Place wreaths upon the graves of loved ones who have gone before us whether they served in our Armed Forces or not.

Elevation Worship has recorded the worship song Graves into Gardens. One line of the lyrics says, “You (God) turn graves into garden.” Ultimately, God is the One who truly turns graves into gardens. However, let us turn cemetery graves into floral gardens. It is an honor to recognize those who have given their lives for our nation. It is a privilege to remember our heritage.

 

Multipurpose Moms

MOM (a shortened version of Mother)

MOM (a female parent)

MOM (a woman’s relationship to her child)

MOM (written left to right) – MOM (written right to left)

MOM (letters right side up) – WOW (letters upside down)

WOW is a wonderful expletive to describe MOM!

MOM is more than a 3 letter word.

MOM is more than a dictionary’s definition.

MOM is a person who loves.

MOM is a person who gives and gives and gives.

MOM is an energizer bunny.

The roles and responsibilities of MOM have increased in the past couple of months. Being quarantined in our homes has placed new demands upon moms. Moms are definitely multipurpose moms today!

Healthcare moms have added responsibilities at work and at home. As nurses and doctors, they often find themselves in the COVID-19 atmosphere. More exposure – more stress – longer work hours. When they are finally able to go home, the atmosphere has changed there as well. A spouse working from home – children not in school – more chaos and more things to do.

Stay at home moms may be used to putting things in place around the house after most family members leave for work and school. With schools closed and husbands working from home, it is different. Family members do not stay in the place Mom put them. They are running around and placing other demands upon mothers and wives.

Homeschool moms is a title bestowed upon more mothers than ever before. Children who ordinarily attend a public or private school, now require homeschooling. These moms may not have a diploma stating qualifications to teach academics, but they are doing it.

Moms in the public workforce are common today. Some women feel they are better moms when they engage in a professional job eight hours a day. They need the challenge of a professional job. Now these women may be required to work from home. No longer are they surrounded by colleagues and business partners. Now they are surrounded by children while navigating the challenges of working from home.

Single moms may feel more alone than ever. If they live from pay check to pay check, their income may have diminished or disappeared. Their children clamor for attention, and yet there is no one to give these moms any attention. Responsibilities abound while rest diminishes.

My list of significant multipurpose moms is not complete. I challenge you to create a description of your MOM worthy of WOW.

I consider Proverbs 31:28-30 to be God’s WOW to all women who are honored with the name MOM.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband praises her as well:
Many daughters have done noble things,
but you surpass them all!
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Happy Mother’s Day! MOM, you deserve a WOW!

Don’t Get Stuck on Friday

Don’t get stuck on Friday” is a quote I recently read online. I cannot find it again to give proper credit. However, it has remained in my mind.

Imagine yourself in the presence of Jesus over 2000 years ago. You travel with Jesus to Jerusalem. You shout Hosanna with the crowd. You wave palm branches. You celebrate the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples in the upper room. Jesus asks you to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hopefully, you do not fall asleep. You may stand around the fire with Peter to keep warm. Will you deny knowing Jesus? Will you be in the crowd along the road as Jesus stumbles towards Golgotha? Will He ask you to help Him carry the cross? Will you cover your ears to prevent hearing the hammer pounding the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet?

Matthew 27:45 says, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.During these hours, Jesus hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world. The darkness of the world.

Do you feel like you are currently surrounded by darkness? Maybe you have recently experienced the death of someone close to you. Possibly your future looks dark because everything is your world has been turned upside down and you do not know which way to turn. Lots of darkness, discouragement and disappointment.

Don’t get stuck in the darkness of Friday. Unplug the ears you covered while the nails were being pounded into Jesus’ hands and feet. Hear Him cry, “It is finished.”

Move on to Sunday. Go with the women to the tomb. See the stone rolled away. Enter the empty tomb with Peter and John. Look at the linen burial cloths folded and laid aside. Discover for yourself that Jesus has risen! Discover He is alive! Shout hallelujah!

Hear Jesus speak the words of John 11:25-26 to you personally. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.”

Grasp the truth of Romans 8:11. “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”

These are the truths in which you can walk. But stop for a minute and look at your present situation again.

If you are mourning the loss of someone, can you find comfort knowing this person is now in the presence of Jesus? Hear Jesus say the words of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are (you) who mourn, for (you) will be comforted.” If the days ahead look dark for you because of uncertainty, be assured that Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Do you remember Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10? “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” During this COVID-19 outbreak, you are participating in Christ’s suffering. But there is life beyond the suffering. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to you. Embrace this power. Celebrate the resurrection power.

When I previously quoted John 11:25-26 declaring Jesus as the resurrection and the life, I omitted a question at the end. Jesus asks, “Do you believe this?”

I ask you this question right now. If you answer yes, then the assurance of eternal life and resurrection power belong to you. If you answer no, let me share a little more with you.

The darkness of Friday you are experiencing is the darkness of sin. Romans 3:23 tells you and me, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This cleansing allows you to move from Friday to Sunday. Then the promise of eternal life is yours.

Open wide your heart to Jesus. Accept Him as your personal savior, and experience I Peter 1:8-9, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Resurrection Sunday is coming. Together, let us shout “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

A Challenge:

With gratitude in your heart, read the various gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Possibly begin with Luke 19:28-24:12. Expect to gain fresh insight.

This year, our Resurrection Sunday celebrations will be a little different. Our hallelujahs will not be confined to the four walls of our churches. Instead, let us shout “Christ is risen” from the doorways of our homes. Declare Jesus’ victory over sin and death to the world around you. Someone who has not previously heard this wonderful story may hear you proclaim “Christ is risen! and want to know more. Share the story of Jesus Christ.