LUKE SIX – BLESSED WORDS

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READ LUKE SIX
This chapter is filled with so much meat. It begins by discussing the Pharisees insistence on not working on the Sabbath. Such things as eating some gathered corn from the field or healing the sick from their infirmity were considered labor by the elders of the church. Jesus quickly set them straight by stating that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. Those words must’ve stung deeply, as they were seen as a threat to the church itself.

By this time, Jesus had chosen all twelve of His disciples. They indeed were helpful to His ministry, as many of our own church elders can be of help to our officiating pastors. Jesus was a man and because of that He got tired and hungry. He needed time to pray, to rest and take nourishment just like we do. On the other hand, He is also God and could’ve easily provided for those needs, but it wasn’t part of His mission on earth.

We see in this chapter that Jesus prayed a lot. As our example, we can glean much from this. God is available to hear our prayers at a moment’s notice. We don’t always take advantage of that.

Jesus and his band of disciples covered a lot of territory. The crowds were growing. People came to be healed, out of curiosity and because the message was one they had longed to hear.

The Beatitudes are listed in this chapter. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” was one of them. These were akin to the proverbs of old, but they carried an entirely new meaning. He said things like, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  These words were foreign to them, but they certainly held their attention.

Jesus must’ve been an exemplary speaker. His voice would have to carry to great lengths to reach the many in His audience. Imagine the voice of God speaking directly to them and us. He was nothing extraordinary to look at, yet he commanded the crowds. When He told them not to judge others, but to forgive them as we will be forgiven. He told them to be good fruit and to build their lives on the foundation of God. By doing so they would not be shaken.

Jesus was bringing that foundation back to the people. He came to establish His kingdom in our hearts. Let us continually stay rooted in His Word so we continue to flourish and spread the Good News of salvation to all people.

We are definitely living in troubled times.  The church is being attacked on a daily basis.  The devil is using every tool in his toolbox to take advantage of us.  Don’t let Him in.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

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The feminist movement did great things for women.  It allowed them to leave the ties of housekeeping behind and venture into a whole new world.  It was a world which challenged their abilities, their brain power, their industriousness, their ingenuity, their organizational skills, their talent and their compassion.

Yes, I said compassion.  Now where in the world does that word fit into the world of commerce?  Up until then, compassion was woven into the fabric of nursing or caring for others.  The corporate world was and still is, filled with money driven men who were trying to change the world.  Not a lot of compassion was necessary  When women became part of that world, things changed a lot.

In the beginning men said women’s place was in the home, raising a family, tending to the chores of the day and caring for her husband.  The game was on.  Women started attending colleges for things other than secretarial or medical skills.  They proved that they could work under pressure and handle the stress of corporate life.  It wasn’t an easy road, because these same women still had the responsibilities of running a home, but they managed to do both.

Today women are deeply imbedded into politics.  They hold positions of power in the medical field, the corporate world, high finance and industry.  They have proven to be equal to men, but still fight the battle of equal pay. I’m sure that day isn’t far off

In the process, families have become accustomed to both parents working.   The material things that were put on the back burner until they could be paid for are now staples in most homes.  The home fires still burn, but most of the management of that place is being carried out by hired workers.

In the meantime, women have become equal with men.  In my opinion, they always were in God’s eyes.  Woman was created to be a partner for man.  I’m sure there are statistics that prove that men are the hunter/gatherers and women, the caregivers, simply because of the way they are made up physically.  Women are sensitive, intuitive and have the ability to listen.  The tenderness of their hearts is something that continues to exist, even though they try to put on an armor of toughness.  Women cry.  Yes, so do men, but women seem to do it more often.

As women take on some of the roles of their counterparts, they’re expected to be tough,  put their emotions aside and act like a man.  However, even in a society that wishes to determine their own gender, men are men and women are women.  The differences were designed to compliment each other.

Women do have a softer side.  Our emotions are often worn on our sleeves.  Our compassion is evident in the way we work with others and live with them and should be considered a medal of honor.  It’s not an attack on your character to say you can cry if you need to.  There will be days when the pressure of work gets in the way of family – when the demands of travel take you from those you love – when the extra hours of work keep you from kissing your children goodnight.  It’s OK to feel bad about those things.

God made tears for a purpose.  They come out when we grieve, when we’re frustrated or angry and even when we’re happy. The silent tears you pour into your pillow each night do not go unnoticed.

There’s someone who understands those feelings.  Jesus wept.  He knows all about sorrow.  He understands our pain.  He is also our comforter.  He hears our prayers and dries our tears, but He allows us to  bring all our burdens to Him, so he can carry them for us.

 

 

 

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WISDOM

” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Proverbs 9:10

Dear, Lord,

You know all things.  Nothing is hidden from you. You are the only consistent in our lives.  I pray that you guide our leaders to proceed with dignity and fairness.  Two people have been dragged through the mud and may never recover from what’s happened over the past few weeks.  Please give the men and women in the position of passing judgment, the wisdom to do your will.  Help us all to accept what is happening and what will happen because of these events.  You are also with every one of us. You’ve judged each of us with fairness and abundance of grace, giving us a freedom we don’t deserve.  May your Word be upheld.  May your will be done, in Jesus name.  Amen!

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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HOW’S YOUR BACKBONE?

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Paul & I like to watch old western movies. John Wayne always comes to mind.  His role in the movie, “True Grit,” as Rooster Cogburn, a washed up lawman was kind of a testimony to the drive we can achieve through perseverance and courage .  The real hero of the story was Mattie Ross, a young woman determined to find her father’s murderer and bring him to justice.  She hires Cogburn to do the job.  The whiskey swilling, black eye patched, worn out old cowboy needs a kick in the pants to get him motivated.  Many of us are like Rooster.

Like most people with a strong backbone, they eventually become a squeaky wheel, which requires attention.  In other words a pain in the neck.  However, without squeaky wheels nothing would ever get done and the required attention often leads to the falling off of the wheel.

The world is full of a lot of unhappiness and many people aren’t even sure they will have enough money to make it to the next pay check – if there is one. The economy seems like it’s in the pits. Work is hard to find. We’re faced with illness, death and depression. Our world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket and hope is quickly dwindling.

So what’s a person to do? We could throw up our hands in despair. We could moan and complain about our problems. We could drown our sorrows with alcohol or drugs. Or we could go to our heavenly Father and ask for His help.

For those of us who are too stubborn and feel that we can handle this life on our own, let me remind you that God has invited us to call on Him in every trouble.  Maybe if we didn’t wait so long to communicate with Him, the troubles would lessen, but I believe that God allows them so that we know He’s there to help. When things get tough, we should arm ourselves with the breastplate of righteousness and get tough too. God will give us the stamina, the resources, the promise, the Savior, the right path, the answers and the grace.  He alone can get us back on track.

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NEVER SAY NEVER

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You’re born into an ordinary life to people of little means.  You have barely gotten to know your mother’s face when she has been torn from you.  Your tiny body is given up by her in order to save you from death.

Your life changes drastically as you are adopted into a wealthy family.  You grow up in luxury – learn things you never would have been afforded before – grow into a physically strong individual – have power you never dreamed of.

As you mature into a young adult you see the injustices that surround you.  They tug at your heart.   You feel helpless and yet being exposed to so much wrongdoing sets you on fire.  You witness a young man being unjustly bludgeoned by another and intercede.  In the process, you take the aggressor’s life.

What you do next makes you appear a coward to those you leave behind.  You run away.  You hide for many years without apprehension.  You change your identity – try to fit in – find a new life.  You try to forget your past, but it soon catches up with you.  You are no longer a vibrant, young adult.  Time has weathered you.

You’re called upon to go back and rescue your native people from a tyrannical government.  You ask yourself – Why me?  If I go back,  they’ll discover who I am and throw me in jail.  I can’t do this! Send someone else.

The man in this scenario is Moses, but it could be any one of us.  The One asking him was God Himself.  God assured Moses that He would be with Him – He would even provide the right words for him to get the job done.

How often do we think we have things figured out?  We’re content with things as they are.  We make excuses – we procrastinate – we say no.

God doesn’t take no for an answer.  When He calls on us to do His work, He also promises to be with us in every way – giving us the right words, leading us and protecting us.

Lord, when I feel satisfied with my life, you invite me to take a closer look.  Examine my heart and use me in whatever way you have left for me to do.  You are my God and I can do anything with you.  Amen!

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IT’S ALL ABOUT STATUES

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Every day it’s something new, but is it really?  In the last few weeks we’ve heard about the demolishing or desecration of statues and images of those who were memorialized for their accomplishments.  Some would argue that statues are simply images or representations and there really is no need for them.  Some believe they are creating a negative influence over the people that were hurt in some way by the image.  They are nothing but bronze and stone.  There is no life in them.

God told His people not to have  graven images when he wrote the Ten Commandments.  However He was talking about images that were being worshiped as gods.

There was once a king who determined that he was a god.  The fact that he deemed himself worthy of such honor, demanded a golden image of himself be created.  It was also mandated that the people would bow down and worship him as a god.  This was the kind of graven image God was talking about.

There were three Hebrew slaves that refused to bow down to the statue.  Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  The book of Daniel, Chapter 3 is the source of this story of faith.  They refused to worship the idol. When King Nebuchadnezzar heard of this disobedience, he sent them to the fiery furnace to be incinerated.

This story is one we probably all heard in Sunday school.  It’s one of those stories that seems filled with impossibilities.  It could be another super hero story that kids seem to love.  It has all the elements.  These three young men were sentenced to certain death.  They were not afraid.  They were willing to die for their beliefs.  They walked to their death convinced that their God would rescue them and even if they died they would never disobey Him.  Their faith is what brought them through the flames and heat.  Their God would not fail them.  He stood with them in that furnace and cooled the raging fire around them, making it possible for them to survive.

The results of this miracle caused the king to set out a decree:

“Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”  Daniel 3:29

Obviously the king was a pretty violent guy, but the fact of this story is that he saw the power of the true God and was moved to acknowledge Him.

This is a great lesson in faith.  Our faith is what draws us to our Savior.  His Spirit works in us through that faith and we are bound to God, the Father because of it.

There is no other God.

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WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

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JOB 37:14-16   “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?  Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge.”

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AGING FOR THOSE WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR

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I’m currently in the process of brainstorming, which could be dangerous for a 78 year old woman.  The storming of my brain is nothing new, but the subject matter has changed over time.  I used to write about funny parenting issues, like watching your toddlers cut each others’ hair, spray paint the dog or sending some foreign object down the toilet.

Now the brainstorming is taking place with a group of 4 women and one man, whose ages span four decades.  We’re collaborating on a series of plays that will deal with aging issues like keeping your sense of humor – online dating – technology in general – health issues – hearing, sight and memory loss – death and illness – addiction – and many things that plague us as we age.

These sessions have been therapeutic in a number of ways.  First of all, sharing some of our experiences with all these issues has led to laughter which spawned tears of joy,  We’re also using our collaborative efforts to do something productive  – something that will bring joy to others.  The stories that the five of us have shared are enough to keep something like this going for several years.

Blending a number of brains full of creative thought and wonderfully funny memories will often bring out the best in us.  You don’t even have to be old to participate.  Every one has at least one funny story in their memory.  Now with all the technology, the sky is the limit.

OK, we’re aging gracefully, but there has to be a certain amount of fun in the process.  Yesterday I was in the midst of a pity party, because the weather in Minnesota resembles that in Orlando – only we aren’t used to tropical dewpoints here.  I cannot breathe when the humidity is high, so I must stay inside and breathe air conditioned air. If I go outside I must wear a mask, which doesn’t allow me to breathe.  Did I mention that I have breathing problems?

Add that to the fact that there’s plenty I could be doing inside, but I long to be outside working on our beautiful garden.  I was also feeling sad because of the state of the world.  I’ve had it up to the top of my five foot height with stories of COVID19 spiking again.  I don’t want to hear what’s happening on the news.  I felt sorry for myself because my aging has settled into my body and lack of exercise has added back all the weight I lost at the end of last year.

I’m also losing my hearing and my husband has to repeat himself more often than not.  This has also created some interesting stories – like the night Paul called me to the window to see our neighbor mowing in the dark.  I thought he said the guy was glowing in the dark.

All of those things could be a recipe for depression. If I let it, I’ll descend into a pit of despair.  Instead I’ll use my ability to recall things from the past and make light of every one of them.  Life is too short to feel sorry for yourself.  Actually, I’m too short.

2nd Corinthians 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

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A WOMAN OF CHARACTER

 

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As women who follow the Word of God, we have the power to overcome obstacles unknown.  We have a life partner in Jesus, Christ, who with the Father and Holy Spirit, knit us together in our mother’s womb.  The Triune God is responsible for your being.  He will never let you go. He loves you with an unconditional love, in spite of your waywardness and failures.  He has paid a great price for you to be a part of His kingdom.

Trust Him with all your heart.  Never let Him go, as He will never leave you.  Feel His strength, protection and power over all your enemies.  Don’t underestimate any part of Him.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  He’s planned a perfect life for you, both here and in eternity.  There’s no cost other than that you give Him your heart.

Love Him as He has so richly loved and blessed you.  Don’t be afraid of the world, for He has already conquered it.  He made it and all things within it.  You are a treasure to Him and He is willing to give His life for you.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.  Proverbs 31:30 & 31

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ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER . . .

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In the nineteen twenties, American women had the right to vote in their first election.  They voiced their desire for better education and health care,  Sexual freedom was the talk of the day.  Gangsters ruled large cities as they trafficked in illegal drugs, alcohol and prostitution.  They ruled with an iron fist and the growing Mafia became untouchable until Elliot Ness came along.

Policemen were on the take.  There was corruption in the government and in law enforcement.  It seemed everyone could be bought for a price.  This time in history led to the jazz age.  Great music was created.  There was a little more money in the family till, allowing for excesses like the refrigerator, the stove, the first national broadcast on the radio and most important – the automobile.

Servicemen returned from battle in World War One determined to start a new and better life.  The world was in the final wave of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.  The economy was beginning to pick up again and people were spending money. There was discontent in the northern states as African Americans moved up from the south.  Segregation was rampant and many northerners joined the Ku Klux Klan.  In the beginning of this decade, it was all about freedom, starting over and money.  Ten years later would lead to the Great Depression and the downfall of the economy.

Pandemics and protests seem to walk hand in hand.  People, when isolated from others, tend to get testy.  Anger festers.  Tempers flare.  When you spend every waking hour alone with family, your mind begins to play tricks on you.  Reason often takes a back seat.

What I’m saying here, is that history often repeats itself.  We seem to be doing a good job of that one hundred years later.  We can also learn a lot from the past and what it represents for our future.

We’ve been subjected to an unknown disease that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  We’ve been forced fed on conspiracy theories and political innuendos. We’ve been kept from our places of worship.  We can’t gather more than fifty people at a time without being socially distanced.  Rules that we don’t especially like are causing us to be careless.

This should be a time of restoration and healing rather than division and more dissension.  Times change, but minds and hearts are much the same as they were at the very beginning of ages.  Instead of dwelling on the ugly parts of all of this, let’s place our trust in Almighty God to bring us through it.  There are many new opportunities arising because of the events of the last six months or more.  Rather than letting them fester in our minds and become another reason to become depressed, let’s look for answers.

When this is all over, we can be sure that God will not have changed.  He is the only consistent being in our realm.  He is in control.  He will answer our prayers.  He will lead us if we let Him.  It’s time to be still and know His great might.

 

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ONCE UPON A TIME

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This post was written shortly after Memorial Day, 2020, beginning the summer of our discontent.

The climate was right.  Summer heat had overtaken the city.  It was a holiday – a day of remembrance for those who had died defending their fellow man. In one part of the city, a white man, hired to serve his community, subdued a black man and placed his knee on the man’s throat. The man died.  The city roared in anger at this injustice.  Their anger turned to rage and spread throughout the community of those already cloistered from the normality of life.

Again we watched from the comfort of our homes as city streets filled with protesters – walking arm in arm and side by side.  There was no social distancing.  There were masks, but were they being used to shield others from a deadly disease or as a means of disguising who they were?  The crowds gathered at first to protest peacefully.  It was a right given them by the law of the land.

As happens when crowds gather and are incited by others to do violence, the protests turned ugly and the city went up in flames.  Shops were looted.  Items from those stores were carried off or destroyed.  Glass crumbled under the hands and feet of violent people who had been stirred to make the most of a bad situation.  The cause was no longer just.  The man who lay dead could not come back to life because of it.  The man who killed him would not be judged fairly because of it.  The deed had already been done.

For days the violence continued.  Some said it was a plot to undermine the country and eventually start another civil war.  Some blamed the white race for their inaction. Others blamed the blacks.  Some blamed the law enforcers.  Others pointed fingers at the lawmakers and elected officials.  All of them pointed fingers away from themselves.

Eventually the violent behavior spread out across the entire land.  No longer were they confined to their homes.  They left their cocoons and took on what they deemed a righteous war.  All the years of oppression had culminated into another battle.  Cries for justice; hands raised in solidarity; the call of resistance against current laws and complacency screamed loudly in the night sky.   Flames encompassing businesses that once thrived in these neighborhoods and burned them into ashes..

Barricades were set to protect those behind them.  Troops entered the city.  The presence of military uniforms mingled with those of local law enforcement.  Streets filled with more and more voices and cries for justice.

The people wondered if this would ever end.  Would they continue to be held captive in their homes?  Would the disease again rise because so many were blind to the restrictions?  Would there be another catastrophe on the next day?  In their secret places, many cried out to God.  They begged for mercy on an evil world.  Some blamed God for all the tragedies that were unfolding before their eyes.  They cried tears of pain, loss, anger.  They hugged each other as if it was the last time they would do so. None of it would change what had occurred.

They went to sleep wondering if they would have a world to wake up to.  Even though the sounds of random fireworks blasted through the evening sky, they went to sleep hearing cries for justice and peace and yet there would be none.

This was just the beginning.

 

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SKY, CLOUDS & WATER

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

 

A quiet, steamy morning – the wind not yet ready to hit the sails,

An ominous sky of pink tinged clouds hanging low over the still water,

Some of the boats stand anchored in the harbor while others push off to find adventure.

Where will the wind take them when once it opens billowy canvases of white?

Steam rises from heat filled waters – not a whisper of wind,

The waiting can be forever, but when the first gust fills the sails the power of God is made known.

Off to the highway of the sea.

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DON’T MESS WITH MR. IN BETWEEN

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It was 1945.  I was only three years old and didn’t know much about war.  I didn’t understand hate.  I didn’t know what it was all about, but I did love the music of that time period.  My parents both had wonderful voices and knew all the song lyrics of the era.  They sang along with them as the big bands pushed their way through our old console radio.

That radio was the source of the entertainment in our home for many years.  We’d sit and watch as the green light became visible.  We sat waiting in anticipation for stories about the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet and Inner Sanctum – which truly scared me to death.

Because of the seemingly endless war, we’d also listen to the news, but a three year old couldn’t make sense of any of it.  My world was filled mostly with happy thoughts.  I was queen of the house by then and had everyone eating out of my hand.

There was one song, written by Johnny Mercer, that stuck in my brain and carried me through some tougher times as my little life grew up.  The positive influence in our lives can come from many different things. We can be affected by people who have great ideas and high ambition. We might be influenced by a mentor who shows us our own talents. We could also be won over by someone with beauty or wisdom.

The song tells us to eliminate the negative which could be anything that turns us off. It could also be an opinion, a thought, an attitude or something we do. Messing with Mr. In Between is probably not wise because you aren’t really taking a stand one way or the other.

Hatred and anger are things we learn as grow.  Those negative feelings aren’t there the minute we come out of the womb. They’re nurtured and fed by those who surround us and what we’re exposed to.  Those emotions, just like love and joy, must be learned.  If we get steeped in the negative, we’ll surely fall closer to Mr. In Between and further from our Heavenly Father.

There is no in between when you’re committed to the Word of God. You either believe it or you don’t. So, you’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum, bring gloom down to the minimum. Have faith, or pandemonium’s liable to walk upon the scene.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”                               Helen Keller

 

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AMERICA – MORE THAN A NATION

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We have come through another year of birthday celebrations for our nation.  This one was not the usual party.  Our nation has been in the midst of more growing pains as the corona virus struck all of us, giving us time to think about important things and to care about each other again.  Somehow that caring turned angry and impatience and intolerance reared its ugly head.

In a year which man would like to forget, 2020 has had its share of insanity.  A congress has been engaged in a period of three and a half years of investigating a president they cannot accept as the elected voice of the people.  Impeachment hearings were held which seemed designed as the epitome of this discontent.

A virus caused lockdowns in almost every state.  A typical quarantine usually requires 14 days in isolation, but this one has caused further division instead of bringing us together.  A black man was unjustly held captive by a white police officer and he died, causing the police officer to be arrested for murder.  Protests broke out.  The anger of many years again reared its head.  Agitators turned peaceful protests into mob insanity and destruction of property, businesses and the very community that was protesting resulted.

Each day, I wake up wondering what will happen next.  Each day there is another act of violence, injustice, hate, unlawful behavior and more and more stirring the pot.  Each piece of the gigantic puzzle only pulls the pieces further and further apart and there is no sense to be made of it.

The day in which we celebrate our independence from England was devoid of parades.  There were few backyard gatherings.  The heat may have forced those gatherings inside, but the freedom to go to the beach or gather in marches of protest was not hindered.  The fireworks were not organized – more like I imagine the sounds of excitement in 1776 when the declaration was signed and finally we’d become an independent nation.  There were probably sounds of gunfire into the air rather than the explosive, colorful displays we’ve become accustomed to on the fourth of July.  The fireworks went on well into the night in my neighborhood.  Not the spectacular kind, but the very noisy, booming kind.

Now the sounds are silent and so are the loud, angry voices, but they will return.  This is America.  We have the right to protest.  We have the freedom to speak as we choose.  We can worship in our own way, share good times and bad with our neighbors and vote for the people we deem fit for office.  We can grow a small business into a larger more successful one.  We can rise out of poverty with ingenuity and hard work. These along with many others are our rights as citizens of this great country.

There still remains a remnant of those who choose to love this country even in bad times.  We know the cost endured to keep our freedoms and create new ones.  We know about the blood shed in her defense.  We realize that nothing on the face of this earth is perfect, but we remain committed to this country because it’s more than just a country.  It’s an idea – an action – a place to be proud of and I am proud to call her mine.  May God continue to bless America and her people.  Only He can do so.

 

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GOD BLESS AMERICA

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Freedom is a word being catapulted about like a ball of fire lately.  This being a day celebrating our independence from England will lack fireworks, but the celebration of our nation will not die.  For almost 250 years, this fledgling country has had its share of problems, but the American spirit is not yet dead.

As we continue as a nation, we must again become united in our thinking.  We need to remember the lives it cost to make America what it has become – a place where those who live elsewhere are doing whatever they can to become one of its citizens.  We need to set aside the differences which divide us and move forward.  We should never forget those differences, for they are what make us strong.  Through unity we were founded and coming together again is what will keep us going.

God bless America.

 

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

American I am proud to be 🇺🇸

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INDEPENDENCE

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We recently went through the tedious process of setting up a new internet and cable network.  That in itself was a feat beyond compare for those of us in our 70s.  If it has anything to do with technology, us old fogies are faced with a whole new realm of intelligence.  We’re used to knowing why things do what they do and how they work in order to know how to use them.  Today, you simply press a button and you’re in another dimension.  Too bad there isn’t a button that carries us off to another planet, but I digress.

Now that we have this fancy network, we can plug into all kinds of shows from the past – like the History channel when it actually had great stories about history.  I recently watched a documentary about the first settlers in this country.  They were people of various religious backgrounds, their skin colors were varied, their education went from those who had none to those who were well learned.

America has always been considered a melting pot of nations.  We continue to be so as hoards of would be immigrants long to become citizens.  What is it about America that draws so many to her shores and borders?

Some believe it’s because of the “American dream,” which many now believe has turned into a nightmare of sorts.  I say that dream will never die unless the people of our country let it.  This land of plenty will remain so only if we continue to believe in it and are willing to fight for it.

The restrictions of our lockdowns are lessening, but this time of wandering in the wilderness has given us even more opportunities.  The spirit of ingenuity is alive and well as new inventions are already coming on the market to deal with times like these. Necessity will always be the mother of invention and America knows how to adapt.  We’ve been doing it for almost 400 years.

We are a nation of many races, religions and creeds, yet there is something that unites us.  It has nothing to do with which political party you belong to.  It really doesn’t concern our congress or our senate.  Those groups have been in the way since the beginning.  What makes America great is the people.  Not only do we have the ability to speak out for and against injustice, but our voice is still heard.  Peaceful protests are still allowed.  People can choose to be part of the political scene by running for office.  Men and women can set up small business and grow them into large corporations.  Non-profit organizations can flourish.  Churches, synagogues, mosques are still available.  We can actually pull ourselves out of  poverty without the help of government assistance. We are free to do what we please, within the limits of the law.

I know a lot of people look at America and say she’s finished.  I still have a great love for my country.  I will honor the flag.  I will stand for the National Anthem.  I will cry a little when I see the formality of a color guard as it passes by.  I’m still and always be proud to be an American.

“If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!”  Victor Hugo

I for one don’t wish to be damned, so I will continue to speak out for my country, even though I may meet with opposition.

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THROUGH MY WINDOW

A journey through a crystal pane of light and glorious sun,

Separated by a wall that’s conceived within my mind,

A longing leads my heart into a place where I can run,

A place to hide, to bear my soul, a place I’ll never find.

 

I wander through this wilderness, surrounded by my fears,

I close the world outside my door and let no others in,

The days go by and swiftly ebb, though dreams may dry my tears,

I will not capture peace until the Lord comes back again.

 

In His magnificent glory, He’ll cut right through the clouds,

His angels will encircle Him, the saints are at His side,

They sing their loud alleluias and shout His name out loud,

My fears will melt, my heart will soar, with Him I’ll now abide.

 

 

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WE HAVE A CHOICE

OIP

We never seem to outgrow fear.  It’s an emotion that carries with it the scars of a lifetime.  It’s something that grows with the years.  Add our prejudices, anger, our negativity and our selfishness to it and we have a powder keg that can ignite a mob – infect a society and destroy a nation.

On the other hand, when we crush our fear, we can press on; start over; renew and rebuild.  Releasing ourselves from our fears allows us to do that. The choice is ours.  We can choose to be living on the edge or moving forward.

Fear comes in all sizes and shapes.  We may have been bit by a spider and now are terrified of the tiny insect.  We might have experienced some kind of abuse as a child and now have difficulty with relationships.  Fear can manifest itself in countless ways, but there is a remedy for this terror.  A stronghold is ours for the taking if we just ask God to be our protector.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize there is much more to life if we can overcome our fears.

Don’t let what’s happening in our world frighten you.  Sure, there’s plenty negative news.  Don’t read it or listen to it.  Sure there’s a pandemic that doesn’t want to die.  Wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid face to face contact.  Sure the sky is falling, but we have absolutely no control over that.  Instead put your faith in the only One who can overcome all fears.

It’s a choice.  We can be consumed with all the evil of this time.  We can fall victim to the press and our governing officials. We can buy into every conspiracy theory out there.  We can fear there won’t be a chance for our children and grandchildren to know the America we once knew.  Those are real fears., but if our focus is such that it takes away any joy for living, there is no hope. We can’t allow that to happen.

I choose the Lord, God, of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob – the One and only God, Creator of the universe – my Redeemer and Comforter – my Salvation and Hope in all situations.  What’s your choice?

 

 

 

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OBEDIENCE

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Our last dog lived to be almost 12 years old.  When he was a pup of six months, we decided it was time for some obedience training.  We enrolled Gage in Puppy Obedience School with high hopes that the commands would sink in and he’d become a good hunting dog at some point.  Well, Gage proved to be a strong willed child – one who needed more than a drill sergeant to fill his brain with commands that seemed totally unnecessary to him.  Yes, Gage was a puppy school drop out.  I’m not proud of the fact, but it does help prove a point.

We’re a lot like Gage when it comes to being obedient.  Our natural tendency is to balk at rules and laws.  What good are they?  Why do we need to obey them?  What’s in it for us.  We’re often stubborn, insubordinate, rebellious, delinquent, unruly and willful when it comes to following rules.  However those very rules are the substance of creating order out of chaos.

When God sent His Ten Commandments to man, He didn’t do so as  a simple suggestion or guidelines for us to follow.  He meant them – every word.  In these words, every situation we face in life is addressed.  We see them as the basis for our own country’s founding.  God wrote the words with His mighty finger.  When we acknowledge that God is the creator of the universe, we have no reason to question even one portion of them.

It seems that those words, established so long ago, have been put to the test over the last hundred years or so.  They’ve been mocked, rewritten to fit man’s needs, disregarded and seen as a means of brainwashing people into submission.  God doesn’t work that way.  He is a God of love and mercy and because He wrote the blueprint for our lives, He knows all about us.  He deserves our honor and respect.  Therefore we should write the commandments in our hearts and keep them in the forefront of our daily lives.

Obedience requires submission and most of us don’t like to be lorded over.  We think of ourselves as free thinkers with minds that can determine our own destiny.  We don’t need someone telling us what to do, how to live and how to treat others.  We can do this thing called life on our own.

We’ve seen the results of that kind of thinking – a society that has increasingly lower morals; one who believes that we deserve everything we get;  that we can and should be accountable to no one, but ourselves and other people are insignificant unless they can advance our own agendas.  God has no place in it.  It has become out of control and disorderly to the point of chaos.

Maybe we need to look at God’s commandments again.  Now would be a great time, since many of us are still cloistered in our homes.  You might see comparisons to some of the laws of our land which have been under attack lately.  We should also remember Christ’s command to love God and our fellow man.  This would solve a lot of problems.

It took Gage almost seven years to get the hang of what obedience was all about and he was a dog and in dog years he was only one.

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THE AMAZING INVISIBLE WOMAN

For age is opportunity no less Than youth itself, though in another dress, And as the evening twilight fades away The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I was a kid, I thought it would be so cool to be invisible. I could listen in on conversations that I otherwise wouldn’t hear.  I could sit with the adults and not be seen or heard.  I could drive a car and freak everyone out.

Now that I’m a senior citizen, being invisible no longer holds great appeal.  I often feel as though I’ve slipped through the cracks.  I can walk through a store, looking for assistance and be ignored completely.  I can be pushing my cart through the aisles, with people whisking past me at the speed of light, never seeing me.  I’ll be in a crowd of people and completely hidden from most people.  It seems when you reach the golden years, you actually become invisible.

A funny thing about aging is that in our time – in our society – in our place in the world – old people are pretty much unseen or unnoticed.  Young people are  so buried in their own realm, that they don’t always see you.  The successful, look at aging as a burden to society.  The government pays you a stipend – which you have invested over your entire working career – and thinks it’s giving you a bonus for living so long.  Aging isn’t pretty for most folks, but the truth is, everyone is probably going to become old.

So how can we become visible as the aging generation? Do we still possess value to society or are we just a drag on it?  Does anyone appreciate the struggles we’ve gone through in life?  Do they know the disappointments, pain, suffering and fears we’ve pushed through?  Most folks don’t really care about our problems, but there is still One who sees us clearly every minute of every day.  He knows all our needs and provides for them.  He gives us a reason – a purpose – a value – that we don’t deserve, but because He loves us.

Life is geared to the young and up and coming – the entrepreneurs – the famous – the flashy – the stars.  Monty Python phrase “I’m not dead yet!” became a popular phrase after the movie “In Search of the Holy Grail.”  I like to think we have much to offer the world – especially the young – because we’ve lived life.  We know what to expect and how to deal with it.

If I were to die today, I know I’m not invisible to God.  If I live another twenty years, I know that I still have a purpose in life or I wouldn’t still be here.  I consider the elderly, the survivors – the ones who have achieved their stardom.  The stars aren’t visible in the bright sunshine, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still there.

 

 

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WHERE DOES YOUR STRENGTH COME FROM?

Build Yourself Up

It’s summertime here in Minnesota.  Fish are jumping and the corn will be knee high by the fourth of July.  Folks are venturing out of their cocoons as restrictions are slowly lifted – some with the frenzy of anxiety driving their every move.  A few, cautiously don their masks and gloves, standing the required distance from each other.  Those of us who are considered the most vulnerable were born in a different time, when we trusted the media and our governing officials.

Summers are always the high point of Minnesota weather.  We run the gamut of chilly mornings to searing heat at noon and breathtaking sunsets.  We face tornados, drought, soaking rain and an assortment of days which always makes life in my state an adventure.  You never know what the weather will bring. We also have numerous lakes (more than 10,000) and are surrounded by beautiful state parks, caves, waterfalls and places to visit.

This year our summer has taken a different turn.  We’re still in the throes of a pandemic. We may be too cautious to venture out.  In some cases, the longing for physical contact and interaction has overshadowed common sense.  Protests have broken the silence of those welcomed summer days.  A cause as old as our country has returned to remind us of our heritage.  The tearing down of monuments and demands to rename anything that has the word “white” in it have caused discontent and rising up once more

We’re a nation of restless and impatient people.  We want everything to be all right and we want it now.  We’re kind of like the children of Israel as they wandered for forty years in the desert and were used to complaining.  Forty years is a long time to wait, yet we’ve been wandering for less and complaining more.

The tiny book of Jude in the New Testament has good advice for us as we face the perils of our time.  It’s really applicable for all the ages.  That’s what’s so absolutely beautiful about God’s Word, the Bible. Through it, we find lessons for every situation and solutions for all our problems.  Everyone is looking for instant answers today and now you can even read the Bible on an app on your phone.

Jude is the book right before the Revelation, which is yet to be fulfilled.  We can completely trust the Bible, because it was inspired by God Himself.  The verse above tells us where our strength comes from.  It has nothing to do with anything we do, but God tells us that our faith is the necessary element in our relationship with God. When we believe what He has written and the sacrifice He made so that we could enjoy eternity in heaven, we have the one thing needful.  He is our armor – our protector from the ugliness of the world – our defender against all our enemies – our Savior and provider of our salvation.

God’s kingdom will be ours, not here on this mortal coil, but after our death when we actually come face to face with Him in paradise.

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