Happy Birthday, USA!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

American Flags

Every year in the small town where I grew up, Richland Springs TX, they celebrate America’s Independence on the 1st Saturday of July. While my parents were alive, we would go visit them over the week-end and be there for the celebration, but I’ve rarely gone since they died. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt a tug back to my roots and to the place I came from. So this year I decided I would go.
The day started off with a parade and while it may not have been as big as you would see in a larger town, for a community of 455 residents, it was wonderful. A color-guard on horseback started it off followed by more flags and a float with the local veterans. There were pick-ups pulling trailers, all decorated in red, white and blue and lots of sparkle. There were 4-wheelers, dune-buggies, and motorcycles. There were kids in funny hats and dogs in sunglasses. There were antique tractors and brand new semi-s, and of course the VFD fire trucks. And candy- lots of candy thrown to folks watching the parade. The Richland Springs Coyote high school football team (who won the state 6-man championship for the 7th time last fall) and the high school cheerleaders as well as the middle school football team and cheerleaders had floats. The First Baptist Church had their van in the parade inviting kids to their Vacation Bible School in a couple of weeks. Everyone was there celebrating their freedoms and their victories.
Throughout the day, there were competitions for horseshoes, washers, and this year for the first time, a 2-man pig-sacking completion. There were bounce houses and a water slide for the kids.
The day wrapped up with a fireworks show. The Star Spangled Banner was sung over the loud speaker, then BOOM, the spectacular display of bursting colors began. It was a show that could put many larger towns to shame, lasting over an hour, it was amazing.
As I sat there watching the beautiful display, I could only think about the fact that even as many things we see wrong in our hation, there are still a lot of things that are right. And all those things right with our nation, can be seen right there in my small farm community hometown of Richland Springs, Texas, USA.
Yes, we have people trying to destroy our nation, from the outside and even within our own government, but we still have men and women willing to fight defending her.
Yes, there are too many people just wanting a hand-out and for the government to give them everything free, but there are still hard working men and women, taking pride in their labors, working hard to support and provide for their families.
Yes, we have too many young people with no sense of responsibility or goals beyond pursuit of their own pleasure, but we still have many young people with goals and dreams, who believe in competing to win.
Yes, there are too many people, places and institutions who exclude God and godly beliefs, but there are still more who love God and who are willing to share the love of Jesus Christ with the nation. Let us who do know the Lord continue to pray for this nation, pray for our leaders, and for the upcoming elections that we may continue to live quiet and peaceful lives serving the Lord.
Happy Birthday, USA! And may your next 240 years be even greater!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

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Color-guard

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My Uncle Robert Lewis, 2nd from left, fought in WWII

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I Give Thanks

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

I love Christmas. Without the first Christmas, we would have nothing to celebrate. Without the first Christmas, there would have been no Calvary, no perfect sacrifice for our sin. Without the first Christmas, most of us would be without God. I love Christmas for all that and more.

Having said that, I don’t want to rush into the Christmas season bypassing Thanksgiving. Since I was a child, Fall has been my favorite time of year. The colorful fall leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows and candy corn in October, cooler days, turkey and pumpkin pie, and then of course my birthday in November were all my favorite things.

Thanksgiving Day is primarily an American holiday (the Pilgrims and all that) but setting aside a special time to give God thanks for all He has given and done for us should be so much bigger than just a single feast day. A day that is being diminished more and more as we all seem to want to rush right into the Christmas season. I want this year to be more. I want to really stop and consider what I have to be thankful for, as an American and as a Christian.

This nation was born because men and women came in search of a place they could worship God as their hearts desired. My ancestors left Wales in the 1700’s to escape the tyranny of religious persecution. They were Separatists and Separatists were not approved of by the Church of England therefore not by the Crown. Even in the colonies, there was disagreement about religion, but the idea that all men had the right to choose how to worship won over have an authorized state church. A nation that had true religious freedom was born and people from all over the world and from every ethnicity have come to participate. I give thanks that today I have the right to choose how and where to worship God.

This nation has been under attack from the beginning, but God has protected it and held it together. The War of 1812 tested the United States ability to defend itself but the nation proved itself strong. In 1865 the nation was tested again when it was divided regarding slavery, but freedom won and the nation was restored. Through two world wars, in Korea, Viet Nam and the Middle East, with God’s help and protection, the United States has defended itself and its friends against common enemies. For this I give thanks to God.

It’s easy to look around and see moral decay all around us. Unborn babies are killed at the mother’s convenience and it is legal in all 50 states. Sexual depravity is rampant and in our faces every time we turn on the television or if we’re not careful every time we use the internet. Drug addiction and alcoholism continue to tear families apart and destroy lives. Students are not allowed to carry Bibles on school campuses. It appears that God is no longer a part of this nation and that the Christian voice and influence is being silenced. But that is not all there is.

I know students who are standing up for God and for what they believe and are telling their friends about Jesus. I see good men and women in government trying to right some of the wrongs that have been done. I know men and women of God who are preaching and teaching the gospel, working to bring lost people to Jesus. Every week at our church, and other churches, men and women, boys and girls are giving their hearts to the Lord. For this I give God thanks.

God has always had a remnant of people He could work through to bring about the things He desires. In the Old Testament we have the account of Elijah, God’s prophet in Israel. Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal, the false god the people had begun to worship. He was on the run for his life because Jezebel had vowed to kill him. This mighty prophet started feeling sorry for himself and decided he just wanted to die because things were so bad. He thought he was the only one left serving God and he just wanted to give up. But God spoke to him saying, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19)

I may not always be able to see what God is doing around me, in my nation, in community, or in my family. But I know that He is at work. God brought this nation into existence for a reason and a purpose and He’s not done yet. For that I give thanks!

Psalm 107:1-9, 17-22, 43 (NKJV)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
Their soul abhorred all manner of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.

Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

THE BEST GIFT


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,”

(so) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ which means, ‘God with us.’
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Scriptures: John 1:1,2; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Gal 4:4; John 1:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:4-20.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

For God so loved the world

Memorial Day 2009

Vietnam Memorial Wall Traveling Replica

Next Monday is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember all those who have died in the service of our country. Sadly the holiday has lost much of its significance since Congress changed the date from May 30th to the last Monday in May, creating a three day holiday.  People are more interested in starting summer vacations and outdoor parties and barbecues than in thinking about fallen soldiers. While vacations and barbecues are not bad things, let us not forget the significance of this day.

We need to always be aware that the freedoms we take for granted came at a heavy cost. Today, more than any other day, let us honor their memory and give thanks to God for their sacrifices for our freedom and for our safety.


Recently my husband and I saw the traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Every name that is on the Memorial Wall in Washington DC is on the smaller replica. There are now 58,260 names listed on the Memorial and approximately 1200 of these are listed as missing (MIA’s, POW’s, and others).  So many names, so many lives lost.


One of those names is a young man I went to school with. Alan was an average student, a little shy but he had the most beautiful smile. Alan joined the Army weeks after graduation and was sent to Vietnam weeks after he finished boot camp. A few weeks later, just 19 years old, he was killed.
Every name on that Memorial Wall represents a real person, who lived, who had dreams and plans for a future. And for every name, there is a family who was left to grieve. For Alan, it was the grandmother who raised him. Others left behind parents, spouse, siblings and some even children.


We honor our heroes, it is only right. But let us not forget that for every fallen soldier, sailor, police office and fireman, there is a family who also sacrificed for us. They too should be recognized.  Today as we remember those lost, let us also say a prayer for family and loved ones left behind.


And let us pray also for those serving today, all over the world and on our streets, for God’s protection over them and for His blessings on their service. I can think of no better way to honor those fallen than to support those serving now.

Peace and Blessings,

Dee

Christmas Greetings

Here it is – almost Christmas. We’re in the mist of rushing around shopping for the perfect gift for loved ones, preparing special foods, decorating our homes. Retailers are hoping for that last minute surge of buying to bolster their lagging sales year. Christmas lights brighten homes, businesses and the streets. Radio stations are playing non-stop Christmas music. Children are anxiously waiting for that jolly fat man in the red suit to bring them their deepest wishes. Parents are waiting for the bills to start coming in and worrying over how to pay for all this joy.

For believers, Christmas is much more. Yes, we can fully enjoy the parties, the music, the lights and the gifts. God wants us to celebrate and takes delight in our excitement as long as we remember the reason we’re celebrating. Christ. The very essence of Christmas. God’s anointed one in the flesh come to live among us. The gospel writers Matthew and Luke give written accounts of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. But John goes back to the beginning.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14.

Jesus’ existence did not begin in a stable in Bethlehem. His existence was from the beginning of all creation. He was there when God said “Light be!” (Gen 1:3) He was there in the Garden of Eden when Adam fell. He was the “I AM” who sent Moses to deliver Israel from captivity. God’s plan from the beginning for all mankind to have a savior and deliverer was brought forth in that Babe in the Manger.

As believers we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus Christ, but His life. Sinless, perfect, a sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish. We celebrate that God gave the greatest gift of all to mankind – His own son, God Himself made flesh to live among us and to be the sacrifice that alone was sufficient to remove our sin for all eternity. And we celebrate His first coming with anticipation for His soon return – not in a lowly manger, but as the Lord of Glory coming to take His place as Ruler of all creation.

Glory to God in the highest and Peace on Earth to all men.

Merry Christmas

Dee