Give Peace A Chance

Last Saturday evening, I was reading the news before I went to bed. I read where the US had deployed the 101st Airborne Division to the northern border of Romania, about three miles from the border of Ukraine. Brigadier General John Lubas stated that the 101st, “The Screaming Eagles,” were not deployed in a training mission but in a combat-ready mission. He stated they were ready to go into Ukraine should the conflict escalate or if a NATO country was attacked. The 101st Airborne has not been deployed to Europe since our entry into World War II eighty years ago.

As I thought about this fact, I thought to myself, “We’re getting ready for a ground war.” I then checked the stats. Before the war started in Ukraine, the US had 60,000 troops stationed in Europe; now there are 100,000 soldiers there at the ready. What bothers me most about these statistics is that at the moment there is not a serious effort to get the parties involved in peace negotiations.

The US could press the Ukrainians to the peace table but it is not being done. The fact that it would take so little for the US to get involved in a ground war in Ukraine should give us all pause. Just think what would happen if one errant missile landed in a Romanian or a Polish village. Would that be the pretext for NATO getting involved in the current war? Wars have been started in the past with less than that as a provocation.

There was a line in a chorus that protesters sang during the 1970’s while the Vietnam War was going on. It went like this, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” Over and over we sang this line. Just give peace a chance. And now, is anyone seriously pursuing peace in the Ukrainian conflict? Not that I can see. Anyone who mentions pursuing peace is shouted down and pressured to stop talking. I want to know when did peace become a dirty word?

If you feel like I do, let’s do something. I know we can make a difference. We can write our representatives in Washington and let them know we want them to slow down this rush to war. They are holding the purse strings that are allowing this war to continue. And of course, we can pray. We must pray that people will wake up and quit blindly marching to war. We can pray that the Russians will not make a mistake that will draw all of Europe and the US into a ground war. And finally we can pray that men on all sides of the conflict will be open to negotiations and give peace a chance.

Image by Engin Akyurt. Courtesy of Pixabay

Bruised, Broken or Shattered?

Many times in life, we find ourselves in pain. Something has happened to us and we must deal with the consequences of it. We may have caused the pain to ourselves or someone else may have done it. Either way, we need help. We need Someone who can take the pain away and heal us.

Lots of things can knock us around in life. Circumstances, the loss of a job, a best friend moving away, or some other life changing situation comes crashing into our life. We feel bruised; others may not see it but we feel it just the same. We are hurting. No, we are not bleeding on the outside but our spirit has been bruised. Is there Someone we can go to, Someone who cares? When describing Jesus in the Scriptures we read, “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.” Isaiah 42:3 We can rest assured that when we come to Him with our hurts, He will help us. He will not rebuke us for our weakness or our pain.

What about when we have sustained a bone crushing injury? Something has happened to us that we cannot ignore or hide. Maybe we have lost a loved one or have been accused of something falsely. We need help and we need it badly. Can anyone come and splint our injury and help us while we go through a time of restoration? Again, in describing the work of the Lord we read that, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 All we have to do is call out to Him when we need help and He will be there.

Is the Lord big enough to help us when we have suffered a soul crushing injury? We feel we have been run over by a steamroller and there is not much left of us. Perhaps our spouse has run off with another person. Perhaps the business we have spent a lifetime building has gone bankrupt. Perhaps a hurricane or other natural disaster has taken from us everything we own. Is the Lord big enough to help even when we go through our worst times? I’m talking about those times when we can hardly speak because of the pain we are in. We feel our life is over and there is nothing to be done. Can He help us even when our hearts are shattered? Jesus is talking about himself in Isaiah 61: 1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Yes, we can look to Him. Jesus is big enough to bring us through our soul crushing disaster, heal us from our heart shattering pain and give us new life again. We just have to ask.

Guest Book Review: Sarah’s impression of The Unwelcome Stranger by Valerie Cullers — I Love Romance Blog

Hi, readers! Please welcome Sarah, our guest book reviewer, to ILRB! She’ll be hanging out with us today, taking the time to give us her take on a cool romance novel! Let’s give her a hand…Sarah, take it away and show us what you have for today.

Guest Book Review: Sarah’s impression of The Unwelcome Stranger by Valerie Cullers — I Love Romance Blog

From My Window – an eMarie blog

Outside In

As a fun pastime, I began researching and recording adages. With the passage of time these incredible sayings that speak a broad truth seem destined to fade into the sunset – never to be heard again. Compelled to share their origins and Biblical applications, here is the first of many.

From the blog’s title, can you guess today’s adage? 😊

Some say this phrase can be traced back to the Victorians who would insert other reading materials between the pages of a Bible. So, they outwardly appeared holy and devout, but that might have been a far cry from the truth.

Then the adage made an appearance in the Piqua, OH newspaper, Piqua Democrat, in June 1867: “Don’t judge a book by its cover, see a man by his cloth, as there is often a good deal of solid worth and superior skill underneath a *jacket and yaller pants.” Martin Luther King may have harkened back to this when he said to judge not by skin color but by…”the content of their character.”

In the 1944 edition of African Journal American Speech, the phrase read: “You can’t judge a book by its binding.”

But in the 1946 novel, Murder in the Glass Room, authors Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller penned: “you can never tell a book by its cover.”

And let’s not forget Bo Didley’s 1962 hit, written by Willie Dixon: “You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover.”

The above research cites interesting information, but the Old Testament book of Samuel gives the best, original, and accurate use of this adage: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, NKJV)

God sees beyond the outside. No matter who we are, how much we “paint the barn,” or hide behind book covers, He cuts through it all and discerns our hearts. No need to put on airs. In fact, the only way we can “dress for success” is to put on Jesus’ righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). When we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, God doesn’t look at us any other way than through Jesus – clean, pure, holy.

We’re no longer judged (condemned). We’re covered!

*According to knowyourphrase.com, the words were small and difficult to read.

eMarie’s blog “From My Window” is full of encouragement. She will brighten your day and expand your knowledge of the subject she is writing about. eMarie has a passion for writing and has written various award winning short stories. She has published a delightful children’s book, “A Snowflake’s Adventure,” and she is currently working on a suspense series. If you enjoyed this blog and would like to read more posts “From My Window by eMarie,” please go to https://www.merryheartink.com/outside-in/ and sign up. I really enjoy her blog and I know you will too!

Solocast

When I was nine, my father took me to my aunt and uncle’s house to spend a few weeks while my parents went on a trip back east. There were not a lot of things to do there, and very few kids around and so I spent a lot of time reading the Encyclopedias in my bedroom. When I was near the end of C, I read an article about Czechoslovakia. The article talked about it being a satellite country of the United Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). For some reason or another, I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the word socialist, so in my mind, I said, “Solocast.” It wasn’t until a few years later that I heard a commentator use the entire name of the U.S.S.R. and I heard him say the word socialist. I remember thinking, “So, that’s how you pronounce that word!”

I bet we can all remember things we thought as a child and that later were dispelled either by time, experience or education. Some of the things we believed may have even gotten us in trouble, i.e. “No, you cannot fly when you jump from one rooftop to another!” Most of us have put away a lot of our childish ways but usually we have not gotten rid of all of them.

Towards the end of the great love chapter in the Bible, we read, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11. When I think about that scripture, I have to ask myself, “Have I put away childish things?

For the most part, I would answer yes. However, there is a lot of the child still left in me. Yes, I do know how to pronounce more words correctly but what about my thinking. Do I still think like a child sometimes? Do I react like a child on occasion?

I would have to say yes to that. Because my mother died when I was young, I still can’t sit through a Mother’s Day sermon and listen to people comment on what it was like to have a loving mother. Holidays still don’t hold the meaning to me that they do for others as for years I celebrated was just my dad and two brothers. Others may not see it, but deep down I still react like a child when I am in these situations.

Sometimes, the hardest thing to give up are the things we thought or learned when we were younger that are not true. Did our parents follow any superstitions, such as throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder if you spilled some? What about not opening an umbrella in the house? Those things may not affect our lives much, but what about the really important things?

Some people had parents that believed that one race or another was inferior to them. It can take a lifetime to dispel that kind of thinking. I know others who had one or more parents that didn’t believe in God. It has affected their entire lives and certainly their belief systems. It is a real leap of faith for them to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.

What childish beliefs do you have that are affecting your life? Do you need to take a good look at them and dispel the ones that are negatively affecting you? What about the ones that may negatively affect your life after death?

Childish thoughts and beliefs…let’s confront them and take a good hard look at them. Let’s give them up as we move towards maturity.

Photo courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk. Pixabay.

The Fragrance of Life

Have you ever taken a long walk through a beautiful garden? There is really something spectacular about it as you twist and turn through the cultivated landscape. The fragrances along the way fill your senses. Add the over the top scenery of the place and it only adds to an otherworldly experience. Most times, I hesitate to leave such a place.

As I walk through the garden of my life, each friendship adds a different fragrance to the atmosphere around me. Each is one of a kind, unique and can never be duplicated. This past month two of my friends have been transplanted from their earthly garden to their heavenly one and I will miss them both.

One was like a peony, sharing her fragrance with all around her. You couldn’t be in the same room and not notice her. She was beautiful and had a lovely disposition. She stood out with her sense of fashion and platinum blonde hair. Lest one think she was coddled throughout life, her personal history informs us of a different story. She was rejected by her family at seventeen for being a single unwed mother. She was put on a plane and shuttled to a different state to have her baby. Feeling unwelcome, she did not return home for decades. She remained where she had been sent and got an education. She became a nurse and social worker. She was compassionate and non-judgmental; always willing to hear someone’s story and extend a helping hand. She exuded the fragrance of empathy that all partook of in her presence.

The other was more retiring. She was an introvert and was content to stay in the background. Her fragrance was released as she quietly assisted others. Her fragrance was also born of difficulty. Her husband died unexpectedly and she was left with three young children. She returned to school to become an educator and never married again. She was creative and had a knack for decorating the events she attended. She was like a delicate Morning Glory. One would have to sit near her to catch her fragrance but it had a rich sweetness that only those who took time to listen to her would be able to enjoy. She exuded the fragrance of selflessness; a fragrance that is only found in the rarified atmosphere of humility.

As I continue to walk through life, I will miss their fragrance. Each meeting and event won’t be quite the same without the addition of their unique scents. The air will never smell as sweet again and I look forward to the time when I take my first breath of heavenly air. I know I will breathe their scent again and my life will once again be enriched by their presence.

Photo by Jill Wellington. Courtesy of PIxabay.

Resident Evil

The other evening I lay in bed thinking about a horrendous crime that happened. It was on the news nationally and I was thinking about the evil that our society deals with on a daily basis. As I was pondering what was going on in our culture and thinking about how bad things were, I heard three words in my spirit, “Cain and Abel.”

As I reflected on those words, I felt like what the Lord was trying to tell me was that there is evil in the heart of man. It has been there ever since man decided to go his own way and live independently of God. I was reminded of the scripture in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” I don’t know about you, but when I hear those scriptures, I don’t want to believe them about myself. But it’s true, the unregenerate heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked, even mine.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” That’s right, whatever is in our hearts will eventually come out. Jesus was even more clear about it in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” It’s pretty clear. When we are looking for resident evil, we need look no further than our own hearts. People who know themselves well know that any of us could fall into sin at a moment’s notice. None are immune.

Is there any hope for us? Fortunately, the Lord does not leave us in our unregenerate state if we want to change. He says in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Help is right there for the asking. If we want a new heart and new spirit, we must come to the Lord, turn away from our sins, and ask him to come into our lives and give us a new heart. He will be true to his word and do it. After all, that is why Jesus came; to pay our sin debt and give us the opportunity to be born again.

What do you say? How’s your heart condition? Any resident evil there? Are you trying to cover up your evil thoughts and deeds? Doesn’t work, does it? It’s like trying to put lipstick on a pig. But think about it…a new heart is only a prayer away. You just have to ask.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary – Redux

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary.  Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness; of course, always comes before freedom in the dictionary. Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Throughout our lives, we receive many offenses from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offense or 2. We can forgive.

Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offense, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm. 

When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offense. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say, “I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me anymore.”  Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offense no longer has power over us.

You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards, it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children, and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant of the entire debt.

The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars.  He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.

You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does. 

To do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.

2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system. 

Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.

You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom. 

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

Survive or Thrive?

Recently, my husband and I watched several episodes of Season 7 “Alone” on the History Channel. We then skipped to the end to find out who won. The man who made it the longest out in the forests of British Columbia had an amazing set of skills. Once he was dropped off, he made a shelter that was well constructed. He was able to shoot a deer with his bow and he built a smoke house to process the meat. When the meat ran out, he built a trap line. Not only was he able to survive 73 days in the wilderness alone, he seemed to thrive for the majority of his time there. The other contestants had some of the skills he had, but none seemed to have all of the skills he demonstrated.

I thought about what might be coming down the pike for all of us. Will there be energy or food shortages? I have been watching Europe and I don’t know if what is happening there is a harbinger for what is coming to the United States. What kind of skills will we need if things indeed do get difficult here? On the practical side, it wouldn’t hurt to know how to grow a garden and we should definitely think about alternative forms of energy for our homes.

On the mental and emotional side, as believers in Jesus Christ, we should be working on our skill set now so that we are able not only to survive in a difficult economy but to thrive. The first thing we will need to do is to keep our eyes on the Lord, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 We must also know the word of God so that we will not fall prey to every rumor we hear, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119: 105. We need to learn to depend upon the Lord for our sustenance (even if at the moment we have plenty of money), “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4: 19 One of the hardest skills to develop is the ability to hear the Spirit’s voice. In this world of constant activity and noise, we will need to be intentional if we are going to take time to hear what the Lord is saying to us. Even Jesus was intentional about spending time with the Father so He could hear His direction. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus)went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” Mark 1: 35

I don’t know about you, but I know that I need to be working on my skill set. I want to be able to depend on the Lord and hear His direction in a better way. I want to know the word so that I am not led astray. (I can’t tell you how many hundreds if not thousands of emails were circulated this past weekend telling everyone that the Rapture was going to happen this past Tuesday.) And for sure, I know that I need to spend more time in prayer and learn to keep my spiritual eyes on Him.

What other skills do you think we are going to need if things get difficult economically? I would love for you to add to the discussion!

Image by Rasto Volansky, Courtesy of Pixabay.

Resilience

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness.” Oxford Languages

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were listening to a man who had been on the History Channel’s Alone series. He had made it 43 days alone out in the forests of British Columbia. He talked about how he made it and he stressed that most of all, it depended on a person’s mental outlook. He said that resilience was the most important quality a person could have in that kind of a difficult situation.

He also talked about how he had planned what he was going to do when he was dropped off in the woods alone. Then came the shock after he was dropped off. Nothing was like he thought it would be. That’s when the resilience kicked in. He had to get over his shock and quickly adapt to his surroundings.

I thought about what he said a lot. I thought about many believers who are convinced that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I have been in groups where people are talking about what might happen in the future and they say, “I don’t have to worry about anything, I won’t be here.” They are so convinced that they have a handle on what their future will be like that they won’t entertain any other possibilities.

To quote Joel Richardson, “I find that to be a problem pastorally.” If perhaps the Rapture doesn’t happen at the time they think it will, what will they do? Will they be in shock and have a difficult time adjusting to their new reality? Will they think they have been duped by the teachers that have taught them this theory without giving them the caveat that perhaps it could happen a different way?

I have been concerned about this for a long time. No one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return for His church. We should all be ready at any time. But we must not be so foolish to think that we may never go through any difficulty or persecution before He comes back. Only those in the American church are so cavalier as to believe such nonsense. When you speak to Christians in other countries, especially those in the 10/40 window, they are concerned about sharing the gospel and living for Christ today. They already face persecution and many difficulties unlike we in the west do. Let us not live with a false sense of security. We need to be resilient and tough regarding the future for no one knows for sure when the Rapture will take place.

Photo by Svklimkin. Courtesy of Pixabay.