Never forget

memorial-day-clipart-memorial-day-clip-art-2014-2Memorial Weekend is a time set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a time for flag flying, camping, picnics, barbecues, and family celebrations; all the while remembering the ones who died to preserve these happy gatherings.

Memorials and days of remembrance were set down in the Bible, both old and new testaments, because God knows what short attention spans His creatures have. He knows we need frequent reminders of who He is, what He has done for us, and what He expects of us while we remain in this world.

As you gather with your family and friends this weekend, whether at a social gathering or a Memorial service, along with honoring our military heroes spend a few moments honoring the One who created them and us, and who has a plan for every one of His children. A plan for our good and His glory.

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Whatsoever is true…

Doctors don’t want you to know this bombshell technique celebrities use to lose belly fat and wipe out wrinkles with only these two simple ingredients!”clickbait

Every day we are bombarded with click bait, fake news, misinformation, unfounded accusations, innuendo, and spin confusing us and muddling our thoughts. What are we to do? We might be tempted to simply believe whatever agrees with our own biases and ignore anything which challenges them, as many people do, but this leads to ignorance and complacency.

Fortunately, Christians have a simple solution for cutting through the clouds of maliciousness and falsehood swirling around us: God’s truth, the Bible.

As the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Whatever we hear or read should be sifted through this filter, with the additional knowledge that
the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17-18 NIV) 

We should also take into account the source. What sorts of fruits are being produced by the person or organization making the claims being promoted?

 As always, God has given us all the tools we need to discern truth.

Still confused?  Take advantage of this bombshell secret the devil doesn’t want you to know:

PRAY FOR WISDOM
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Special Thanks (and a little shameless self-promotion)

As many of you know, I write fiction as J.B. Hawker.

My latest release, Mrs. Thistlethwaite and the Magpie came out this week.

I want to make my faithful readers aware that this well-reviewed book may be downloaded from Amazon FREE this week only (May 16-20).

If you enjoy wholesome fiction, please click on the download button to get your copy with my thanks.

AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT!!
I’ve been a fan of J.B. Hawker’s fantastic writing for sometime. This book is outstanding!! Her ability to use elderly characters – Matilda Thistlewaite and Slim Bottoms – is brilliant!! These characters (as well as all the other characters) are painted so vividly that you feel as though you would recognize them if you met them in your local churchKindle Cover, grocery store, or neighborhood. The story is set in a small town and reflects the devastation and fear brought by the disappearance of a young teenaged girl and the evidence of the return of a serial killer. The author seamlessly weaves the story and has you wanting to read the entire book in one sitting. It’s about friendships, families, First Responders, and the criminal element. There are a myriad of surprises scattered all throughout this book. Read it. You’ll be so glad you did!! ”

button download

Fans of Miss Seeton and Mrs. Pollifax will welcome the indomitable Mrs. Thistlethwaite. Like these beloved, mature characters, at the ripe old age of eighty-five Mrs. T. is ready for whatever comes her way.

When a beautiful and talented teenage ballet student disappears, rumors fly in the charming village of Tillamook, Oregon. Did she run away to the big city, or is she the latest victim of the notorious serial killer preying upon lonely young women along the coastal highways?

Beguiling octogenarian, retired school teacher, Tillie Thistlethwaite, applies her exceptionally sharp mental skills and no-nonsense practicality to the mystery. Petite Mrs. T. and her tall gentleman friend, Slim, reject both theories and launch their own investigation. Will the amateur sleuthing of this unlikely and adorable pair succeed where the police fail, or will they fall victim to foul play?

——

For those who prefer a paperback book, you can buy a print copy at a 50% discount by following this LINK and using discount code  6FYNHJWE  at checkout.

NOTE: This discount is not effective from the regular Amazon site.

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Big Brother is watching, and so is the Father

poster_1984_lrgIn George Orwell’s classic science fiction novel 1984, he depicts a society where Big Brother, the government’s all-seeing eye, is watching citizens for even the slightest infraction against the powers that be. When it was first published, many critics scoffed at such a scenario, but today we are becoming accustomed to having our every movement recorded via traffic cams, security cameras, and even cell phones.  We hear warnings about the ability of our interactive devices, computers, and televisions to monitor our words and activities without our knowledge.  Thinking about this situation makes most of us uneasy at the loss of privacy, but it is obvious from the recent social media postings of horrific criminal acts, that not everyone feels the need to respond to this constant observation by living a blameless life.

This is similar to Christians ignoring the Bible’s teaching of God’s omniscience and failing to curb our sinful impulses. We know we are being observed 24/7 and even our thoughts are exposed to God’s all-knowing, all-seeing eye. Yet, we still think we can hide our secret sins.

Many who can quote Psalm 139 from memory still ignore the portent of these words, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Although constant surveillance is uncomfortable; law-abiding citizens of a benign government have nothing to fear. There is no government more benign than God’s Kingdom ruled by the love of our Lord.  Rather than trying to hide our missteps from Him, we should rely on His watchful love and care to keep us from temptation.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

 

 

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The sleeping church

We read in the Book of Acts how the Apostle Paul, knowing he was leaving Troas the next day, and wanting to teach these new followers all he could before leaving them, preached past midnight. He was teaching in an upper room of a three-story building. As the night wore on in the crowded room, not everyone was paying close attention to his words.
Acts 20:9:
A young man by the name of Eutychus was sitting on a window sill. While Paul was speaking, the young man got very sleepy. Finally, he went to sleep and fell three floors all the way down to the ground. When they picked him up, he was dead.
Eutychus
Even without the distractions of modern technology, this young man’s attention span had been stretched to its limit. He had taken a seat on the the ledge of one of the room’s large, open windows, perhaps only leaning against the sill, at first, but eventually, seeking greater comfort, he sat within the opening. This was a precarious perch at the best of times, and exceedingly dangerous for one as drowsy as Eutychus.
Fortunately for this young man, his lack of attentiveness was not permanently fatal. Paul was on hand to restore him to life and the story has a happy ending.
         The story of Eutychus has application to the church today in that many believers are paying little attention to God’s word and His teaching. Our attention span is so short that even in those churches where the Bible is being taught, the people forget it as soon as they leave the sanctuary.   Some of us have become bored and are leaning against the edge of the window sill. Others are quite comfortably settled on their precarious perch overlooking the abyss.
       The Church is  in danger of falling asleep.  It is time to stand up, shake off our lethargy, pay attention, and become Christ’s vigorous body as the Gospel admonishes to do.
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What’s Your Sign?

Signs are wonderful things. They can convey all sorts of important information… to anyone who can interpret the message.

circleWhen I visited Italy for the first time and drove the unfamiliar streets, the traffic signs which were meaningful to the locals were confusingcrossing to me. Blessedly, I was able to safely navigate from point A to point B, but it was an exciting adventure.

Directional signs take on critical importance when entering unknown territory. This is especially true in our faith walk. When dealing with knotty decisions, I am tempted to ask for a sign from God to show me what to do. But if something happens which seems to point to one choice or the other, I wonder if it is God’s message or merely my own wishful thinking, misinterpretation, or a random coincidence. I yearn for something bold to point me in the right direction; nothing less than a hand writing on the wall will do.

However, that’s not usually the way God speaks to us today. First of all, He speaks through the Bible. If the choice I’m dealing with is addressed in His word, I don’t need signs or wonders. Many times the clearly recognizable signs such as Stop, Wait, and Yield are there for all to see. He also speaks to us through that still small voice of conscience, but we must listen carefully.

It is human nature to want a clear, unambiguous, unavoidable sign posted on our path at each intersection, but this is not God’s way.horn

Before we had the clear message of the Bible and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God anointed prophets to interpret His signs to His people.

germanThose of us who are not prophets do not have the gift of interpretation to let us know if a leaf blown across our path is a sign from God to turn around, or a sign that it’s a windy day. We must rely on our knowledge of God’s word and sensitivity to His leading through the Holy Spirit. If I am stymied by my options in a situation, I need to get back to these basics and trust God to carry me through.

What’s my sign?  I think I’ll choose One Way: God’s way.

 

Original Version Posted on by  

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What can I do?

Tragic events in our lives or around the world make us look for explanations; we want to make sense of it all and we wonder what we can do in response.

I read a phrase in a book of quotations that stayed with me: If it is to be, it is up to me.

As a Christian, I believe it is really all up to God, yet I know He uses individuals to bring about His will. When we are not attuned to His leading we deny ourselves blessings. God’s Will most definitely shall be done regardless of any human intervention, but He wants us to share in His perfect plan to experience every joy He has for us.

In that light, I see this phrase as a reminder to be available, willing, and sensitive to God’s leading in every circumstance.

Terrorist attacks, campus unrest, and cultural schisms leave me feeling helpleboringss. What can I do? How can I make a difference?

If it is to be, it is up to me, so:

  • I can pray for comfort and strength for the survivors.
  • I can donate to funds which promote Godly policies or support victims and their families.
  • I can take every opportunity to influence people in my own life with kindness and justice.

I truly believe God is in control in this world and that I do not need to understand how “everything works together for good” in order to be used by Him to fulfill His plans. I need only pray for His will to be done in His way.

 I cannot defeat evil and bring peace and justice to the whole world, but I can do whatever I am able to do. I can do the next right thing.

[Originally posted April 21, 2013, updated]

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The Word Made Flesh

christ on the cross

Behold the man.

Who is this we celebrate on Easter, the Day of Resurrection?

This is who I believe He is:

We confess the mystery and wonder of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new. Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person.

He was born of the Virgin Mary and lived among us. Crucified, dead, and buried, He rose on the third day, ascended to heaven, and will come again in glory and judgment.

For us, He kept the Law, atoned for sin, and satisfied God’s wrath. He took our filthy rags and gave us His righteous robe.

He is our Prophet, Priest, and King, building His church, interceding for us, and reigning over all things.

Jesus Christ is Lord; we praise His holy Name forever.

Amen.

The LIGONIER STATEMENT
on CHRISTOLOGY

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Triumphal Entry

The Christian church celebrates the Sunday before Easter as Palm Sunday, commemorating Christ’s entry into Jerusalem when the crowds met Him waving palm branches, as for a conquering hero’s triumphal entry into the city following a battle.

Palm branchInstead of a mighty warhorse, Jesus chose to ride a donkey, one which had never been ridden. This fulfilled another of the Old Testament prophecies about the long-awaited Messiah, but it also reflected Christ’s humble attitude.

Most of us would respond to such an outpouring of praise with elation and pride in our accomplishments. Christ was unmoved by the shouts of the crowds as He proceeded to follow each step of God’s plan. He was well-aware of the rejection, degradation, and pain to come, yet He did not waiver, because He was absolutely certain of the glorious outcome.

When I experience small triumphs in my own life I am elated, but the very next disappointment can plunge me to the depths of despair. Why should this be when I, too, have absolute certainty of what happened that Glorious Morning over two thousand years ago?

How I wish, in my emotionally fragile moments, I could keep my focus on the truth of my own life’s eternally glorious outcome resulting from Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection.

Because He lives …

 

 

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Fault Lines

We live in a world tearing itself apart on lines of division. Every difference of opinion or belief, no matter how great or small, makes the person on the other side of an issue our enemy who must be utterly destroyed.

Everyone is a critic today, seeking to expose and destroy the tiniest deviations from their own perception of perfection.  Even a minute crack is picked and pried into until it becomes another schism causing tremors in the fabric of our lives.fault line

This convoluted thinking has even infiltrated the Christian Church. The body of Christ is full of believers who all want to be the eyes, brain, and mouth of the body, deciding how everyone should see, think, and speak. If the “lesser” parts don’t get into line, they are ignored or cut out, making the body weak and ineffective.

This is nothing new in the church. Paul wrote about it in his letters to the Romans and in this passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 12:

12 The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. 13 Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God’s Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.[b]

14 Our bodies don’t have just one part. They have many parts. 15 Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the foot still belong to the body? 16 Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body? 17 If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. 18 But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.

19 A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. 20 It takes many parts to make a single body. 21 That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet. 22 In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest.

The Church, the fellowship of believers, the Body of Christ, is meant to be an example to the rest of the world, reflecting the glory of God with our love. If we cannot do that, even toward our fellow believers, how then can we influence anyone for Christ?

Just as our country will not long survive while factions are trying to destroy each other, the church must get over the need to find fault, and support one another in the spiritual battle.

When we look at today’s problems, rather than ask, “Whose fault is this?” We can say, “How can the church (working together) make a difference, for the Kingdom of God?”

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