Posted in Monday Matters, Thoughts & Musings

Memorial Day musings

Today is Memorial Day 2020, a day for remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. While I do not know of anyone in my family who died in the line of duty, I do have many relatives who served. For instance, My Uncle ‘Smoke,’ (and no, that is a story for another day), Howard Smoyer. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was not wounded, per se, but he did get frostbite in his feet. The treatment of pouring hot water on the affected areas led to toe amputation and many foot problems that plagued him all his life. There was my ‘uncle’ Sam Smith, mom’s cousin. He enlisted in 1940, served in World War II and Korea, and died as a Lt. Col. in the Army. My Uncle Ray, mom’s youngest sibling, joined the Merchant Marines in 1943., served in the Pacific. Oh, and my mother was engaged when war broke out, and her fiancee was deployed from Fort Dix, NJ, and later killed in action.

Back left, mom, Back right – Uncle ‘Smoke’, front left – Uncle Ray
 Samuel Harold Smith
Lt. Col. Samuel Smith,

My father did not serve, however. He registered for the draft in 1940. But at the time he was working for General Baking Company as a supervisor. He was 26. When America entered the war, most of the men under him were drafted or enlisted, leaving only a few employees at the company. So few in fact that the company was granted an exemption for the remaining men (I’ve heard Dad say three and five, so not many!) as “Essential Workers.” Dad went from supervising a fleet of drivers to being one of a small handful delivering bread and baked goods all over Middlesex County, NJ.

Phil, Ardath, Doreen
Dad, about age 35

I don’t really know how Dad felt about not serving, as all his brothers did in turn, but I’m sure that there were some people who did not know the story who looked down on him for not doing so. I know that Dad always said the women and families he delivered to were always very grateful that he was there delivering what they needed. However, the recent events in the world have brought a new perspective on “Essential” work. These events have taught us (I hope) what is important and what we can do without.

Food, water, shelter – all are recognized needs for survival. But also human companionship is essential. I am going through this crazy alone in my home. Can I tell you, it stinketh? But I know there are people who pray for me, some in my family, some in my church family. Even some new, dear friends on Twitter (thank you, D.A. and N.L.) We have redefined “essential workers” to include not only healthcare professionals but the truck drivers who haul goods, the kid who stocks grocery store shelves, the warehouse worker who packages up our products, the small business owner who shifted to take out to feed you as well as provide for his own family. And for those of us who are born-again Christians, praise God that we have a president who has reaffirmed that churches are essential.

You see, we are not meant to do life alone. God himself said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” We are meant to live with and be with others, and we are especially meant and designed to be in a relationship with God. These past months have given all of us a unique opportunity to rebuild, or strengthen or begin that relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, and get into a right relationship with God. That is what we are designed for, that is our purpose and meaning – to worship and glorify God.

On this Memorial Day, take time to reflect on things and begin. Begin thanking and remembering those who gave everything for your freedom. Then thank God for allowing you to have the opportunity to know Him. Take time to hug your nearest and dearest. And, save some hugs for those in your lives that have no one to hug them. Go out and be a blessing.

Posted in Daily Verse, Monday Matters

Today’s verse and thought for you

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

Take the time to read this chapter. It tells of several displays of Jesus’ divine power and authority. Now the men who know him best get into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Now, keep in mind, these men were mostly fishermen – they knew this body of water. After all, it’s where they made their living. They knew it was subject to unpredictable storms. So it wasn’t unusual that one developed now. What probably seemed odd to them was that Jesus slept through the storm. What probably seems odd to us is that the men panicked.

So they wake up Jesus to do something. But what does he do? Before addressing the storm or the perceived problem, Jesus addresses the REAL problem – the mindset and faith of the disciples! “Why are you afraid?” Now we, in all our messed up humanness are most likely thinking along with the 12, Huh? Why am I afraid? There’s a huge storm in my life and it’s going to sink the boat! What do you mean, Jesus?

But let’s look at this more closely. First, where was Jesus during the storm? Why, right there in the boat with the men (or you and I!) Second, what was he doing? Sleeping. To sleep when there appears to be something dangerous in the vicinity implies that there is faith in the situation, a trust that all is going to be well in the end. These men had been with Jesus for some time now, and they had seen the many demonstrations of his power before. Yet their response was panic and fear. Just like our reactions very often – panic first, think later.

The second thing to notice is that when the disciples stop trying to get out of the situation on their own and turn to Jesus THAT is when things start to happen. Even if he does call them out on their lack of faith. And then the third thing to take note of is that Jesus, being fully God, has the power and authority over the storm.

But what’s that got to do with me, you ask? Everything! It is the key to peace in the storm. Remember: God has POWER in and over every storm, so have faith that him is in charge. Then, focus on Jesus not the storm and allow him to fill you with his peace because he is God and has the authority to deal with any storm in life. And lastly, remember this oh so important fact: Jesus is IN the boat with you!

Yes, there are storms in life – loss, disease, general crazy – BUT GOD is never taken by surprise, more than capable, and more than sufficient. Keep the faith, baby!

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:27

Posted in Monday Matters, The Way

Power, Spirit, Conviction!

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

1 Thessalonians 1:2‭-‬8 ESV

As I read this passage this morning, it suddenly struck me that this is one of the most stirring and inspiring passages in Paul’s letters. However, it is also very challenging.

Paul begins as usual with prayers for the people he is writing to. He speaks of the work faith has done in them, which led to their labouring out of love for Jesus as well as their steadfast hope in Him. But why is that remarkable?

As Paul continues, he tells why. Not only did the believers in Thessalonica accept the Gospel message, but they did so “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” They took it in fully, wholeheartedly, and ran with it. The Thessalonian church became an example of the salvation and glory of the Gospel throughout the area. Wow!

Can that be said of us? Of me? I pray that God may make it so! To be fully convinced of the eternal Truth, filled with the very Spirit of God, and to live in His power daily would change the way we do everything! It would change the world! As we begin a new year, that is my prayer – for me, for you. May the true gospel fill us with His power, Spirit, and conviction so that we too may be examples to the world around us!

Posted in Blogger's World, Monday Matters, The Way, Thoughts & Musings

Plowing a Straight Line

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

That is one of the basic rules I remember (one of the few as a matter of fact) that I remember learning in 8th grade geometry. Right! But how does one get a straight line? well, you can use a ruler if you are drawing one, but what about in life? How do we get from Point A to Point B without going astray or off course? Consider farming for instance. We have often seen the fields after being plowed, either in person or in a film or photo, and seen those impossibly straight furrows the farmer makes. Well, until the advent of modern GPS navigational systems in tractors, farmers had to figure out how to make those straight lines. Ones of the funniest answers I ever saw on how they did this was in the British Farming Forum website. One gentleman answered like this:

Aim at something in the distance and drive straight at it. Do not do what a friend of mine did and aim a cow in the next field.

I’d love to have seen that plow line! Wow!

The key here seems to be focus. Focus on where you are going. Look at what you are doing. For instance, have you ever watched a ballet dancer doing a series of pirouettes, that rapid spinning up on one foot, and wondered why they don’t get dizzy or fall over? Watch their heads and teir eyes – the reason they don’t get off balance is because they have learned to quickly turn their heads first and focus their eyes on a fixed point in front of them. They maintain posture and balance through proper focus.

In the Bible, we often see a call for someone to either “look” or “see” something, and the admonish to remember an important event or promise, or to pay attention to a new promise. For instance in Genesis 13:14 and 15:5, God tells Abram to LOOK up and see the uncountable stars. Then God promises Abram that his descendants will eventually be more numerous than these. Repeatedly we read “your (or their) eyes have seen…” what God did in this or that circumstance, and thereby know that He will continue to do as He has promised and done in the past.

SEE, remember, FOCUS. If our eyes are focused on the right thing, we are less easily distracted. Like the ballet dancer, we can maintain our balance It is especially important to be able to apply this to our spiritual lives. What is your focus, what do you concentrate on during the course of your day? Is it the TV? Gossip? Playing games? Wasting or marking time? Or do you focus on reading or studying what God has said in his word? DO you marvel at the beauty and majesty of His creation, or do you walk around staring blindly at that little screen in your hand and miss the big picture?

Our choices define us, especially on what we choose to focus our energy, thoughts and time. Only when we lift up our eyes and focus on a fixed, immovable point can we see things as the psalmist did:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord , who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalms 121:1‭-‬3

KNOW where your help comes from! LOOK and SEE!