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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tunneling Through: A Look At Perseverance

As the Vermont tour train chugged alongside the Green Mountains. the conductor feed us bits and pieces of local history. One such tidbit was the fact that the original track had been laid in the early 1800's before dynamite was used to blast through rock. I didn't think much of it at first, but as  we passed by a few stone faces, it took on new meaning. Workers used hand drills, sledgehammers and muscle to pound their way through schist and metamorphic rock. As the trip progressed, I tucked the information into the back of my mind.

On the return trip, I began to contemplate the tremendous amount of work it must have taken to tunnel through sheer rock. It amazed me as we passed through several rock walls. I couldn't imagine the hours of backbreaking labor, muscle, sweat and endurance it must have taken to excavate through to the other side. It got me thinking about how people use to work harder in years past, especially if they lived on a farm or were settling our west or working as a laborer, building the railroads. Many of us today could never endure the physical effort our ancestors expended in their jobs and daily living. It took such perseverance!

It's a character trait we often admire in athletes, Olympians and homesteaders, but it's not one a lot of Americans still possess. We want our food quick, our shopping easy, our jobs forty hours a week or less, our marriages convenient and our devices to do most anything. I'm not complaining, just wondering how all of this effects our character and personality. When something inconveniences us, like a difficult spouse, relationship or job, we're more willing to ditch it and start over again. I wonder how this is effecting our psyche to be so soft, as Europeans and other nations often view us.

The Bible lists perseverance or endurance as one of the nine fruits of the spirit.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary  defines it as "the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition." I believe it's a very important quality for the Christian to possesses and is the bedrock of many a godly man and woman. To persevere in faith, hope, love and joy while in challenging circumstances is what will make others stand up and look. There's the mark of a Christian. Not just enduring, grinning and bearing up under our circumstances, but holding firm to our faith, resolute in our demeanor, and enduring with peace, love and joy. Willing to go the second mile, even when we're lapped in the face is the call of every Christian.

Perseverance is the tenacity of faith to endure and not give up, to strike another blow when you just don't have the strength to pound that rock again. Call on the Lord when you are weary and strike out in faith. Believe you'll get a breakthrough! Tunnel through that rock, whether it be problems with finances, a career, marriage, addiction, depression or anxiety. You will reap such a great benefit when you wait for the harvest of your prayers and perseverance. Don't grow weary of doing good or attacking a difficult situation. Keep on enduring until God tells you to stop. When He does, you will most likely have reached the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel!

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

For God, Gold and Glory

I sat at the table working with the students assigned me, but I couldn't help overhear what the teacher at the other center was discussing with her students. They were looking at their weekly 4 page newspaper. In it they must have had an article about Columbus and a poll about whether students thought we should celebrate Columbus Day or not. I know this has been a hot topic of discussion in the past and I thought about it for a while. 

The primary reason against celebrating Columbus Day, other than the fact he didn't land in America, hinges on the reality that he enslaved and maimed the  natives (Taino's) of Hispaniola and brought disease that eventually killed them all.. Because of this, some believe he was a villain, not a hero. I remember reading a book about him which revealed excerpts from his diary, which appeared to be sincere in his desire to bring Christ to those who did not know him. However, it's rather difficult to judge his original intentions, as he and his men did leave evidence of a destructive path.

What struck me later was how much we stand in a similar place as Columbus. What are our real intentions? How will others read our life if they don't know us? How about those who do know us, can they accurately ascertain the intentions of our heart? While Columbus is dead and gone, along with his reputation, we are still here and have a name to maintain as Christians. Are we going around maiming others, destroying rather than building up, gathering the gold and glory for ourselves? 

I just finished a session from a Christian motivational speaker on monetizing your message. That didn't sit well with me. Not that I don't want to make money from what I do. The Bible tells us that a worker is worthy of his wages, but do I want to monetize what God shows me? I think not.
I want to offer to the world the free message of His reconciliation between God and man. The love and forgiveness He offers freely. Does that mean that I don't charge for my books? Of course not, but where is my heart. What do I want the most? To get the glory, make the money, be a well known author? On the surface no, since none of those things has happened, but I need to dig a little deeper. Let God expose my area of sin.

Here's where  God honed in on me as though I was standing being judged before people, just like Columbus now stands trial. I started thinking about my own intentions. How pure are they? How much do I want for my own glory and gold? I want to do things for God's glory, but somehow it sometimes gets muddled in this upside down culture where what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good. All I can do is confess it to God and let Him transform my heart of stone to a heart of gold, purified in the refining fires to reflect Him, sot that He may be glorified!  It's something to think about this Columbus Day weekend.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hurricanes, Storms and a Prayer Walk

While Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and Irma devastated several Caribbean Islands, as well as the Florida keys, upstate New York is enjoying a beautiful late summer day. During this terrible onslaught of natural disasters, my prayers have been focused on lessening the impact of these storms, earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricane victims, but today I turned my heart more towards home. I decided to go on a prayer walk. Instead of just strolling around the neighborhood, somewhat of a ghost town during the day, I decided to do a pray bike ride rather than my usual prayer walk. Essentially the two are the same from a spiritual perspective, but I was able to cover more territory and pray for those I haven’t passed by their houses in months.

I usually begin with a general prayer asking for protection for our neighbor hood, town and environs, yet in light of all that is going on in the world; I focused more on praying for neighbor’s salvation. We indeed are living in perilous times, and people’s souls are hanging in the balance between life and death. As I passed by neighbors I know, I prayed for particular situations I was aware of: comfort from death of a loved one, that they might know the love and comfort of God, prayer for removal of deception for those seeking spiritual enlightenment outside Christ, prayer for those who know Him to know Him better and spread the light and prayer for those who only heard of Him. I said their name and prayed for them to know the power of His love, mercy and salvation.

As I pass neighbors who I forget their names, more common these days, I pray for the Lord to show me how I can reach them, to get to know them. I’ve asked the Lord for creative ideas, like baking cookies but I want a fresh vision of what to do, so I prayed for Him to give me ideas. If I don’t know the neighbors at all, I pray that God would bring people into their lives that do know Him and would share the good news of redemption and salvation, freedom from the bondage of sin. As I know several struggle with addictions, I prayed for release from this bondage, which is no easy task. (On returning home, I received a text from a friend who’s husband is going through this. Today he went into rehab, but they can only keep him for five days, unless the insurance covers a four week program. We prayed that it will be covered and extend it even further.)

Riding by homes who I know have children, I hope they would be open to the gospel and have opportunities to hear the good news. I prayed they would hear about Jesus in Sunday school or maybe from a friend, perhaps a teacher, or reading a book or seeing a movie. I prayed for the adults in their lives, that someone would be able to show them the love of Christ. I also prayed for the churches in the community that they would grow and be beacons of light to those who need to know The Light of the World.

On my return home, I was thankful the Lord had protected our small community, but my heart still goes out to the many who do not know Him. I pray God will use me more, and I will shed the light of Jesus Christ to friend and foe where I may go.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Restoration, Healing and Protection

Dear readers, here is an excerpt from my latest book, "I AM" Calling, which is a daily devotional for your heart, mind and spirit.


For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds, says the Lord. (Jer. 30:17)


My friends, do you believe I can restore you? I AM looking for people like Abraham who put their faith into actionmen and women who will listen to Me, men and women who will obey, men and women who will take back what the enemy has stolen.When Abrams nephew, Lot, was taken captive, Abram assembled his household and took back Lot, his wife, and his possessions.

Look around you. See those who have been taken captive by the enemy. Assemble an army of prayer warriors and set them free. Believe they can be released. Pray and take action. Go to them as a brother and sister and take them out of the enemys hands. Remember, prayer is the key. My children, stand firm and believe in restoration.

In light of the recent hurricanes and disasters, here is another entry I hope ministers to you along with a song Trust in You from Lauren Daigle. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps. 18:2)

When you feel like life has hemmed you in on every side and you have nowhere to hide, run to Me.When the earth trembles beneath your feet and all you know is shaken,find your refuge in Me. When friends and family disappoint, call out to Me. Run to Me, and I will protect you; I will shield you from the arrows of the enemy and the lies of your own thoughts. Find refuge in Me in a world that is going mad. Call out to Me in your sorrows and distress, and I will be there with you. Turn to Me in all you encounter, and you will find a fortress of hope. I AM mightier than the cliffs of Dover, the castles of Scotland, and the tower of your terrors. Trust Me, for I AM more sure than the majestic Himalayas, more certain than the splendor of the Alps. I AM your shieldnot your money, not your plans for retirement, nor your present careers. I will stand with you when you are accused, beaten down, accursed, and defiled. Though all leave you, I will stand by you. I can shield you from bitterness, envy, strife, and hatred when you guard your heart and hide yourself in Me. In Me is your salvation, none other. I AM your way of escape, your protection and solid rock in a trembling land.