Friday, July 19, 2013

Madison's Graduation Invocation

"It can hardly be argued that either student or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Justice Abe Fortas, Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969.
 
 



  My niece, Madison*, led the invocation at her high school graduation. She was chosen by her peers through a ballot vote. Her family is extremely proud of her heart for the Lord and people, and for exercising her constitutional rights. This is her prayer:

 
"Please bow your heads with me:

Dear Lord and Father,

I thank you so much for this amazing group of seniors and for all the memories we have made over the past four years of our high school careers. Thank you for blessing this class with so much talent, intelligence, health, ability, and love for each other.

I thank you for the mentors and teachers who have impacted our lives and have inspired us to become strong leaders in this world as we go on to a new stage in our lives. We come to you on this evening lifting up this group of seniors before you. I pray that as we all go our separate ways that we stay strong in our morals and values that we have gained from the influences of the people that YOU have surrounded us with.

Your plan is perfect, Lord, and I pray that we take what you have provided for us here, and use it to do your will. I thank you so much for your many blessings and the ultimate sacrifice, your son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins. In His perfect and gracious name I pray, Amen."
 
 
In the U. S.,  private religious speech, as well as secular private expression, is fully protected under the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. According to the U. S. Dept. of Education's guidance regarding prayer at graduation, school officials may not require or organize prayer at graduation or other school-sponsored events, or select speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech. School personnel may not lead their classes in prayer, Bible readings, or other religious activities. School students are not prohibited from voluntarily praying before, during, or after the school day.
 
Do your children and grandchildren know their First Amendment rights? Talk to them about the freedoms we enjoy in our nation. Encourage them to exercise their constitutional right to pray at school.

*Names changed to protect privacy
Photo of my nieces Stephanie* & Madison*

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Panic or Pray?

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears."
Psalm 34: 4 (NIV)

How do you respond to a crisis? Do you panic? Are you fearful? Or do you turn to God and cry out to Him for help?

In my youth, I tended to panic and try to fix things myself, rather than asking for God's wisdom, help, and guidance. I learned leaving God out of the equation was not wise. It was painful.

King Ahaz faced the enemy invasion of King Rezin and King Pekah. Although King Ahaz was evil, God sent Isaiah to assure Ahaz  these kings would not succeed. Ahaz was exhorted to keep calm, not fear, and stand firm. The LORD offered Ahaz a sign, for which Ahaz refused to ask. The LORD, however, gave him the sign anyway. In his crisis, Ahaz sought help from his enemy, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria. He placed his confidence in a man, rather than the LORD. Tiglath-Pileser gave Ahaz trouble rather than help. King Ahaz became more unfaithful to God, and  sought help from the gods of Damascus, but they were his downfall.  Ahaz provoked the God of his fathers to anger. ( 2 Kings 16; 2 Chron. 28; Isaiah 7 ).
 
In crisis moments, choose to seek God and pray. We can trust his character. He is our refuge and strength, and always ready to help us  in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
 
LORD God, when we are in distress, help us to trust you and not fear. You alone are our true security! In the mighty name of Jesus, the hope of the world...amen.



















































Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Path of Our Feet

"Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways
before the LORD his God."
2 Chron. 27: 6 (NAS)
 
 
My husband and I were enjoying a brisk walk with our dog, Chloe, when I pulled my smart phone out of my pocket to check the "Map My Walk" app. Curious about how far we'd walked, I took my focus off the path failing to see the sidewalk was not level. My toe caught an uneven place, and I went tumbling. I hit my head and fell on my side, certain I broke ribs. After walking home, I was dizzy and in a great deal of pain. I needed help not only to sit, but to stand as well. I was a mess. My thoughts were plagued by "If only I'd paid attention...".

Jotham, king of Judah ( 2 Kings 15: 32- 38; 2 Chron. 27) is described as a man who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple, and also built towns, forts, and towers. He warred against his enemies and conquered them. Jotham did not repeat the sin of his father Uzziah. God allowed Jotham to grow powerful because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God (2 Chron. 27:6).

"Ordered"  (kuwn; Strong's number 3559) means "to be firm", "be stable", "be established", "to be fixed", "be steadfast". From Baker & Carpenter's Complete Word Study Old Testament Dictionary, it  is "a verb meaning to set up, to make firm, to establish, to prepare. The primary action of this verb is to cause to stand in an upright position, and thus the word also means fixed or steadfast." The same Hebrew word is used in Proverbs 4: 26 "Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established."



The things of this world can distract and trip us up. The fall can leave us bruised, broken and regretful. Jotham is an example of one who stood firm in the midst of a corrupt generation. He was diligent to watch his path and fix his focus on the LORD his God. May the LORD bless us with His wisdom, and help us to be steadfast to follow His ways.

Blessings,
Lori


 
 
 
 
 

 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gaudiness & Godliness

"God is opposed to the proud,
but gives grace to the humble."
James 4: 6 b
 
 
The dollar store blue eye shadow lacked the intensity I needed. Scrounging through my closet, I found some "no-telling how old" indigo shadow. Praying it wouldn't cause an infection, I swiped it on. Heavily applied blush, eyeliner, and mascara followed. It took an hour to get my makeup on.
 
After spraying my hair with lots and lots of Aqua Net and gluing on the bright red press-on nails, I donned my Ebay vintage black dress and leggings. I slipped on gaudy costume rings. It was Saturday night, and I had an 80's themed birthday party to attend.
 
We listened to 80's tunes, and talked about the movies we loved. We feasted on a fabulous salad and created custom-made individual pizzas. We ooohed and aaahed as the birthday girl opened her gifts. And I won the costume prize...a Charming Charlie gift card. It was a nice evening.
 
Back at home, I couldn't wait to shed my outfit, scrub the layers of make-up off my face, and get rid of the fire engine red nails.  After immersing my finger tips in polish remover, with not-so-great results, my husband suggested WD-40. That didn't work either. Returning to the polish remover, the tips finally dissolved, but then I worked and worked to pry off the glued-on part. It was getting later and later. Finally... I went to sleep.
 
Sunday morning, I woke up weary. I looked at my hands. One lone press-on nail remnant remained. One. There was no way I was going to go to church looking like this. What would people think?
 
Pride is something God opposes and detests (James 4: 6; Prov. 16: 5). He used a little fake fingernail to show me my pride.  It was a valuable life lesson.

I don't want God to oppose me. I pray the Holy Spirit will show us our pride so that we can acknowledge and turn away from it, and live humbly. For the humble, there is grace, wisdom, and honor.

Lord God, I admit I struggle with pride. Help me to overcome pride and walk in humility. Give me a heart like Jesus. In His name, amen.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Heart Thoughts

"Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
 Psalm 19: 14


God promised to make Jeroboam, son of Nebat, king over ten tribes of Israel. Jeroboam's dynasty would endure if he listened to God's commands, followed God's ways, and did right in God's eyes (1 Kings 11: 35- 38).
 
After becoming king, Jeroboam thought to himself, "The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam."  (1 Kings 12: 26- 27).  Some Bible translations use the phrase "Jeroboam said in his heart...".
 
Jeroboam's heart demonstrated wrong thinking, and as a result he led Israel to sin. Jeroboam failed to heed God's counsel, and came up with his own plan. More concerned with the people's loyalty to him rather than the people's obedience to God, Jeroboam sought advice from men. This counsel was contrary to the LORD's commands. Jeroboam set up altars and idols at Bethel and Dan. Jeroboam also rejected the Levites - God's ordained priests- replacing them with others who would practice idolatry.
 
Jeroboam, son of Nebat, led Israel to sin by providing the wrong gods, in the wrong places, using the wrong authority. He did not do right in God's eyes. Jeroboam rejected the LORD's requirements for worship, and his sin is repeatedly emphasized (2 Kings 14: 23-24; 15: 8-9, 17-18, 23-24, 27-28). This was Jeroboam's legacy.

As a young adult, when I was asked advice, I gave my opinion...what I thought was right in my eyes. The LORD brought me to my senses, impressing upon me to give advice according to His Word.
 
Our pastor told the congregation, "Know what the word of God says, or we will be left with our own opinions, rather than God's revelation."
 
God allowed Jeroboam to reign 22 years, and eventually because of Israel's sin of idolatry, God allowed Israel to be taken into captivity by Assyria. Sin has consequences.

What are your heart's thoughts?  Are your thoughts and actions right in God's eyes?

Knowing and obeying God's Word, the Bible,  makes us wise, gives understanding, provides light, preserves our lives, sustains us, and keeps us from sinning. God's word is eternal, trustworthy, right, and true! Those who loves God's law have great peace (Psalm 119).

May our words and thoughts be pleasing to the LORD, our Rock and Redeemer!

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love One Another Deeply

"...love one another deeply, from the heart."
1 Peter 1: 22 b (NIV)
 

In my Scripture memory, I'm working on 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, the "Love is..." passage. First, I read it over and over. Next, I say it aloud without looking at the text. When I finally have it down, I incorporate into my prayer time..."Lord, help me to be patient and kind to others. Help me not to be easily angered..."
 
At Bible study, our group was reading 1 Peter. A phrase in verse 22 jumped off the page and landed on my note pad: "...love one another deeply, from the heart." In place of "deeply" some translations use the word "fervently". The word means intensely, earnestly, fervently. It comes from a verb meaning "stretch out the hand".
 
When I think of  "stretching out", I think of exercising. And exercising can be painful. It's tough, and it takes discipline. Like exercise,  loving others can be a challenge.
 
Shirley, our Bible study teacher, said, "God will give us the opportunity to do the loving thing." Oh, yes, He will. Especially if you're asking for it.
 
Have you ever been snubbed? Mistreated? Offended by rudeness? I have. Inwardly, my anger flares, and I want to say or do something to hurt my offender.
 
But, that's not love. Love is patient, kind, not envious, doesn't boast, and it's not proud. Love's not rude or self-seeking. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil. Love rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails.
 
Because of God's great love, Jesus stretched out his hands for us on a cross. He took our sins, and died for us. And because He lives, His Spirit is available to live in us, giving  us the strength to love others deeply.
 
 
Father God, thank you for your great love. When you give us the opportunity to do the loving thing, help us to love others as you have loved us. In the name of our Saviour, Jesus...amen.
 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Serving God's Purpose

"For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep..." Acts 13: 36 
 
 
Friends and family members gathered in our church sanctuary to honor a beloved pastor at his memorial service. Pastor Gene was a sweet man with a twinkle in his eye. He was 90 years old. Married 61 years, he and his wife raised six children. Gene also served his country in the military. Pastor Gene loved God and cared deeply for people.
 
A wise teacher told me, "There's no retirement in the kingdom of God." On his last day, Pastor Gene attended church, ministering to and praying for people. Later, he went to bed, and in the middle of the night, Jesus called him to his heavenly home. His wife said, "Praise God! Gene lived until he died."
 
One of his children said, "Dad always talked about the Lord." Gene's grandson said, "We have a responsibility to carry out his godly legacy."
 
Like King David, Pastor Gene served God's purpose in his generation. He inspired people. Gene will be missed, but we rejoice that we have eternal life because of Jesus Christ!
 
The Lord determines the places and times where men live (Acts 17: 26), and He calls his people to be salt and light (Matt. 5: 13- 16). Pray to be a godly influence to this generation!
 
Lord God, I thank you for the godly men and women you have placed in our lives. Thank you for godly legacies that extend to future generations. May each of us serve Your purpose today and until the day we see You face to face! In the name of Jesus, I offer this prayer...amen.

 
Who has inspired and encouraged you to serve God's purpose in your generation? Please leave a comment.