Freedom Makes Life Better

Throughout history, men and nations have fought for liberty. There is a desire in every human heart for freedom. Oppression, in any shape, stagnates liberty and personal growth.

A startling event in America’s history was the Boston Tea Party. The inflated price of tea resulted in Bostonians throwing a cargo of tea into the sea. This one incident was an event that pushed the hearts of Americans over the threshold of oppression. 

Most wars result from a continuation of bullying. There is something inside of every person to make their life better. When the American colonies gained their independence, they put symbols and words on their money, reminding them that liberty was a gift worth fighting and dying for.

Christians have greater freedoms. The believer’s residence has not only earthly benefits, but also eternal ones. The place or status of our personal lives doesn’t keep us from making a difference in our service areas. Our communities and employment surroundings permit us to share our hearts.

There may be rules prohibiting certain words, but no rule can forbid being friendly, polite, or demonstrating Christian character. Our gracious, kind, and thoughtful actions with proper behavior speak louder than our religious vocabulary. A good deed leaves a lasting memory, whereas most words vanish from our memories.  

Whatever your lot in life, you’ll leave a lasting memory for someone. The citizens of the 18th century decided liberty was worth the fight. They were deficit in weapons, but superior in the heart. They knew their desire to do right would benefit others and make life better for future generations. 

If that is your desire, you can influence those who walk where you walk and share your thoughts of freedom through faith.

I Feel Good

I feel good were words of a James Brown song of yesteryear. If you are a millennial or younger, you may have never heard of James Brown. His lyrics are in different commercials and sound bites today.

Those three words, “I feel good,” were refreshing a few days ago. I had just finished a project that was years in development. Hours of toil were on the screen representing the days and months of effort. There was a feeling of accomplishment, joy, thankfulness, and relief when you could say to yourself, “I’m ready for an edit.”

The project is now in the hands of a consultant to fine-tune the lyrics. The 150 moving parts required Devine guidance and patience on my part to wait on the Lord. Some days I had great inspiration, and some weeks, nothing. I mean nothing. Though I tried, nothing worked, not even a line. Then it happened. Things were beginning to come together. Sometimes just a little bit, and other times, a bunch. 

Day after day, the work went on. Bits and pieces came together. Major sections completed. And finally, the whole thing seemed finished.

Examining each section, I discovered certain little parts were left untouched. Once tweaked, all the pieces were complete for now.

God allowed me to put my hand on his plow (Luke 9:62) and go forward while never looking back. Because of his steadfastness and unwavering support, the Lord empowered me to complete this work for his glory. God granted me the confidence to begin and finish it. God is good. I hope I never forget that. Yes, it does feel good to be used by God.

The Greatest Planner

The day was full of anticipation. Knots were in my stomach, an unusual occurrence. The bags were ready. I had set the alarm for 3:15 a.m.

Things are starting to unravel. The alarm sounded at 3:25. Rushed to get ready for my ride. A friend had agreed to drive me to the airport, and we decided that 4:00 a.m. was a good time to leave my place, but he was twenty minutes early! I rushed out the door with luggage and a carry-on case.

All is well.

We arrived at the airport at 4:45 for the 6:50 flight. Things were going well. I picked up my boarding pass and then went to another line to x-ray everything, a 20 minute wait.

The next line was for the boarding area to wait for the plane. Then, I noticed a small sign that said, “Have boarding pass and picture ID ready.” I reached for my wallet, but no wallet—panic—then, fear. My home was too far to retrieve my wallet in time. Suddenly, the conference seemed doomed, and my dream shattered.

I talked to security to explain my situation, and they said to go to the next station. I arrived at the checkout station. The lady called her supervisor. He asked for my ID. I told him I left my wallet at home. His countenance changed. That is not a good sign. Then, he asked, “Do you have any meds?” Yes, that was my reply. Yes, He asked to see them. I unzipped my luggage. Upon examination, my name was on five meds. The same name as my boarding pass. He allowed me to go through security. A miracle. But, he also said someone should overnight my wallet to my destination. They did.

The conference was great. A large publisher asked for thirty pages of my book to review. If you know anything about publishers, his request is a big step for possible publication.

God is good—very good. Artificial hurdles are no problem for the Almighty. Our Lord has a way of overriding circumstances. He loves being the God of the impossible.

Remember that God is in charge when things look bad, and events seem dismal. When he taps you on the shoulder and says, “Do this,” our all-knowing God is working His plan!

Life’s Mural

Visualize a blank canvas. The artist stares and then begins to select assorted colors for his pallet. He picks up the brush and dabs on a little paint with the first stroke of color in your life. Then, your first smile followed by your parents’ reaction to your first word. Soon the steps turn into running.

Life is gaining momentum with conversations. Childhood rushes by. Middle school comes with the adjustments from awkwardness to beauty. Maturity begins to settle in during your high school years. Onward to the young adult life where your wings are spread. You begin to fly on your own. Fly you must. Fly as fast as you can before crashing into the brick wall. The pieces are many, but somehow you get up and fly again. Speed is not your goal now, but caution, accuracy and destination are more focused. Responsibilities settle in and grip your thoughts and actions.

Finding your mate. Then raising a family. Time flies. Now you are looking at the empty nest. Readjustments are in order. Reflections are starting to appear. Do you like what you see? Second thoughts may occur. I wish I had… I would do some things differently. Hindsight is good if it’s applied to future events.

The canvas is almost full. The colors are bright and true. You paint over the dull spots while putting things in perspective trying to pass over the hurts of life. As you gaze at the canvas you want to remember the good things in life that came your way. The lessons learned and valued. The ones you want to share with others. The better things while hoping your listeners are really listening.

There’s just one more scene to paint. What colors will you choose? What will the brush paint as you complete the picture of life.

“Jesus Loves You”

Simplicity is good. A 19th-century poem radiates this truth. Anna Bartlett Warner wrote a poem for a Sunday School teacher, Mr. Linden. He had a student, Johnny Fax. Who was Johnny Fax? Linden wanted to comfort this young lad.

Anna Warner’s poem first appeared in her sister’s novel, Say and Seal (1860) consisting of four stanzas. Later, William Batchelder Bradbury added the refrain and tune. The 1862 publication of Golden Shower of S.S. Melodies was the song’s first appearance in print. (“Jesus Loves Me” has several revised editions in English and other languages).

Did you know the original “Jesus Loves Me” has three other meaningful stanzas? Below is Warner’s poem with Bradbury’s refrain.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
They are weak and he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me, he who died,
Heaven’s Gate to open wide.
He will wash away my sin;
Let his little children in.

Jesus loves me, loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill.
From his shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Jesus loves me!  He will stay
Close beside me all the way.
If I love him, when I die
He will take me home on high.

These simple words have reassured children and adults of God’s love for decades. We will meet Johnny in heaven.

God Speaking

The birds sing. Sirens blair. Thunder rumbles. Babies cry—all of these sounds are the sounds of everyday life.

The author of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, heard a different sound, a voice. The heavenly voice was one that John recognized. It was the Lord speaking. Now the tone of Jesus’ words we’re authoritative. The Book of Revelation describes the risen Lord’s vocalization like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10) announcing something new. The following description of his words was loud, like the sound of many waters in a waterfall (Revelation 1:15).

John worshipped every Lord’s Day while in exile for his crime—preaching the gospel of redemption. Even as a man in his nineties, he ignored his confining circumstances on an isolated prison island. This disciple’s priority was Jesus. Only the residents of heaven knew his Sunday appointment. John worshipped the Lord, and the Almighty received John’s worship in a revealing way.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega.” The scripture’s symbolism of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet is significant. Jesus is picturing the beginning and the end of all good things everywhere. The Lord added the term Almighty as if the former words were not all-inclusive.

The voice that John heard encouraged him to write to the seven churches of Revelation Two and Three. The voice John heard may not sound like the one you sense. Yours will be a quiet voice, not audible to the ears, but to your heart. God has a way of speaking personally to every individual. God’s method may be a prevailing thought, a concern for someone, or an unexpected sum of money someone else needs. Whenever God speaks, listen, and, then, do his bidding.

My World

Life was simple in the Garden of Eden. All the necessities were there. Adam and Eve accepted life as God provided. They concluded each day with a walk in the garden beside their Creator. Life was good. However, the routine lacked adventure.

When an enticement came, Adam and Eve started talking to the serpent. He began by asking questions. The snake hid the truth by placing a doubt in Eve’s mind.

The truth is not always glamorous. Dissatisfaction with reality often occurs. What I like about the truth is I can sleep without feeling guilty. Sweet dreams come at no extra charge.

The older I get, the more I find happiness and peace of mind in the simple things. I enjoy watching children playing and learning. Observing two-year-olds fitting puzzle pieces together or matching colors and shapes brings an inner joy to the observer.

There’s no prejudice with kids. When young people are friendly, everything is right with the world. When selfishness raises its ugly head, cooperation disappears. If adults would learn this, the world would be a better place to live.

Today some of our churches and believer’s get entangled in this self-centeredness by wanting to outdo one another. The result is usually some turmoil.

Life is not about taking your toys and going home when you don’t get your way. God’s plan is about sharing. No competition, just sharing and allowing the Redeemer to work when and where He chooses. My world is better when I accept his decisions and walk with him.

Ready and Willing

We live in a world of the temporary. Disposable items are a way of life now, from diapers to paper plates. We use them once, and then we throw them away. On the other side of life is the word commitment. The term defines itself. 

The trials in our lives are teaching tools. The lessons from our mistakes sharpen our fortitude not to repeat the same deeds. The consequences of mishaps help us approach life differently, often including a change in direction. Destiny has a personal invitation to somewhere, something new, or a renewed interest in the old. 

Life events have a pre-ordered schedule that is usually unknown to us beforehand, but in a timely order in a sequence. God, in his usual manner, gives no warning of his upcoming announcement or assignment. Yet, in our thoughtful hindsight, we see his guiding hand in preparation for our new endeavor. Knowing when we’re ready for his scheduled event is his omniscience. The Lord always knows when we are open to another spiritual level.

Being emotionally and intellectually prepared means we are spiritually ready to walk by faith. Trust and commitment are necessary. Confidence in our unseen Savior allows us to rely on Jesus only. He will lead, provide, and empower us for his service. Our heart’s desire for God to use us can come true. While waiting, compliance to God’s word is the thought of the day, for every day! God sees our diligence and knows the time is right. 

We must ask ourselves if we are ready and willing to be his servant. Not just for a day, but for the duration. When our answer is yes, God’s answer is also yes.

Times Have Changed

A stranger in your world could be a description of you or the title of a new book. For those under fifty, the following is a history lesson of how things used to be. If you are older, you are living in a new world. Things have changed. What you knew in your younger days is a memory. They do not exist anymore, except in attics, dreams, or museums. 

The following are examples of yesterday. Then, the norm was one television per household with a black and white screen. It went off the air at about 1:00 am with the Star-spangled Banner playing on the three stations. Things are different now.

Many families went to church in one car. Everybody put on their best Sunday clothes for worship. Then, you ate dinner as a family. Churches had three services: the Sunday am service and the evening service. Even the midweek service was a regular event and another night for visitation. Those times have disappeared.

Children were not allowed to do certain activities depending on their family background. For example, there were no Little League games on Sunday. Pro sports on Sunday were a new edition. High school events were on Fridays. College sports were on a Saturday routine. Things have changed.

Stores were closed on Sunday. Even gas stations honored the first day of the week. Your neighbors look down on anyone who cuts their grass on Sunday. Ladies would not dare hang their clothes out on this day to dry. Those, too, are bygone days.

Most police officers had Sunday off. It was a crime to commit a crime on Lord’s Day back then. The uniform of a law officer was one of respect. Hospitals sent many of their patients home before the weekend. Only a few nurses work Sundays. Those days are only a memory.

Times have changed, and people are different. Society is evolving. But the gospel is still the same. The world still needs to be redeemed. What are we going to do?

There Are No Accidents

Why you? Why now? Why are you unique? God has the answer. Are you willing to listen? God made you for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). The Lord made you for a purpose, different from everybody else. Yes, you may look and sometimes think like someone in your family, but you are different, unique, and peculiar (1 Peter 2:9). Do you realize you are special? No one can do what you can do. God has a time and a place for everything and everybody. Only you can be your parents’ child for the events coming in your life and affecting others.

What will you do knowing you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14)? The answer begins with God by asking Him for guidance every day. Suppose you are not ready every day. You’re probably not prepared for the future. Every day is an opportunity to grow spiritually and strengthen your resolve for the future.

Peacefulness facilitates endurance. Stick-to-itiveness encourages others in the challenging moments of life. Faith may not be glamorous. But faith will enable you to stand when others might fall or give up. Dependability and trustworthiness are two traits that are admired by all. 

The why of who you are and where you are now is for you to do what God has planned for you. He has equipped you for whatever task He has set before you. There are no accidents in the eyes of God. God knew all along what, when, and where all events would occur. Yet, somehow in the chaos of your life, God will get you there to do His purpose for His glory. If you can’t see or fathom the why, then wait, you will. It may be tomorrow, next year, or eternity, but you will understand. God made you for such a time as this.