Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Understand Your Rights

Many people make New Year's Resolutions.  I make December 28th resolutions.  With the year quickly drawing to a close, I quickly think of all the things I want to finish before the year is over.

It seems Congress has been trying to make resolutions too, but I'm skeptical that any of their December 31st--last 12 hours of the year--resolutions to save our country from the fiscal cliff are going to work, no matter how much Senator Reid "Really hopes so."  

We will survive this fiscal cliff, just like we survived the Mayan Apocalypse and Y2K,  but it will be more serious and it is not going to make life any easier for anyone.  As Hank Anzis wrote in his must-read post "Off the Cliff" it shouldn't be "unreasonable to ask the government to make some tough choices themselves."

The government should make the drastic cuts needed to put our nation back on the right track.  But, it's December 31st.  It's simply not going to happen.    


However, at least one of my December 28th resolutions is going to get done.  That is writing a book review about Understand Your Rights: Because You're About to Lose Them, by Revolutionary War and Beyond.

I was given a free autographed copy of the book by the author and his father (who reenacted John Adams) at the Liberty Fest in Hampton this fall.  I found the book very informative and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a refresher course on the Bill of Rights.  It is written in a trying-to-be-objective manner, explaining both sides of the argument, but it is very definitely  from a conservative Republican perspective.  

The book begins with a Prologue and then the first three chapters give the early history of the United States with the Articles of Confederation and a purposefully weak government.  Then, the arguments for and against the U.S. Constitution (by the Federalists and Anti-Federalists) are explained. 

 One interesting fact I hadn't realized until I read this book is that although the first Congress under the Constitution met in March of 1789, and Washington was inaugurated in May of '89, North Carolina did not join the Union until November of '89, and Rhode Island did not join until May of the following year.  Many of the states would not accept the Constitution without the promise of a Bill of Rights, and so writing the Bill of Rights was a major task of the first Congress. 

Chapter 3 of Understand Your Rights goes hand in glove with Einstein's statement: “The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it.  Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure."  This chapter lists various ways the government has taken away rights and declares that only the voters can defend their rights.

The next ten chapters are each dedicated to one of the first 10 amendments, using the same format for each one.  Each chapter starts with the text of the amendment, followed by a short explanation.  

Next comes a history of the rights listed in the amendment.  The histories explain how the rights go back into English history and were developed with the Assize of Clarendon, the Magna Carta, British court cases, Sir William Blackstone, the colonial era and the colonists' relationship with each other and the mother country, the American Revolution, and the Articles of Confederation.  

Then, the book explains how the Amendment effects life today.  A summary of each important court case that involved the Amendment or the right, is given.  Finally, the chapter ends with a summary from the author's perspective about how the right is threatened and what can be done to preserve it. 

 The fourteenth chapter is a conclusion; then there is a very reasonably sized Appendix containing the texts of the Assize of Clarendon, the Magna Carta, the Articles of Confederation and many other documents essential to the history of law in our country.  

The author maintains a positive tone throughout his work, while clearly laying out what he believes are the major threats to the traditional American way of life and government:
Next to the ignorance of the American population about the importance of their rights, an overactive judiciary is probably the number 1 threat to your personal freedom.  The American people must do everything they can to stop the escalating power grab of the judiciary before it is too late and we descend into a totalitarian state."
The courts have, with the 14th ammendment and then the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut, taken more and more power.  The author also points to the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a major turning point during and after which the government has taken more and more power. 



The author believes that "We must shrink the powers of the federal government and the Courts and restore self governance and local state governance."  He warns of "an oligarchical totalitarian system" which is already taking over and will take over, if Americans don't "wake up."  Remedying the problem is not going to be easy, he admits, but "We will win if we don't just lie down and continue to let them [those who want to increase government power]" walk all over us."  

The author concludes by saying:
     "It's time to stop the decay of America.  But it won't happen unless WE do something.  What can we do today?  Educate ourselves and others.  Vote!  It is our responsibility.  Nothing is going to change...unless we change!"   
 I wrote an article that expressed most of the same sentiments last year.  If every American understood their rights and treasured them, our country would take a turn for the better.

But, it's December 31st.  Midnight is in 12 hours.  We're about to go off the cliff.

In any case, I've decided not to worry as worrying doesn't help anything, so Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Daily Bread

 "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." 

    Jesus told his disciples that they should pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."

The Lord feeds even the sparrows and we can trust God to take care of our every-day physical needs.  Is there any one of my readers who hasn't eaten today?  I certainly hope not!  But no matter how much you eat today, you will have to eat again tomorrow.  Bread is good, but the satisfaction you get from eating it does not last forever--if you remain satisfied for 8 hours you are doing incredibly well!

 We can also trust the Lord to give us daily spiritual nourishment.  In John 6:35, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  Is there any one of my readers who hasn't feasted on the Word of God today?  I certainly hope not!  The Lord prepares a feast for your soul each day.  If you read the Bible yesterday, it is not enough; you need to read more everyday.  

Reading the Bible is one of the most important things you can do, because the nutrition you receive from the Bread of Life lasts forever-- it is eternal.

Lord, give us this day our daily bread, the Bread of Life!

Friday, December 14, 2012

His Grace is Sufficient

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." --1 Corinth. 12:9

His grace is sufficient for me;
He's seen me through my weakest moment.
May His peace around me e'er be;
He's tak'n the gloom and giv'n light refulgent.

When shall I see him face to face?
I want to see Jesus who died for me
To behold His beauty and grace
(And) hold the hands of Him who holds eternity.

His grace is sufficient for you;
Doubts and fears may sweep in tireless dark waves,
But Christ's word is faithful and true.
In hardest times remember, Jesus saves!

When tears would your joy obfuscate,
Think of Christ's unwavering love for you.
On His word you must contemplate;
His great mercy and grace will see you through.

His grace is sufficient for all,
All who seek Him, all who for His word wait,
His goodness will their hearts enthrall;
His timing is right--ne'er too early, ne'er too late.

My prayer today is, "Lord, thank you for your manifold blessings on us.  Thank you for your grace which is sufficient to cover all our guilt and shame.  Thank you for redeeming us, so that we can walk in newness of life in you.  Lord Jesus, I long to see your face!  Comfort every heart that is sad and afflicted; let them feel your presence and know your grace.  Come quickly Lord and let your Kingdom fill the heavens and the earth.  Amen."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wisdom

This week I took a shot at answering a few questions on Yahoo Answers.  I quickly came to the conclusion that a good many people--to put it nicely--are totally clueless.  

The only reason I would recommend following my example and answering a few questions at Yahoo Answers is if you're seeking proof against natural selection and the evolution of the human species.

When the Lord came to King Solomon and told Solomon he could have whatever he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom.

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."  --Proverbs 4:7

 In Proverbs 8:35-36, Wisdom says, "Whosoever findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul:  all they that hate me love death."

How do we find wisdom? 

 We find it in the Bible.  Proverbs 9:10 tells us "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  We read God's word so we can know more about Him, what He desires, and what His will is.  We fear God (We respect Him.  We do not do anything that displeases Him).

We learn from experience, and we are willing to listen to other's advice.  (Proverbs 15:31-32)

We remember that God's wisdom is often different from the conventional wisdom.  God said in Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."  If you are in-tune to the wisdom of God, you will be peculiar!  The Apostle Paul tells us "the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God," and "The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than man."

We ask the Lord for wisdom, just like Solomon asked.  James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  God was so pleased with Solomon's request for wisdom that he gave him long life, riches, and honor in addition.  The Lord wants us to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

The Lord can lead and direct our steps if we keep our eyes on Him.  He doesn't want us to go through life blindly.  He's the best answer, and He's the only one who can give us the wisdom we need to tell the difference between right and wrong--so we aren't clueless.

"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.  

For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, 
and the gain thereof than fine gold.  She is more precious than rubies: 
and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.  

Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.  

Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  

She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: 
and happy is every one that retaineth her."
--Proverbs 3:13-18

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are You an Encourager?

Encouragers are the most important people in the world.  Why?  Encouraging words are like sunshine on a cold winter day or raindrops on parched, thirsty soil.

As Proverbs 16:24 says, 
"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones."

     Everyone has his or her own bad days.  Everyone has troubles.  Sometimes we wonder if we can meet our goals.

     And then sometimes we meet discouragers--people who tell us we'll never get it right, that we're wasting our time, and that we will never succeed. 

 Every great invention has been criticized, every great discovery disparaged.  Benoit Mandelbrot's fascinating work in fractals was, at first, dismissed by his colleagues as insignificant (watch Nova video about it here).  The Wright brothers were publicly scorned by the European newspapers.  No great work ever was done without the pioneer facing derision and discouragement.

God, however, is an encourager.  The Lord says in Isaiah 51:12
"I, even I, am He that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of man..."

and Isaiah 41:13
"I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."

     The Lord has promised us He will always be with us.  I know from experience that He is there even when there is nothing else but sadness and confusion.  His Holy Presence and peace is there to encourage us and give us peace and hope.  He reminds us to keep fighting the good fight--to never give up!  Better things are awaiting us if we trust in Him.

     The Lord Jesus wants us to be like Him--to be imitators of Christ.  Hebrews 12:12 instructs us to "lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."

     The amount of good one word of encouragement can do is unfathomable.  I have been blessed to know some chronic encouragers, and their words of encouragement have never left me.   I would like to thank them for being who they are--for being encouragers.  Their small work makes a big difference.

As for the rest of us, let's reconsider ourselves.  What team are we on?  Do we belong to the Encouragement Team?  If not, we better join.  It's time to spread the sweetness of pleasant words.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Eternal Guide

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  
the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
--Psalm 27:1
     Jesus has promised He will always be with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  In Psalm 23, King David said, "The Lord is my shepherd...He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." 
      King Saul hunted David and tried to kill him.  The Philistines tried to kill David.  David's own son, Absalom, tried to kill him.  David had trouble after trouble.  But he knew one thing: the Lord was His shepherd.  The Lord is trustworthy.  David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet will I fear no evil, for Thou art with me."  The Lord was David's eternal Guide and Defense.  
     We have all failed.  We do not deserve the least of the Lord's mercies, but we know that He is merciful.  He is faithful and will keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

      "[Christ] bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep gone astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."  --1 Peter 2:24-25

     He saved us, and He will lead us in paths of righteousness.  Sometimes we may be confused.  Sometimes things may not work out the way we plan.  Sometimes our plans may take a lot of hard work.  But we should never lose hope.  We just need to keep our eyes upon Jesus; He will give us strength.  He will work everything for our good.  In Psalm 32:8, the Lord says,

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: 
I will guide thee with mine eye."  

We know that Psalm 48:14 is true:

"This God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death."

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Visit to the Hardin County Historical Society



     My family and I were invited to sing at a program at the Hardin County Historical Society in Eldora, Iowa on December 9th.  The historical society purchased this Victorian style home in the 1970s, and the interior is filled with all sorts of interesting historical artifacts.  The house was built in 1891 by the widow of a wealthy Hardin County landowner, Lyman Wisner.  Mrs. Julia Wisner died 1893, leaving the house to her housekeeper.  

One outstanding characteristic of the home is it's ornate wood work.  Every room has a different style of wood.


I can't imagine keeping all of this dusted and free of cob webs!

The kitchen contained a fascinating old wood-burning stove/oven (and a freezer dating from the 1950s with a door which was nearly impossible to shut!)

Here is a telephone mounted on the wall.
  I wonder what the original owners would think of today's phones!

Upstairs there were all sorts of ladies' dresses on manikins...Styles have *um* changed?





Downstairs there was a room filled with old uniforms.
World War II-- Navy

Navy to the left.  World War I infantry to the right.

World War II-- Army Air Corp
We were privileged to meet Pilot Clyde Davidson's daughter, and she told us that her father did reconnaissance, flying Allied generals over Germany.  We also met a Vietnam Air Force veteran.  He was a master sergeant who worked loading munitions onto fighter planes.

We were told that the Historical Society also has a Civil War uniform, but it was too fragile and irreplaceable for display.
Guns with a powder horn--The guns were mostly wood!
A typewriter

Iowa Geodes
An Indian arrowhead
After our tour was complete (and I had succeeded in spying the goodies in the kitchen), it was time for music!  The first group was a ladies' choir.
They were very good!  The music was sweet and relaxing.

We enjoyed listening to Prairie Creek String Band next.

Then we sang 4 songs, "Wonderful is Jesus," "The Holy City," "How Long Has it Been?" and  "The Goodness of God."  Afterwards, Prairie Creek played a few more numbers.


I was too focused on chatting and eating the goodies to get any photos!
The grande finale was hot apple cider and delicious cookies served to all.  It was a very pleasant evening, and I definitely recommend the Hardin County Historical Society to anyone looking to find a taste of the past in Eldora, Iowa.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, 1940
     The evening of December 6th, 1941, Seaman 1C James Daniel Lancaster and a few friends aboard the USS Arizona were arguing about the chances of a Japanese bombing raid.  One of his buddies said, "We are sitting ducks out here!"  The argument grew boisterous and an officer finally told them to quiet down.  The next morning, Seaman Lancaster heard planes overhead; he never saw his friends from the night before again.  

     What Seaman Lancaster and his buddies didn't know that Saturday evening was that on November 26th,  Japan had dispatched all 6 of its first line aircraft carriers--the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zaikako--and their fleets (33 ships in all) on a top secret mission commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.  Emperor Hirohito had given final authorization for the attack on December 1st. 

Before dawn on December 7th, the Japanese aircraft carriers were abuzz as more than 350 aircraft were prepared for take off.

At 6:00 Sunday morning the first wave of  Japanese fighter aircraft, torpedo bombers, high-level bombers, and dive bombers took off. 

A torpedo plane takes off from the Shokaku

A Zero (fighter plane) takes off from the Akagi

The first wave of the attack was led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, and it is from his writings that we take much of the Japanese account of the attack.  Fuchida was later converted to Christianity and became an evangelist.  
Mitsuo Fuchida
     
Pearl Harbor Radar
The incoming Japanese attack planes were detected by radar and reported, but were mistaken for an incoming group of American planes, due that morning from the mainland.  During practice maneuvers, destroyers spotted a Japanese submarine, fired on it, and reported it.  The report was ignored.

By 7:40, Fuchida realized they were nearing their goal.  The sky above Pearl Harbor was clear.  The U.S. aircraft carriers Enterprise and Lexington were no where to be seen.  They were gone on missions to transport fighters to Wake and Midway Islands.  However, the battleships USS California, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arizona, and Nevada could be clearly seen in Battleship Row.  At 7:49 he ordered his radioman to give the attack command.

The torpedo bombers, led by Lieutenant Commander Murata, were the first to attack.  Lieutenant Commander Itaya's fighters provided an escort to ward off any American fighters which might venture into the sky.  But... Fuchida saw no American fighters in the air, no anti-aircraft guns flashing from the ground!

  At 7:53 he sent the message "Surprise Attack Successful" to the Flagship Akagi.
Japanese photo of Battleship Row as torpedoes are dropped
     Meanwhile, Ensign Guy Flanagan Jr. was in his bunk room in the USS Arizona.  At around 7:55 he and his buddies heard an air raid siren.  An air raid on Sunday?  They thought it was a joke.   Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua was eating breakfast.  Ensign William J. Bush  was asleep in his room when he faintly heard the siren.  Fuqua called for General Quarters to be sounded.  Bush jumped out of bed, put on his clothes, and headed to battle stations as did many others.  Carl Marvin Carson was probably one of the first to notice the planes.  He was on deck doing his morning chores when he heard a plane fly over.  He thought nothing of it until "chips started flying."  The plane was strafing the deck!  

     Similar scenes occurred aboard the other battleships.  29 of the 40 Japanese torpedo planes targeted the battleships.  Each plane was armed with a torpedo carrying 450 pounds of high explosives, and up to 21 of these found their targets.  Two hit the California, 1 exploded against the Nevada, and up to 9 each struck the Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Oklahoma and West Virginia sunk within minutes. Two torpedoes traveled under the USS Vestal, a repair ship, and hit the Arizona.  

     Next, the dive-bombers went in for their targets: Wheeler field, Hickman field, and bases on Ford Island.  Wheeler Airfield was the main fighter base.  There, the Japanese found 140 planes--mostly P-40s and P-36 pursuits--on the ground.  Two-thirds of these were destroyed or put out of action.  

Burning planes and hangars at Wheeler Field
Army planes destroyed at Wheeler Field
A similar proportion of B-17, B-18, and A-20 bombers were lost at Hickman airfield, and a bomb which hit the barracks there killed many airmen.  Other smaller airfields also suffered badly.  Only a few Army fighter planes did manage to get airborne.  These shot down 11 Japanese planes, and lost only 4 of their own--two during take off and one to friendly fire.

     But the battleships were afforded no respite.  Fuchida's level-bombing group entered their bombing run for the battleships at an altitude of 3,000 meters.  Fuchida had the sighting bomber take position in front of his plane.  By this time there was anti-aircraft fire all around.  Lieutenant Commander Fuchida felt his plane bounce.  He had been hit!  There was a hole in his fuselage and a rudder wire had been damaged, but the plane was still under control.  He was about to release his bombs when a cloud emerged between him and his target.  They would have to try again.  His group circled around.  

Other bombing groups made their rounds.  Just as Fuchida's group was returning for their 2nd run, he recalls, a gargantuan cloud of dark red smoke rose to 1000 meters.  He felt the shock of the explosion even in his plane several miles from the harbor.

Smoke from the Arizona
(black specks in the air are flak from anti-aircraft guns)
The Arizona had been hit in the forecastle at 8:03.  The bomb penetrated the ship's 2 armored decks and ignited the ship's magazine.  Another bomb, 30 seconds later, hit the boat deck.  A third went down the stack, and then one indirectly hit the face of the #4 turret.  
Battleship Row soon after the Arizona exploded

Lieutenant Commander Fuqua, on board the ship, was knocked out by the blast of the bomb.  When he came to, the ship was a mass of flames.  Assisted by the crews from turrets 2 and 4, he tried to fight the fire.  At 9:00 A.M. he gave the command to abandon ship.  He evacuated 70 wounded into boats and landed them. 
Samuel G. Fuqua
Recieved the Medal of Honor for his bravery.  Became a Rear Admiral. 
 As Donald A. Graham recalled, Fuqua as the senior officer on deck, set a good example.  He was "unperturbed, calm, cool, and collected, exemplifying the courage and traditions of an officer under fire.  It seemed like the men painfully burned, shocked, and dazed, became inspired and took things in stride, seeing Mr. Fuqua, so unconcerned about the bombing and strafing, standing on the quarterdeck.  There was no going to pieces or growing panicky noticable..."  Mr. Fuqua left the ship at about 9:30 and reported that that all personnel but 3 or 4 men (dead) from turrets 3 and 4 had been saved.  
USS Arizona burning

Men on other parts of the ship were not so fortunate.  1177 of the men on the USS Arizona died.  Only 333 survived.  Carl Malvin Carson, who was also knocked out by the blast, ruptured both of his lungs.  The lights went out throughout the ship.  When he came to, he grabbed a flashlight and headed for his battle station.  He ran into a friend whose skin was just hanging from his arms and face.  He took him by the arm--and all the skin came off in his hand.  There was nothing he could do to help, and his friend died like many others.  Carson stepped off the ship into the water.  After 10 feet, he passed out and went down.  "Everything was so peaceful and nice and it would have been so easy to let go."  Then he saw a bright light that made him come to.  He came back to the surface and oil was on fire on top of the water just 2 feet from him.  Then someone reached down and pulled him out, put him in a motor launch, and took him to Ford Island. 
Marine Lt. General Shapely earned the Silver Star for his gallantry at Pearl Harbor
and later the Navy Cross for his courage during the Battle of Guam.
 Marine Corporal E.C. Nightingale was another survivor.  He evacuated from secondary aft, following Major Sharpley's orders.  Bodies were thick on the deck.  He made his way to Lieutenant Commander Faqua, but was thrown into the water by the concussion from a bomb.  A 150 foot swim for a pipeline was his only chance at life.  Half way there, his strength gave out.  He was about to go under when Major Sharpley saw him, grabbed his shirt, and told him to hang on to his shoulders while he swam in.  Twenty-five feet from the line, the major's strength began to give.  Nightingale told the major to leave him behind. The major stopped, grabbed him and wouldn't let him go.  They made it to the beach.  
Crew abandons USS California as burning oil approaches

Fuchida's group completed their bombing mission.  Fuchida's own bombs got two hits on the USS Maryland, other horizontal bombers and dive-bombers scored 2 hits on the California and Tennessee and a few in the West Virginia.  
Rescue efforts near the West Virginia

Fighting the flames of the West Virginia
The second wave of Japanese planes arrived at 8:55.  The Nevada was hit repeatedly and was forced to run ashore ablaze and sinking.  The Pennsylvania (which was dry-docked) was damaged, and 3 destroyers were wrecked in the Navy Area.
The USS Nevada on fire
By 9:55 it was all over.   The United States had lost 2402 men.  An additional 1282 were wounded. 188 aircraft were destroyed and 159 damaged. 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, and 3 other ships were damaged.  (The USS Maryland and USS Tennessee were repaired within weeks.)  Four battleships were sunk, 3 damaged, and 1 grounded.  Japanese losses were 5 midget submarines, 29 aircraft, 64 killed, and 1 captured. 

Three hours later, the Japanese launched an attack on the Philippines.  The same day, U.S. ships were attacked between San Francisco and Honolulu.  Japanese bombers attacked Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, and Wake Island.  

On December 8th, the United States declared war on Japan.  Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the American people, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 [was] a date which will live in infamy."

There are few things I agree with FDR on, but there, he was right.  Pearl Harbor was a very sad day for the United Sates of America, and December 7th, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy.

The best I can do is wish you a very uneventful 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

"Therfore be ye also ready, for in an hour ye think not, the Son of man cometh."  --Matthew 24:44

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let My Life Be a Light


Sometimes you may feel your short life 
is just like the flickering glow of a candle
Surrounded by fierce winds and strife,
Dark clouds that would sweep you away in their trammel

Sometimes you may fear your small light
Does no good and helps no one lost in the dark night.
Feeling blue? Don't give up the fight.
Don't let Satan stifle the flame that must shine bright.

"Let your light so shine before men,
That they may glorify your Father in heaven."
Not all who hear will say "Amen!"
You may suffer persecution once and again.

But Jesus is your help and guide;
He will comfort your heart and strengthen your mind.
In Him you can always confide.
In worldly pleasures none can true happiness find:

To despair many've been driven,
But in paradise, the streets with gold are paven
Tell lost souls they've been forgiven,
For in Christ they can find the desired haven. 


Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

My prayer today is, "Lord, let my life be a light.  Your mercy and grace has given me happiness in a world of darkness.  Give me strength to shine the light brightly for you.  You said if you are lifted up, you will draw all men unto you.  I love you Lord Jesus! Amen."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled


"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."

     These words of Jesus have been a comfort to many throughout the ages.  

     What does believing in Jesus mean to me?

  • I believe that He is faithful--all the time.  I must not doubt Him.  I should not let my heart be troubled.  Worry kills; Christ came to give us life.  He has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  We must learn to trust Him even in the worst situations and realize that He will work everything out for our good (Romans 8:38).
  • I need to fear Him only.  He said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end," and I believe that.  He is God Almighty, and we must respect His word.  A person who fears God will not yield when others pressure them to do wrong.  We must be more afraid of God's judgment than of the disapproval of our peers.
  • I love Him.  I believe that He died a cruel and painful death to save my soul from eternal damnation.  He did this because He loved me.  "Greater love hath no man than this than that a man lay down his life for his friends."  He has been so good and merciful to me and blessed me far more than I deserve.  I love Him because He first loved me and because He is such a wonderful God and friend, as the song says "He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known."
  • I thank Him for His gift of liberty.  "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed."  Christ has liberated us from the bondage of sin and given us new life in Him.  He gives the true liberty which no government on earth can take away.  Betsy ten Boom was free as she lay dying in a Nazi concentration camp.  The Nazis had imprisoned her body, but her spirit they could never shackle.  Her mind was free.  Bitterness and hatred could never enslave her because her thoughts were on Christ.   
  • I praise Him.  He is the Conqueror.  He arose from the dead on the third day; He has defeated death.  "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin."  He was pure and blameless; the grave could not hold Him, and He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Him.

Believe that He is an omniscient and omnipotent God; believe that He watches over the sparrows, and He is watching over you.

Let not your heart be troubled.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Peace, Be Still

     One day Jesus and his disciples were in a ship when a great storm came and the ship began to fill with water.  The disciples were very afraid, but Jesus was sleeping!  The disciples woke Him and said, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?"  Jesus arose, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still."  The gospel of Mark tells us that there was then a great calm.  And Jesus said unto them, "Why are ye so fearful? how is i that ye have no faith?" The disciples said one to another, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"

     Today, the world is like a troubled sea.  There is violence everywhere.  The economic situation is precarious, and we may believe our governments are leading us on the road to destruction.  We also have troubles in our own lives; some of us have tooth-aches, others have sore feet, some cannot sleep, others have broken hearts.  Some of us can't find jobs; others are tired from working too much overtime.  Trouble and hardship comes to everyone.    How can bad things to happen to good people?  Why is the world falling apart?


     Don't lose faith.  Don't be fearful.  Cry with the saints of all  ages, "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord!" (Isaiah 51:9).  Cry unto God and say, "Come quickly, O Lord!"  When Christ returns, judgment will be done.  The Lord is waiting for the last lost soul to come to be saved, and then He will return.  

     Then, "The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: and they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."  (Isaiah 51:11)

     The Lord says, "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and has feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?... I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared."  
  
     The Lord Jesus Christ is greater than all of your problems.  Do not worry.  Trust in Him.

"Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you."  --Isaiah 35:3-4

Jesus cares for you.  "Peace, be still!"