Month: July 2020

“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”

Although written in 1770 by British spokesman, orator and political thinker, Edmund Burke, that title could have come from our headlines today, and certainly reflects my heart and message for this blog.

It is Burke who is credited with one of the most popular quotes of all time, (even though his speech never specifically said the words.)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I’ll still take it, wont you? It is so good, JFK used it.

What Burke did say in his writing “Thoughts on the Cause…” was –

When bad men combine – good men must organize.”

Edmund Burke

I feel such an urgency for good men (mankind) to speak up, step up, step out, launch out, reach out, take action, refuse the trends, stay the “good” course, and as Burke said, maybe even organize. Why not? It is time!

In the words of President Grover Cleveland, “What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something.”

I am not running for office, nor are you most likely, but here’s the hitch- what are we standing for? Are we standing up for anything? Or have we allowed our voices to be silenced by fear, complacency, louder voices, cancel culture and censorship?

In the days of Women’s Suffrage there were suffragists and suffragettes. Suffragists believed in peaceful, constitutional campaigns for women’s right to vote. Suffragettes were activists, willing to take direct action into the community. Their motto, “Deeds not words” often led to hunger strikes and handcuffing themselves to the White House fence.

Both believed in the same thing – that women had the right to vote but they took action in different ways. The key though, they took action. The result? The passage of the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony would have been proud, after being arrested and still voting 150 times illegally. She stood up for that right long before others jumped on board and made it legal.

Being a student and lover of American history (I hear a yawn 🙂 ) I can’t help but go to dozens of examples of those who stood up in the face of “discontents”, injustices, and hardships and joined with others of like mind to push through change.

The good people voluntarily organized and took persistent action so that the evils of their day would not triumph in their society.

What would the nation/world be without these who stood up for the cause that gripped their soul, and sacrificed their own self interests for the good of the society and future generations?

Consider the following and their causes:

  • Dorthea Dix – mistreatment of the mentally ill
  • Horance Mann – education reform
  • Frederick Douglass – anti-slavery, civil rights
  • William Lloyd Garrison – abolition
  • Ida Tarabel – investigative journalism (what’s happened to that?)
  • Jane Addams – help for the poor and immigrants
  • Booker T. Washington – black education and training (peaceful)
  • WEB Dubois – black rights, NAACP (violent if needed)
  • Sojourner Truth – abolitionist
  • Harriet Tubman – anti-slavery
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson – writer, reformer
  • Caesar Chavez – farmworkers rights
  • Malala Yousafzai – Taliban awareness, women rights
  • Florence Nightingale – nursing
  • Clara Barton – founder of the Red Cross
  • Marie Curie – medicine
  • John Muir – wildlife conservation
  • Upton Sinclair – meatpacking industry reform
  • Jackie Robinson – racial equality
  • Sally Ride – space travel

The world is a better and changed place because each of these did something with the passion they felt. They joined with others and got things changed. These good humans pressed through the evil and triumphed over it. “Overcome evil with good”.

Solomon, in Proverbs warned us:

If you do nothing in times of trouble, your strength is small.

Proverbs 24:10

So, how’s your strength? These are NOT “do nothing days”. Shame on us if we are “do nothing-ers”.

I conclude my thoughts on the cause of the present discontents.

Cheers to you.

Living in the days of Daniel

Sunday Sermon 7.25.20

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

George Santayana

And, those who learn history will often see close parallels between ancient days and modern days. (Debbie Chaney – :-))

Take the prophet Daniel for example. Let’s look at him today and notice the modern day parallels.

Daniel lived some 2,500 years ago, as a member of the noble family of Judah, and was taken captive to Babylon by its king Nebuchadnezzar. He and his family and friends found themselves placed in a re-education program there.

They were now in the minority in the midst of a religiously hostile nation and being pressed upon by the customs of that nation to reshape their values and ideas.

Daniel was a godly, obedient and courageous believer in Jehovah and had even earned the respect and admiration of non-believers.

That’s the backstory, now we enter chapter 1 of Daniel where you will find –

3 R’s

Daniel RESOLVED, Daniel REQUESTED, Daniel was REWARDED

In Daniel’s re-education program, he resolved to not compromise his values. Although being told he has to eat certain things, his heart and values said he would not and he set himself to stay true to Jehovah and his personal beliefs.

He did take action however, and requested to be given certain acceptable foods. That took courage and faith. He had and demonstrated both.

In fact, his faith and courage were rewarded with favor and compassion from Jehovah. He was allowed to eat his suggested foods and in the end, he and his friends were better off in every way than the others in the re-education program with him.

Chapter 2 of Daniel presents us with –

3 D’s

DREAMS, DEATH, and DANIEL

King Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream and because his wise guys couldn’t interpret it, he ordered them all to be put to death. As his servants were rounding up the wise guys, they came to get Daniel too, for he was now a part of king Neb’s wise guy council. Daniel, inquiring what was going on, was told and responded with “wisdom and tact”. Short story, guess who was able to interpret king Neb’s bad dream?? Yup, Daniel.

Yay Daniel, right??

Things were good, for a while. Daniel was promoted, and His God – Jehovah was lauded in the kingdom. Yay!

Enter chapter 3, here we see –

3 I’s and a double I

IMAGE, IDOLARTY, INSOLENCE and an INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

King Neb got pretty full of himself and had an enormous self image (selfie) built in the center of town. But as if that wasn’t enough, he then made an executive order that everyone had to bow down and worship the selfie. Everyone was to practice idolatry by worshipping him.

Enter principled, god-fearing, non-compromising, wise man – Daniel and his friends In a full out act of insolence, His friends refused to follow the executive order or worship the image of the arrogant king.

Their response was – we do not need to defend ourselves, if the God we serve doesn’t help us, we will still will not serve or worship the empty orders of man. We serve and worship Jehovah only. We will take our chances by standing with him and his favor, not man. Do what you will, oh king Neb.

The king was hot and so he heated up the fire. His men tossed the three men into that fire and lost their lives doing so.

And then the INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

In the fire, appeared a fourth figure. Looking through the fireproof window, Neb was petrified. How could there be 4, he threw in 3? Again, short story – Jehovah God showed up to defend his wise, faithful and courageous followers. Daniel’s friends not only survived the incredible incident, but demonstrated God’s deliverance and power to a heathen king, palace and kingdom. Yay Daniel and friends. Yay Jehovah!

We are living in the days of Daniel with some exceptional parallels for you and I. Let’s be learners of history.

  • It’s not easy to follow Jesus in today’s culture, but it can and must be done.
  • The re-education program has begun. How are you doing with maintaining your values, and godly obedience?
  • In the midst of the re-education program, what is your resolve? What is your request? How will you be rewarded?
  • Wisdom and tact are hallmark needs in the midst of these bad dreams and death. How are you doing there?
  • Executive order after executive order, idolatry, arrogance – when will it be time for you to respectfully display your insolence?
  • Courage and faith are needed and to those who walk in them, they will be shown incredible incidents! Miraculous events. Unbelievable power of God. Mighty deliverance.

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s be like Daniel. Let’s let God be our judge in these days, and see if He doesn’t use us to do something earth shattering.

We are living in the days of Daniel.

Go with God.

Remember the dragonfly?

We recently moved to a lakeside home, where there is an abundance of dragonflies. They are interesting to watch and walk with but in doing so, I realized (after speaking with my brilliant husband) that I had forgotten much about these amazing creatures.

So guess what I have been studying? Yep – Odonata, Anisoptera – the dragonfly.

So today’s blog can be whatever you choose it to be. An animal planet type lesson and appreciation for the dragonfly; or a lesson with human and personal applications for your own insight and growth; and maybe even a place to glean some spiritual insight with applications for you spiritually.

So, here goes, take what you will from the amazing dragonfly.

The emperor dragonfly – Anax = “lord, master, king”

There are more than 5,000 species of dragonflies and their name is taken from the Greek which means, “toothed one”, because of their serrated teeth. They go through a three stage development called “incomplete metamorphosis” which includes: egg, larva (nymph) and adult.

Most dragonflies live near fresh water; it can be flowing water, standing water, running water, still water, or temporary pools of water. There is a species that can even live on or near salt water.

But check out these remarkable factoids:

  • they are expert fliers: up and down, hover, & even mate midair
  • they capture and eat their prey from the air, with their feet with 90-95% accuracy
  • if they cant fly, they will die, starve (because they ONLY eat what they catch in flight)
  • they eat 30-100 mosquitos per day
  • they have 6 directional flying, 4 styles of flight, many flying modes, accelerate from 4G-9G in sharp turns and have 4 ways of generating lift
  • WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AN INSECT, NOT AN AIRPLANE!!!!
  • their flight inspires engineers (duh)
  • nearly their whole head is eye which gives them vision that sees nearly 360 degrees, except directly behind them
  • their eyes have 24,000 ommatidia (those compound eye sections)
  • they are migratory insects ranging from traveling every third day (NJ Green Darner) to 11,000 miles across the Indian Ocean (Globe Skinner)
  • they spend 1-5 years in their nymph stage, living totally underwater (this is where they spend the majority of their life – underwater)
  • in this stage they will molt 6-15 times, and eat everything with a hinged mandible, they even eat their own
  • in the water they breathe through gills in their rectum (yep, crazy!)
  • they propel themselves through the water by expelling water through their anus (yep, again crazy)
  • when it emerges from the nymph stage, it stops eating and crawls from the water on a reed where the exoskeleton cracks open and releases the abdomen and wings, which will dry and harden over several hours
  • emerging is the adult dragonfly, which is learning to breathe air and is expanding its body to its full extent
  • as an adult, it will live a few months up to a year

In the Japanese culture dragonflies represent courage, strength and happiness. However in European folklore they have a more sinister reputation.

We can see that the dragonfly is a design marvel intended to live in two different worlds, with crazy, powerful and amazing abilities in each. We can see its incomplete metamorphosis being completely perfect for its design and purpose.

We can see the dark deluge in which it spends most of its time is not the end of its metamorphosis, but the preparation needed for a whole new life.

I’m not gonna lie, I see so many spiritual applications and personal challenges for me to apply from the life of the dragonfly. My hope is that you too will gain insight, hope and at the very least wonder as you remember the dragonfly.

Cheers to you.

All research based on info from Smithsonianmag.com and Treehugger.com

Lavish love

When was the last time you were overwhelmed by someone’s generous, extravagant, elaborate, luxurious love? I mean truly blown away, melted, in awe, mouth open, stunned and head shaking in unbelievable amazement?

Think for a moment.

Can you relate to having love lavished on you in such an astonishing way?

To help us visualize this type of love, imagine a young person with a red, solo cup in hand saying, “Yes, I want it all, I’m ready. Here, fill me up”, and extending the red, solo cup to receive it all.

puny, red, solo cup

In response, comes a deluge from the skies totally engulfing the youngster, drenching him, filling the cup, overflowing the cup, and moistening everything in the youngster’s life with this lavish and extravagant outpouring. He/she was overwhelmed. Lavished. Unable to contain it all. The red, solo cup mentality was far too small for what rich, generous and abundant outpouring was available and coming.

There are two applications that I have recently seen in regards to this.

First, we are loved waaaaay more than our puny minds can fathom! God’s love for us is generous, excessive, abundant, beyond what we can imagine, rich, poured out without measure, indescribable!

His love reaches to the heavens, his faithfulness to the skies, righteousness to the mountains, justice to the great deep, is priceless and is a river of delights. (Psalm 36)

He gives generously to all without finding fault. (Jas. 1:5)

No one has seen or heard what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9)

We are unable to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for us. (Eph. 3:18)

1 John 3:1 – Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s love that he has lavished on us!

We are the one holding that red, solo cup, unable to hold the depth of the outpouring of his love for us.

His love for you is overwhelming. Beyond what the red, solo cup mind can hold or understand. Bask in the deluge of his love, let him drench you and moisten everything in your life. Receive his lavish love.

Last point worth making is this – God is generous, He is not tight fisted.

Just look at the natural world for a glimpse of his generosity:

  • There are 25,000 varieties of orchids
  • Orchids are 1 of 270,000 species of flowers
  • The galaxy has 100,000 million stars like our sun
  • Our galaxy is 1 of 100,000 million galaxies
  • The estimated number of sand on the Earth is 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power
  • Sand in the universe = 10 to the 63rd power
  • Atoms in the universe = 10 to the 80th power
  • Even though there are over 70 thousand, million, million, million stars in the universe there are
  • that same number of molecules in just 10 drops of water
  • YES! There are more water molecules in the universe than stars.

God is generous. Unfathomable. Beyond our understanding. No eye has seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for all who love him. Amazing!

Yet, he willingly pours out on us his love, grace, faith, knowledge and all we need. He willingly lavishes his love on us.

The unfathomable God has lavished his love and provision on you. Live in the deluge, dance in that deluge, be refreshed in that deluge and throw away that puny, red solo cup.

Cheers to you

Going through the fire?

Sunday Sermon 7.18.20

What fire does not destroy, it hardens.

Oscar Wilde

The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire.

Carl Jung

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

These trials have come to prove the genuineness of your faith, which is of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire…

1 Peter 1:7

So, my assumption is that you very probably ARE going though the fire, because most of us are, including myself.

The fires of today’s ever changing societal norms, the fires of pressures and stresses on strained relationships, the fires of fatigued and worn emotions, the fires of losses, challenges, faith, and apathy. We are quite literally living in a firestorm that is surrounding us and affecting us on every side.

It would be wise to accept the fires as a given in our life, with a definite purpose.

But it is also wise to accept this promise:

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…

Isaiah 43:2-3

Remember, Daniel’s three friends who refused to submit to the decrees of the king and were thrown into the fire? (Daniel 3) Very literally, they were thrown into a furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. And yet, they not only survived the ordeal, the king actually saw a fourth man walking around in the fire with them!

Three thrown in, four seen in the fire! That is the promise from Isaiah, that the fire will not burn us because the Lord Himself will be walking with us through the fire. What a promise, what a miracle!

In the very midst of the fire, the Lord is with you. In the most heated exchanges, in the burning and aching hearts, in the crying out of flesh, soul and spirit, the Lord, Himself is with you.

I firmly believe, these days are being used by Him to refine us, process us, and bring the best, most pure from within us.

Malachi and Zechariah both spoke of a time when the Lord would refine his people like silver and gold, when the Lord would sit as a refiner and purifier. (Malachi 3:2-3; Zechariah 13:9) Yes, this was referring to Israel and it’s historical captivity and rebuilding. But things that happened in Old Testament times happened as an example for us, too. With lessons and applications for us. 1 Corinthians 10:6

I submit to you, the purpose of the fire(s) is to refine us. To purify us.

I recently spent some time studying the process for refining silver, gold, platinum, and palladium. That process is extensive! At my count, it contains no less than 32 steps! Check out some of these words used in the refining process:

  • gun
  • dynamite
  • hauled out
  • brought to the surface
  • primary crusher
  • secondary crusher
  • cone crusher
  • water to separate
  • acid added
  • filter press
  • black powder
  • 50% silver, 50% waste
  • dried out
  • placed in oven
  • silver and waste separated
  • poured out
  • settles to bottom
  • waste skimmed off
  • sold to refinery
  • weighed
  • flux added
  • placed in crucible
  • able to take the heat
  • placed into melting furnace
  • transformed
  • molded
  • remolded
  • re-cooled
  • smaller
  • placed into acid solution
  • all impurities dissolved
  • results = 100% pure

If you and I are silver or gold and we are in the fire, then look at this amazing process. Look at the purpose of the fire. The Lord, as the refiner is processing us to be 100% pure, remolded into the image of Jesus. All impurities and waste burnt away in the crucible and only pure silver, or gold remains.

We are being tried in the fire and shouldn’t consider the ordeal we are in as some strange thing. It is the process of purification and stripping away all that is waste. He has not left us, He is with us in the process and is directing the entire operation in our life.

Check back at those words, that process, it’s an extensive and painful process.

He is making of you and me, a vessel of honor, pure and solid.

Trust Him, through the fire.

Go with God.

How big is your God

When you receive “a bad report”, when you are feeling the walls closing in on you, when circumstances go from bad to worse – how big is your God?

When you see no way possible, when funds are low and stressors are high – how big is your God?

When you have prayed and see no “answer”, when you read and see “no answer”, when your faith is all but gone – how big is your God?

How big is your God? Does your God even care? Is He listening?

Is He bigger than your situation? Bigger than your problem? Is He bigger than you can imagine? What are His limitations? How big is your God?

Is your God made by man? Ideas prescribed by human thinking? Is your God based on the philosophies of man and man’s wisdom?

What God is it that receives your praise? Your strength? Your time? How big is your God?

This is a simple call to all who will listen, how big is your God? Because in these days, the god you lean upon, should be the One you trust in, invest in and be the One who saves, strengthens and uses you. So, how big is He?

Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger…

Isaiah 40:12

Think of it, visualize it… God, holding up his thumb and little finger in front of him and using it to measure the expanse of the skies, from one end of the universe to the other. On my hand, that span barely measures 7 inches. The God of the universe measures that very universe as a master navigator or chief contractor with his thumb and little finger.

That’s a big God!

That is a God who’s power is limitless. Who’s attention to detail never misses even the slightest change or move. That is a God who not only cares about every detail in his creation’s life but is big and powerful enough to provide the very answer to every need that his creation has.

That’s a big God. That’s our God.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out all the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

Isaiah 40:25-26

That is the very God who cares for you; is able to provide for you all you need. That is the God who has the answers, wisdom, strength, and is always listening to prayers. He will never, ever leave you on your own to figure it out by yourself.

That is a big God, yet that is a personal, loving and all sufficient God, who simply asks for your devotion. That’s a deal I’ll take any day!

Our God is limitless, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and best of all loving. He will not be confined, limited, shut down, or locked up. He is the Great “I AM”, who will be there for you in every situation.

So, how big is your God?

Cheers to you

Feeding the wolf

Sunday sermon 7.11.20

The story is told of an elder Cherokee man telling his grandson of the battle that goes on inside of every person. He said there are two wolves battling.

One is evil- it represents anger, envy, jealousy, regret, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

One is good – representing joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

After hearing about the battling wolves within, the grandson asked his Grandfather, “Which one wins?”

“The one you feed”, was the response.

Consider that for a moment in regards to your soul and spirit. Which one wins with more frequency in your life? Your soul or your spirit.

The one you feed, is still true.

Our soul is who we are; our mind, emotions and will. Our spirit is the home for God’s spirit and makes contact with God.

We find ourselves living between these two howling wolves. The soulish one, where we live according to our emotions, fears, understanding, senses and reasoning; and the call of the spirit man urging us to line ourselves up to God’s Word and standard.

The Apostle Paul states it this way,

I do not understand what I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:15-16

Yet, he also challenges us in Galatians 5 –

So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (soul). For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16-17

The one you feed will grow, become stronger and influence your decisions and take over your life. It will become the lens through which you see everything, including your abilities, dreams and purpose.

My heart has been crying out lately for people to arise and feed their spirit.

Your spirit is yearning for food. Crying out like that musical, “Feed me, (Seymour)”. Your spirit needs nourishment. What are you feeding it? Is it starving?

For some that means beginning at step one and igniting your spirit by allowing God to make it alive by being saved, reborn.

Others will need to spend more time in the Word, prayer, study, outreach. Some need to shake off the passiveness and and extend the kingdom more assertive and boldly in their lives.

There are those who need to make some things right, get things in order, deal with issues truthfully.

As you feed your spirit, you are actually cutting off those soulish desires, habits, and thoughts, shutting down those out of control emotions. And, your hungry lil spirit man is enlarging.

If you’re looking for a great spiritual meal right now, you may want to spend some time in Romans 8 and Galatians 5. Then take whatever steps you need to each day to intentionally feed and grow your spirit.

Pray, read, talk with others, study, reach out, help others – these are all healthy ways to feed your starving spirit.

You will find new strength, insight, passion, purpose, faith, and boldness as your spirit grows and your emotions are trained.

In your howling battle within, which wolf is being fed?

Cheers to you.

Musings on Moving

Everything in the universe is moving. It never stops.

Everything is moving because there are forces at work causing that movement; forces like gravity and electromagnetism. If there were no forces at work, there would be no motion.

The Earth itself moves through space at a rate of 30/km sec. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, it will have moved 450 km- about the width of Ohio.

Earth spins on its axis at a rate of 1,000 mph, and a jumbo jet moves at 500 mph, about half as fast as Earth spins.

Movement is fundamental to life. We move our bodies to express wants, needs, emotions, thoughts and ideas. How well we move and how much we move determines how well we engage with the world.

We are advised, for the benefit of our own health, to develop a body that moves well. Our bodies are designed for movement and we must defeat the sedentary life.

Sir Issac himself, three centuries ago, submitted 3 revolutionary ideas about the laws of motion, which as we now know are the foundation of modern physics.

Remember these?

  • Things cannot start, stop, or change directions by themselves
  • When a constant force acts on a massive body it causes it to accelerate
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

I hope I haven’t lost your attention … but this moving issue is vital to us. Let’s look at these life lessons we can glean from the facts I’ve shared above:

  • Movement is a constant in life. Things will move, change, rearrange, and relocate. Embrace it. Move with it. Adjust. Be fluid & flexible.
  • There are forces at work causing the movement. Some you support, others you don’t; pick your battles and fight courageously. Not all forces are good.
  • In the big picture, the speed of the movement isn’t the priority, it is that the movement is actually happening, albeit, often apparently slow.
  • We were designed to move and engage the world. You can and do impact, by your motions, those around you.
  • If you are an object at rest, a greater force will definitely act upon you to get you to move.
  • Don’t be surprised if your motion accelerates, that’s good! It means a constant force is acting on you!
  • Expect opposition and resistance when you move out, move on and move in. Newton told us about that too.

We need to understand, the world will not stop moving/changing. If the Earth stopped moving, the atmosphere would still be in motion at Earth’s rotational speed of 1,000 mph and the trees, soil, rocks, buildings, even your dog, would be swept into the atmosphere.

Movement/moving, changing position or thoughts over time is part of life. It will not stop.

As you feel the world swirl around you and whirlwinds blow past you, know that there is a Greater Force acting and willing to act on your behalf.

Learn to move with that Greater Force and keep on accelerating.

Cheers to you.