Category: Blog

After You Have Done Everything, Stand.

This is a familiar quote from around 60 AD by an imprisoned Roman citizen.

Consider. After you have “done everything”, don’t you want to just sit? Rest. Cool off. Check out for a bit? Unplug? Disengage? You’re pooped and are not feeling like standing.

Hey, when I was teaching, on my feet all day, doing everything, guess what I wanted to do and did when I got home? Not stand.

Now, when I work, mostly short shifts of 3-5 hours on my feet, having done everything, I still want to sit not stand afterwards. What about you?

But these 3 images came to mind today and with them, our title phrase – after you have done everything, stand.

The first image – A Sentinel Tomb Guard; standing guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA.

The second, the brave men of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division, US Marines, who on Feb. 23, 1945 captured the extinct volcano, Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

The third picture, a WW2 Veteran, who from a wheel chair and a long life of sacrifice, paid honor and tribute during a patriotic parade.

These men demonstrate what it means “after having done everything – stand.” Allow me to explain.

The Tomb Guard, a member of the 3rd Regiment (Old Guard) US Army, volunteers for this assignment and gives him or herself to the strict training that goes with it. After basic qualifications with personal records, financials and family, if accepted, they begin training.

This training is harsh, beginning with 2 weeks of basic instruction, uniform prep, walk sequence and behavioral assessments. Then they are tested. This test is the first of four that they must pass during their entire training period. If they do pass, they will spend the next 7-8 months in 12 hour duty days with homework galore. They are not allowed any TV, may not even acknowledge jokes while in quarters, may not acknowledge the public, and are not allowed even to speak to another guard unless spoken to.

During this period they are prepped and tested on three more occasions in these areas:

Uniform – they are allowed 2 minor infractions, no major infractions, and all items never more than 1/64 inch out of place. Imagine, they must pass a 100% inspection, where 97% is failing! There has never been a 100%.

Knowledge – they must memorize a 17 page packet with info on Arlington Cemetery and write it out, including punctuation. Passing the test with no more than 10 mistakes. If you miss a comma on 2 pages, that is a double fail.

Performance – On a 200 point inspection you are allowed no major infractions, 2 minor infractions. This includes performance on foot placement on the mat and cadence while walking the mat. They aim for a 72 beat per minute cadence.

There is a 10% completion rate of passing these 4 tests. Guards who fail the last test, may test again. If you fail again, you are released. You can come back but must start from the beginning. If you pass, you are a Fully Qualified Sentinel and earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge, which is sterling silver and worn over the right, breast pocket.

While on the 24 hour duty then, every changing of the guard is evaluated and any infractions result in being released. So these highly regarded Sentinels are always doing everything to stand.

The standards for revoking their badge are the only ones in the military that are based on personal conduct. Any felonies or DUI’s means their badge is taken away and their name is stricken from the esteemed record.

These men and women, have truly done all, and their goal is to be standing in the end! If they are not standing in the end, their work has been in vain. In fact, that’s when their training comes fully into play. Standing in the end is the point of their training.

When the 4th and 5th Marine Division invaded Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945 their goal was to secure the island as an important airbase for fighter escorts and emergency landings between Japan and the US bases in the Mariana Islands. Their 36 day assault on this “Sulfur Island” of the extinct volcano Mount Suribachi, was a deadly one in which we lost 7,000 Marines and another 20,000 were wounded.

These Marines reached the base of the volcano on Feb. 21 and by nightfall the next day they had surrounded the mountain. On 2/23, by 10:30 AM they had reached the top and raised a small, American flag. Later that afternoon, 5 Marines, and a Navy Corpsman returned to raise a larger, visible American flag.

This image of that second flag raising was sent back to America and along with that flag raising, so too rose the spirits of Americans and brave warriors in each of the theatres of war.

Perhaps you’ve seen movies or read stories of the bravery displayed on that airstrip. Admiral Nimitz, famously immortalized it this way,

“Among the Americans who served on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

Pacific Fleet, Commander in Chief Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

That very image became the template for the world’s largest, bronze statue – the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA, AKA the Marine Corps Memorial. It’s 32 foot high figures, raising the 60 foot flag stands to remind us all of the bravery demonstrated by those Marines in that battle, who did all they possibly could to stand at the end of that battle and raise that beautiful American flag.

Lastly, that WW2 Vet, a member of The Greatest Generation, after having served, lived, fought demons in country and his own personal demons at home, after everything he had been through he chose to stand, again.

With every excuse to sit, and stay down and given every exception by others to sit, he was driven by all that was within him, by all he had been through, by all that mattered to him, and by all he had fought to preserve to STAND. He had done all and now he would stand.

The training, the battle, the long fight… what is it for if not for us to stand in the end?

After we have done all, it is time to stand; maintain our position, hold down the victories, show off our training and execute the strategic plan and purpose bred into our fiber. It’s not time to sit, hold back, give up, or rest.

If you have done everything you know to do, up to this point- then it is time for you to stand your ground.

Cheers to you.

Props to Peter

Sunday Sermon 1.16.21

What would compel a person to step out of a boat that is in a storm?

As a sailor, who enjoys sailing the coastline of Southern California, this question gripped me, “Why would anyone leave a boat in the middle of a storm?” Consider it, why?

The foundation story for this question is found in Matthew 14:22-34, where Peter, a new follower of Jesus, aboard a fishing boat (sail boat) was, along with his other disciple buddies caught in a fierce storm. Here are the conditions on the lake, when we pick up the story:

  • it was dark at night
  • they were far from land
  • they were being pounded by high waves
  • there were strong, opposing winds

The men on board this boat were not having a good time! In fact it was dire for them.

Again, from my own personal experience, were I aboard Lady Debra in these four conditions, I would be absolutely terrified! Which is why I was wondering why leave the boat? What could ever be so motivating that you would actually step INTO these conditions without the protection of the boat?

(I can honestly say that each of these four conditions are ones in which I would NEVER sail. I don’t sail at night and get concerned when the sun is setting and we are still out. I choose to sail, nearly always, with land in sight. High waves and strong winds are no-no’s for me. Absolutely not, no way, not me on my boat!)

The boys were in a very difficult situation that did not look good at all. The best thing coming was dawn.

As the story goes, “Just before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake”. Matthew 14:25 Or put another way, “walking on the waves.”

Now we have some good news appearing. Jesus is showing up in the midst of the storm, walking on top of its waves. A lot could be said about this, but let’s focus on the disciples, who responded with terror, thinking he was a ghost, and crying out in fear. Matthew 14:26 To them, Jesus showing up like this seemed to add to the terror of the moment. Oh no, a ghost too, we’re gonna die! We’re dead.

Jesus wasted no time, and spoke to them across the waves and in the wind and said,

“Be brave and don’t be afraid. I am here.”

Matthew 14:27 TPT

These are reassuring words, for sure! We will come back to them.

Peter, upon hearing Jesus’ words responded with a statement, that on its face, to me seems odd. He said,

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (and waves and winds, in the darkness a long way from shore)

Matthew 14:28

Herein lies, our opening question. Why in the world would anyone leave a boat and step into the storm surrounding it? That’s crazy!

Well, I thought of 3 reasons why someone might do that –

  1. the ship is sinking – escaping it may save my life (remember Titanic?)
  2. suicide – taking a permanent solution to a temporary problem
  3. delusional – extreme conditions at sea causing me to see ghosts

Clearly, none of these apply to Peter and the gang. So why step out into those conditions? Why?

I can vividly imagine these conditions on the lake and the guys in the boat. I can vividly see the waves overwhelming the boat and the winds opposing their every attempt to right the boat. I can imagine the panic of darkness in this storm all the while knowing there is no land in sight or even near. This is real in my minds eye. This is horrific.

And yet Peter steps out of the relative safety of the boat and into the uncertainty of this dark storm. Why? What motivates him?

In one way, Peter’s statement back to Jesus is not unlike what many of us have said; Peter said, “if it’s you…”.

How many times have you said or heard said,

  • God, if you’re real…
  • God, if it’s really you…
  • God, if you’re in this…

That part I get, I understand because I have done it, said it. How ’bout you?

But Peter’s “conditional statement” If it’s you… then tell me to come to you…” puzzles me.

In math, the conditional statement formula is, p ➡ q. P equals the hypothesis, q equals the conclusion and the arrow shows the logical connection.

To me, I fail to see the logical connection between the two. It is not logical to come to Jesus on the high waves in this storm, yet it for sure is a conditional statement. So, what’s the connection? Why did he leave the boat and step willfully into the dark storm?

When Jesus responded to Peter’s statement, he did so by simply saying to him, “Come, join me.” Matthew 14:29

Peter made the connection and stepped into the stormy waves, not the glassy lake. Peter stepped into the roaring winds, just as the new day was dawning. Peter left the little safety he had in the storm tossed vessel in blatant defiance of all things logical. Yet, for him it made totally, logical sense to step towards Jesus on the turbulent sea.

Why?

Remember what Jesus told the guys when they first saw him on the water?

“Take courage. I am here. Don’t be afraid.”

Matthew 14:27 NIV

THAT statement is the key! THAT statement is Peter’s motivation! THAT statement was Peter’s reason for stepping into the storm and towards Jesus! THAT statement!

Peter was familiar with part of THAT statement. He’d heard about it for his whole Jewish life.

He’d heard how his ancestors had at one time called their God Elohim, (this is a title, not a name) until Exodus chapter 3, when God revealed to Moses His name as “I AM”. Exodus 3:14

He’d heard how I AM had delivered the Israelites from 400 years of slavery, sent plagues and judgment to Egypt, parted the Red Sea, delivered them from enemies, armies, threats, disease, judgment and so much more.

He’d heard that I AM was the source of all power and eternal in nature. How I AM was self-sufficient, self-sustaining. How I AM was and is and will be forever the same omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God of the universe.

He knew the name I AM. He’d heard it his whole life. He believed in I AM as the God of his ancestry.

NOW, Jesus, the one he had chosen to follow, was standing before him, declaring to him, “I AM. Don’t be afraid. Come to me.”

Peter now saw Jesus as the Almighty, omnipotent, self sufficient, name above all names, God who is in control of all things. THAT was his motivation for stepping out of the boat and into the storm. THAT was his solid ground he stepped onto when he left that boat.

How could he go wrong stepping towards I AM? There was no fear, no hesitation. When I AM says “Come to me” you step towards Him. Confident. Sure. Unflappable. Secure. Certain. Comfortable. Unshaken. Doubtless. Peaceful.

Even though “I AM” or the “tetragrammaton” appears over 6,000 times in the Bible this one, for Peter was his moment of truth. The dawning of a new day for Peter’s understanding of who he had committed his life to follow.

Although scribes through the ages could not say I AM out loud, nor fully spell it out, here was Peter walking towards the great I AM, fully able to express himself before Him and be accepted, cared for and destined for greatness

I AM brought proper perspective to Peter. Peter saw that, when he saw Jesus as the great I AM.

When you realize the great I AM is in control and calling you to come close to Him, you come close to Him, regardless of stormy circumstances, dark times, opposing winds or overwhelming waves. It makes perfect sense and is the only logical thing to do.

THAT would compel many to leave the boat and step into the storm.

So I say, “Props to Peter!” (Lord, help me.)

Go with God.

Digital Dependence

That’s the phrase I woke up with.

Whhaat? Why? So after some coffee and AM focus, I dove in to investigate this phrase.

Digital. What does that mean? Go ahead, how would you define it? Ummm, having to do with digits???, the internet??? How are you doing? Easy? Challenging?

“Digital, in its broadest sense, is any piece of technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information.” According to Leighton.com/whatdoesdigitalreallymean

For us old timers, we first knew it as IT – “Information Technology”, and it was how documents, spreadsheets and databases created information through the use of hardware, software and their necessary methods.

The term digital has now superseded IT and includes the addition of social media, mobile and cloud services.

But why does this matter and why should you keep reading?

Because we are living in a digital world and it is changing rapidly. So fast, in fact, that we cannot keep up with it, nor can our legislation. It, this digital world, is at the forefront of our First Amendment rights and the loss of them.

From October 29, 1969, when the US Dept. of Defense’s ARPANET delivered it’s first message from UCLA to Sanford and crashed the ARPA network, the technology has grown to a rate of 11 new users per second, resulting in one million new users each day. (“wearesocial.com/2019-global-internet-use)

Of the 7.8 billion people in the world today, 4.388 billion are active internet users, representing 57% of the total population; the vast majority of those are mobile users, 3.986 billion or 52% of the total population.

The stats reveal that these users are spending on average 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. That means we are connected to devices hundreds of times each day.

These are the places those 4.4 billion are visiting during those 6+ hours digitally connected.

Please notice those companies, especially the ones at the top.

Now, we realize that time spent on devices is not all play and scrolling. We are emailing, reporting, comparing, creating, ordering, communicating, you know, actually working. The lines between leisure and work however, are slowly slipping away, as we are responding to emails “off the clock” and checking Facebook while “on the clock”. Our devices and their APPS, all digital, are “making life easier”, so they say.

In whatever amount of time we are spending in the digital world, we are being bombarded with messages of all sorts. We know that our search history is collected and we are targeted by ads and other messages that “they” deem important.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why, on my Instagram feed, since the election, COVID19 warnings and messages have disappeared! Has the pandemic ended? Why is it no longer inserted after nearly every picture? (I jest, but seriously!) Is it no longer important?

But back to the title, Digital Dependence.

Whether we like it or not, we are dependent on our digital world. Banking, PC/laptop data, cloud storage, medical records, records of most kinds for that matter, travel, communications, etc. We are dependent.

So, the first action step for me is to do whatever I can, to cover my butt, in the event those digital connections are lost. I mean it, folks. In the world in which we live, you cannot discount that possibility. My husband speaks of “EMP’s”, but as we are seeing now, there are several more ways our digital world could be upset. So back up, keep hard copies, write things down, arrange for other means of taking care of your business and dealings. Seriously.

Second action step, we need to make any changes in our surfing habits that are necessary. Six plus hours a day for the average person, online???? Don’t tell me you don’t have time to pray, read the Bible, meditate, talk with your family, visit neighbors or call your father.

Third and last action step, beware of the messages that are bombarding you while in the digital world. I am so ticked at some of these that just keep showing up on my feed or in my stream. I don’t believe them, hate seeing them and can’t get rid of them. I refuse to allow them to cloud my thinking and will seek to keep my head above the foggy, rising waters that wants to overwhelm me. The best way to do that, I have found, is to get off the devices!

I am an optimist and I do walk by faith, but the digital dependence we have learned to lean on is teetering, and I feel in my spirit we must prepare, we must beware, we must wise up. Change is coming and we need to be ready for it. Forewarned is forearmed.

photo from Larry Elder

What do you think? Am I off base? Where are you on my three action steps in our digital dependence?

Cheers to you.

When Things Don’t Go As Expected

Sunday Sermon 1.9.21

The previous year, 2020, has provided for all of us more than ample situations or events that most certainly did not go as expected. Were we to have a race writing things down, the only thing slowing us down would be our ability to write fast and the fact that no one would really want to win the race.

And here we are only nine days into the new year and that list just keeps growing. So many things are not going as expected. Not even close.

Shoot, here in my house, we were expecting a wonderful two week visit over the holidays with our son and his new wife – we got that and more – Covid. All four of us! So we actually got a plus three week visit instead.

Here’s the thing, when your life belongs to Jesus, God uses things intended to harm you for His good.

“You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”

Genesis 50:20

It sometimes is a hard pill to swallow, but He really does “work all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

All things means just that – all things!

Personal issues, relational issues, family, work, school, politics, church, community, health, financial, supply, housing, pets, neighbors, business, government, all things!

He works in each and every situation, always, to bring good from it for us. He is God, that is who He is and that is what He does.

“No weapon, (plan or purpose, idea, threat, legislation, edict,) formed against thee shall prosper…” Isaiah 54:17

When faced with the unexpected, watch what God can and will bring from it for you. Take a look at these few bible characters to get you going:

Joseph – the earlier quote from Genesis came from his lips after his brothers dashed his dreams by selling him into slavery in Egypt. There, after many years in prison, he eventually became the Egyptian vizier, 2nd in command. His dreams fulfilled and his brothers bowing down to him.

But consider how many times things did not go as expected for him. Goodness! Our hearts bleed when we recall so many injustices and seemingly bad outcomes for him. Beaten by brothers, abandoned, sold, forgotten, imprisoned, mistreated, ridiculed, forgotten again, promoted, falsely accused of rape, imprisoned again, promoted again, respected, empowered, honored, restored to family, blessed his family and the nation.

Joseph’s life is a vivid example for us of how all things really do work for good. All things are not good, but God is able to work them for good for you, and Joseph.

Consider another – Noah. Noah was living in a horribly wicked and violent era; so bad in fact God had it with the world. Seriously. You know the story. Noah built a floating barge under God’s direction and then God sent animals to Noah to fill the barge. Noah, his family (wife, three sons and their wives) all boarded the barge and God opened the windows of heaven and fountains of the deep, and rain as never before seen, flooded the earth and destroyed all mankind.

Did things go as Noah expected? Well, first off, he had never even seen rain before, so right there we have the unexpected. How ’bout the length of time for this rain stuff? Expected? How ’bout after the rain stopped and the flood waters covered even the highest mountains? How ’bout living in an indoor zoo for over a year, with your family??? Expected?

Noah certainly faced the unexpected and he too experienced the faithfulness of God. From that time aboard the barge, God worked for the good of Noah, eventually resulting in a blessing for he and his family and an agreement with Noah’s name on it – the Noahic Covenant; which turned out as a blessing for future generations around the world.

Abraham/Isaac– When this father and son went up to the top of the mountain with all the supplies and tools to make an offering to the Lord, do you think their expectations included Isaac being tied and laid on the altar? Could a father imagine holding a knife over his son, ready to slice his throat as he would an animal?

Why would a father do such an unexpected thing?

“Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”

Hebrews 11:19

What followed? God worked it for good and revealed a ram, just out of sight to be used as the offering. Issac was untied as were his fears and faith in his dad, not to mention Jehovah God. Oh, and remember what God said to Abraham, “Now, because you have not withheld your only son Isaac, I will bless you and you will be the father of many nations and your offspring will be more than the sand on the sea shore and stars in the sky.” Genesis 22:12, 17

I have several more to share. But stop and think. When things don’t go as expected, what is really happening for you?

Is all lost? Are hopes dashed? Is faith gone? I hope not, but if any of those are close, then this word today is vital for you. When you hit a wall, an unexpected and firm obstacle, God is still at work on your behalf, bringing to you a bigger, broader purpose than what you see in the immediate. He is working whether or not you see what he is doing.

What is faith after all? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6

In the face of the unexpected, faith sees God working. We walk by faith, not by sight.

Joseph, Noah, Abraham and Isaac all looked beyond what their eyes saw. They looked beyond the immediate and to the One who was at work for them preparing them for the good which would eventually be forthcoming.

We could add to those men Moses, who went from basket, to burning bush, to bondage to being broke free. Did he face the unexpected, you bet. Did he have faith God was working, sometimes.

How about Rahab? This one was a business woman who happened to offer protection to some spies, and was rewarded by being the only family saved when the city was destroyed. Unexpected? Faith? Yep!

John the Baptist began his life the result of a prophetic word. He was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was even born and grew up being a voice that called the Jews to return to the Lord and His ways. He was all in serving the Lord, all the time. Bold. Brave. Brazen.

Did his life all go as expected? He was beheaded, probably not expected.

But was God at work for good even in THAT situation? It did turn out for good for him, he went immediately to heaven. And it turned out for good for the disciples and for us too. His life God used for good, even though the enemy meant his death for evil.

One last bible character, Peter. The unexpected fisher of men. The unexpected walker on water. The unexpected insightful friend, (YOU are the Christ!). The unexpected voice of Satan, (Get thee behind me, Satan.) The unexpected ear cutter-offer. The unexpected denier. The unexpected witness at the tomb. The unexpected preacher at Pentecost, saving 3,000! The unexpected healer, deliverer, teacher, prayer, leader. The unexpected martyr.

The unexpected result? This man is now listed as one of “these men who have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6

Walking by faith, each of these persevered through difficult situations for them. They looked beyond what they saw to a God who was at work on their behalf. The wall was not all they saw. The problem was not all they saw. The impossibility was not all they saw. The unexpected did not deter them or their faith.

When things don’t go as expected, where do you put your faith?

Please allow me to close with a recent personal, account.

My husband had to have surgery on his L4, L5 in his spine. He prepped and was ready for the in one day, out the next expected hospital stay. Seven days later, after having unexpected drug interactions, and him being unresponsive, The Rapid Response Team was called.

During his unresponsiveness, from where we were, we thought we were loosing him. It was terrifying.

But later we found out, during that time of his unexpected, unresponsiveness, he was having an out of body experience, hovering above his body, watching all that was happening to him in his room. He was talking to an old man. Den asked the man, “So I guess now is the time I get to choose whether to go or stay?” The man, whose face was only a bright light, firmly told him, “I will tell you when it’s time!”

Those words sent Dennis back to earth, into his body and into a responsive state. Those words changed his life forever. The medical team, to this day still cannot explain what happened or why.

Den was released from the hospital the next day! Less than 24 hours from when we thought we had lost him. In fact, we had gained a totally new man, spiritual fervor and dedication stronger than it had ever been. His fire and passion for life and the Lord burning brighter than it ever had. God had once again, according to his promise, been working in all things for the good of Den, for us. From this unexpected event, has come Dennis’ greatest freedom, joy, and empowering; and one of my greatest joys and desires.

Covid free and facing the unexpected together with faith.

We serve a God of the impossible. All things are possible with God and our faith will remain anchored to Him, not to events. For when circumstances appear to be harm to us, He intends it for good. He is at work, he never stops working for the good of those who love him.

When things don’t go as expected, have faith and keep going. He is at work for your good.

Go with God.

Strange Things

With such a title, it leaves a wide variety of avenues for possible exploration.

First, although it is a bit tempting, we will not be addressing the similar title “Stranger Things”. You’ve probably heard of it, it is the science fiction, Netflix series about Hawkins, Indiana, the boy Will, the girl Eleven and their battles against The Upside Down alternate dimension. Nope, tempting but not going there.

There are so many times when reading news about my city, my state, my nation; politically, socially, morally, personally, corporately in which I find myself shaking my head and declaring the things I am witnessing as strange. Seriously, where would I begin my list, were I to begin a list of strange things in 2020?

We are living in strange times. Things in nearly every arena are simply strange.

There is already enough about our strange times being written and aired, so I want to go a different direction.

I want to share with you 10 strange and very interesting creatures in our world that I hope will make you smile or maybe even creep you out. But let’s just enjoy looking at some different strange things, shall we?

Axolotl

This amphibian lives in lakes and canals in Mexico and can grow to 18 inches long.

Velvet ants

These furry creatures look like ants but are actually wasps. Found mostly in South America, watch out for them, they are known for their extremely painful sting and in fact are called “cow killers”.

Sparklemuffin

He is also known as the Australian peacock spider. They were only recently discovered in 2015 and measure just 5 mm in length. He looks like he is “dabbing” and in fact, his leg is seeking to attract a mate. Who wouldn’t be attracted to a dabbing spider?

Southern Cassowary

These guys have earned the reputation for being the “most dangerous bird in the world” due to their razor sharp talons they use to defend themselves. So watch out for these flightless 6 foot tall, 190 pound meanies. If looks could kill….

Alligator Gar

This is a fish that grows to 8 feet in length! If you near fresh water rivers and lakes near the Rio Grande to the Missouri River, you just may see one. Sorry, this is just creepy.

Maned wolf

Nope, they are not in fact wolves, they belong to the dog family. That is probably why I think he is sorta cute. Although they are omnivores, they prefer veggies. You will find them in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. I think I want one.

Magnificent frigate bird

You’ve probably seen these before, as their big red sac on the males chest that balloon up are quite famous. Just ask the females. (Galapagos Islands) It looks uncomfortable… yikes!

Jabiru Stork

This guy grows to 5 feet tall and has been known to attack by stabbing with his 14 inch long bill. Ask the zoo attendees in Belize. I wouldn’t want this stork bring my baby, he looks dark and evil!

Pink fairy Armadillo

In Argentina you will find this lil guy, who is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They are very rare and shy and scientists are still learning about them. Don’t you want to just pull off that top, ribbed layer?

Aye-aye

The aye-aye’s home is in Madagascar. He is known for his bulging eyes, growing teeth and long fingers. He is actually a type of lemur and will forage through the night. He looks like a fun one to hang out with at night, right? Never a dull moment.

Up until a few hours ago, I had never heard of most of these strange things. But at least now, I have more strange things to add to my already growing list of strange things happening in 2021.

Cheers to you, and smiles too.

Fill Your Sails

Sunday Sermon 1.2.2021

Earlier this week I felt impressed to create and share this image –

It is a message that I cannot shake off or ignore. I believe it is a call for us all, for the new year.

Our life is like a sailboat.

It is designed to sail, to catch the wind and navigate the lakes and seas, and then return safely to dock. It is not designed to stay tied up dockside, sheltered from the wind.

Don’t get me wrong, we have spent many wonderful times at the harbor, in the slip entertaining, laughing, talking, playing, and sharing aboard our sailboat. In fact, we have spent more time dockside than sailing. But that is not what the boat is designed for. She was made to sail.

Such excitement overcomes me when I make preparations to actually go sailing. Gauges are checked, items secured, unnecessary items removed, motor started, sails checked, and untied, lines checked, etc.

Then, using the motor, we back out of the slip and head for the open ocean. Before leaving the harbor, we face into the wind to hoist the mainsail, and then continue out of the harbor. Once beyond the jetty, we cut the motor, unravel the jib and allow the wind to fill both sails. We are now sailing.

aboard Lady Debra
click to play video

The wind is the power that drives the boat along. I steer the ship based on the direction of the wind, power of the wind, and our desired destination.

Without the wind, we go nowhere. Or facing the wrong direction in the wind, we also go nowhere. “Luffing” on a sailboat means your sails are not full and the wind is not being harnessed properly.

A friend of mine and I had been out for several hours and we had tacked to return back home. As anxious as we were to return, the wind was not cooperating. There was very little wind, and we were getting nowhere fast. To top it off, we would be loosing daylight soon. Although we were loving sailing, it was now time to use the motor; for without it, we wouldn’t make it back in daylight. (which is a rule of mine)

A sailboat, has a motor, but it’s primary power is from the wind. That is the way of it’s design. The sails are used for receiving the wind, embracing the wind and thereby powering the vessel. As the sails fill up the boat moves. The sails must fill in order for the boat to advance.

If the sails don’t fill, the boat is not fulfilling it’s purpose.

Lady Debra, under motor, not sail

The mainsail and the jib (front sail) are intended to fill with the wind. In this picture, you can see, they are not even up, much less filling with wind.

Here’s the Sunday sermon part, my friends.

Jesus told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the gift that the Father had promised. He told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and that baptism would endue them with power. Acts 1:5,7

On the day of Pentecost, the power showed up in the form of a strong, blowing wind that filled the house where the 120 were sitting. All of them heard it and then saw dancing fire flames on one another’s heads. Acts 2:4 says that all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

When we are born again, our spirit is regenerated, reborn, made alive. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. We are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Our spirit is alive now, within us.

Our spirit is like the sails of our sailboat. The wind of the Holy Spirit comes to fill our sails and empower us. The power of the wind (Holy Spirit) fills us, drives us, empowers us and allows us to advance. Without the power of the wind (Holy Spirit) we get nowhere. Our sails are “luffing”, we are floundering, without direction or power.

But the Holy Spirit blows on us and fills us we are thereby empowered to heal sicknesses, diseases, and drive out evil spirits. That is what we have been commissioned to do. That is our purpose. That is our call and our destiny. That is what Jesus authorized us to do.

We have been called to cast off the bow lines, leave the safe harbor, and hoist our sails to catch the powerful winds of the Holy Spirit that are blowing.

Mark Twain had it right.

It is time to allow your sails to be filled and experience the exuberance of sailing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, going where he leads and doing what he directs. Trusting him to use you where ever you are.

Your sailboat, life is meant for sharing. Everything that you have gone through, experienced, struggled with, lost to and gained victory over is meant to be shared with others. Your Christian life of peace, prayer, Word and worship is meant to be shared.

This horrendous pandemic with all of its ramifications has provided a ripe seedbed for hungry people, seeking truth, life and hope -all of which you have and have been commissioned to share.

I call forth 2021 to be a season of sailing under the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. A season of leaving the safety of the slip and venturing into the exuberance of a purpose filled life affecting others for the Kingdom of God.

That is what you, oh great sailboat were designed for!

Hoist up your sails and let the Holy Spirit fill you a fresh for an exciting 2021.

Go with God.

Washington’s Cruiser Flag

It was 1775 and General George Washington had personally outfitted seven ships in an attempt to drive the British from New England. He believed it was important to be able to attack the British from sea as well as land. Having already surrounded Boston and trapped the British army inside, his mission was to prevent British ships from delivering supplies to the army in Boston.

These seven ships or floating batteries as they were called, in order to be identified as “friendly” to one another, were flying a flag of white, with a pine tree in the middle and the motto, “Appeal to Heaven”; this also became known as Washington’s Cruiser Flag.

This fleet sailed before the first US Navy had even been commissioned, and was also known as “Washington’s Secret Navy”. These schooners captured many a British ship, including the British Brigantine named the “Nancy” that was carrying over a years worth of supplies. This capture is considered the greatest capture of the entire Revolution and it also inspired the birth of the American Navy as we know it today.

In April of 1776, the State of Massachusetts adopted this flag for its own navy as well as ordered the colors of the uniforms of the officers to be green and white. They sailed twenty-five ships in defense of America and were eventually absorbed into the US Navy.

Why this motto – “Appeal to Heaven”?

I’ll attempt to reel in my US History teacher bend and summarize it like so.

John Locke, one of American’s foremost political philosophers argued that

“When all other political and individual methods of resisting tyranny are exhausted, only “an appeal to heaven” remains.”

Second Treatise of Civil Government – John Locke

In summary, he contended that “no man had inherent power to regulate or restrict divine arbitration in civil affairs. Even in dire circumstances, natural rights transcended the political process.”

It was clear to our founding fathers that “God governs in the affairs of men”, and Benjamin Franklin clearly, and unapologetically stated that. It therefore held true, that in all things, Locke’s motto- appealing to heaven, should inspire the citizenry to work to the bitter end to achieve a remedy.

Locke maintained “people should be diligent to oppose egregious acts through political action. Rather than a tactic of last resort, an appeal to heaven was warning sign.”

Though today, Locke’s motto may be overlooked, it appears to me, it represents the very place we again find ourselves standing. It indeed is our focus, battle cry and our course of action.

I join with Washington, the founding fathers, and other revolutionaries who on behalf of a nation lift an appeal to heaven against all tyranny, foreign and domestic. If not now, when?

Won’t you join us in this appeal to heaven?

Cheers to you.

Messages of Comfort Part 4 Comfort in God’s Power

Sunday Sermon 12.26.20
The fourth and final part of a series from Isaiah 40

As we wrap up our look at Isaiah chapter 40 and the comfort it brings, let’s review.

Isaiah is writing to a nation in deep do do, who’s decisions had turned them away from God and toward certain judgment and doom. He had been warning them of their pending judgment and attempting to rally them back to God. News of oppression, doom and gloom just kept mounting until chapter 40 brings a dramatic shift to the book’s focus.

Like a shaft of light and hope piercing the skies, comes the declaration of chapter 40 and it’s opening first two words – COMFORT, COMFORT.

Resounding through the dark days rings crisp and clear hope, consoling comfort and encouraging vision. In the previous weeks, we looked at these comforting messages – “Comfort in Doom”, “Comfort in Obstacles” and last week, “Comfort and Good News”.

As we close this series, we end with a powerful picture of God’s great and amazing power. The section (verses 12-14) begins peppering us with 10 questions – check some of them out –

  • who has measured the waters in the hallow of his hand?
  • or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
  • who has held the dust of the earth in a basket?
  • who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord?
  • who can instruct the Lord or be his counselor?
  • who taught Him the right way?
  • whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him?

Each of these, gives us the perspective of a mighty, powerful Creator God. His hand holds and measures the oceans of the world. The extension of his fingers, from thumb to pinky measures the length of the heavens. He needs no counselor, advisor or teacher, for within the Spirit of the Lord we find all wisdom, insight, and knowledge.

We can and should find great comfort in the power of the living God. But by choice, we must focus on his power and his abilities, for if we don’t, we too can become discouraged and weary, just like Israel did, in the midst of national upheaval.

His power is over the nations, too. Isaiah reminds us in verses 15-17 that the nations are but a drop in the bucket, regarded as dust, so small they are to our amazing God. Every national crisis, government and situation is within his firm control and grasp. There is no nation or national crisis that he is not involved with. We must be reminded of this.

Our comfort and security come from seeing him, powerful and mighty “sitting on the circle of the earth” v. 22 From knowing that he is in control and there is nothing hidden from him or outside of his power and care.

Read these verses –

“Do you not know? Have you nor heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and his people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them like a tent to live in”

Isaiah 40:21-22

” He brings princes to naught and reduces rulers to nothing.”

Isaiah 40:23

It has always been a puzzling mystery why “God allows” certain things; that I will not argue. In fact, at a recent family gathering, we had just that conversation. We can develop our responses, answers and theories, or we can flounder for a meaningful response. But what I hope we will do, regardless of the outcome of our “why God allows” questions, I hope we fall back on HE IS IN CONTROL whether or not we see or feel it.

He is in control and in the blink of an eye or snap of his fingers he can change things, fix things, heal things, or judge things. He can show up in his power at any time, in any place, in any form that he wants and do the impossible right before our eyes.

In God’s power, I find comfort. True, therein lies a fair amount of fear and respect, but mostly comfort, that regardless of what my eyes see, he is at work!

Isaiah asks the nation of Israel –

“Why do you complain? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; and my cause is disregarded by my God?”

Isaiah 40:27

Are we foolish enough to think that our God doesn’t hear our complaints, whining, cries, requests? Do we really think he isn’t aware of our every situation and bent to hear our every prayer?

Isaiah encourages us to remember, that the Lord “will not grow tired or weary”. Isaiah 40:28

God is not like a man who wears out and grows weary. He never tires of hearing from us, responding to us and working all things in our life for good. He delights in bringing from our rubble and ruins hope, and building again within our heart a safe, strong place of trust in his ways and ability to get it done.

From Isaiah chapter 40, the message of Comfort in God’s power thunders from the heavens and resonates through every human heart on the planet.

We are reminded that even young people will get tired and weary (geesh, what does that say about us “older people”?) BUT –

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar… like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:30-31

In these days of national crisis, in the midst of waves of discouragement, let us remember to look up. Look to the power of the Almighty God to “lift us up where we belong”, to see things from his perspective, the eagle overview, and to draw from his power in our fatigue and discouragement.

His power is our comfort and his promise is to increase the power of the weak. (v. 29) So what do we have to loose?

Next time you’re needing a lift, remember God’s power is over all. Look to him, talk to him, allow him to lift and empower you.

Allow him to bring you comfort in his power.

Go with God.

Messages of Comfort – Part 3 Comfort and Good News

Sunday Sermon 12.19.20 The third of a four part series on Comfort from Isaiah 40

To quickly recap, as we approach Isaiah chapter 40 contextually remember, the nation of Israel had been facing the rigid edicts and judgments of the secular rulers surrounding them. For the previous thirty-nine chapters things were pretty grim and hopeless.

Then comes chapter 40, who’s first words resound, “COMFORT, COMFORT”. The tone and direction of the remainder of the book then shifts to promises of redemption, direction and purpose.

The whole shift starts with comfort, and that is the focus of this series.

Last week we were reminded of the comfort that comes amid the obstacles that we face, and the first week we saw how comfort comes in the midst of doom and gloom.

Today, we will look at comfort along side of good news. Yay, right?

Here’s the text:

” You who bring good news, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Isaiah 40:9-11 NIV

Notice the theme in this portion is about good news and those who bring it.

It is interesting to note that twice in this passage the phrase “you who bring good news” is used. The Message paraphrase says it this way,

“Climb a high mountain, you’re the preacher of good news.

“Raise your voice, you’re the preacher of good news.”

Isaiah 40:9 The Message

What is Isaiah saying here?

First off, he is saying that there will be those who bring good news. He is declaring it. Could it be another people coming to bring good news? Could it be from within Israel herself? It could be argued for both.

Here’s the message though, those who do bring the good news get up to a high place, raise your voice, make it loud and clear, and don’t be timid in sharing it! Loud and proud shout out the good news for all to hear. It is much needed!

What is the good news that’s worth shouting from the high places for all to hear and find comfort in?

Here is your God!

Isaiah 40:9

Look no further, lift up your eyes, God is here. God is present. You are not alone. He is with you. Here he is.

Fantastic good news to a hopeless and weary nation. Amazing reminder to a nation that God has not left them. Encouraging declaration in the midst of dark, confusing times. Israel and our nation, “take heart”, Isaiah is saying, the good news is “GOD IS HERE.”

We can declare “God is here” in our life, situation, family, job. We can bring that comforting good news to those around us. We can make it our passion and profession no matter what – “God is here!” We can be the ones who bring that good news into a situation and we can speak it to our weary and worn out hearts as often as we need.

When God shows up in a situation things change. When God shows up people change. When God is present (invited, chosen, & yielded to) look what he brings.

He comes in power, ready to take action. He is the creator of all and will come to take over, take charge, bring order back. He is the Master of the universe and all powers are subjected to Him, so when He comes, everything else must bow. (Isaiah 40:10)

He also comes bringing a couple of things with Him. He comes with payback and He comes with rewards. (Isaiah 40:10)

He is bringing with Him recompense or payback for his enemies. He will show up ready to make amends for the loss and harm suffered. When God is here, so is his promise of recompense. Don’t loose heart, God is faithful and is bringing payback for loss.

When he is present, he also brings rewards for those who love Him.

There are wages earned by those who love Him and the good news is that God’s presence is our payment. Him being with us, through it all, comforts us and is our reward.

But wait, there’s more. (that sounds like a commercial)

The comforting, good news is not only that he is here in power, but that he is here like a shepherd. He comes to his people tenderly, as a caring shepherd who would gather his lambs up in his arms and carry them close to his heart.

Note, the shepherd is hugging his sheep. Touching them, caring for them tenderly. There is no social distancing with Him. He is pulling them close and holding them tight. Speaking to them up close and personal. (without a mask on)

THAT IS GOOD NEWS and very comforting.

As powerful as God is, let’s never loose sight of His tender loving care and compassion for His people. God is love. All love, only love. Even His power is demonstrated because of love.

Today I pray you first of all hear the good news that “God is here” and then experience the comfort of His presence, care and powerful touch.

I trust too, that you will find opportunity to be the one who brings that much needed good news to others. Find that soapbox, be bold – “you’re the preacher of good news.”

Feel His warm embrace enfolding you, infilling you and rest in the assurance that He will take care of both payback and reward.

Find comfort and assurance in the good news today that, “God is here”.

Go with God.

From the Asaph Files

Weird title?

I want to start a series to which I will add information that I have been researching that I feel is important for you to know about. Information about different topics and on different themes.

Because Asaph was a collector or gatherer, I am calling this my Asaph files. Today is the first installment from the Asaph Files.

Topic – The World Economic Forum’s global plan called “The Great Reset”

This past Fall I began hearing about “The World Economic Forum” and its founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab. What captured my attention was the bold declarations and plans of this group –

“to shape national economics, priorities and business models.”

http://www.weforum.org

The plan of The Great Reset Initiative as stated in the “Sustainable Development Plan Agenda 201” is to institute “a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honors every human being.”

Now, there are parts of that that sound good and respectful. Of course we should honor every human being, who doesn’t want that?

And that is where I don’t want people to stop listening or paying attention, because this initiative is not honorable to every human being.

Here’s their plan on how they will shape a new economy, set new priorities and business models that “honor every human being”.

First, lest you think I am on some sort of weird tangent or conspiracy theory, here is a partial list of companies that have already jumped fully on board with The Great Reset. There are over 639 global companies on board, I counted each one!

  • American Heart Assoc.
  • AARP
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Bloomberg
  • Bank of America
  • Chevron
  • China
  • CVS
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Hewlet Packard
  • Honda
  • Japan Bank
  • Kaiser
  • Mastercard
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Microsoft
  • NASDAQ
  • NEC
  • Pfizer
  • Pepsi
  • PayPal
  • Rockwell
  • Russian Direct
  • Sun Pharmaceutical
  • SAP
  • The Coca Cola Co
  • The Lego Brand
  • Time
  • Tyson Foods
  • Verizon
  • Visa
  • Volvo
  • Walmart
  • Zurich Insurance

These companies, along with the big four accounting firms, led by the Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan, are already underway in the execution of the Davios Manifesto and the new “Duty to Society”.

Here is a summary of what they are committed to and how they plan to achieve it. Again, this is research anyone can do, who is interested in what is going on.

The Davios Manifesto (which will be officially rolled out in January of 2021) makes these three declarations:

The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders“. via – a. fair competition b. treating people fairly c. suppliers are partners d. supports the community e. shareholders return on investment

A company is more than an economic investment. It fulfills human and societal aspirations, in a broad social system. Performance is measured not just on return, but environmental objectives.”

A company is multinational in scope and serves all those stakeholders.”

Bottom line here – according to Klaus Schwab, “shareholder capitalism, as we currently know it, must change to stakeholder capitalism.”

Check these quotes revealing their business plans.

As stated in “The Four Building Blocks of The Great Reset”, August 11, 2020,

” 1. “Change our mindset” 2. Set new metrics 3. Design new incentives 4. Build genuine connection”

“COVID19 is redrawing the geopolitical map of the world and providing a unique opportunity to reimagine capitalism and think about the kind of people we want to be.” (TIME – The Great Reset)

Bank of America has released “Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics” that will be added to companies annual reporting in two years.

Folks, businesses as we know them will cease to exist.

The small business I work for, will no longer be able to function as it has for the past twenty-one years. Soon, new metrics will be placed on them, mandating that every vendor in their supply chain receive equal treatment, provide fair and safe work environments, are practicing green practices, and is equally sharing in their stake in the business. My boss will no longer be responsible for his employees but for every person, in every country that he even remotely does business with.

We are told that businesses do not have to stop sharing profits for their shareholders, they “only need to shift to a long term perspective on their mission; looking beyond the next year to the next decade.” (TIME – The Great Reset)

Whaatt??

The small businesses today are struggling the make it into the next year, and are in no position to forecast ten years down the road! C’mon!

With “every country, from the US to China must participate” and “every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed” wrote Klaus Schwab, we are seriously looking at a plan to fundamentally change not just America, but businesses in America and around the world.

“To rebalance economies” means taking away from those who have and giving to those who have not, across the nations – down the supply chain.

It means the merging of businesses with the state.

It means global government, and one unified global order.

It means no local governments or individual empowerment.

It means that by 2030, no one will own property.

It means international decisions are made over local independence and sovereignty.

THIS, is The Great Reset. This is moving ahead. This is the shape of the future.

“We are at a turning point of human kind – we should not underestimate the historical significance of the situation that we are in.”

Professor Schwab 11/20

DUH. Ya think?

There is so much more I could say and other branches to this, but that is not for now.

What is vital right now, is that YOU be aware of how America and the the world are being set up for CHANGE. There is a serious, global move to change the world as we know it. The plan is clear, in print and espoused by hundreds of global businesses and governments.

I am not wanting to be an alarmist, but a reporter of facts. This is underway!

Be aware. Investigate it for yourself. Take action as you see fit.

Until next time.