Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year 2014!
Sorry we have not written in a while!  -what a whirlwind ending to 2013!  Welcome to 2014!

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -- 2 Corin 4:17-18

Hang in There 

I was crabby. I’ll admit it. I tend to schedule things, even “spontaneous” outings. The girls and I were supposed to leave at 10 a.m. It was almost 11. Our road trip was getting disrupted. That put me on edge.

-So what if this was a rare opportunity to travel with my daughters who now call New York home? -
So what if I had just one day off to travel to the cabin, our beloved retreat? -I was agitated and that made everyone else mad. - Oh, how we create chaos with our moods!

Everyone was annoyed. We slammed our car doors in a huff. Sisters were mad at each other and even madder at me. Could we ever enjoy this time? Car tires spun on the gravel as we plunged down the hill.

Something told me to take a deep breath and hang in there. As tires rolled on the highway...then up and down hills and around narrow curves on country lanes, God rolled hard hearts into softened ones. God, as always, broke down defenses. By Desloge, MO, we were chattering like old friends.

I have not written about the new year yet. Last week, I tried to cling to Christmas with one last article. It was a desperate attempt to trap Christmastime, kinda like my stubborn resistance to taking down the tree and sparkling white lights in my living room.

Today, I sit next to the shimmering tree and think about the new year. God keeps bringing three words back to me: “Hang in There”.

As we plunge into 2014, life won't always bring us what we've scheduled. As a matter of fact, I’ve learned from experience things seldom turn out exactly as I plan. I think God often laughs at my plans. He has such a better, growing alternatives.

Sometimes we have to hang in there to reap the benefit of the rocky road. Just like my mom and daughter cabin trip, we need to keep driving and trust God to pick up the pieces scattered along the way. Hang in there and hang on to God.

People, places, things and our own schemes will disappoint. Hang in there. God will catch us off guard with shimmering moments of wondrous love. Hang in there and be on the look out.

By the time we got to the historic village of Caledonia, MO, we spilled out of the car with laughter.

Memories washed over us like a warm shower as the bell on the door tinkled and we stomped across the rough wooden floor of the Village Mercantile.

We shared a fun lunch at Russell’s Diner. We rumbled down the hill to the cabin and gazed at the icy river. We took photos on the river and began the drive home. Two girls dozed in and out of contentment while I drove. We listened to old “Adventures in Odyssey” radio shows which brought back childhood memories for us all.

Hang in there. Don’t get hung up on problems or give up before the good stuff comes. God is so much bigger than our moods and our frustrations.

2014 may bring disruptions to our plans. Hang in there. Trust God with your life and keep driving.

If we look at disruptions through God’s eyes, we'll see the joy He has in store for us.

Hang in there. God has wonderful surprises along our bumpy road in 2014.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

A Thankful Heart in a Thankless Time

 
There’s a rumor going around that Thanksgiving is on it’s way out.  It’s getting  squeezed in a mercenary vice grip between commercially successful Halloween and shopping frenzy Christmas.
 
In commercial terms, Thanksgiving just doesn’t have enough bang for the buck, unless you are selling turkeys.  This is, unfortunately, the way of the world.
 
The movement to lose Thanksgiving began with  the encroachment of Christmas into Thanksgiving territory.  Christmas music is on the radio two weeks before Thanksgiving.  This year, stores announced with a flurry  that they would, in fact, be open Thanksgiving day. 

 -Why wait for Black Friday when you can tear yourself away from the dinner table and zoom to catch the latest bargains?
 
Taking time to give thanks is important, however.  We at Faith beg you to hold fast to a full day celebration of THANKS…Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day of gratitude to God. Please help your children understand this.
 
Here are some tips to keep the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving:
 
___Explore the history of Thanksgiving with your children.  Tell them about the Pilgrims’ first celebration of       thanks.  Read the historic quote by  Gov William Bradford in the original Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1623:
     “All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill there to listen to the pastor and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” 
 
  ___ Give the children 5 hard kernels of corn, explaining that this was often all the Pilgrims were given in                their daily rations.  Use the kernels to count your blessings.
 
___ Display a “Thanksgiving Basket”  with cards to fill out with what you are thankful for, encouraging the             children to write things down.  Read these notes at Thanksgiving.
 
____Think of ways to give a secret “Thank you” to others.
 
____Invite a lonely person to eat with you.
 
____Keep “Thankful” Bible Verses in a basket and pull one out to read each day.
 
____Go around the table and have each person tell what they are thankful for.
 
The Bible says:  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”   - 1 Chronicles 16:34 
 
    - Don’t let go of Thanksgiving.  Take this time to teach your child an attitude of gratitude -- for others AND God!

Here are some bits of history you might want to share this Thanksgiving:  


In October 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving to be Thursday, the 26th of November that year.  The proclamation declared, in part, that Americans should observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Washington was very dedicated to showing thanks — to Divine Providence, to his wife Martha, to his troops, to the Continental Congress, and to his fellow countrymen.  There are many very positive character traits that we assign to him — unflinching integrity, bold and decisive leadership, undying loyalty, and incredible humility – and perhaps chief among them was his reputation for thanking others and giving credit to those who deserved credit.  

Read and/or print the entire proclamation HERE.

After George Washington authorized the first Thanksgiving Day in 1789, 74 years passed without another such day of thanks. Then, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday as an annual event in America.

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation should be shared with your children:
 
“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scripture and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” 

-- Abraham Lincoln
 
President Lincoln authorized our annual Thanksgiving Day in 1863 - in the midst of the Civil War.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rebekah... Used by God despite her mistakes!

Rebekah was a strong woman - physically and mentally.  She was decisive, maybe even a bit adventuresome!

I mean, wouldn't it take some guts to follow a servant to a foreign home to marry a guy you've never met?  WOWEE!  Did she trust God or WHAT?

You can read about Rebekah in Genesis 24:1-67 - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+24&version=NIRV.

Rebekah is the second woman at the well we have studied.  The first, the Samaritan woman, was so different from Rebekah.  The Samaritan woman was considered lower class.  She was full of shame...she was hiding her sin...she was surprised that someone would speak to her. It took an encounter with Jesus to make her bold.

Rebekah was bold from the get-go.  She was from a nice family and, it appears, she was pretty confident.

Enter: Abraham's servant.  Abraham had sent this man to find a wife for his son, Isaac.  The servant wanted to do a good job in his search, so he prayed for God to help him. God helped him to decide -- whatever woman at the well agreed to give him water PLUS water his camels (all 12 of them!) would be the wife for Isaac.

While Abraham's servant was still praying,  Rebekah came forward with her water jar.  Rebekah was ready for action! Look how many times the word "quickly" appears in the following verses:

Genesis 24: 18 - 19 


The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

“Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

THEN - Rebekah broke tradition and actually SPOKE to Abraham's servant - offering to do JUST what he wished...give water to the camels! Again, look for the word, "quickly."  Check it out:

Genesis 24: 19 - 21



After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.”  So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.  Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

What can we say?   Rebekah is a woman of action and she is NOT shy!  She filled water jars, over and over again, to give to those camels.  She had to be strong and energetic.  This watering job was a BIG one!
Abraham's servant figured his prayers had been answered and immediately asked to go to Rebekah's house to request to take her back to be Isaac's wife.

Again - Rebekah - a woman of action - RAN to tell her folks.  She listened to the proposal.  Could she leave immediately?  Rebekah did not hesitate.  She was ready to go.  She basically packed her bags and left to meet Isaac the next morning!  

I would be scared, I would be quaking in my boots, so to speak.  But - off Rebekah went - to an unknown land and an unknown husband!  SHE was a woman who trusted God.  She could see God "stacking things up" all through this adventure.

Long story short, Rebekah and Isaac hit it off!  

Genesis 24:66-67:


Then the servant told Isaac all he had done.  Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

What a wonderful love story!  If everything ended with Genesis Chapter 24, we would all go "awe" and think we could never be as good as Rebekah. Let's look at the REST of the story.

Rebekah has twin sons with Isaac:  Esau and Jacob.  Esau came out first, so he was considered the first-born, which was a big deal back in Bible times.  Esau was supposed to get the inheritance -- too bad for Jacob.

This is where Rebekah's flaws begin to show through.  The very same traits that blessed her:  decisiveness, boldness, energy.... began to work against her in God's plan.  

Rebekah showed favoritism to her children.  Bottom line: she liked Jacob better.  When Isaac became old and feeble, Rebekah planned a way to deceive her husband, cheat Essau of his inheritance and put Jacob in the number one position.

In the end -- Rebekah's plan worked.  Unfortunately, it caused a big rift in her family. I'm talkin problems here.  Essau was ready to kill Jacob.  Jacob had to run away.  

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO US????

I am headstrong and bold like Rebekah.  God can use those qualities, but so can the devil.  In this case, Rebekah made a mistake by getting ahead of God.  I do this all the time.  

Our good qualities can become bad when we forget to follow God's lead.

BUT -- WAIT -- GOD IS GOOD!

God worked Rebekah's mistakes for good.  In the end, Jacob and his brother made up.  In the end, God used Jacob to form the nation of Israel.

WOWEE !

What's our lesson from Rebekah?  USE your gifts for God AND, when you make a mistake (which we will all do on this side of Heaven) -- ask for forgiveness and let God take over.

God has us covered, as long as we give Him our gifts AND our mistakes!

I am happy God used this great woman to show us we, too, can be blessed, when we follow his lead.

I learned this from Rebekah:


1.  Don't hesitate when everything shows you GOD is calling you to go.
2.  Let go of the things that will keep you from following GOD
3.  Watch out when you are tempted to follow your own plan, not God's
4.  When you make a mistake, GIVE IT TO GOD.
5.  God will use very imperfect people to accomplish His very perfect plan...in spite of our mistakes! 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weeding a Fall Garden

My gardens are a mess.  I don't understand how, when a drought hits, flowers dry up and weeds grow like crazy.

I see very few flowers.  I see lots of weeds.

I was trying to clean things up.  -Venturing into the crisp fall air, I plunged into the overgrown garden patch.

YIKES!  What's this?????  Crazy stems of prickly seeds practically jumped out at me!  I looked down and saw my entire front: sweatshirt, hood, sweatpants, work gloves, covered in sticky burs.

Yeck!  In frustration, I pulled a weed.  Immediately, seeds caught my bangs and clung to the stray hair flying out of my ponytail.  GEESH!

This was becoming a sticky situation, but I had to ignore it.  I began to pull weeds with a vengeance. Burs were flying everywhere -- I grimaced thinking how those crummy little seeds were contaminating my pretty flower bed, as well as my whole body!!!!

I should have been keeping these weeds out of my garden all along.  Now that I've let the weeds take hold, welp, I am up for a struggle.

HMMMMMM.... Potential sermon illustration here.  These weeds are kinda like the sin in my life.

I step in to sin so easily.  I say to myself: "I'm only going to kick back here with this sin just for a minute."
Other times, I don't even stop to think at all. I'm sinning before I even notice.

-Maybe I'll make a snide remark.  Maybe I'll participate in gossip.  Maybe I'll  keep my mouth shut about believing in Jesus because I'm afraid of what others will think.

I can feel those seeds sticking to me.  Who have I hurt by my careless words?  What opportunities have I missed in my silence?

Worse yet, have my kids seen me be a weakling in the midst of public pressure?  Or... have my kids seen me stand strong and steady in the love of God?

Have my kids listened to my stupid comments and compromise?  Or...have my kids witnessed unwavering commitment and no compromise?

I'm feeling pretty seedy here.

Tonight, I am pulling each individual seed off my clothing and out of my hair.  Bit by bit, I am cleaning up.

I'm saying a prayer while I pull:

"I'm so sorry, God, for the times I think I can just 'dabble' in sin.  
Help me remember....REMEMBER to listen to you and NOT the world.  
Help me not to be so self-centered.  
Help me remember to stay in your WORD and listen to YOUR voice.  
I thank you in advance for everything you can do with this cracked pot.
 In Jesus name I pray.  AMEN."

Each choice is a seed and each consequence can be sticky.  Watch out -- you can transfer those burs to others, if you are not careful.

Tonight....the burs have gone into the light of the fire barrel.  That's the only place they are consumed.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."    -- John 1:1-5



You can't get into the weeds...without emerging with "seedy" consequences!





Friday, October 11, 2013

The Woman at the Well....From Mess to Message

"Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and 
who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him 
and he would have given you living water.”

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"    -- John 4:10-11


It's really hot in the middle east at noon time.  I'm sure anyone in their right mind would not be carrying heavy loads of water pots under the hot noonday sun....unless she was hiding something.

John 4:4-42  tells a wonderful story of a mess turned to message...a shunned woman...a hiding woman... being transformed into someone who influenced many people to follow Jesus.

Zowee! -- How does something like this happen? Did this woman have super powers?  -Was she a leader of a dynamic ministry?  
-Was she well-liked, respected and influential? hmmmm....

Let's take a closer look at the woman at the well.  

Who was she?
--------------------------------------------------------
Woman at the Well:

___She was a WOMAN -- Jewish men never spoke directly to women. Culture during Bible times considered women property -- of little consequence.  





When Jesus spoke directly to her, she was SHOCKED!

___She was a Samaritan. Jews traditionally despised Samaritans, considering them a "mixed breed" of folks. Jesus asked her to give him a drink. Jewish tradition holds  he would be unclean as soon as he touched the water she offered. Jesus did not seem to be worried by this. 

___She had a problem.  She had five failed marriages and was living with a man who was not her husband.  She was at the well at noon to avoid the gossip and piercing looks of the women who gathered water in the cool of the morning.  
---------------------------------------------------------

As always, Jesus looked beyond this woman's checkered history and saw what she lacked in her soul.  

Jesus continued to talk to this woman: 


 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 
 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 
-- John 4:17,18

Busted!  How many of us have carefully "hidden" some embarrassing flaw from the world and foolishly thought we were hiding from God, also?

The woman at the well was SMART, though.  She wanted to learn more.  She asked Jesus several religious questions.  


“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet." -- John 4:17-19

As Jesus answered her questions...this sharp woman began to understand....Jesus was not just a prophet.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. 
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 
-- John 4:25,26

 Wowee!  The woman at the well knew she was in the presence of the MESSIAH!  She was so excited, she left her water jar and went rushing back to her community!  She had a MESSAGE to communicate! 

 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. 
Could this be the Messiah?”  They came out of the town and made their way toward him. -- John 4:28-30


The woman who came to the well at noon to hide from people was suddenly running down the streets of town telling people about Jesus!

She wasn't hiding her mess any more.  She had a message to share! In spite of her past, in spite of her mistakes, God used her to bring people to Jesus.  


Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers
-- John 4:39 - 41

OK...Let me get this straight.  The fallen woman, a woman who doesn't even get NAMED in the Bible, is used by God in a BIG way.....Hmmmm ... I'm figuring her life changed in a BIG way, too.

What does this mean to you?  

Stop hiding your mess.  Use it.  You could be hoarding a MESSAGE that could change a few lives!

Can you do this alone?  OF COURSE NOT!  Without an encounter with Jesus...I'm talking a significant "one-on-one" conversation - you and I will never get far with our message.

Talk to Jesus -- Ask Him to come into your life.  Thank Him for dying for you.  LISTEN to what He is telling you in prayer and in the Bible. 

Then - get out there and SHARE the message...but....

Keep it simple:  Here's what Jesus has done for me.  

Keep it personal:  Here's my mess and here's how Jesus turned it around OR helped me deal with it.

Oh, thank you, God, for the Woman at the Well!  I can relate to her in many ways.  

I like to hide from the disapproving eyes.  I would rather keep quiet than go to a lot of trouble speaking.  I have some messes to clean up.

I want to give them to you, Jesus.  Take them over.

Turn my mess into a MESSAGE.  I'll trust you with the results!  












Thursday, October 10, 2013

Introducing...Dr. Ben Carson

I have been an admirer of Dr. Ben Carson long before recent events have brought him to the forefront.  Dr. Ben Carson.

Years ago, I purchased a movie about Carson's life. Ben Carson Movie  My daughters and I watched it and I was spellbound by the inspiring story of this man and the wonderful commitment of his mother.  Better yet, I read later how faith in God interwove this story and I  understood:  This was a tale that needed to be shared.

I shared the movie with a child I mentor from my home town of East St. Louis.  East St. Louis is known for having the lowest per capita income in the US and probably one of the highest crime rates, but there are children there...and those children, like Dr. Ben Carson, deserve a future.  

To learn more about the great things happening in ESL see www.cacesl.org .

My little boy LOVES Dr. Ben!  

Here is a detailed report of  a talk Dr. Ben Carson recently presented in Illinois:


All had a vivid memory of Dr. Carson's poignant remarks at a prayer breakfast with President Obama sitting near by with an evident scowl on his face.

It was shortly afterwards encounter with the President that Dr. Carson was audited for the first time by the IRS.

In a lighthearted way, Dr. Carson wasted no time in noting that he's neither a Republican or a Democrat, but if he were a member of a party it would be the "logic" party.

Dr. Carson then continued to relate some amazing details about his life. When only eight years old, Carson dreamed of becoming a mission doctor. By age thirteen Carson decided to  become a psychiatrist, as he was already providing a sounding board for his fellow classmates. With a bit of bravado, Carson declared that he was going to become the greatest psychiatrist the world had ever known.

Beyond becoming a psychiatrist, Dr. Carson began to understand God had endowed him with good hand and eye coordination so why not become a terrific brain surgeon? Dr. Carson went on  to become a much heralded surgeon and philanthropist.  Dr. Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson said it is an amazing thing it was to be a member of the medical profession and to be able to contribute to the well-being of mankind

In commenting about ObamaCare and the haste in which it was put together, Carson noted this program is not about health,  but instead is about government control. It involves people at the pinnacle of power who wish to place government in charge of our lives.

It requires courage to remind elected officials that they work for us and not the other way around. Carson also bemoaned political correctness and called it "a scourge on our society." Freedom of expression is so important and is to be cherished.

Dr. Carson subtly compared what is happening in the White House to the teachings of Chicago native, Saul Alinsky, whose "Rules for Radicals," published in 1971, served as counsel to young radicals on how to change society. Two key Alinsky rules being applied by the White House through its actions and policies: 1) If you push a negative hard enough it will gain traction and become a positive and 2) Driving a wedge between people or groups of people will create class warfare and with it, division and unrest.

Dr. Carson's dream of becoming a doctor suffered a major setback when his parents divorced, prompting these thoughts about marriage. To Dr. Carson, marriage is a relationship between God and His people. "Just as the secular progressive movement is currently indicating that it's fine for a child to say that 2 + 2 = 5 if the child is able to explain why this is so -- as sanctioned through Common Core initiatives -- so secular progressives are likewise pushing the idea that homosexual marriage is fine and dandy by summarily dismissing the covenant between God and His people," he said.

Although there exists a legal way to establish a homosexual union, secular progressives seem intent on changing what is a pillar of our society -- traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Anyone who doesn't believe as they do are called haters, Carson said.

Dr. Carson was an object of such derision when a "Chik-fil-a" -like attempt was made to paint Carson as a homophobic, only to be backed away from when the accusation about Carson proved to be unfounded.

Carson reminded the audience not to be afraid of those who try to discredit what they firmly believe, for God is with them and will provide the strength and the courage needed to prevail.

Regarding Dr. Carson's mother who had only a 3rd grade education, she decided after her divorce that welfare was not for her.  She did not want to become a victim,  knowing that handouts zap motivation.

Although it would have been easier for Carson's mother to sit down and wait for a handout, she took her two sons out into the country, knocking on doors of farmers, to inquire whether she and her two sons could pick apples, beans, or whatever else might have been available and in season. A three to one deal was offered. "We will pick four bushels, giving you three and taking home with us one bushel," his mother told the farmers    Through canning, there was plenty to eat in the Carson household.

Dr. Carson applauded Bishop Lance Davis of the Black Chicago Alliance for standing up against homosexual marriage. He applauded efforts to help African Americans to become strong, productive members of society.

Young black youth must also be schooled in economics, specifically, how to bring the dollar back into their communities to create jobs and develop entrepreneurship, Carson said.

He said, unfortunately, young people are being taught to be victims. He noted that young people speak about victimhood, content to receive Democratic handouts to insure loyalty to party, not realizing that such dependence on government rather than self will only result in continued feelings of victimhood.

As to the plight of this nation's education system, Dr. Carson painted a rather dismal picture, one in which this nation's students rank 22nd out of 23rd among the richest countries surveyed in solving math and scientific problems. He mentioned additional worrisome figures: 30% of young people don't graduate from high school, and 40% end up taking more than four years to finish college.

"In this technological era we live in, this nation has a great need for physics and math majors," he said.

"Students must be encouraged to sign up for the difficult courses required for preparation to become engineers and scientists, which call for more work and study. Education standards started slipping when this nation's moral compass went down the tubes."

Carson, a great student of history, noted when Alexis de Tocqueville, an aristocratic Frenchman, visited this nation in 1831 to see what made democracy tick, he found a superior educational system where students were completely literate by the 2nd grade.

This explained how pioneers could go from one part of the country to another. They knew how to invest and to solve problems. By middle school in the 1800s, students could answer questions that most college students would be unable to answer today, and we live in an age of technology!

There is a way for this nation to catch up very quickly in education through virtual classrooms where millions of students can be exposed to expert instruction simultaneously, Carson encouraged. "Students must return to a place where they are able to fit into a larger puzzle and not be islands unto themselves.

Spirituality must also be returned to become a guiding factor in their lives. With God removed, the void has been filled with worldly things, which has led to theft, selfishness, lack of respect and murder, etc."

Political correctness was shown for what it is and condemned by Dr. Carson. Individuals can easily be led astray by those intent on spreading false information presented as truth, which explains why this nation must concentrate on getting its people educated again. This doesn't mean to eliminate sports and entertainment from our lives, but these should not crowd out efforts at educating students with the Truth, so misinformation can be spotted and rejected.

Dr. Carson said he hated poverty.  In the 5th grade Ben Carson moved back to Detroit to live in tenement conditions. Upon observing people being shot dead in his own neighborhood, Carson deduced that he might not survive long enough to become a doctor.

In attending school in Detroit, Carson was considered stupid, but he did admire the bright students who always knew the answers, wondering how they became so smart. Carson's mother prayed that her young sons would receive wisdom through learning.

With only a third grade education Carson's mother couldn't read, but the boys didn't know this at the time. By requiring her boys to check out two books weekly from the local library and write book reports -- which she only pretended to read.

Carson found knowledge enabled him to answer questions like the smart kids in his class and to likewise become "smart".

It dawned on Dr. Carson that he had the brain, but it was necessary he change his attitude. After this revelation, Ben was no longer bothered by being poor, for he had the power to chart what course he wanted to follow in life.

Dr. Carson said,just like he changed his life with God's help,  we can change this nation.  He noted it takes courage to stand up for what we believe, as was displayed by patriot Nathan Hale.

During the American Revolution, before being hung by the British, Hale declared, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country"

He noted Patrick Henry intoned those famous words: "Give me Liberty or give me Death."

It is Dr. Carson's conviction that God has looked out for this nation from her very beginning, that He loves this nation and has allowed her to rise rapidly to reach her pinnacle of power and success. But just as quickly, we can lose our nation if we forget to focus on God.

Dr. Carson closed with these three thoughts:

___We became a great nation because values and principles were taught with the Bible serving as a guiding force.
___When this nation ceases to be good, it will fail.
___We can't be free unless we are brave, for as the final words signify in our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner:  "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Dr. Benjamin Carson has five books to his credit. American the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great is worth purchasing as it provides inspiration and insight for leading a successful life.

Interruptions....God's Lessons

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
 present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-- Philippians 4:6-7
  
I meant to write an article last week. I got interrupted.

Interruptions can be unsettling. Interruptions can be scary. Interruptions can be growing.

I got a call: Emergency surgery. Dad’s sick. Not good.

Jesus was really good at dealing with interruptions. I’m not so good.

When tragic or uncomfortable interruptions came Jesus’ way, He prayed. After praying, sometimes He moved with swift certainty. At other times, He waited. One time, Jesus even cried.

Sitting here next to the hospital bed, I’m thinking it’s good to be ready for this stuff. It’s bound to happen. -Why should we be so shocked?

I listen to the buzz and bubble of IV and oxygen. I hold dad’s hand.

I know, down the hall, my neighbors are holding hands and whispering goodbyes and also dealing with a sad interruption.

Hmmmm, what should I do?

Philippians 4 makes it clear. Don’t waste time being anxious, but, in every situation, pray and say, “thank you.”

Follow Jesus lead. Pray, think, cry a bit (maybe), and then…take another step. After you do that, the Bible promises, you will experience…peace.

I close my eyes and pray. Suddenly, a thought comes to me.

My dad loves to sing. There's not much music here. I start singing, “Yes, Jesus loves me.”

Someone joins in.

While attached to wires and tubes and pumps, my dad is singing “Jesus loves me.”  All of a sudden, in the midst of this uncomfortable interruption, I feel….peace.
                                                               
 Next: From IV tubes to coffee cups…Stories of restoration.