What does it Mean to Stand Up?

America, one nation Under God

America, one nation Under God

Each Memorial Day weekend, we honor our brave and faithful who allow us to enjoy freedom in America. I am grateful for each one who served in the military in any capacity, and in any location. I am grateful for our Founding Fathers who risked a new form of government that provided the most amazing form of liberty for all people, ensuring the rights for life, liberty, and the opportunity to pursue happiness as each one chooses. However, I want to discuss changes to our freedoms and liberty that subtly and even blatantly attack what these brave souls fought for and still fight for today. I want to offer hope and light as I discuss my observations and solutions about these changes that endanger our freedoms today.

Today we are to let tolerance and political correctness determine our actions, values, and beliefs in every stage of life – school, faith, political and sports arenas, and inside our family, social, and business circles. I struggle to find the real standards behind this movement, and how they support the original intent of our constitution. I need to stand for values that make sense for everyone, and don’t push someone’s, or some organization’s agenda.

Standards are the basis for any set of beliefs and values. Yet, today some say, both through actions and voice, there are no set standards by which to live. Tolerance, to them, implies everyone can do their own thing – whatever feels good, seems good, or doesn’t SEEM to impose on other people’s lives should be fine with everyone. But is that true? When you consider the billions of people living across this planet, this means billions of different value systems we all need to accept and live by. Is that possible to do? Is that even realistic?

Let’s take the topic of marriage, for instance. Some people feel traditional marriage, or any marriage is obsolete, but your sister believes gay marriage is best, and your brother feels a bi-sexual family is the ideal living situation.  Your parents say one man, one woman is the only way for a marriage to work. Who is correct? Does someone need to be correct? If so, why? Is there already a “best” answer to this?

The true is no person has the right to interpret marriage as being whatever they want it to be. Why? How chaotic is a world where billions of opinions demand everyone conform to each of their own beliefs? How does that impact the family, children, and society?

If there is no absolute standard for our actions and beliefs or values, how do I know when I crossed your boundaries, or you crossed mine? After all, your opinion does not trump mine, nor is my opinion better than yours. So, is a world with no absolutes desirable, or does it create a dangerous environment to function, to live, or to pursue happiness? A climate of uncertainty and chaos breeds fear and compliance, not freedom and confidence.

Tolerance means to consider other beliefs, avenues for action. It does not mean we accept and embrace other beliefs and actions. Look it up in the dictionary, please. Today we are expected to accept and embrace others’ beliefs and values and actions. That is forced action. In order to be politically correct,  we are told to accept anything anyone does, believes, or values as being correct, even if you, yourself, reject these. How tolerant of you are they? According to countless political polls, most Americans believe our own political system and politicians are corrupt, so how ironic is the term “political correctness”! Who in our political system today do you trust to be correct about our concerns?

Therefore, I believe in an absolute set of standards, that if I abide by those standards, I can live freely in society to pursue life, liberty, and my pursuit for happiness. Standards for acceptable behavior at school, church, social and community meetings, board meetings – these standards set up order and freedom for everyone in which to function. Without order, how can anything be accomplished? Try teaching a middle-school class, or any class – without classroom standards!! For example, as an author, each middle-grade book requires at least 25,000 words. Most publishing companies set that as a standard. I can’t decide that 10,000 is enough and expect it published. Standards are necessary.

At the end of the book of Judges, scripture states “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” God the Creator of mankind and the universe set standards for behavior to protect every person. He did this out of love, not meanness. When mankind ignores those standards for behavior, it becomes dangerous for people to live around each other. Rape, murder, incest, and sodomy, all result because each person succumbs to his/her own baseness, sinful fleshly desires, and throws out the Creator’s standards. What is the result? What happened after the book of Judges?

God sent prophets to guide people according to His standards, but they wanted a king, and many times rejected the prophets’ messages. God gave them a king despite their decision to ignore His laws. Few kings followed God’s standards for long, and prophets received short-lived attention as spokespersons for God. Man always felt s/he better how life should be lived. Sound familiar? It should. Today, the world’s motto is: “It’s all about me!” Yet, as it was true then, it’s true today. Each person was loved by Him, and He saw the pain and destruction people inflicted on themselves and others to get their own way!

In Noah’s day, the flood came next, yet in His grace and love for man, he offered to save His creations if they repented and trusted Him for salvation. Anyone was invited into the ark! Only eight people accepted. He saved the animals and would have saved all the people, but no, they had their own beliefs! We never learn from our mistakes! There is no human who knows best about how life should be lived. Only God, the Creator of the universe and life itself knows how to make life what He intended it to be.

Our founding Fathers recognized this and based the Rule of Law on this Republic in which we live. To ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit for the opportunity for happiness, these godly men based the Constitution and our government on God’s Laws. It’s time to stand up and say we want to follow what made America great before, and will make it great again. I’m not standing down. That’s cowardly. I’m not standing against. That makes it about me through conflict.  I’m not standing aside, for that’s apathy. I’m standing up for what God so graciously provided for us. It’s not about you, or me. It’s about God, the only One intelligent enough to know what is best for His creation to live this life with purpose and joy.

Are we really so different today from those who lived before us? How closely do you follow God’s standards today? They are for our protection, not restriction. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice for individual sin is offered freely today as it was in the days of Noah. Yet, as in the days of Noah, man thinks he knows more than the Creator. Man snubs his nose at God, rejects His Son as being the Savior, the Messiah Who was promised in Genesis 3, and in Noah’s day, and is offered even now. Are you snubbing your nose at Him? Do you insist that you know better than Him, so you decide your standards are better and wiser than His?

Man’s standards and mores come and go, but the Word of God stands forever. “Forever, God, Your Word is settled in Heaven. It endures forever.” The Lord God set His standards for everyone to be fair for all, and for each one’s good and safety. He did not set more standards for some and not others. Everyone has human rights, but no one group has more rights than another group! That is how fair our God is.

Hope is very much alive in America, and the world over. May you search your heart and ask for the Lord’s leading in your life, to show you how to be joyful yourself, and help others to be also. Will you stand up for God’s standards, or follow along mindlessly with the “ME” voices of today? Your feedback is welcome.

 

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Christianity – Faith of Love

As I study the different religions across the world, I notice some commonalities. For example, each encourages actions of right and wrong behaviors based on the principles taught by the thCAVHFRA9Notashamedfounder of a particular faith. Each centers around a personality, and his/her birth, teachings, visions, etc. Some people today contend these religions are equal and all the same. I am not one of those people.

As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, my faith is trusting in Him and Him alone for my eternal destination. All other

Jesus Light of the World

Jesus Light of the World

religions depend on works. I realize there is nothing I could do to earn my way to heaven. Nothing! I couldn’t give enough money to charities, churches, or people to pay my way. There are not enough Sunday school classes or Bible Studies that I could teach or attend that could earn God’s favor for heaven, either. If I could control my negative language and thoughts every day of my life, it still wouldn’t be enough to earn a place in heaven.

Christianity is totally dependent on God’s grace and God’s gift.  A gift cannot be earned, nor can grace. Besides, what amount of money is enough, or the number of classes taught, or good things done for others? What would be fair for everyone? Could those living in poverty pay the same amount needed? How fair would that be? If God’s Word says He wants no one to perish, or live through eternity separated from Him, wouldn’t the amount of what it requires to earn heaven have to be the same for all? Of course it would. If God is God, if He is perfect and fair, then He would have to require the same from everyone to enter His Kingdom and eternity.

The great news is this: it is the same for everyone. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, paid the price for each person Himself. His blood was costly! It required His life. It had to be the perfect sacrifice – no sin, no blemish. He bore all our sins on His body on the cross, and for those hours, His Father God was separated thCAFYDQKTLifebeginscrossfrom Him. Why? Because a righteous, perfect God cannot look on sin. That’s why Jesus fulfilled the prophecy about Himself when He asked, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Never had this happened before. In heaven, God the Son – Jesus – was always in fellowship and communion with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1) For those hours covered with our sins on the cross, God the Father could not look at Jesus His Son. Jesus, Who knew no sin, became sin for us to pay the required perfect, blood sacrifice for each of us. The just for the unjust, once and for all paid that sin!

What kind of person lays down His life for another like that? It cost Jesus loss of fellowship with His Father, just as those who never trust in Jesus for having paid their sin, still has broken fellowship with God now. What’s worse, if those people do not accept Jesus’s sacrifice for their sins before they physically die, they will be separated from God throughout all eternity. For Me He DiedWithout Christ’s blood sacrifice applied to your personal sin debt, His righteousness cannot fill you. You count on your own righteous (works) to fill God’s requirement. Our works are “filthy rags” to God. No matter what good things we’ve done, these works won’t get us to heaven.

Though I still sin, and will continue to do so till I die, God the Father looks down at me and sees His Son’s righteousness inside me. Jesus lives in me now, and works to transform me daily as IthCAPILUB7openbible pray and ask Him to transform me. I read His Word and allow His words to teach and transform me, and God transforms me more and more into the image of Jesus, His Son.

Once the requirement of the Perfect Son dying in our place was fulfilled, and sins were paid for each of us entirely, God the

Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns

Father was satisfied, and the way for us to be restored in our relationship with God, the Holy One, was opened. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock. If any opens the door, and lets me in, I will enter and live and fellowship with him/her.” You have to open the door. He will not force His way in. He must be invited. Again, He offers each of us that gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in His kingdom, but like any gift, it does not belong to the person for whom it is intended until the person actually takes it, receives it, as his/her own.

Have you accepted this free gift? Jesus paid for it with His blood through death on the cross. His resurrection proved God the untitledcrosssky Father accepted Jesus met the requirement for us to have fellowship with Him, the Father. He was satisfied with the payment for our sins, and offers this gift freely to each of us.

Think of medicine sitting on your nightstand. It can cure you of your illness, but not if you don’t take it. Jesus offers you an eternity in heaven and forgiveness of your sins, and fellowship with Him, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father? Have you taken this “medicine?” Or, is it still sitting on the nightstand? Jesus is reaching out in love offering His life, forgiveness, guidance, and eternity in heaven. Will you accept (take it) as your own gift today?

If you do receive Jesus Christ as your Savior for forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven, please let me know. If you already know Him as your Savior, please let me know if this post touched your heart, and how you responded to Christ after

New Life

Signs of Spring and New Life!

reading it. Thank you for visiting my website, for reading this important post, and for letting me touch your life for Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

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Peace and Tranquility – Priceless

Life is so hectic these days. Many sink under the weight of stress, schedules, and demands placed on them by self, bosses, family, finances, and other’s expectations for them. Is this really the abundant life Jesus promised? Or, is this the lifestyle referenced in the scriptures where young men will faint from the “hurry-scurry” times prophesied?

I think most people seek peace and calmness. For me, that comes with sitting quietly in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Creator of all that we see and don’t see. Knowing that He is aware of our weakness as mere dust, and responding to our needs, our whole body relaxes when we take a few minutes daily to sit in His presence and realize He is in control of all that goes on in this whirlwind of daily life. Just acknowledging Someone more powerful than us is in control of our world, the universe, and my life relaxes me. Too many sources spread messages of doom and gloom, hate and falsehoods across our media! After a while, this fear-contrived world takes its toll in our lives.

I need to actively schedule time with The Source of true peace and encouragement daily to gain a realistic perspective on my life and its circumstances. Once I sit down to study the scriptures and talk with Christ, my body relaxes, and my mind

Gramma Mary sharing devotions with grandchildren on vacation

Gramma Mary sharing devotions with grandchildren on vacation

stops running through scary scenarios that present themselves daily in the news. Just whispering His name calms me down to where I can breathe.

Another way to experience peace is disconnect from all cell phones, television, video games, and technical devices for even a day. Vacations are fraught with men and women checking their messages from work, and foregoing activities with the family, to jump to the requests of their bosses or clients. They aren’t really on vacation at all! 

Children spend too much time on their devices as well – on vacations, when friends and relatives visit, at parties, on dates, etc. The movie Wall-EE suggested a future of obese humans so enthralled and controlled by electronic devices, they no longer Visiting with a dear friend from my past!interacting with any persons any more! I jokingly say, “One day babies will be born with phones attached to their ears!” Sadly, the art of verbal communication is disappearing from our classrooms and gatherings. What is so important that it controls our focus from interacting with those in our presence? Is it no longer considered bad manners to ignore people in front of you, or who we are with? The term “rude” comes to mind. Adults and family alike do this.

The point of a family vacation or gathering is to develop and renew relationships. How is that accomplished when there is little or no interaction? Part of the peace we inwardly wish comes from personal relationships! These relationships are

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Family celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday!

with the Lord and with other people. How much time do we spend in developing these relationships in today’s societies?

Do you find yourself ignored in homes and gatherings where you seek fellowship and relationship development? Or, do you fiddle on your device when others come to see you? Is it rude to ignore others today, or not? What is your take on this matter?

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Book Expo of America 2016

In May one of my books will be featured at the Great Book Expo of America 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. This will be my first exposure for my books at one of these events, so I do not know what to expect. This is an international function, and publishers from all over the world come to check out new authors and their work.

LitFire Publishing contacted me about this opportunity after one of their representatives discovered and read my book, Mystery at London Ledge Lighthouse.  He suggested his company contact me. I agreed this event might be a good opportunity for sales. We also discussed a few changes that might increase sales. After seeking some professional advice, I agreed for them to republish  my book.  

This meant a new cover and purchasing a Returnability Program since mine expired. This program allows book stores and buyers to purchase  multiple copies of my book, but if they don’t sell, these books can be returned and they are not stuck with books that don’t sell. The team members who worked on my remake believed it would make a great movie, and plan to advertise as such at the Book Expo event. That would be an exciting opportunity for me!

Self-publishing is a tough business. The author does all the work with writing, suggesting cover designs, writing the synopses on the back and inside covers, but then they must market their own product to those for whom we write the books.

Though I’ve learned many avenues for marketing, I see minimal sales for my efforts. Perhaps this event will open some doors for my books!

Are you an author? How do you succeed in this business? I would appreciate your reaction on this matter, please! Thank you for coming by my website today, and feel free to respond to this one, or any posts you read archivedd on the right column of this website. Have a wonderful day!

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What is the Purpose of Church?

Jesus Christ established His “church,” a group of believers who carry out His will and mission to reach the lost on earth. On Peter’s confession of faith, that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah,” the Lord proclaimed Peter’s revelation from God would be the foundation upon which any church stands. Meetings of believers take place in a church building, but the believers themselves are Christ’s church, not the building.

What is the purpose of church? There are several purposes. One is to come together to grow in the faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do this by listening to Sunday School teachers who use the Bible to share what it says, and pastors who explain the Word of God to us as we follow along in our Bibles and take notes on the preaching.

Another purpose is to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us Jesus allowed His body to bear our sins on His sinless one to pay our personal sin debts. He shed His blood to pay those debts, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” Only His sacrifice was acceptable. No one else could pay this price for us. We also remember through communion that He promised to return and take us with Him to live throughout eternity under His perfect reign.

God wants believers to play our active part in building His Kingdom. Since the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each believer when they pray and accept Christ as their personal Savior, Jesus expects us to use these gifts for the building up and equipping of the saints (anyone who is a believer through faith in Christ), to aid in the work of the gospel and growth of believers, so we carry out His work on earth as it is in heaven. We support one another, pray for one another, and encourage each other to continue in doing good for each other and those in the world around us. Believers are to glorify God in all we say and do.

Does this mean that every believer is now perfect and without sin? No! It means Christians acknowledge their need for Christ’s payment of their sin debt, not His. He is sinless. It means because we now are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, Christ in us empowers and motivates us by His love for all people to join in this gift He’s provided for sinners. Christian believers become Christ’s hands and feet, mouths and bodies through which He lives and loves all He created in His image in the beginning. Believers, as His ambassadors, carry out what He did when He walked this earth. This is our mission for the Lord.

Are Christians perfect and sin no more> No! Believers are sinners who acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, but until each one enters heaven, s/he will fall short of Christ’s standard for perfection. Thus, daily we need to seek His guidance, strength, and forgiveness so we can keep on walking in faith in His will.

Through the church, believers learn how to use the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit. As we practice using these gifts and allow God to work through us using them, we show our faithfulness with these resources He gave us. In the new kingdom, I believe He will reward us according to how faithful we used the gifts to determine how He will entrust us with them in His eternal kingdom.  Are you utilizing these precious gifts in this world for Him now? If not, why would you expect Him to allow you to use them for Him throughout eternity?

In this world, people spew out hatred, criticism, deceit, violence, and struggles daily! Is is any wonder Christians who are targeted more and more as stupid and undesirable need the support of other believers as much as possible? Every where we turn, we’re told we are intolerant, bigots, old-fashioned, weak-minded, ignorant, and obsolete. Through encouragement of the Word, shared experiences, wisdom from other believers, learning of God’s Word, and prayer, believers receive the “food” they need to continue on walking in this world of darkness while shining light into the hearts about Jesus Christ as being the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

These are some purposes of the church. What about you? What encourages you to continue seeking the goodness and hope you once treasured? Let me know how you cope with the world situations and life struggles of our day? What does church do for you? Better yet, what do you do for your church? Thanks for stopping by!

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CATCHING UP WITH FAMILY

My husband experienced a renewal of friendship in late May last year. He went to Canada with our younger son and his two boys for a fishing trip. Along with them, three other families with fathers, sons, and grandsons (and one granddaughter) shared the same cabin. They held community meals, juggled partners in boats for fishing, and reminisced about times past, and events presently in their lives.  My husband still talks to everyone he sees about the fun time he had with all of them. His fish stories about how long and big they caught aren’t fibs, either. He has the photos to back up his tales! I am grateful to my son for including Owen in this new “memory making” adventure!

Three grandsons on vacation with me in the Ozarks

Three grandsons on vacation with me in the Ozarks

Several years ago, my oldest son returned from Iraq. We thanked God for his safe return, and decided from that year on, we would spend summer vacations, holidays, or any times we could with our sons and their families. No one knows but the Lord how many days we have on this earth in this life with each other. My husband and I wanted to buy up any opportunity we could get together and renew and deepen our relationships with those we love.

Grandkids on a canon found at the lighthouse in New Jersey

Grandkids on a canon found at the lighthouse in New Jersey

These past two summers, we could not keep that commitment. Our eldest son went to War College. The first summer, his family spent packing, moving, unpacking, and adjusting to new routines and surroundings.

Owen's three living aunts at the Pickard reunion

Owen’s three living aunts at the Pickard reunion

Owen and I visited him and his family a couple of times that year, but our “family reunion” that included my other son and his family didn’t take place until Christmas that year.

A year later, the same schedule problem for our family summer reunion arose. This time Brad’s family packed, moved, unpacked, and adjusted to new routines. Thankfully, the surroundings remained the same before they left Virginia since they

Grandchildren gathering shells on the Atlantic coastline near Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey

Grandchildren gathering shells on the Atlantic coastline near Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey

moved back into their same home they rented out during their absence.

Late last summer we  stayed together in the Ozarks. I tell my grandchildren when we get together that “We’re making memories together, times we’ll never forget when you grow older. These memories will make you warm inside when loneliness or tough days make you sad.”

Grandson Zachary catching his first fish!

Grandson Zachary catching his first fish!

How blessed we are to have family and friends in this world. People with whom we make memories that make us warm inside when we have bad days and situations where we struggle to see the positive side of life.

The Lord is always there to help with those times, but He knows we are but dust, and weak, so He encourages us to embrace these visible, tangible friendships He gives us while we are separated from His glory that someday we’ll experience. How great a God we have!

Catching his first fish!

Our grandson Heath catching his first fish!

Are you embracing the opportunities you have to spend time with those the Lord placed in your life? These people affected your life in ways you may not even realize. Yet, when you hear their names, or read something about them, your memories make you warm inside, and ease the loneliness you sometimes feel, or make the bad days more bearable.

Zach's second catch of the day with Grandpa!

Zach’s second catch of the day with Grandpa!

Thanks for stopping by my website and reading my post this week. You, my readers, are also “family and friends” that encourage me with your comments and sharing of your time. Please share with me your thoughts on this post. Thank you.

Grandson Hayden catching his first fish!

Grandson Hayden catching his first fish!

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Iowa Authors Interview

Recently a friend invited me to take part in an interview he is filming for Iowa Authors. He plans to air this session on PBS, a channel that features information about Iowa. He invited many authors from across Iowa, and some who no longer live here, but have Iowa roots or connections. This opportunity is an exciting honor for me!

I will keep you posted about the results. Thank you in advance for your interest.

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