Tag Archive | country

Irish and More!

“I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien.”  Spurgeon

This Irish, Swedish, English, Welch of a person, is first, and by God’s grace, a citizen of heaven! So today, though I love celebrating my distant, yet beloved Irish roots, I long more to celebrate my heritage and inheritance in Christ!

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”   Hebrews 11:16

This poem and long-time hymn, is often, yet questionably, attributed to St. Patrick, the adored 5th century English missionary to Ireland.  Though its author may be contested, this abbreviated version of “St Patrick’s Breastplate” expresses how I want to wake up today, St Patrick’s Day, and everyday of my life:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
 
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
Hebrews 13:14

Two Towers

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and is….  safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

We can run into one of two towers;  the Lord Jesus, who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever; or the tower of our own making, our own pleasures, gods, treasures, or devices.

As we remember the grievious and tragic events of 9/11, we’re sadly reminded how frail we are, and the towers of our making.  I cry all over again when I watch replays of the brave firefighters racing into the World Trade Towers, giving their all to save others, unaware of their own fate.  I want to stop them in flight and cry, “Don’t run in there!  It’s burning, and it’s going to come down on you!”   And so too, I weep and want to halt loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who are running full speed towards things that will ultimately collapse, towards hopes that will disappoint.  Our lives, our towers, the structures in life in which we place our hopes, are vulnerable to loss, decay, theft, and worse.

Please pray with me today for those who are running into frail towers, vulnerable to the effects of time and tragedy.  Pray and share.  There is a strong tower, where we can be safe…beyond time, into eternity.   Run to Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”  John 3:16, 17

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”    Hebrews 13:8

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This wasn’t always one of my favourite tunes of the season.  What I perceived as a plodding pace and dark minor key, didn’t express Christmas exuberance as I once preferred.

However..

That all changed when I listened to Johnny Cash’s recording of this song, and heard bright hopefulness through deep pain.

And so goes the history of this original poem by American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow’s fairly pleasant life turned upside down in 1861 when the Civil War began.  Only one day later, his wife died tragically in a home fire.  Then in 1863, he learned that his oldest son, Charles, was critically wounded in battle.   Longfellow’s journalings reveal a broken heart and despair, stating that his holidays were ‘inexpressibly sad.’

However, on Christmas Day, 1864, Longfellow truly Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and penned this poem.   Several stanzas of his original writing aren’t included in modern day hymnals, probably because of their specific references to the Civil War.   That’s regrettable, because each verse is part of a complete story.  What begins with obvious despair and grief, continues with a thread of hope, and concludes with the triumphant message of God’s faithfulness–He is NOT dead!–and only in Him is found peace on earth, good will to men.

I’ve included all the original verses, and uploaded two terrific versions of this song in the blue Music Box; one by Johnny Cash from his CD, The Christmas Spirit,  the other, by Casting Crowns on their Peace on Earth CD.

 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

I Hold the Truth

Today (and always) I’m thankful for my very own Bible.  What a commodity!! A priceless gift and treasure!

I’m guilty blessed to have more than one.  My favourite, and most used. is the New American Standard Version, because that’s where I started when God opened my eyes to His Grace in 1972.  But many others fill our library of treasured books: KJV, RSV, ESV, NIV, The Living Bible, large print versions, parallel versions, Spanish and French Bibles, and more.  Each one shouts:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required…”
Luke 12:48

In spite of such increased responsibility, I am extremely thankful!   There are countless believers in other countries who don’t have any Bible to call their own.   Or if they do, they’re breaking the law.  Voice of the Martyrs  presents maps/media displaying countries which either restrict or are hostile to the Bible and Christianity.  Check it out here:

http://www.persecution.com/public/restrictednations.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51

When you read your Bible, whether in print, online, on your Ipod, or whatever, thank the Lord for the Truth you hold in your hand.  And pray for those who don’t or can’t.

Eternal Hope and Change

“The hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

Without going political here, suffice it to say I’m not feeling very hopeful with our nation’s change.  So I remind myself almost daily that one man’s promise of “hope and change” is temporary, ethereal, and like chaff in the wind.  My hope and change is eternal, weighty, and powerful.

A past devotional by C.H.Spurgeon calibrates my focus back to the Lord:

Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.

It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there.  Here we are weary and toil-worn, but there is the land of rest where the sweat of labour will no more moisten the worker’s brow, and fatigue will be forever banished…

We have suffered bereavement after bereavement, but we are going to the land of the immortal, where graves are unknown things!  Here, sin is a constant grief to us, but there we will be perfectly holy…Oh, is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness, but will soon inherit Canaan?

Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present.  Let the future sanctify the present to its highest uses!

Through the Spirit of God, the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue.  It is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the cornerstone of cheerful holiness. 

 The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength.  He fights against temptation with ardor, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary.  He can labour without present reward for he looks for a reward in the world to come!”

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Monument of Grace Update

A monument of grace, a sinner saved by blood:
The streams of love I trace up to the Fountain–God!

Mohave Cross

Mohave Cross

 

Several months ago after using the above Google image in my post, Monument of Grace.  I received a couple of inquiries about the photo.  In order to answer those questions, I researched a bit on the photo and discovered that the ‘monument’ was being taken to court by…who else, the ACLU.  

It’s called the Mohave Cross and was built 70 years ago as a memorial for World War I veterans.  The beautiful monument was enjoyed for nearly 60 years uncontested, but now, here’s what it looks like:

What's wrong with this picture?!

Forgive us, Lord

The matter is before the US Supreme today.  Focus on the Family’s, Citizen Link  takes a hopeful tone about the case in the following article:

Mojave Cross Case Heard at Supreme Court 

“The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the Mojave Desert cross case.  The cross is a memorial to World War I veterans.

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Legal Institute and one of the attorneys for the VFW in the case, said the justices asked many questions.

‘The court is probably going to say that this veterans memorial is allowed to stay and that there was never a problem to begin with,” he said, “And that the transfer of state-owned land to the veterans so they could keep the memorial was OK, and that this veterans memorial is going to continue to stand as it has for 75 years honoring those World War I veterans.'”

The photo above, and more detailed history of  Mohave Cross case, is available at ABC online–just click  HERE. 

 

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,

 my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

Departure from Grace?

America, America, God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

~~~~

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet.” Isaiah 62:1

In what may seem to be a departure from this blog’s focus on God’s Grace, I’m constrained to share my reasoning and persuasion regarding this important election.  I’m not so concerned about my departure from a discussion of grace, as I am for America’s departure from God’s grace.

During the 2000 election cycle, many Christians fasted and prayer for weeks regarding the outcome.  In response, I believe God was gracious by ensuring a leader was put in place that could handle the challenges heading to  our nation’s doorstep. Yet, I sensed that the “church” was in danger of behaving like the Israelites in the Old Testament–voraciously pleading and crying for God’s care in desperate times and immediately forgetting Him after a bountiful response.  We’ve been poor stewards of God’s grace, seeking our own interests, becoming introspective and inactive regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Fwd to 2008.  Christians are divided in their support of the Presidential candidates and the very future of our nation.  MSNBC reported yesterday (11/02/08) that prayer support groups for Obama have been going on for the last four months.  And conservative ‘value voters’, Catholics and Protestants across denominational lines, have been praying for McCain fervently.  Rallies and prayer vigils for the election are happening everywhere–for McCain and Obama.  Like football fans on both sides of the field praying for their team, calling on the Lord.  This is reminiscent of a line from “Cold Mountain”, where Inman, a young Confederate soldier, says, “I think God is weary of being called down on both sides of the war.”

Does God have a candidate?  When we vote, what standard do we follow?  As Dr. Dobson said in a recent newsletter, “I am less concerned with politicians and political parties than I am with the timeless biblical principles that those parties have the power to either strengthen or damage.  No candidate is perfect, whether in this election or any other.”  [1]

With that in mind, here are (a few) reasons why I’m voting for McCain, based on my understanding of Biblical principles. 

LIFE.  McCain knows when life begins:  “At conception.”  Obama doesn’t even believe in sparing the life of a baby who survives a ‘botched’ abortion.

ISRAEL.  McCain is unswerving regarding his support of Israel.  If they need us, we’ll be there. The Word says to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  May they prosper who love you…For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.”  (Psalm 122:6,8-9)  Obama, on the other hand, said one thing to a gathering of Jews, and the opposite to a gathering of other Middle Easterners, i.e. Palestinian supporters.  He’s not on Israel’s side.

CHARACTER.  Brief example.  McCain upheld his promise to restrict his campaign to public funds, even though it greatly limited the amount of money he could use for advertising.  Obama promised the same, then changed his mind.

FREEDOM.  Obama said he will support re-enacting the Fairness Doctrine, which puts extreme limits on freedom of speech and religion in the media, primarily impacting conservative radio and, more importantly, Christian broadcasting.  Charles Krauthammer, a respected and gifted commentator, says, “the so-called Fairness Doctrine [is] — a project of Nancy Pelosi and leading Democratic senators — a Hugo Chavez-style travesty designed to abolish conservative talk radio.” [2]

THE CONSTITUTION.  McCain will seek to appoint Federal judges who are guided by our tried and true Constitution.  Judges who, as the familiar statue of justice portrays, are to be blind to one’s station in life.  But what we can expect from Obama are, “judges who go beyond even the constitutional creativity we expect from Democratic appointees. Judges chosen according to Obama’s publicly declared criterion: ’empathy.'” [2]  Obama has said that the Constitution is a document of “negative” liberties.  Does that include the 1st Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”??

NATIONAL SECURITY.  As a retired Navy Chief with military service running through our family, young and old, I believe McCain is the best choice as Commander in Chief for our active duty military personnel.  He will make measured decisions regarding our troops in the Middle East, not with respect to polls or popularity, but with respect to our nation’s security and that of the world.

This is a condensed list! 🙂   But I can’t conclude this post without bringing us back to the Bible and individual responsibilities no matter who “wins.”

Respected minister, David Wilkerson, discusses what is REALLY important during these crazy days of media bias, financial crisis, and departure from acceptable moral values and God’s Grace.  Copyright issues on his newsletter prevent me from quoting his material, but briefly–It’s about the heart !  He quotes 1 Peter 4:7-8:

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 

If you wish to read Dr. Wilkerson’s article in full, click HERE.  Or see footnote [3].

In an excellent audio series called “Biblical Principles of the Ballot Box“, Douglas Phillips [4] discusses the principles which should guide Christians election day, everyday:

“More important than who wins or loses the 2008 election is this: Will Christians look to the Bible as their absolute standard for determining what principles must guide their voting practices? At stake is far more than the presidency. The question concerns the conscience of the Church. We can “win” an election, and yet sell our spiritual birthright. Conversely, we can “lose” an election yet remain faithful to the Word of God, thus preserving the conscience of the body of Christ, and enjoying the favor of the Lord.

“Elections matter. They matter a great deal. But what matters the most is that the Church remains faithful to her bridegroom by following the only infallible standard ever written for the selection of civil magistrates. That standard is the Bible, and there is none other that perfectly reflects the mind of God. It is our source book for determining what guidelines must govern the selection of our leaders.” [4]

Well, if you read this far in the post, you deserve a grande pumpkin spice latte!!  Thanks for hanging in there and letting me rant.  In less than 24 hours, the election will (probably) be determined, and my words will mean less than nothing to very few.  But God’s words are eternal, and to His I return:

“Behold, the nations are like a drop form a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales…All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”  Isaiah 40:15,17

“For He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever.” Daniel 6:26 

“And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed!”  Daniel 7:14 

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28. 29

“Wile we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  II Corinthians 4:18

~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.  Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family Action, October 2008 newsletter, page 7.

2. Charles Krauthammer, McCain Owns the Kitchen Table”, www.Townhall.com, October 31, 2008.  Accessed 1 Nov 2008.

3.  Dr. David Wilkerson, Getting Ready for the End of All Things, Pulpit Series Newsletter, October 6, 2008. Accessed 2 Nov 2008.

4.  Douglas Phillips, Biblical Principles of the Ballot Box, available for download at http://behemoth.com/album/51649/.   Accessed 2 Nov 2008.