9/17/16

Keep Liberty Alive

Constitution Day. Unlike Independence Day, this day tends to fade into the background. Yet the Framers of the Constitution promoted a vision of liberty that is well worth remembering.

As the 55 Framers established America's national government and most basic laws, they envisioned liberty through limited government. They sought to guarantee certain fundamental laws to all its citizens. They declared these truths and spelled them out in our nation's founding document, The Constitution of the United States - signing their names to this document on September 17, 1787.
The Preamble to the Constitution begins with three key words: We the People
This reference refers to all citizens of the United States, those born in America and those receiving citizenship through a process. The government receives all of its powers from all of America's citizens. [When the Constitution was ratified, some people did not have the same rights as others (women, slaves), a problem addressed through amendments to the Constitution.]

The Articles of the Constitution followed the Framers many arguments and debates as they, with the Preamble, framed a workable government system that enabled liberty, governance and justice to American citizens.

In short, these seven Articles dealt with:
  1. The powers and limits of the Congressional branches of government: the Senate and House of Representatives.
  2. The responsibility and authority of the Executive branch - the President and executive officers.
  3. The Judicial branch - the court system made up of the Supreme Court and lower courts.
  4. The responsibilities and duties of the states in the Union, and the responsibilities of the federal government toward the states.
  5. The fact that the Constitution can only changed by adding amendments.
  6. The establishment of the Constitution as the highest law of the land, to be upheld by all officers and judges (as well as statements about debts and engagements the US had before the adoption of the Constitution).
  7. The explanation of how many states needed to ratify the Constitution.

This concept of Constitutionally-limited government will continue to frame our lives only as long as it is kept alive in our hearts and minds. 

While the Constitution does not specifically mention the name of God, there are biblical principles woven throughout its text. 

John Adams wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson (June 28, 1813) saying, 
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence 
were the general principles of Christianity. 
I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, 
that those general principles of Christianity 
are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." 

This was echoed by a statement from the United States Supreme Court in 1892: 
"Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be 
based upon and embody the teachings 
of the Redeemer of mankind
It is impossible that it should be otherwise; 
and in this sense and to this extent 
our civilization and our institutions 
are emphatically Christian."

Our government is inspired by the moral principles of the Ten Commandments. The blessings of liberty we all enjoy were inspired by principles in the Bible such as those pertaining to moral behavior, free will and individualism, and personal responsibility - to name a few. 

If we want to KEEP LIBERTY ALIVE, I recommend we need to do two things:

1. Read the Constitution (and work to appoint court judges that will uphold it).
2. Read the Word of God and discover the source of lasting liberty.

The Bible has so much to say about freedom.

If you are a Christian, you know: "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36) and "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32) and "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17) and many other verses about freedom in Christ.

What do you think about the Constitution today? Do you cherish its concept of limited government? What do you think about the biblical concept of "freedom in Christ"?

9/3/16

Meditation: God's 'Schoolroom'

Back to school gives many moms more "free time" (or at least, different strategies for using their time). I love this quote from Dr. David Jeremiah's Turning Point devotional, "Back to Your Future - Back to School" (9-3-16).


In the devotional, this scripture is quoted:

How can a young man cleanse his way? 
By taking heed according to Your word.
Psalm 119:9

That's not just for a young man - maybe a child going off to school - but also for the parents. We change as we "take heed" (pay attention to and obey) God's Word.

The devotional began with a description of Billy Graham's childhood experience of loving to go into a barn as a young man and listen to raindrops hitting the tin roof. It was in that quiet place, he says, that God shaped his character, and he is still in the habit of finding a quiet spot to talk to God.

Here is the part of the devotional God used to speak to me today:

As our children return to school this fall, let’s remember that God’s schoolroom is called meditation. It’s not enough just to read the Bible, or even simply to study it. We need to find quiet times to mull over its words, meditate on its verses, and ponder its truths. That’s what shapes our character. 
If you can’t find a barn with a tin roof, any quiet spot will do. Settle down, quiet yourself, be still, contemplate the Lord and His Word, and know that He is God.
By holy meditation the soul doth, as it were, breakfast with God every morning.
~ Thomas Watson, Puritan

I'm a busy, type A+ person, always on the move. Stopping to meditate is hard for me. And the distractions in our culture multiply as technology feeds us new forms of diversion (and in some cases, perversion.)

For me, personally, I've found a quiet time in our backyard jacuzzi early in the morning, meditating on a single scripture for 15 minutes, is a life-changer.

The important thing is: develop a strategy to get alone with the Lord.

What is your place and time for meditating on God's Word?

Graphic of school bus adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.

8/30/16

Hungry for Revival? Cry Out!

Byron Paulus, the director of the revival ministry, Life Action, is seeking the Lord for revival in our nation, but he makes sure we understand revival begins in individual hearts before it moves into groups and organizations. He has seen the Lord move in hearts, families and churches as God's people confront lies and embrace the truth of scripture. (The quote, above, is simply one reflection of how we can be deceived.)

He and others are calling us to cry out to the Lord for grace and mercy. The One Cry! movement is part of this. Find out more at OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening.

Women will gather, September 22-24, 2016, for the Cry Out! National Women's Conference, sponsored by True Woman 2016.

As part of that, a Cry Out! simulcast is planned for September 23, 2016 (6-9pm CT/PT and 7-10pm ET/MT).

Believing "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears" (Psalm 34:17), these and other ministries are urging women (and men) to bow together before the Lord and cry out for mercy and supernatural intervention in our world, nation, churches, cities and homes.

But first, let that cry come from your own heart, for your own life.

Ask the Lord to revive your heart (Psalm 85:6) and then pray about how you can join with others this fall to seek Him and Cry Out! in this critical time.

Graphic: courtesy of Morguefile

8/3/16

Before You Pray for America's Leaders


"Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise" (Jeremiah 17:14).

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirst for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).

"If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored...." (Job 22:23).

"For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, 'I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15).

"O send out Your light and Your truth ...." (Psalm 43:3-4).

"The unfolding of Your words give light; it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130).

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions. prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

"And Jesus said to him ... All things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23).

Graphic: Prayer, courtesy of Morguefile

7/28/16

Invest in Your Prime Relationships - Part 2

What are your "Prime Relationships"? In the last UPGRADE post, Dawn asked this question and said we can all invest more in our prime relationships. First we invest in our relationship with the Lord, and then we invest in ourselves (so we will be strong and ready to serve God).

There are three other priority relationships, and investments in each of them can make a huge difference in OUR lives - and in THEIRS!

          Investment #3: INVEST in YOUR SPOUSE

If you are married, this is your prime relationship after your relationship with God. 
There are so many ways to invest in a spouse. Here are only a few:


1. Communicate Love and Appreciation.
  • Learn and apply the "love list." There are many aspects to biblical love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Try to apply as many as you can each day!
  • Make regular verbal "deposits." Loving verbal "deposits" will strengthen your spouse and marriage. Tough times will come to every marriage, but a couple who take time to communicate lots of "love investments" will find they have together-strength to weather problems.
2. Develop a Partnership.
  • Don't try to go it alone. You are "heirs of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7). Understand how two can be better together: "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow ... Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11).
  • Become friendly warriors together in the battle against temptation. Prayer can united you, so pray about various struggles in your marriage and look for that "way of escape" together. (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • Seek the Lord together for His purposes in your home.
  • Ask, "How can I help?" What can you do to help your partner become the person God intends them to be? To help them achieve their goals? To help them dream, and step out and take risks?
3. Value Gifts and Skills.
  • Discover your Partner's spiritual gifts. Your partner has special God-given gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-9; Romans 12:6-8). Seek ways to help your partner use those gifts at home, church and in your community.
  • Notice your partner's skills. They can not only be used to bless your marriage, but also to serve the Lord in many ways.
  • Help cultivate these gifts. Use your time and resources to help them develop. 
  • Appreciate and value your partner. Praise their accomplishments in public.
4. Fulfill Your Role.
  • Study the Blueprint. The biblical pattern is found in Ephesians 6:21-33. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but there are practical ways "roles" might be exhibited in the home.
  • Husbands can:
  1. Protect, provide for, lead with love and wisdom.
  2. Watch for problems they might help their wives solve and assist her in ways she desires to bless the home.
  3. Respond in gentle, loving, kind and respectful ways to honor their wives (1 Peter 3:7)
  4. Share appropriate public praise or recognition of their accomplishments.
  5. Study their wives and help them become the women God purposed them to be.
Wives can:
  1. Support and encourage the husband's leadership in the home.
  2. Appreciate their need for work outside the home.
  3. Use wisdom and skills inside and outside the home. Manage their home well.
  4. Show her husband respect (Ephesians 5:33b)—and when this is difficult because of bad behavior choices, she can still focus on good qualities, and give kind, supportive input. (She can pray for and allow the Lord to change her husband, patient and trusting Him with her highest hopes for her man.)
  5. Understand and appreciate her husband's God-given sexual needs.
          Investment #4: INVEST in YOUR CHILDREN

After your spouse, your children are the next priority investment—not the other way around.


1. Love Them Unconditionally.
  • Don't expect perfection. Your kids are going to mess up. They're kids! (Some days, be glad if they do one awesome thing!) Regardless, love them without any conditions; let them know you will love them no matter what.
  • Express your love privately and publicly. Speak well of your children to others; that's what people will remember. So will your kids!
  • Help them see the value of "family." Do all you can to strengthen bonds of love between family members to give them a loving heritage.
2. Teach Them to Seek the Lord.
  • Help them see their need for the Lord. Do not be harsh, but use teachable moments to show them how they are sinners in need of a Savior.
  • Don't give answers too quickly. Challenge your child (and teach them how) to search the scriptures for the tough questions ( You want to prepare them for life!)
  • Teach them how to pray. Teach them to talk to the Lord as a loving Heavenly Father and friend, but also as the Sovereign God of the universe! Encourage prayer times that worship more than whine, and praise more than petition.
  • Promote a godly legacy. Make sure your children understand how the Lord has worked and blessed in your family (Psalm 78:4; Deuteronomy 6:5-7; Isaiah 38:19).
3. Discipline Wisely.
  • Distinguish between immaturity and defiance. Defiance is one thing, childishness is another. As one pastor wrote, life shouldn't feel like a "perpetual spanking" to a child. Major on the majors; don't get hung up with petty things.
  • Discipline quickly and wisely. Don't stay angry; deal with willful sin and usher the child into a place of repentance. Don't provoke your children (Ephesians 6:4), but pursue a biblical balance of dealing with sinful, rebellious behavior in a spirit of love and mercy. Follow your Father's example (Psalm 103:13) There is no room for verbal or physical abuse to vent anger, but there is a place for discipline too (Proverbs 3:12; 13:24; Hebrews 12:10).
  • Encourage proper respect. Teach your child to fear (reverence/respect) the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) but also your authority (Ephesians 6:1-3; Hebrews 12:9).
  • Encourage growth and change. Train them in "the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6). Help them learn how do deal with temptation. Always remind them of the grace of God.
4. Model Good Character.
  • Model behavior you want repeated. Children are always watching. They are looking for the fruit of the "sermons" you speak to them.
  • Reward good behavior. Catch the doing good and praise it. Don't always dwell on what they're doing wrong. Help them grow in godliness (Hebrews 12:10).
  • Train them to be responsible. Focus on skills they'll need as functioning adults.
  • Help them cultivate godly friendships. Peer influence will grow in their pre-teen and teen years; encourage wisdom in choosing friendship (show them examples of godliness) and help them be good, godly and loyal friends themselves (Proverbs 12:26; 13:20; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33. Model positive friendship in your own relationships.
5. Encourage Creative Growth.
  • Don't overschedule their lives. Children respond to routines and schedules—but don't forget to schedule in plenty of blocks of free time.
  • Encourage their creativity. When they're young, play with them. Play "pretend" to give them opportunities to "try on" different ideas, skills, etc.
  • Help them stretch. As they grow, help them take reasonable risks to stretch outside their comfort zones. Let them make messes (and teach them how to clean up afterward).
  • Give them space to pursue their dreams.
          Investment #5: INVEST in YOUR FRIENDSHIPS

Good friends don't just happen. Friendship requires intentional investment.


1. Practice Committed Encouragement.
  • Be intentional. Hit-and-miss doesn't work in friendship building (although I do believe friends can pick up where they left off).
  • Practice loyalty. Aim for comitment and consistency. Be persistent to find ways to encourage your friend with love, especially in times they struggle (Proverbs 17:17).
  • Be generous. Share your time and resources.
  • Build into their lives. Make it your goal to "bless" your friend in as many ways as you can.
2. Listen More and Better.
  • Listen to their heart. To invest in a friend's life, first stop talking about yourself! Listen carefully to what they say, but also to how they share what's on their heart.
  • Listen with compassion. Squash judgemental thoughts.
  • Ask questions. Seek to understand so you can encourage. It will a breath fresh life into the relationship and "sharpen" your friend (Proverbs 27:17).
3. Challenge Greater Growth.
  • Go deeper, with purpose. If youi've developed the kind of friendship that can bear the weight of accountability, ask deeper questions that challenge your friend to greater growth (Proverbs 12:26; 27:5-6). Share scriptures that will build strength and faith.
  • Come alongside. Help your friends move outside their comfort zones ... and be willing to go there with them, if you can. A friend that comes alongside is valuable indeed!
  • Pray for your friend regularly. Ask for specific requests, pray, and check up later!
Can you apply any of these strategies to your own prime relationships? Which one would make the biggest difference today?

Note: There was a lot of territory covered in these two posts, and by all means, it does not cover everything that will encourage wise investments in your relationships. I encourage you to discover more as you "read the manual" for all relationships: the Word of God.