Archives for June 2015

America! America! God Shed His Grace on Thee

Have you noticed it also? The stores are packed with various sizes of American flags and patriotic bunting. The metal trailers for selling fireworks are cropping up throughout the city. Even the clothing stores are featuring larger quantities of patriotic attire. It’s coming soon… The Fourth of July, our nation’s 239th birthday.

However strong your Christian faith may be, however you may vote politically, or however you may feel about the recent Supreme Court decisions, we are all united as American citizens. May we all remember what is imprinted and engraved on all our US dollars and coins, as well as all of our hearts…In God we Trust.

An American flag waves proudly on the front of my house everyday, not just this season.  We live in the greatest country in the world and are blessed with abundance and freedoms most countries envy.  We serve and play on the same team–Team USA.

We are blessed with valiant heroes today and in wars past. Each time I see a serviceman or woman in uniform, no matter where I am, if I am able to make eye contact, I say, “Thank you so much for serving our country.” To me, our encouragement is the least we can do for their valiant service of defending our country. Freedom is not free.

Please unfurl your American flag and wave it high. Let us show the world how much we believe in America. Truly God shed His grace on thee.

In eighth grade, our Social Studies teacher had us memorize a portion of the Constitution’s Preamble. It still is recalled easily, as it is seered on my heart:

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,  provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.” Amen.

May we savor these tender words of “America the Beautiful”:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Reflect:

–Would you consider yourself to be patriotic? Please comment.

–Who are some American heroes in your life? How will you show your appreciation for them? Please comment.

Renew:

–” ‘…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will not refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.” –Isaiah 54:17 NIV

–“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” –Romans 9:5 NIV

–“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.” –2 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV

Recharge:

–What do you or will you do this week to demonstrate your patriotism?

Resource:

–Enjoy the US Naval Academy singing “America the Beautiful.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JKCom39yKQ

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Forgiveness Wins

Emanuel AME Church

Our souls fell to their knees at the news that nine beautiful church members in Charleston, SC were shot at a Bible Study by a racist gunman.

As we wept, the world expected rioting. Forgiveness wins.  The Holy City, the world UNITED in the unconditional love of  Jesus Christ. Beauty from ashes.

The tragedy may have happened in a church.  The peace, forgiveness, unity and love happened because of Jesus in the church. Because of Jesus in our hearts.

“…and upon this Rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” –Matthew 16:18b NLT

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much He loves us by sending His one and only Son into the word so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love…” –1 John 4:7-10a NLT

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

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Finding the UNITY in CommUNITY

The word “unity” has been pounding on my heart and my mind recently. The first name of the country we are blessed to be born and live in says it all: UNITED States of America.

Just a few minutes reading the newspaper or watching the television news, though,and division seems to be the central theme–from divisive political parties, race relations, sports teams, schools, churches, even Christian denominations. How discouraging.

I was so encouraged this past weekend to be part of The Response South Carolina (www.theresponsesc.com) event, held this  past Saturday at the North Charleston Coliseum. What a refreshing time of gathering at least 4,000 people to pray for our nation, our state, our city, our churches, our schools, our families, our court system, our media and arts, and our own hearts. This day of prayer was modeled after similar events in Texas and Louisiana. No political parties or denominations or even names were mentioned from the stage. Only God was glorified.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley showed much courage to allow and orchestrate such an event and even kicked off the event with a prayer.  It revived our hearts and spirit to focus and what we have in common, not what pulls us apart.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called in one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over and through all and in all.” –Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV

May we all be challenged today and every day to find the unity in the UNITED States of America and in our own commUNITY!  Let’s unite in love.

Reflect

–What circumstances in your life are you united or divided on with others? Please comment.

–How may your response be different? Please comment.

Renew

–“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” –Colossians 2:2 NIV

–“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” –Matthew 5:9 NIV

Recharge

–Consider three people this week with whom you will extend the bond of peace.

Resource

www.theresponsesc.com

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