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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Proud to be an American, Post #36

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 238th birthday.

Or could this resurgence of patriotism be because of the US Soccer Team’s success in the World Cup…

…or because of the recent 70th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day, the world-changing storming of Normandy on June 6th, 1944?  Whatever the reasons are for the patriotism and more flag waving in our yards and businesses, it’s inspiring and refreshing.

If you are like me, I couldn’t stop watching the television interviews recently of the World War II veterans as they tearfully recalled the moments of that June 6th, 1944 day in Normandy, a day that will live in infamy. For so many of them, they confessed that the television interview was the first time they had talked about their 70-year-old experience.  A few of their wives said their husbands had never even shared with them the events of that day–D-Day. The poignant, tragic memories had been bottled up inside them all these years.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched 88-to-90-year-old men sob like babies recalling what they had endured as they left those boats, waded in the bloody waters and onto the shores of Normandy to fight the Germans. Their bravery, heroism, integrity lives on. No wonder those men and women of the 1940s are appropriately referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”

We are blessed with valiant heroes today, fighting a different war 70 years later. 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.

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.  How ever you may vote politically and how ever you may feel about war, we are all united as American citizens. We serve and play on the same team–Team USA.

Unfurl your American flag and wave it high. Let us show the world we are proud to be Americans.

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

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Amen.

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 84

–“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 NIV84

–“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 NIV84

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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Are You a Peacemaker? Post #30

Life comes at us rapidly. We  respond in numerous ways, peacefully or with anxiety. Remember learning in high school Isaac Newton’s Third Law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Our faith is demonstrated in how we respond to good news or bad news that may surprise us, even blind side us.  This lesson is a hard one for me to learn, and I sure have messed up in the past. I’m trying to be a peacemaker.

We weren’t promised an easy road.  It is comforting to know we WERE promised a Companion in God who overcomes the world.

“- But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered…I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'” –John 16:32a, 33NIV84.

This past week we experienced “trouble” when we found out my co-worker’s young adult child suddenly passed away.  The memorial service is this week. Our office, with much prayer, right now seems peaceful. When she returns to work, our desire is to serve as peacemakers for her and each other, to anyone we meet.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted….Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called sons of God.” –Matthew 5:4, 9 NIV84

What “trouble” has life placed in your path? How are you reacting? Peace comes from the Holy Spirit and is not accomplished in our own will. God grants us peace.

We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Let’s listen twice as much as we speak. When life presents a smooth road or “trouble,” let’s pray about our circumstances. Let’s praise God for our circumstances and pray daily to be a peacemaker.  It may seem difficult to pray that way at first, but I promise, it gets easier. May the “equal and opposite reaction” to life’s actions be peaceful. Be encouraged.

Reflect:

–What are you experiencing today? Do you have peace? Please comment.

Renew:

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” –Psalm 29:11 NIV84

–“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 NIV84

Recharge:

–How can your prayers and attitude change to accept your circumstances, becoming more peaceful, more content? Please comment.

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