Happy Flag Day 2018

Yes Mr. Cohan, she is still a Grand Old Flag! Thank God we live under a banner, tested, tried, and true. Things may not be perfect, but they weren’t in 76, 18, or 45 either. Regardless of our troubles and our differences, she’s a Grand Old Flag!!!!

Memorial Day 2018

After the Revolution fought to win our freedom, they remembered those who marched against tyranny, but marched to a higher home before General Washington became President Washington.  These who fulfilled the pledge, of life, liberty, and sacred honor so completely.  Hearts remembered their sacrifice, and built thereon.

After the dark days of conflict in the Civil War, how many sacrifices were made. So much so, it even claimed the voice that gave us the Gettysburg Address. We heard his words, their deaths, his death, was not in vain.

From the great emancipator, we walked into France in World War 1, liberating it.  Some stayed behind, on French soil, giving all, so that more than America could be free.  This would be a pointer, to an even greater fight.

There is s noble war. One fought for the rescue of people hunted, and hated. One fought against a mad man who wished to annihilate, not just a race of people, but the treasure they had brought into the world. We stood with the world against Hitler, and paid a great price, to destroy the nightmares of Auschwitz and Dachau.

Other mad men have risen, and our soldiers have stood to stop them.  This Memorial Day, we don’t evaluate the battle, or the decisions behind it, we honor the soldiers. Men and women, who in every generation, made it possible, for us to live freely.  

We honor, salute, and embrace the heart, love, and hope their sacrifice purchased for us. May God bless their souls, their memory, and their legacy. May God bless the United States Of America!

Teacher Appreciation Day 2018

To teach, is to cause someone to learn or understand something by example or experience.  Today is Teacher Appreciation Day. I am so thankful for the many teachers in my life.

My first teachers were my parents, and the lessons they taught me I hold to this day.  I can remember my teachers in school with admiration and gratitude.  Then their is a long list of people who have spoken into my life in countless ways.

In my Christian walk, I am blessed to have some of the greatest teachers ever. The Apostle Paul called them instructors in Christ. These men and women led by word and example.

In business, I learned from the good, and the bad. The right principles taught me to reject the wrong ones. I even learned how to do tasks that at first intimidated me. What had once seemed daunting became daily routine.

All of this was because of teachers. An there have been other things, from the trivial to the important where a little instruction made an impact.  To every teacher in my life, I would like to say thank you.

To everyone reading this, whether you’re a teacher by profession, or by impact, I’d also like to say something.  Don’t underestimate the power of small actions. I patterned much of my Ministry by the way one man stood when his Pastor was speaking.  

The way I I paint is because of how someone else taught me to hold a brush.  As a husband, though not always brilliantly, I follow the pattern of how someone else smiled when their spouse was upset.  Others notice what you think is discarded. Your efforts are never wasted, but always invested, thank you!

Happy Birthday Israel

Seventy years ago this week, the modern state of Israel was established. It became once again a physical country with borders, but it’s reach continues to be borderless. The nation of Israel, and the Jewish people have given the world amazing gifts.

As a Christian, first and foremost, is the gift of my Savior, The Lord Jesus.  As well as Abraham, David, Moses, Isaiah, and Elijah. From Spiritual matters, to the Ten Commandments, and it’s influence on the legal systems of history, to military campaigns it touches every corner of society. The strategies of the Bible, have won many battles by faith, by law, and by skill.

Other more recent names, such as Einstein, Heifetz, and Perlman. Science, classical music, and culture all have been enriched by the sons and daughters of Israel. Like many other countries, America has many Jewish descendants who have added to our story.

From statesmen, scientists, musicians, and entertainers, Jacob’s descendants have impacted the world.  To celebrate Israel, is a celebration of history, revelation, and exploration.  From David, to David Ben-Gurion, the versus Goliath story resounds with us all.  

It gives us hope that, we can face, and defeat the things which tower over us.  Each family of the Earth, every race, every culture holds riches. Today we celebrate the family of a man who heard the call of God to leave a city to found a nation.

We owe so much to Abraham, the father of Faith. So this week Israel, we celebrate you. Your hardships, your journey, your successes, and your triumphs during setbacks, never accepting defeat.  Happy Birthday Israel!

Stephen On Boxing Day

Today is a day that traditionally celebrates both Boxing Day, and the Christian martyr, Stephen. A man who went from caring for widows, to witnessing and giving his life for The Gospel. It’s fitting, that the day after Christmas, people remember a man who ran with the message of it.

Today isn’t the First Work Day after a holiday, or a back to drudgery day. Rather it’s an opportunity to practice the teachings of The One we honored December 25. No, Jesus wasn’t born in December 2,000 years ago, but we should honor His birth, Life, and purpose every day of the year.

So don’t let anyone depress you about today. Rather let the fire that empowered Stephen to see Jesus every day, do the same for you. Box up some of the blessings God has put in you, like joy, kindness, and love, and give them to someone today. Make their day after Christmas a day they also remember a follower of The Christ, not for who we are, but for what He has birthed in us!

The Busy, The Crowded, And The Rejected

I wonder if the Innkeeper ever found out Who he had turned away? I believe He did, the shepherds spread the news throughout the region. Do you think he ever felt guilty?

Maybe Jesus visited during His Ministry. Maybe He watched The Savior. We know Jesus traveled throughout the country, from Jerusalem to Galilee, and Samaria. Maybe the Innkeeper experienced Jesus take time for Him.

Perhaps bringing salvation into the inn that was too crowded for Him, all those years before. Either way, we know this, Jesus has time for the busy, the crowded, and the rejected. He’s been all three.

Maybe your Christmas resembles a scene from White Christmas. Or maybe it’s more like a Dr Seuss cartoon, and you feel like the Grinch. When it comes to your need, Jesus’ focus is on you.

He isn’t concerned about the setting, the Season, or the situation. Christ‘s goal today hasn’t changed. He wants the same thing that made Him make the journey to Bethlehem all those years ago, a relationship with you.

Christmas In Triage

It was Christmas time again, Cliff was alone as usual. That’s not to say that he was lonely, he had a big family, and they always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. That’s because Cliff wanted all the people who worked with him to have Christmas.

Cliff was a Security Guard for the largest hospital in the city , and someone had to work on Christmas. For the last fifteen years, Cliff had volunteered. He had seen some peaceful nights, and some crazy ones. He never really knew what to suspect.

This one had been quiet, so far. Then about nine, they wheeled Jim into the ER. He had been hit on the head, and was a little woozy. It was nothing serious. There was no mystery as to how it had happened, his wife Ellie had hit him.

No, she wasn’t mad at him, she just thought he had been a burglar. For some reason, he wasn’t in his recliner when she came down to wake him to go to bed. That’s because he was in the kitchen eating the cake his diabetic doctor said he couldn’t have.

Ellie thought she had heard someone sneaking around. She just didn’t know it was Jim. When he crept out of the kitchen with the lights off, she clobbered him. Then she saw Jim, panicked, and insisted they go to check and see if the candlestick was as deadly as she had always heard it was.

Jim wasn’t too argumentative, he was just trying to hide the smell of chocolate on his breath. The problem started because Jim and Ellie were klutzes, and always had been. She fell on the ice in the parking lot and sprained her ankle.

Cliff saw all this when making his rounds and offered to help Jim get her inside. The nurses got them into triage, but all the doctors were busy. Cliff had made his rounds, so he didn’t have anything to do for at least an hour.

So he decided to keep the couple company. He asked them about their Christmas. “Oh it was good. We talked to John and Cindy on the iPad, that’s our son and his wife. They couldn’t make it this year. Alvin our youngest is away at college.”Jim explained.

Ellie elaborated. “He was coming home, but his car broke down in Phoenix. Jim told him to just stay till he could get it fixed, and come in for New Years. It was a quiet Christmas this year, but it was peaceful.”

Cliff did his best to act like he believed them, but he knew better. He didn’t believe remembering seeing any two people wish they had some holiday hustle and bustle to complain about. He thought about how often his brother Mike fussed at putting up the Christmas lights, until Harriet bought that LED projector thing for the house.

Mike was miserable not having something to get ready for Christmas. So miserable, Cliff still believed his running over it out of the garage was no accident. The next year, Mike never complained. He never did ask Harriet if that was her plan all along.

Cliff excused himself, and tried to think of someway to salvage the old couple’s Christmas. This wasn’t a tv special, he couldn’t get John, Cindy, or Alvin a plane ticket. What could he do? Then, he thought of Mike, and of his rounds.”

Cliff remembered the kids in the pediatric ward, and Mr Anderson in traction. Then there was Marie at the nurses station. She hated the overnight shift. It dawned on him that Jim and Ellie weren’t the only ones miserable at Christmas.

Cliff had a crazy idea. He wasn’t sure if it would work, but there was only a few hours of Christmas left, so what could he lose. He made his way back to Jim and Ellie. Then he went into his story.

“Look, I know this is asking a lot, but there are a lot of miserable, lonely people in this hospital. Everyone is too busy to do anything about it, and I’ve got a little time on my hands, but I can’t do it by myself.”

“Now I sing a little, if we could just entertain them, even a few minutes, it would give them a better Christmas. Now what do you say? The doctors are swamped, you may be waiting hours, why not spend it spreading a little Christmas.”

Jim looked at Ellie. “We’d love too, but what about her foot?” Cliff pointed to a wheelchair. “We’ve got the Christmas express right here.” Ellie smiled, and that was all it took.

Jim asked. “Can you get me some paper cups and cotton? Maybe some tongue depressors?” Cliff didn’t ask why, he just did. That started a beautiful, special, multi hour journey.

Jim put on a makeshift magic show up and down the halls. Cliff and Ellie did duets, and took turns soloing a list of Christmas songs. Jim played the harmonica Alvin had mailed ahead in the Christmas presents.

Then he told jokes that even made Marie and Mr. Anderson stop arguing with each other for a while. The tongue depressors made great juggling utensils, Jim was pretty talented. Cliff told a Christmas story his Dad used to tell him, and Ellie read Luke Two as the finale of each performance, as softly and as beautifully as Cliff had ever heard.

What was supposed to last until triage gave away to an exam, went on til about one am, an hour passed the end of Cliff’s shift. He text Rosita he’d be late. An after the last group had found the Christmas they had given up on this year, he returned Jim and Ellie to the ER.

The doctors patched them up quickly, as Jim and Ellie sat quietly, happily exhausted. They had went from a quiet, miserable night, to a hectic, wonderful, and complicated Christmas. It wasn’t lost on Cliff that Mary and Joseph must have felt the same way after Jesus was born on another unexpectedly eventful night. After all, that was supposed to be tax day, not Christmas.

Cliff saw them to their car, and then got in his truck. He passed not only the white, green, and red lights of Christmas, but several blue ones too. He remembered thinking, ‘What had happened, and how he hoped no one was hurt.’

Rosita barely let him get through the door before she hugged him, tears streaming down her face. “Rosita honey, what’s wrong? I text you I’d be late. Are you okay?”

“I’m better. Cliff honey, I don’t know what kept you at the hospital, but it had to be a miracle. There was an accident down the street, a bad one. Thankfully they said everyone’s going to be okay, but it was about the time you normally would be getting home. Mike called from the precinct to make sure you were okay. He said the way it had happened, you would have probably been hit head on. You could have died.”

Cliff just held her. All he thought he was doing was making an old couple happy on Christmas. He didn’t know in helping them, he’d live to see another year. Then he wondered, ‘Ellie thought she had heard a burglar. Jim had thought she had heard him. Now Cliff wondered if she had heard one of God’s Angels to take care of all three of them?’

He was glad they’d insisted on giving him their number. It was too late tonight, but he’d call them in the morning. The three of them thought they were bringing gifts to lonely people. Now they knew, like the wisemen before them, they received so much more than what what they had offered.