As Beautiful As A Flower

“As beautiful as a flower…” That’s what the city of Canton, China said of our flag in 1784. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams described it as having a new constellation. It flew monumentally above Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson, before they were ever committed to granite at Rushmore.  

It is a glowing, and growing light, flying ahead of great men and women, pointing towards a better future. That has always been the truth, from thirteen small colonies to fifty states, I love the history of our country.  When I think of it, I visualize a cold Valley Forge, a solemn Gettysburg, France’s Argonne Forest, and D Day.  

Heroes, some well known, others known only by their actions. My heart swells at the thoughts those American GI’s opening the doors of Auschwitz, making hope a reality.  I also think of a tea party in Boston, a harbor in Hawaii, and two towers in New York. 

Each generation would have challenges to answer, hardships to endure, and tragedies to overcome. Many of which, had not been faced by those before them. America, named for an Italian mapmaker, has always been a trailblazer. 

She strives to be as noble as the lady in her harbor. As brave, as those men at Iwo Jima. An as wise as the bearded gentleman from Kentucky, Illinois, or Indiana. 

Like Lincoln, all of America’s children, have little bits of each part of our country in us.  Each of us, can hear, in our mind’s ear, our favorite singer’s renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. All go to some lyric, person, or event that causes patriotism to swell in our hearts on this day.

I’m reminded of Cohan and Cagney, and those Yankee Doodle Boys. A red haired comedian, of great articulation, Mr Skelton, and his Pledge Of Allegiance. Or two other baggy pants comedians, Benny and Hope, who both entertained more troops than any other person.

I think of statesmen and soldiers first, but then those civilians who risked their lives, fortune, and future traveling to entertain those soldiers in far flung regions of the globe. Men and women, not in uniform, did what they could, to make other Americans’s lives a little better. 

They did so, because they recognized the greater sacrifices those they were serving were making. During sad days, they paired laughter with bravery. Our country, like all, has its valleys, but oh how beautiful our mountains. Flaws are only final, if we don’t rise above them.

We continue to climb, planting the seeds of freedom. Working to shine liberty’s torch into new areas, and keeping in our minds what this banner means.  For it is more than a symbol of what was, or a promise of what could be. It’s something that is always with each American.

It is a constant reassurance, that if they did it, we could grow into it also. It’s a consistent star charting us to new endeavors. An finally it’s a monument to the fact that God has blessed this land, and it’s our duty to seek His providence on it for many years to come.

July 3, 1775

On July 3, 1775, George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  We talk a lot about July 4th, but we don’t always appreciate July 3.  Leadership made tomorrow a reality, it laid the foundation of freedom, through sacrifice.

There was no guarantees when Washington accepted this post. He faced obstacles, people trying to take his position, impossible odds, and a massive foe.  Why did he accept, because since 1767, he had taken a stand against tyranny. 

Washington certainly did not accept for the position, it was more a target than an honor. He said yes because America needed him. He said yes, because he believed he could make a difference. He said yes, because he believed in what he was fighting for.

General Washington began the hard work of training and preparation.  If you read the accounts of the war, it was anything but easy.  It was truly a miracle that thirteen colonies stood fast against an empire, to form a republic.

Our country was founded by men called to liberty, beginning the journey of freedom, which we continue. Tomorrow we will listen to anthems penned as promises. Patriots,  propelled to better the lives of those around them. Providing America the possibility of not just a better future, but a future at all.

This week we celebrate freedom, today let us celebrate the leadership and sacrifice of those who chose to make it possible. They said we will fight today, so tomorrow we could say it’s Independence Day!

Founded With Knowledge

No, our country was not founded by perfect men, but they were praying men. While people debate whether General Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge, we have his prayer book, written in his own hand. Whether he prayed in the snow, or whether he prayed by the fire, we know he prayed.

Our country was founded with knowledge, the knowledge of their own limitations, and the belief in a God not bound by man’s frailties. On the Fourth of July week, I choose not to seek out their faults, I have enough of my own. I don’t have to look anywhere but the mirror for those.

What I look to General and President Washington for, is how he, and our other founding fathers, looked for God’s help in crafting something unique in human history. A country founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In 2018, we seek, in every season, regardless of the weather, we ask, like the surveyor turned soldier, for God’s help and guidance.

May we do, as they did. May we add to America’s story great adventures, noble deeds, and a foundation for our children to build on. Because 1776 happened, in 2018 we can still ask for God to bless America, may that forever be the case!

Don’t Hit A Landmine With A Hammer

 

Volatility, it seems to be the method of the hour. No matter what your opinion, cause, or viewpoint, volatility is in every corner of society. Does it get attention, of course, but any explosion, even a beneficial one, does some damage.

Blow up a mountain to put in a road, and they’ll be flying debris.  There is a reason you don’t hit a landmine with a hammer. You don’t want to die in the process. 

This doesn’t mean you don’t stand by the power of your convictions, or that you don’t fight for what’s right. However it does mean that you follow the advice of the Apostle, “Don’t fight as one beating the air.” Shadow Boxing doesn’t hurt the shadow, but it can wear you out.

The easiest way to dispel a shadow, is to increase the light.  Regardless of your goal, I recommend attempting to build with that hammer, instead of blasting with it. There will be noise either way, but one will build something, and the other will only tear down.

Pursue Supporting Others

Pursue supporting others, be active in encouraging those around you. Investing into the lives of those around you, not only benefits you, more importantly it impacts others.

Take for example two household objects, a flower vase, and a glass pitcher. When a flower vase is displayed, it’s only for as long as the flowers it holds lasts. Then they are either replaced, or thrown away, and the case returns to storage.

A pitcher, not only contains something that pours into others, it’s continually refilled. Lives filled with supporting others are richer, because they do more than lift those around you. While that itself is more than enough, it enables those around you to impact even more people.

Lastly, one of the persons who drank from the resources of the pitcher, will wash it, and prepare it for future use. None of us can afford to be self contained, only selflessness creates a thriving life. Actively seek to bless someone today, they will pour into another life, and you will make a difference!

Sketch A Bridge Over

When your life meets the unexpected, and every thing takes an impossible turn. There is still a Bridge over, there’s still a way out. No matter how gray the path, He provides a way of escape. Life isn’t easy, but after Calvary all things are possible. Jesus.

Peace Like A River

Isaiah 48:18 (ESV)
18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;

A river is a natural flowing body of water, usually freshwater, flowing towards another body of water.  Either an ocean, sea, lake, or another river. Maybe that’s why Isaiah 48:18 came to mind, “Peace like a river.”

It’s not just a sense of safety, it’s one that’s going somewhere.  The same word that translates river, also translates flood.  It usally means a good flood, but a flood nontheless.

What came to mind when I read this, we’re two images.  A sirene river, and a group of people in danger, safe in the group, but surrounded by danger.  They were escaping something, going to a place of complete safety.

I imagined what it must have felt like if you were some of those who disguised themselves, and escaped Germany in World War II. They were safe, in the group they were with, but surrounded by danger.

They were traveling through a channel of safety, onto a bigger world.  Sound familiar?  I’m reminded that Jesus said, “…in the world you’ll have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Our safety isn’t in our location, it’s in Who is traveling with us.

Whether you’re talking about life itself, the next adventure of your story, or a hope or dream, every arrival is a new journey.  We’re safe in that journey, when we are in Him, but our safety isn’t in our surroundings.  River banks can be filled with dirt, rocks, animals, and enemies, but the river is clear of all of that.

Often, I’m guilty of judging my situation by the bank, and not the current.  The nature of the bank will change by season, but even in winter, the river is still a river. Even when frozen, the river is still water by nature, and it’s still connected to something bigger than itself.

Our situation does not determine our nature, Our Father chose that.  He made us new, He made us like Him, and He will keep us through the storm.  So let the lightning clash, and the thunder roll.  Let our enemies threaten and make noise.  If we hold to Jesus, all the time, we’ll have Peace like a river!

 

Judging

I was reminded this morning of the old cartoon. The hunter sees the face of, what appears to be a small creature, until the camera shows what the hunter cannot see. The little face sits on a large dinosaur.

The hunter was doing something Jesus told us not to do, judging. It’s easy to do, judging on face value. Of course, when we get irritated at the service in the drive through, we don’t consider the 2 jobs, and 4 kids the single mother is juggling.  

When our coworker is short, we don’t know what we don’t know. We didn’t hear the phone call from the doctor her spouse just received that morning. It’s easy to view things through our eyes, because we only see one perspective.

Again, Jesus told us not to judge. I know what you’re thinking, that was Jesus. An yes it was Jesus. 

It was The One who could have judged us all, without Calvary. It was The One who decided to die, rather than denounce. The One who is waiting til the very last soul that can be saved, before returning, to what will have to be judged.  

For me, when I look at my own faults, and His great Mercy, it makes it a lot easier not to judge others. All of us should be judged, but if Jesus didn’t, how can we judge others?