Monthly Archives: June 2011

Freedom

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, 2006.

"In Christ, there is freedom from bondage. Believers are no longer slaves; they are free-not through their own merit but through God's redeeming grace." Rhonda H. Kelley

Tired, weary and heart-broken and with a lot on my mind before going to bed one evening, I said a prayer to God asking Him to get me through all that was before me. There were things that had happened in recent days that even I was questioning God and asking Him a lot of why questions.  I continued to mumble and talk to God as I drifted off to sleep.

During the night, I heard a hymn being sung. This song being sung was so audible that I would have thought Jim was singing right in my ear but it was not him singing nor was this beautiful serenade outside my head. This song was being sung inside my head. It was the most beautiful sounding voice I have ever heard to the point I simply cannot describe this voice singing to me. I don’t even remember dreaming anything before hearing this voice but as I laid there a sense of peace came over me.  My questioning of “why” to God seemed no longer necessary. The song being sung to me was one of my favorite songs by Chris Tomlin, Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone.’ A song representing freedom from bondage.

As I had gone to bed that evening, one of my questions to God was why my son’s best friend was taken so soon. I had told God it was not fair. Josh was young and had so much before him. But, when I awoke from this serenade,  I knew Josh was set free from all the earthly bandages.  Josh was in his eternal home where he had received the ultimate prize  and freedom.

This Monday, we will celebrate the Fourth of July. It is a day set aside to celebrate our freedom. In July, 1776, the people of what is now called the United States of America, declared their freedom from England. After a long hard battle of fighting, America was set free and became its own independent country. But, not everyone was free. Slavery was a very big issue in our country which eventually divided our country. Civil War broke out between the North and the South but, eventually an agreement came to be and the slaves were set free.

Along with becoming an independent country, freeing those in the bandages of slavery, a brave man named Martin Luther King made his mark in history. He pursued equal rights and opportunities for everyone. In his famous speech, he says ‘free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last.” Sadly, he did not live to see his dream become a reality.

Men and women have signed up for military duty to protect our freedom. They sacrifice time away from their families, and their lives so that we may remain free and so that each person has opportunity in life. Not only do they sacrifice their lives and time, but their families also sacrifice for their loved ones to be gone to serve and protect our freedom and the freedom and rights of others.

Then, there is the ultimate sacrifice of freedom where ALL of our chains of earthly bondage are broken. This ultimate sacrifice is our Lord, Jesus Christ being nailed on a cross so that we may be set free from all our sin and things that put us in bondage. It is difficult to be in true relationship with God when we are bound by sin and with the worldly things that enslave us.  Yet, when we invest in a relationship with Christ, we experience our chains being broken and God’s ultimate grace.

Freedom is what we will celebrate on the Fourth of July. As you celebrate this freedom with picnics, fireworks and special time with friends and family, celebrate your freedom in Christ. For, there will be a day when each one of us, will receive the ultimate freedom and all earthly chains will fall off of us. May each one of us enter the gates of heaven saying “free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I am free at last.”  Until then, carry these words in your mind and heart:

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

My chains are gone

I’ve been set free

My God, my Savior has ransomed me

And like a flood His mercy rains

Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me

His word my hope secures

He will my shield and portion by

As long as life endures

My chains are gone

I’ve been set free

My God, my Savior has ransomed me

And like a flood His mercy rains

Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow

The forbear to shine

But God, Who called me here below

Will be forever mine

Will be forever mine

YOU are forever mine

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

I encourage you to give God what has you bond from enjoying the life He has given you. Then, experience His grace and freedom.

Blessings

 

 

My Regards

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Image by Del~Uks via Flickr

 

 

One Friday evening when Jim and I were out doing a little shopping, Drew calls Jim. As the conversation starts, I hear Jim laugh and say “I will make sure she gets the message.” I looked at Jim inquisitively and wondered what kind of message Drew had for me. Being full of wit and sarcasm, I could only imagine Drew’s message. Once Jim got off the phone, he relayed Drew’s message to me. The message was given to Drew by a homeless person on the corner of where Drew’s apartment building is located. This gentleman asked Drew to give me his regards like he knew me.

Since Drew moved out three years ago, first going to Chicago and now living in Atlanta, he has claimed the street people as his ministry. He makes it a point to talk with them and has had a chance to minister to one or two over time. Needless to say, on this particular evening, Drew had befriended a homeless guy and made conversation. Jim and Drew teased how I had friends on the street. I chuckled at the message sent to me at first but then I took a step back and thought about this message. Maybe it was God sending His regards to me through someone else. Later, I said to Jim; ” you know, that could have very well been my guardian angel using Drew to let me know my Father is watching over me.” Jim replied; “yes, it could have been but we will never know.”

A couple of weeks ago while visiting Drew in Atlanta, that conversation/message came up. Drew said that since that evening, he had not seen this particular gentleman. Now, if you know the homeless population in a big city, they usually have a regular corner and/or place where they spend most of their time. When Drew said that he had not seen that gentleman since that night, I got a chill and a sense of peace from within.

Hebrews 12:2; Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.’  Each day we encounter people on our faith journey. Some people we encounter we know them, their story and where they are heading. Others that come into our path we do not know other than what we observe in that particular moment. It is important that we stay observant to those around us through the eyes of Christ. Sometimes, it is the least likely person we encounter that may have a message from God. The message could very well be that message of hope we needed, that smile we needed or just a simple hello to pull us out of ourselves.

God uses many methods of getting our attention and to  send us the message He needs us to hear at a particular moment. I am a subscriber to the magazine Angels on Earth” and this magazine shares story after story of how God sent someone a messenger, a helper and/or encourager to people just at a time of need. As I read testimonies in this magazine, I think of the gentleman on the corner in Atlanta that told Drew to give me his regards. Yes, think what you want but I truly it was God’s way of saying; “I am here and I am watching over you.”

Along with receiving affirmation of God watching over me through someone I have never met and much less have not seen,  I am also reminded of the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” The first verse says:

Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely

And long for Heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches over me.

Mrs. C.D Martin/Chas. H. Gabriel

In the days ahead,  know that your Creator is watching over you. He may place a stranger in your path that has a special message just for you.  He will sends you His regards when you least expect it but just when you need to hear from Him the most.

Regards and Blessings

Related articles

ONE HUNDRED

Thank you to my husband, Jim (left) and my son Drew (right) for all of their encouragement with my writings for "April's Faith Thoughts."

One hundred! Wow! it is hard to believe that as I write this post that it will be my one hundredth one! My family has accused me of never being at a loss for words. I guess this post says it all! On television, when programs reach their one hundredth episode, they usually have some guest star on their show, a “special episode”, and/or roll out a cake at the end of their show. Now, you may wonder what I am going to do with my one hundredth post.

Really, I have no cake that I will put at the end of this post and I dont’ have a “special guest”writer to feature in to celebrate this milestone. As I write, I reminded of what Psalm 100 says about giving thanks; “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves, We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”

Today, I write with thanksgiving.  To my son, Drew I am thankful to him for encouraging me to write and share my thoughts. Along with Drew, I am thankful to my husband, Jim who has been my proof reader and encourager.  You, my readers and subscribers I am thankful for your support, prayers and comments. It is you that keeps encouraging me  to pursue on with my writing. As I send shout outs to Drew, Jim and my readers, I also give thanks to Jesus Christ. He has been beside me at the computer as I share His love and wonderful grace.

For one hundred posts, I have shared the light and love of Jesus Christ. In the days ahead, I will continue to present myself to God and will allow Him to use me as His vessel. God speaks. I write. 

Blessings

Life, Life, Life

To-do list book.

“Work, work, work” was sent to me by my son as we chatted on-line one evening. My response was “life, life, life.” Then, as I ended my conversation with Drew,  I was reminded of the scripture from John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Don’t you just love it that God wants us to have life abundantly? Does life get to be too abundant at times?

In recent days and weeks, life has happened to the Hawkins’ home. It is like we get through one hurdle and then another one pops up out of no where. There are days when we just want to tell the world to stop so we can catch a breath and get a grip on all that is happening. Yet, the world does not stop.  Life goes on regardless of where we are in it. So, we take a deep breath and forward on to do  what is put before us. Some days it is best to take it all one step at a time and one day at a time. In these moments it is even more important to embrace our hand in the hand of God. It is from Him, where we draw our strength. Living life abundantly means being carved more into His image and into more of His perfection. 

Yes, we are being carved more into His image when we have to rely on God for our strength.  When life comes abundantly, however, God has reminded me that we learn more about His grace and more of how to put His grace into practice. It is in living life abundantly where we become stronger in our faith and where our relationship with Christ grows even more.

So, has life been one hurdle after another hurdle? Does your list say; “work, work, work” with a response that is “life, life, life?” Are you ready to tell the world to stop so that you can get caught up? If so, stop, take the hand of God and let Him walk with you through it  one step at a time and one day at a time.  Then, as you walk with God through the hurdles one step at a time and one day at time, know that you are being molded more into His likeness and your relationship with Him grows stronger.

Christ came to give us life abundantly. And, it is in living and making it through the abundance of life that one day we will receive eternal life. In eternal life with our King, it will be a life of abundance far more than we could ever imagine.  It is going to be an awesome “life, life, life.”

Blessings

The Master’s Walking Stick

CR and Jackie Hill Congratulations on 47 years of ministry

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, we paid tribute to my dad, Dr. CR Hill, Jr. for his 47 years of ministry. Dad will be retiring from the pulpit on June 19, 2011. Among the thoughts shared by family at Sunday’s worship hour, my husband, Jim wrote a poem in my dad’s honor.

Anyone who knows my dad knows that he has a love for the outdoors. Hiking, fishing and biking are among his favorite past times as well as carving things out of wood. Jim’s poem does a beautiful job describing my father in his ministry and how dad has touched the lives of others over the years. It is a privilege and honor to be able to share Jim’s poem with my readers.

The Master’s Walking Stick

It was a scene I had witnessed

Had seen it many times before

Southern gentleman, knife in hand

Shavings scattered on the floor

 

The branch, it was long

He had notched the first dimple

Intent on his task

Making it all look so simple

 

(He says) It is raw material so far

There’s a lot to be done

Tis a work that’s in progress

Whittling out here in the sun

 

The stick at this point

There are reasons I choose it

I must know the ways and needs 

Of the one who will use it

 

Will it be slight

Fully meant for display?

Or will it be used

For trails, day after day?

 

He sized up the stick

With potential in sight

It’s now up to the Master

To bring the function to light

 

As I watched this take place

Something started to click

There is a parallel here

between this man and this stick

 

This man at one time

was hard and pointy as a fork

It took no genius to see

He was a raw piece of work

 

As a child in our army

He was chosen to be

The first line of defense

Between the Eastern Bloc and me

 

He came home from his tour

Reunited with his home

It was not long after that

He had a family of his own

 

Tours and family made him tough

He persisted to stay

And just like that old stick

He was formed in God’s way

 

When he returned state side

He labored then he saw

The Master had a plan

And he answered the call

 

The Master continued his work

Refinement takes time

With perseverence and grace

He’s been polished to a shine

 

God’s walking stick is finished

Work is done, so we think

It’s been worn but worn well

A career seems but gone in a blink

 

C.R.  You have given your best

So we ask what is next?

What’s the Master have now

For us to add to this text

 

Many may ask

Is this stick laid to rest?

To this I say “No”

There are still trails yet to test

One By One…Making A Difference

Star Fish

Image via Wikipedia

In my post Renewal of the Soul and Heart, I shared my anticipation of getting away for vacation. This trip would involve time in the Smoky Mountains, walking by mountain streams and listening to God speak to me. It also included going on down to the beach and watching the waves come in and come out.  I shared that when I watch the waves of the ocean come in and out that they remind me of God bringing in new and washing away old.  The waves also remind me of how we breathe in and breathe out.

This week I have been on that much-anticipated vacation. However, before leaving for our trip, our family received so very devastating news. Our son, Drew Hawkins lost his best friend, Josh who was more like a brother to Drew in high school than friend. Drew and Josh ran cross-country and track together. They were training buddies with Josh pushing Drew to rise to and beyond his potential in each race they ran. Josh was serving in the Navy and based in San Diego when he was swimming two weeks ago and got caught in a rip tide. It has been something that our entire family cannot get our heads around and comprehend.

As Jim and I walked on the beach yesterday, the story of the gentleman running on the beach and throwing star fish back in the ocean came to mind. The story chronicles a young man running on the beach and on this beach are many star fish. When star fish are out of water for a long period of time they will eventually die. So, to not see this happen this young man begins to one by one throw star fish back into the ocean one at a time. As he was doing this, a gentleman approaches this young man and ask; “what are you doing?” The young man replied;‘putting the star fish back in the water so they won’t die.” The gentleman responds; “but there are many, there is no way you can save all these star fish.” The young man replied as he picked up another star fish and throwing it into the ocean; “yes, but I made a difference with that one.” Needless to say, the gentleman had no response to this young man’s reply.

Josh Yeckering reminds me of that young man running on the beach. Josh touched lives wherever he went. He saw potential in people. Josh encouraged others to rise to and beyond their potential. He left his mark on this earth and on many people. One by one, he made a difference in each person’s life he encountered. Our son, Drew was one of those people Josh encouraged, placed challenge on top of challenge when it came to Drew’s running and his life’s ambitions.   My husband and I know part of Drew’s character was molded out of this close friendship with Josh.

This next Monday, Josh will be home where family and friends will join together to pay tribute to this young man who was taken all to soon. There is no doubt in my mind that one star fish after another will share how Josh made a difference and an impact on their lives. Though Josh has left this earthly world, he left a legacy among those who knew him well. It is up to each one of us who knew and loved Josh to carry on with his legacy. The legacy is to one by one make a difference in someone’s life, encourage others to rise to their potential and beyond, and to love each person we encounter.

So, how about it? There are many star fish awaiting to be thrown back in the water, wanting to survive what the world puts before them and simply needing that encouragement to rise to their potential and beyond. I challenge  you to one by one make a difference on someone’s life and the world.   Along with this challenge, remember that each one of us leave a mark on other’s lives as well, as long as we are on this earth.

In the words of Paul; “Do you not know that who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown. Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight; not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, least when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Josh, you encouraged others not only in their training in running but in their training in life. You ran the perfect race. Now, you have crossed that final finish line and without a doubt have received your prize. 

Blessings

This post is dedicated to Joshua Yeckering taken from us too soon but forever remembered.

Josh Yeckering (left) and our son Drew Hawkins (right) They were in high school when Josh took this trip with us.

 

The KING…….is still in the building

Elvis Presley
 
 
Elvis Presley better known as ‘The King of Rock n Roll’  is probably just as famous today if not more famous than when he was alive.  When I say he is just as or even more famous now, I can say it with confidence. I have a twenty-three year old niece who has been a huge Elvis fan all of her life. She and her dad have made pilgrimages to Graceland. She has many of his albums and I am sure she has a ‘few’ of his movies, too. 
 
 Being a child of the late sixties and growing up in the 70′s, I remember seeing Elvis perform on television and the ladies screaming and just wanting to touch him to say they touched him. Then, I remember hearing the news of his death on the evening of August 16, 1977. I was in the process of getting dressed to go out to dinner with friends from church when the news broke into whatever sporting event was on television to share the news of the ‘King’s” death. Oh, the heart breaks that went over the nation on this piece of news. Even today, the anniversary of his death is remembered for an entire week of Elvis movies on television and almost every radio on the airwaves will play an Elvis song in his memory.  Even to this day, you can pick up a tabloid magazine and somewhere there has been an Elvis sighting.
 
Yes, Elvis set the stage for rock-n-roll so that others like Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber would only have to take the stage and change the rock-n-roll industry in not only in the areas of popularity but in music, too. But, when I think of a “KING”, I think of the one ‘true king.’  The one true king I speak of  knew how to draw a crowd. He had tax collectors climbing trees just to see Him. There were countless people who just wanted to touch his cloak. One lady in particular who had been bleeding for years, knew if she could only touch this ‘King’s” cloak that she would be healed.  She had  faith in this man who toured from town to town that in the midst of all the crowds. This lady was able to touch this man’s cloak and was healed! Oh, can you imagine how she danced her way home because she touched the “King”? I am confident there were shouts of praise and joy!
 
The King I speak of is the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.  His Father’s book stays at the top of the best seller’s lists.  Yes, this ‘King’ is my king and I am His daughter. You are His daughter/son. He died on a cross for you, me for all our sins. He opened the door to the ultimate paradise so that we can be with our Creator.  There were dark clouds, the earth trembled and people mourned the day He was crucified. His death had a profound affect on the people of that day and on people of  today. We remember His life and death each year. This week of rememberance is Holy Week. But, we don’t just remember our King’s death, we remember what He did for us and that He did rise from the dead. On Easter, we celebrate the new life that our King gives us.
 
Yes, there were even sightings of Jesus after His death. Can you imagine what the front cover of a magazine would have been like back in that day. Headlines; “Christ crucified, dead and buried but there have been sightings of Him in the area.” First, Mary saw Him on the day of resurrection. Then, the disciples encountered Him on the Road to EmmausBut, when they first encountered Him they did not recognize Him. It was not until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened.   Jesus showed Himself to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias but they did not recognize Him until He instructed them to ‘cast their nets on the water.” 
 
When Christ ascended to heaven, He did not leave us totally alone.  But, He equipped the disciples, His followers/witnesses with the Holy Spirit to carry the gospel to all lands to all people. Though we may not see Christ in the physical sense, He is with us. Then, one day when the time is right, we will see Him on earth again!  In His coming, there will a new heaven and a new earth.  Elvis, performed many concerts and I am sure that he did many encores. Yet, all of his encores cannot and will not top the ultimate encore of Christ’s return.
 
At the end of Elvis’ concerts, the announcer would say; “Elvis has left the building.” This announcement is still used when the curtains come down on concerts and/or shows. We all have used this saying when tweeting, posting on Facebook or leaving someone a message as we leave from one destination to go to another. Elvis may have left the building but our precious ‘King of Kings’ is still in the building. He has never left us and He never will. ‘The KING is still in the building!”  Can’t you feel His holy presence?
 
May you experience His wonderful presence today and always.
Blessings
 
Scriptures used for this post:
John 21-Jesus by the seaside telling the disciples to cast their nets
Luke 8:40-48 The woman of faith who wanted to be healed
Revelation 21:1-4 New Heaven and Earth
Acts 1:4-8 The Holy Spirit
John 16:12-15 The Holy Spirit
Luke 24:50-53 The Ascension
Acts 1:9-11 The Ascension
Luke 24:13-35 Road to Emmaus
Mark 16:9-11 Mary sees the Risen Lord
 
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