SPAM and SLIPPERY SLOPES

"A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted." Proverbs 12:3

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Spam. When we hear this word we no longer think of the distasteful luncheon meat but we think of it as junk that comes into our email, blog sites and Facebook. In recent days, I have been hit by SPAM. In my comment section, I received some nicely worded comments which at first when reading thought  these comments sounded okay. Being on a tight schedule this week, I hastily let these comments through. This evening, I  screened some of these comments. Needless to say,  they needed to be SPAMMED and trashed! I was even appalled that some of these had slipped past me and got posted on my comments. The readers that were making what sounded like nice thoughts and said that they appreciated my encouraging words,  were deceiving me into allowing their links to be seen on my site.  Needless to say, some of these links are questionable and go against the very purpose of my website. Delete/Trash is a wonderful option when screening postings, comments and email.

Some of my Facebook friends have been SPAMMED at times. I know when a post hits the News Feed. These posts usually say that my friend liked a link. Then, I see the caption and picture to the link. There is not a doubt in my mind that  the particular post is nothing that my friend would like, read or enjoy. When I have seen this happen, I have tried to let my Friend know that they may want to double-check their account and privacy settings.

The email is no different. Every other day, I go through my Spam box and begin deleting. Most of these unwanted emails are wanting me to join some sort of organization, buy something, or they are  trying to get me to click to win instant money. In other words, they are emails of trying to tempt me into sliding down a slippery slope. However, there are occasions where an email from a friend ends up in the Spam box or a business transaction may land in the Spam box by accident.  When screening through the Spam, it takes discretion, and wisdom to know who is actually legit in order to move the message to the appropriate box.

As I wrote in my post “What Is Your Heart Condition?,”  I share how written words are just as poisonous as speaking them.  People are watching what we say and what we do. Our actions, the materials we read, the comments and links  we share and/or approve or not approve of speak loudly of the real person within.  As children of God, we carry a big responsibility of being accountable for ALL of our actions. We  need to  walk in step with God in EVERYTHING  we do, and to seek His guidance, discretion and wisdom in every moment of our day.

Just like these Spammers, Satan would love to do nothing but to capture one of God’s children and begin them down that slippery slope.  He is an expert in knowing where our weaknesses are, what is most tempting for us, and he knows just how to put that carrot in front of us. Satan would like nothing better for us to believe what he has to offer is a wonderful deal and he attempts to make his words read sweet like honey.  He makes his offers look legit and positive to the point we hit that “Approve” button without a second thought. Only later to find out, it was his cover to lure us to the “dark side” and we needed to hit that “Trash/Delete Permanently” button.

Spam. Just like the luncheon meat there are those who go for it and those who can’t tolerate it. When that carrot of Spam is dangled in front of us to take a chance to win something, to buy something, take a survey, or simply approve a comment or link, it is then we need to pray for wisdom, discernment and ask God to guide us. It is through this careful discernment that we will either hit the “Approve” button or simply “Trash/Delete” button. Believe it or not, there are people out there watching to see which we will do. Thus, what we approve of or disapprove of is a non-verbal witness to those who are placed in our path.  We show our heart condition.

Yes, just like yours truly, there are days when we are not on our A game and we allow comments, links and things of the like get past us.  When this happens, if possible, correct the situation. But, most of all, we need to ask God for forgiveness, learn our lesson and move on. How we handle those slips and stumbles also shows others our true heart condition. 

As I share in my About April and my Greetings, the purpose of my web site is to share the love and light of Christ. My goal is to encourage people in their daily walk with God. If they are not in relationship with God, it is my prayer that something I share may sow a seed and lead them to Christ. Most of all, I want links that are attached to my site to be links that offer the same type of smiles, love and encouragement. In other words, I want you to see my true heart condition.

As you journey in the days ahead carry this Proverb with you:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

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You Said Yes…So We Can Be Free

Arlington Cemetery

I will walk  about in freedom, for I have sought hope in your precepts.  I will speak before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift my hands to your commands, which I love and I meditate on your decrees.” Psalm 119:45-48

In 1918, the First World War was in action. On this day in history in 1918, a temporary cessation of battle between the Allied nations and Germany took place. A year later, this day of cessation was recognized and honored. This day in history would become known as Armistice Day.

Armistice Day would become Veteran’s Day after the World War II and Korean Wars were fought. From this point on ALL Veterans would be honored regardless of the war that they served and/or fought.


November 11th  we will observe and honor ALL of our men and women who have served and/or fought to protect our rights as United States citizens. Not only will we honor our Veterans who have served but we will think of those who are currently serving our country.

Today, when you bow your head to pray, think of the men and women who fought for you to have the right to pray. For those of us who write whether it be for magazines, newspapers, or bloggers like myself, thank a Veteran for the freedom you have to express your thoughts and feelings. As you share the love of Christ with others, thank a soldier who has fought or who is fighting for you to have that right to witness without fear of losing your life.

When you take that dollar out to buy that drink or pay for an item, look at your money.  On your dollar bill you will see “In God We Trust.”  It was our forefathers building our nation with God as its foundation.  “In God We Trust“, also represents the men and women who have made sacrifices for us to preserve our nation’s foundation. They have trusted God to carry them through the battle and to take care of those who are home waiting for their return.

Today, thank a Veteran. Observe and honor ALL those who have served and who have served.  You may observe the day by wearing red as a reminder of those who have served and/or serving. Or, you may want to visit a grave site of a known solider and leave a flag  in remembrance of their sacrifice and as a token of appreciation.  Write a letter or send a care package to someone who is away from home in a foreign land working day and night to protect your freedom. Send a thank you note to the family who is at home while their loved one is away. Thank these families for the sacrifices that they are making so that their loved one can protect us. Ask a family who has someone in the service if there is something you can do for them while their loved one is away.  Most of all pray for these service men and women along with their families.

As I begin my day, I want to honor family members who have won the ultimate battle and have the ultimate freedom.  In Arlington cemetery, the following family members are laid to rest and are honored for their service to their country:

Henry John King

New York

MSGT

US ARMY

WORLD WAR 1 &II

His bride is laid to rest beside him, Clara Louise King. She kept the home fires going as my great-grandfather was off at war.

Carl R. Hill, Sr

COL.

US ARMY

WORLD WAR II

KOREA

His bride Louise Virginia Hill is laid to rest with my grandfather. I have heard many stories from my dad about how my grandmother would have to pack four kids and move while my grandfather was fulfilling his call to duty. From these stories, my grandmother had to have true grit to do what she had to do to take care of the family.

Albert E. Evans

Pennsylvania

PFC

US ARMY

Daniel Henry Hill

Michigan

US ARMY

VIETNAM

My Uncle Dan was my dad’s younger brother who was laid to rest in Arlington August, 2011. He is survived by his wife Paula, two sisters and my dad, Carl R. Hill, Jr.

Last but not least, I would like to honor my son’s best friend who was laid to rest in June, 2011. Joshua Yeckering was serving in the US Navy when he lost his life in a tragic accident. Josh was a determined young man. His personal motto was “I can do better” no matter how well he had performed whether it be a task in the military, running a marathon or in academics. He had served in Afghanistan. God had a different set of orders for Josh. Josh was deployed to heaven where he finished his race and won the ultimate battle.

There are others in my family who have served our country. My dad served in the US Army.  I have other uncles and  cousins who have served and a brother-n-law who has served our country.

 To all of these brave men, I want to say thank you for stepping up to the call to protect our freedoms.

To all of our men and women who serve in our law enforcement, fire departments, reserves, emergency services and homeland security, thank you for stepping out and answering to the call of duty. Each day you risk your life to protect the citizens of our country.  You have families that make sacrifices for you to answer that call of duty. To your families, a heart-felt thank you goes to them.

The video below is a Gaither Vocal Band song. I heard it for the first time several years ago while attending a Gaither Festival. The Gaither Festival that I attend is always on Memorial Day weekend. Somewhere in that weekend, the Vocal Band  will sing this song of freedom. As the lyrics in the song say; “Let Freedom Ring.”

Blessings

Since this article was originally written, my son has also lost another friend Michael Cable who was killed in action.

Do You Pick Peas or Do You Just Stay Here?

Do you pick peas or do you just stay here?

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Growing up in a minister’s home gave many opportunities to meet many people and kindle many friendships. At one of our family’s appointments, we had next door neighbors, the Allens, Mr. Cape and Ms. Sarah. Ms. Sarah had a  brother-n-law  that was a retired minister. Reverend Bill Brackman would come to visit Ms. Sarah and Mr. Cape from time to time. As you would walk up to the Allen’s porch, you were always greeted with a smile, a welcome and a chair would be pulled up for you. If it were summer, a bowl of peas to be shelled may even land in your lap to work on as you visited. Then, if Reverend Brackman were there, he would not only greet you with a hand shake but he would ask this simple question; “do you pick peas or do you just stay here?” Of course, everyone would  say one or the other in reply to his question. Laughter would always follow.

Today, in bible study, we focused on the parable of the talents. After reading Matthew 25:14-20, we discussed what extravagant generosity was and the value of a talent during the time this story was told and the value of silver and gold today. In our discussion, it was shared of how we sometimes allow fear to get in the way of our going out and using our talent. It is an issue of stretching ourselves, trusting God and stepping out in faith. We are all given at least one talent. But, do we use the gifts that God gives us generously and without fear?

As the sharing time progressed, the topic came up about the guy given the one talent. You know, the one who went and buried it until the Master returned?  When the Master returned, the Master was not very happy about the one man with the one talent. In other words, this guy did not stretch himself, trust his Master and step in faith as the other the other two guys had done. One thought was maybe this guy was afraid he would lose the talent so he buried the talent where it would be safe until the Master’s return.

While discussion was shared around the room of this one guy with one talent, I shared that when we don’t stretch ourselves and step in faith we miss out on the blessings that our Master has planned for us. There have been times when I didn’t think I could do something God asked me to do.  I stretched myself in faith and when I did, it was through those times I received the most blessings.

I share about Reverend Brackman’s comment ; “do you pick peas or do you  just stay here?”  because I feel that this was his way of asking how are you serving your Master. As children of God, we are responsible for taking care of God’s creation. In other words we are given a choice to serve and pick peas for the Master or we can just stay here. The choice is ours.

If we choose to just stay here, we miss out in the joys of fellowship with others, relationship with others and with God. By just staying here, we simply miss the blessings God has for us.  In our just staying here, we are disobedient to God because He called us all to be His caretakers. We are not doing our job as a believer.

Yet, if we pick peas for our Master  we grow in our faith and in our relationship with our Lord.  We build new relationships with other people. Some of these relationships are for a long while and others are simply for just a moment in time. The end result of trusting, stepping out in faith and not burying our talent is that we are blessed beyond human comprehension. A sense of rejoicing will enter the heart.

In the days and weeks ahead, I challenge you as you begin your day to ask yourself; “Am I going to pick peas or am I just going to stay here?” Then, at the end of your day, ask yourself; “did I pick peas or did I just stay here?”  Then, I challenge you to write the blessings God sent your way for the day. If you picked peas, I can confidently say that your blessings will be overflowing. Last but not least, read Matthew 25:14-30 sometime in the days ahead and seek God’s calling of where He wants you to ‘pick peas.’  Our Master will return one day and we will have to explain why we did or didn’t pick peas for Him.

Blessings

Dedicated in loving memory of  Sarah and Cape Allen and their family who always had a room on the porch for a visit and a bowl of peas to shell. Also, there was always a pecan pie and a Coke to go with the visit. They were dearly loved and made a lasting footprint on my heart.

Emptying My Jar….Priceless!

2 Corinthians 4:7-17

New International Version (NIV)

 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

Jars can contain many things. If you looked in my fridge right now, you would see many jars. One jar contains mayo, another pickles, another bread starter and the list would go on. These jars are jars with contents that the human eye can see and we paid a price for these jars that hold the various items we use in our daily lives. Yet, I want to share about another jar that I have in my life. This jar is priceless.

The jar I am talking about is me. I am merely a jar.  Inside this jar is a God shaped space that only Jesus can fill.  It is through my writings that I attempt to share my faith and the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.  Each time I write, I ask God for His wonderful love to be revealed and seen through me.  I also ask God to give me the strength, the words and the power to convey what others are searching for in a chaotic world.

Is emptying my jar of my priceless contents always easy? No.  There are moments when I have no clue of what I need to write or share. It is in those times, I need to seek even more His presence, listen to His voice, and ask Him for guidance and direction.  Most times, the topics I write about are not the ones I thought I would write,  and I have written on topics I did not think I would touch. This happens when God pours His power and His contents into my jar.

There have been times where I have been criticized about what I have written. In every situation, there is always a critic. For a while, this bothered me but then I realized that God was placing them in my path for a reason. Not only in my writing have I encountered critics but I have encountered from time to time over the years in my Christian walk. It is through these critics and trials that I have walked through where I experienced God’s grace and presence all the more.  In this process, I learned more about myself, dug my heels in a little deeper in my faith, and faced the importance of accountability.  In my sharing faith, I am accountable to my readers, to God, and most of all to myself. Each evening, as I wash my face, I look in the mirror and ask; “did others see God in me today?” “Did others see the true contents of my jar?”

There have been times when I sit at the computer with a blank screen wondering how to word a thought God has placed in my heart, or feeling too tired or burned to write.  My summer was a good example of feeling too weary and overwhelmed to answer where I would muster up the energy to even write. “Who wants to hear from someone who is weary?” “Am I better just shutting off the computer and moving on in life?” Yet, as I asked myself these questions, God would supply what I needed. It was through the weariness, the trials, and constant running where I saw God’s blessings the most.  Thus, giving more contents to spill out of my jar to share with others. God showed me how my sufferings  were opening doors of opportunities to share God’s grace, love and peace.

Every day, God gives me a new day. He awakens me with a full jar of contents that He instructs me to pour out and share with others as I go through my day. Yes, there are days where the words and energy aren’t simply there. There are days with more trials than others. But, in the end, I still empty my contents to the best of my ability so that others will experience God’s wonderful presence, grace and learn of a wonderful eternal home.

How about you?  Do others see the contents of your jar?  I encourage you to invite God to fill the empty recesses of your jar with priceless contents. Then, as jar is filled, empty your jar for others to see the love of  God and is wonderful grace.  The results of emptying your contents are priceless!

Blessings

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Put On Your Shirt

Smokey enjoying a Fall afternoon.

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In Sunday School, our leader lead us in a lesson on what is happiness. Before reading scriptures on true happiness, she had pictures posted of different people expressing happiness. We were to pick which picture looked the happiest. Of course, we all had our own interpretations of happiness and we all chose a different pictures. Then, we were to give descriptive words on happiness. Some of these words were contentment, security, feeling loved, and the list went on. Once we read the scriptures, words like faith, trust, and wisdom were written on the board in defining happiness.

When I adopted Smokey, the first thing I did along with getting the needed supplies for him is that I got him a few shirts. Jim rolled his eyes and said I was turning into a middle-aged crazy dog woman. My response was that Smokey was mine and if I wanted to dress him I will!  Then, as time has gone one, Jim has seen the benefits of Smokey wearing his little t-shirts. Smokey is white with dark streaks, hence the name Smokey. Since Smokey is this color, he very easily blends in with the asphalt in the driveway and street thus, making it hard to see him.

Although Jim saw this benefit, he still rolled his eyes a little until the other day. One thing Jim said he would do for me with Smokey was to help give him a weekly bath. As Jim prepped Smokey for his bath, he had to take Smokey’s shirt off. Jim laughed when Smokey raised his front legs like a little kid to have his shirt taken off. After the bath, Jim and I dried Smokey and we decided to not put on his clean shirt right away. The afternoon progressed and Smokey became anything but cooperative and he would whine which is something he does not normally do. After taking Smokey out for the fifteenth time in ten minute intervals in attempts to make sure needs were taken care of, Jim jokingly said; “why don’t you put his clean shirt on and see if that helps.” Smokey and I went inside and I began to put a clean shirt on him. Just as he did when Jim undressed him, Smokey raised his little front legs for me to put the new shirt on. His tail wagged and he seemed to begin finding contentment. Then, suddenly the whining and misbehaving began to cease. Smokey turned back into the subdued, quiet and loving pup that I know. He was content.

Jim and I talked about this observation of Smokey being dressed versus being not dressed. I said it is his sense of security. We don’t know what he may have gone through prior to our adopting him from the Rescue home. But, the shirt seems to make Smokey happy, content, secure and a message that he is loved.

Where do we find true happiness? Are we like Smokey in a way that we won’t behave until we have that one thing we think makes us happy and gives us a feeling of security? Are we constantly seeking something or someone to feel loved and content? I heard not long ago about how the prescriptions for antidepressants have increased. More and more people are in a battle with depression.  They long for that feeling of happiness, security and the feeling of being loved.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure” (Psalm 16:9) In this Psalm, God is affirming that we can always have joy and happiness no matter the circumstances that face us. The mistake that we make in seeking happiness is that we allow circumstances to dictate how we feel. We invest ourselves too much into the world and what others think. By doing this, we lose sight of the true happiness God has for us through Him.  This is why it is so important to go through each day in awareness of God’s presence. He is with us in ALL things. When we acknowledge His presence, we are more apt to do what is right and experience joy through all circumstances that come our way.

Are you running around feeling lost? Are you whining and complaining? Are you looking for true contentment? Then, put on the shirt of God. Wrap yourself in His word and acknowledge His constant presence in your daily walk. It is when you do this, you may just be like Smokey. You will settle down, experience joy and you will find true contentment.

Soak in His mighty presence today and experience His joy!

Blessings

Breaking News….There is Victory!

(left) Josh Yeckering (right) my son, Drew. Daviess County just won the State Championship in Cross Country

Saturday morning,  I awoke to the news flashing across the screen Breaking News. The breaking news was more of our troops in Afghanistan had been killed. Thoughts of horror went through my head as I know of people with family members serving over there at this moment.  When these types of events take place, I think “what is happening to this world?” “Will peace ever prevail?”

After the breaking news, good news came across the airways, there was good news if you are a St. Louis Cardinals fan. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last night. Needless to say, many people are celebrating their victory today.

As I heard about the victory of the St. Louis Cardinals, I reflected back on last Saturday evening. Jim and I met our son, Drew for dinner in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green is the home of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. As we arrived into the area, we could hear church bells ringing, cars blowing their horns, and yells of excitement. We arrived to the restaurant where it was louder than usual. It was obvious Western Kentucky had won their homecoming game. Victory was being celebrated.

When I reflect on past victories, I remember my son, Drew as he ran on his high school cross-country team. His team won the State Championship three years in a row. Oh, how the team celebrated with steak dinner, police escorts out of the park, and proud parents and supporters greeting them when they returned home.

None of these victories came easy. For each team, there has been sacrifice. These team members have trained in extreme conditions without letting these conditions deter them from their goal. They had their eye on the prize and pushed forward knowing what they had to do to win the victory.

In life, we love the celebrations. But, there are times when life happens. These life happenings can be anything but victorious. Life can get ugly. There are times when we experience heartache, anger and sometimes division. Yet, it is in our perseverance that we push toward victory.

Everyday, we are in training for the ultimate victory. We push through in extreme conditions and keep our eye on the goal through prayer, bible study, placing our burdens at the feet of Jesus and leaning on our Christian community. Despite all obstacles that may be placed in our path, we know through Christ that the victory will come and will be ours.

Two scriptures come to mind as I write this devotional; . I John 5:4-5 gives us this promise; “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes is the Son of God.”  And, Philippians 3:14-16 “I press on toward the goal to the win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

In the days ahead, I encourage you to keep your eye on the goal, push through the extreme conditions. When the questions of” why” and “where is the peace in the world?” run through your head, know that God has promised us that there will be a day when peace will be still.  There will be a day when ALL of God’s children will be VICTORIOUS!

Blessings

**The young man, Josh Yeckering in picture with my son, Drew received the ultimate victory in May. He is now with his Heavenly Father. Josh is greatly missed and was loved by all who knew him.

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