The First Day

First days, you either love them or tolerate them, there is hardly an in between. The first day of school – tolerate or love? Or, how about the first day of a new job? The first day is critical and so it was at creation.

Genesis one verse’s one through five records the Godhead creating the heavens and the earth, the light and the darkness, the evening and the morning all accomplished in creating, “…The first day.”

How do you feel about first days? Someone recently shared with me that the first day after surgery is a real bummer. Another shared that the first day of vacation is exhilarating and full of anticipation. I can tell you that the first day of military boot camp is terrifying. Can you imagine the first day after the loss of a life marriage partner? I don’t even desire to think about that first day.

The first day of my first child’s birth was a great first day. The first day of the loss of my grandmother who I was extremely close to was a challenge. The first day of marriage was off the chart filled with expectancy, excitement and love.

There have been many first days in our lives and there will be many more. It will be up to us how we handle those first days. We can choose to embrace them or tolerate them. We can call it an adventure or a disaster.

Genesis one records the first day of our heavenly Father in the act of creation for you and me. He made that first day and second day and this day in order to walk and talk with you and me. And if we think about it, everyday is a first day with Him.

Issues of the Day

Blame Keeps Us The Same

Some wise person once remarked that blaming others would keep us the same. It’s true. One sure fire way to not take responsibility and to not change is to continually blame others for everything that comes our way. While we all engage in this practice at times, it simply cannot be the way we live our lives. Truthfully, others do not have the power to cause you anxiety, anger or any other feeling because our feelings are a result of our thoughts and our thoughts are a result of how we are interpreting our environment.

Our reactions will always be connected to what we tell ourselves about any given incident, conversation, run-in with our boss or spouse. Counselor Ed Smith wrote, “We feel what we believe.” That little statement is pretty powerful when attempting to make change in our lives. While blame shifts our need to change onto others, I eventually need to ask myself why I react the way I do. In other words, rather than blaming someone else, I listen to my thoughts in an effort to understand my emotional response.  Then secondly, is my response based upon a lie from my past or the truth?

In a devotional time the other day, I was reading about Paul the Apostle’s questioning before the Sanhedrin in Acts chapter 23. Ananias ordered Paul to be struck and then Paul immediately snapped, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (v. 3) When Paul was told that he was actually insulting “God’s high priest,” he just as quickly apologized, as he desired to follow the scripture which admonishes us to not speak evil of rulers.

Paul’s initial reaction was based on what he felt to be an injustice and responded in kind. However, when he remembered what he knew to be truth taught to him by the Scriptures, he apologized for his actions. The truth will do that and if Paul could learn that process, so can we.

Father, help us (me) to stop blaming and start changing.

Encouragement, Prayer

Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

Saint Patrick, Ireland’s beloved patron saint, has a prayer of divine protection attributed to him which was later made into a hymn. There are different versions, but one goes like this:

I armor myself today with the power of the Most Holy Trinity, in the oneness of God, Creator of the universe. I armor myself today with the baptism of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, his ascension and glorious second coming.

I armor myself today with God’s guidance to direct me, God’s might to sustain me, God’s wisdom to instruct me; God’s word to give me speech, God’s shield to protect me; God’s army to defend me against the snares of demons, against the lure of vices, against all who plot me harm.

I invoke all these virtues today against every hostile and merciless power that may assail me, against the incantations of false prophets, against the laws of heathenism, against the false laws of heresy, against the deceits of idolatry, against every art and spell that binds the soul to evil.

Christ guard me today against every poison, burning, drowning and fatal wounding.

Christ be with me, Christ be behind me, Christ be within me, Christ be beside me, Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ to be where danger threatens, Christ be in the hearts of those around me forevermore.

Christ be with you!

Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day

When Tithing Really Counts: The Trust Factor

Recently I read some research on charitable giving. It was amazing to see how generous Americans are. Last year, 2016, Americans donated $358 billion to numerous charities. That’s the good news.

The bad news is unbelievable when it comes to unscrupulous nonprofits that exist today. For example, the Cancer Fund of America based in Knoxville, TN has a record of only 3% of all funds donated directly aid anyone with cancer. What happened to the 97%? According to the Federal Trade Commission the money was spent on the charity’s staff with trips to Disney World, trips to Vegas, exorbitant salaries, cars, luxury cruises and even college funds for the executive’s children.

This one really bothers me as I travel to this nation annually. In 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti killing tens of thousands of Haitians, while many more lost their homes. Generous U.S. citizens donated approximately $488 million to the Red Cross. A year later the Red Cross announced that it expected to spend $100 million constructing permanent homes and various community development projects. Four years from this time NPR reported, “Despite having spent nearly half a billion dollars…the Red Cross had built a grand total of six new homes in Haiti.”

When we are tithing to our local church, we know we can trust the leadership to make right decisions with the money we’re giving to God. And as we share our offerings to that trusted missionary organization or homeless shelter in our community, we can literally see the difference that our giving makes. Use wisdom in your giving; do your research before you donate. Check out the ministry/organization on their website and do not hesitate to call and request them to verify the percentage of your donation that will be used for administration. You worked hard for your income; be sure to pray and ask God about your giving. Imagine inadvertently donating to some nonprofit executive’s children’s college fund when you have yet to start a college fund for your child.