Encouragement, History, Leadership, Marriage, Men

“One Man with Courage Makes a Majority”

Andy was a person who understood personal pain, grief and endurance. He fought in the Revolutionary War. He was captured, slashed across his forehead by a British officer with a sword and would suffer from migraines the remainder of his life. 

While imprisoned, he contracted smallpox. His brother died of smallpox, but Andy lived. Not long after his brother’s death, his mother died of cholera and then his brother, Hugh, also died. The hurt and pain within Andy pushed him to inflict pain upon others. 

But then, Andy fell in love with Rachel. They married only to find out there was a glitch in a court’s error and Rachel was still legally married to her first husband. It is said that Andy actually fought 103 duels to defend her honor! Andy’s body was riddled with bullets; one near his heart caused severe blood-filled coughing spasms.

Andy then fought in the War of 1812. After returning as a war hero, he ran for the office of the president of the United States. During his campaign his adopted son who was 16 years old died of tuberculosis. He went on to win the election of 1828. He served two terms.

President Andrew Jackson

In his first term of office, he lost Rachel to illness. Overcoming his grief as president, he wiped out the federal deficit before he retired to Nashville, Tennessee. 

On his deathbed, Andy spoke of heaven where he would “Go to meet Rachel…and Jesus.”

If you look at the U.S. twenty dollar bill in your pocket you’ll find the engraving of Andrew (Andy) Jackson, the seventh President of the United States.

                              ONE MAN WITH COURAGE MAKES A MAJORITY (Andrew Jackson)

Think of it–one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you. (Joshua 23:10 The Message)

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History, In the news, Parents

A Tragic End to Flight 255

It was a tragic end to flight 255 taking off from Detroit to its destination, Phoenix, Arizona. The 154 passengers and crew members died as the plane attempted to become airborne. The pilots failed to follow their checklist in an effort to save time. Since they missed some steps, there was no way for them to know their electrical power to the takeoff system did not exist. Further, they failed to notice that the slats and flaps were not extended adequately. 

The plane struck a light pole, severing a good portion of its wing. The fuel stored in that wing caught fire. Then the other wing was ripped apart hitting a building. Finally, the plane slammed into an overpass of Interstate 94, exploding into a fireball and ending more lives on the ground. 

As the Detroit medical examiner was inspecting the scene of charred bodies, he heard a child’s voice. It was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan. Her mother had wrapped her arms and body around her child in a last-ditch effort to shield her from the crash that was about to occur. 

This final and heroic, albeit desperate, act of love saved a little girl from certain death by impact and by fire. 

Years later Cecelia is now a mother herself. She thanks God every day for life and for a mom who would wrap her arms of love around her in an effort to protect her. 

There is a Savior who wraps His arms around you, who took the pain of the cross, who went through the very flames of hell because He loves you. 

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

Who Gets to Speak the Final Word?

I was sitting in a fourth grade elementary school class when our teacher was called out to the hallway. When she returned she was crying, telling us between sobs that the President of the United States had been assassinated. After she defined the word “assassinated,” we readied ourselves to return home as she announced an early dismissal. 

Devastating news, for sure, that went around the world quickly. But there was another celebrity that died that very same day–the British author C.S. Lewis, an intellectual defender of the Christian faith. 

C. S. Lewis was an author of many books that are now classics like: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis spent most of his earlier years as an atheist. But he began to realize that God was “closing in on him.” He discovered the joy he was missing in life would be found in the faith he had resisted. 

Lewis was a rather shy professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities and he passed from this earth in the shadow of another, His death hardly registered on the news blips of the day. 

Another personal hero of mine died in the shadow of a famous celebrity. Mother Teresa passed from this world the day before Princess Diana’s extravagant funeral. It’s no secret that Princess Diana, who was a friend of Mother Teresa, would steal the limelight from a woman who had given her life to the poor and the needy. It is said that Mother Teresa could carry all of her life possessions in a five-gallon bucket. 

These death eclipses seem unfair, but don’t they speak to how the godly live their lives? It’s not our life that we are lifting up but rather, Christ’s. Even Paul the apostle said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

While the world celebrates the rich and the famous, God celebrates the obedient, the humble and the servant. Recently, during the highest holy days of the Christian faith, The New York Times had a headline article titled, “In This TIme of War, I Propose We Give Up God.” It was just one more anti-God diatribe.

That article reminded me of a 1966 Time magazine cover article announcing God was, in fact, dead. A few years later that same magazine had a cover article titled, “The Jesus Revolution.”

Let’s let God have… THE FINAL WORD.

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History, Issues of the Day

It’s a Ponzi Scheme

It was 1920 and the scheme netted him a cool 15 million dollars in just eight months. It’s a scandalous story and it would begin a movement that extends into today’s world.

Charles came up with a unique opportunity for investors when he would buy an asset in one market and sell it at a higher price in another market, or so his story went. After he explained his transaction to his gullible investors, he did not, at the same time, inform them he had no way to sell his product, keeping his investors money. Not being too inept, he was sure to have a payout for the initial investors in order to get the money rolling and attract new customers.

He called his new business The Security Exchange Company and he promised a 50-percent return in interest within 90 days. Lines of people began to form outside his office and he began to bring in a million dollars a week. What was really happening was that older investors were paid the return on their money from newer investors, a pyramid scheme at its best.

Who was this man? Charles Ponzi. He ended up in prison and eventually died penniless. His name, however, infamously lives on and has become the term for swindlers and pyramid scheme masters. Often repeated to this day, “It’s a Ponzi scheme.”

The book of Proverbs in the Bible has a lot to say about money. To the Charles Ponzis of the world, it says this:

Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Dishonest money will not remain:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

And, to the persons who are targeting or exploiting certain people today through schemes of dishonesty, God’s word reveals:

He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.

A misinformed gentleman called me the other day about helping someone in England who had been “beat up and robbed losing all their money and their passport.” Have you heard that story before? 

I don’t know about you, but these types of stories bother me, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable. Take the time to inform others in your life to not fall prey to such immoral and appalling schemes. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost each year by such schemes and persons in the church can be susceptible to schemes which are “too good to be true.” Let’s help to protect one another. 

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

We Do Love Independence!

I was thinking about independence and how much we love this word and all it represents. We can move to become independent rather quickly. After all, isn’t that what we spent 18 years training our children to become? Then one day they attempt to be independent of us and we want to hold them back because we don’t like their attitude or some such thing.

I can still remember my teenage boys pushing to become independent of their mother. They actually practiced not listening to her or at the very least looking like they were not listening as she followed behind them telling them what she thought they ought do. 

There is something inside of us that speaks to not desiring to be told what to do because that’s not independence. It feels like hovering or maybe even smothering to us. So we say to our wives, “Yes, yes, yes, I hear you.” Or to our husbands, “Are you listening to me?” Or to our wives, “I’m serious when I say this.” Or to our husbands, “You must be joking.” We’ve been longing for independence since Genesis chapter three. Our fallen nature thinks we can do it; we can be self-dependent, not needing others. 

But the actual truth is every day we need others. We need our mechanic to fix our car. We need our boss to keep us employed. We need our church family to help us lead. We need our spouse to look out for us and to help us find things we’ve lost. Daily, we need others.

But more than anything or anyone, we need God. We are wholly dependent upon the Spirit of God to lead us, cover us, answer our prayers and speak God’s direction to us. We are never really independent of others. We certainly do not want to be independent of God. So let’s truthfully acknowledge our need for Him and of those He has placed in our lives. 

I saw this “need” pictured in a scripture I read the other day. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (Philemon), have refreshed the hearts of the saints…that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” Philemon 7, 20b

Be refreshed this Independence Day and bring refreshment to others by loving them!

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Challenge, History, Issues of the Day, Training

General George Washington Learns About Forgiveness

During the days of the Revolutionary war, Rev. Peter Miller served as the pastor of Bethany Reformed Church in Ephrata, PA. Later he left the German Reformed church to become a Seven Day Baptist minister. This move provoked the ire of one man, Michael Widman.

Miller was a talented and highly educated man. Thomas Jefferson actually requested that Miller translate the Declaration of Independence into seven different languages.

The Ephrata Cloisters

Michael Widman was also a resident of the town of Ephrata and he developed a hatred for Rev. Miller. Widman was a deacon at the Reformed Church and Rev. Peter’s withdrawal caused a notorious and frequently noticed hatred toward Rev. Miller. Widman’s abuse included punching him and spitting on him. Miller never spoke an evil word against his enemy.

Mr Widman owned a tavern in Ephrata and one evening was loudly boasting of his loyalty to the British cause. Little did he know there were two American spies in the tavern that night who heard his treasonous words. The men attempted an arrest and Widman escaped out a back door.

Widman ran to the British army looking for protection and offered to spy for them. Later Widman was caught, court-martialed and convicted of treason against the colonies and sentenced to die by hanging.

Rev. Miller was personally acquainted with General George Washington, as Washington had first met him at the Ephrata Cloisters. After Miller had heard about the sentencing of his personal antagonist, he arose early in the morning and walked seventy miles through the snow to find General Washington at Valley Forge, PA. After Washington heard Miller’s request for a pardon for Widman his response was a firm no for his “friend.” “My friend!” said Miller. “I have not a worse enemy living than that man.”

“What?” exclaimed Washington. “You have walked seventy miles to save the life of your enemy? That, in my judgement, puts the matter in a different light. I will grant you his pardon.”

From the scaffold Widman remarked, “There is old Peter Miller who has walked from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified today seeing me hung.”  

Rev. Miller raised the pardon in the air and commanded the execution to halt. Miller and Widman walked together back to Ephrata as friends and neighbors.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  –Jesus

Happy Father’s Day to every one of you who are fathers! May we “raise the pardon in the air” to all thse around us who are in need of forgivenss and our love.

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Challenge, History, Identity, Issues of the Day

Dead Before Her Time

It was repeatedly stated that the Mortenson girl would end up dead way too early. 

She never knew her real father and she was placed in foster care at age six while her mother entered a mental institution. She was shifted from one home to another. 

She was molested in one of her homes, abused and mistreated in others. Her full name was Norma Jeane Mortenson and her only goal in life was (in her words), “I want to be loved for myself.”

Her first marriage was at age sixteen. Her second marriage was to a name we all recognize – Joe DiMaggio. Then another marriage and then her Hollywood name of Marilyn Monroe was given to her at age twenty-seven while working as a model. She became a national pastime, a star, certainly in the minds of many, one to emulate.

But inside Norma Jeane felt dirty, unworthy of love following molestation, foster home after foster home, marriage after marriage. She engaged in romances with some of the most famous men of her time. 

At age thirty-six, desperate for love, she reached out to talk to a friend, looking for affirmation and understanding, someone to care. But what she got was hung up on. She then swallowed a large number of pills and was found in her bed the following day dead, the phone hanging there beside her. How many more desperate calls did she make?

Loneliness is all around us. There is the widow down the street. There is the senior care home in the next town. There is a co-worker who just went through a divorce. 

So many people are looking for love. Tell them about the Someone who stepped down from heaven to be their Savior and their friend. Who needs a word of affirmation or of encouragement from you today?

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Identity, Just for fun

A Shoe Salesman of Notoriety

Recently I was reading I Corinthians chapter one and came across these profound verses: 

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

I also learned a new word lately – orthopraxy. It means to practice good or correct orthodoxy. The above verse is really good orthodoxy and great to practice conscientious orthopraxy. However, good orthodoxy will save no one. But, it doesn’t mean we do not practice righteous or correct orthopraxy. 

Let me take you to a story about a man named Lyman from Northfield, Mass who possessed neither good orthodoxy nor practiced good orthopraxy. His father died when he was 4. At 17 he could barely read or write. He left home to work for his uncle in his boot shop in Boston. There he went to church with his uncle, didn’t understand the sermons so he slept through them. A Sunday School teacher took an interest in Lyman and led him to the Lord. The leaders of the church said he’d be of little use to the kingdom of God. 

Lyman moved to Chicago to sell shoes, and he really sold shoes. He went to a church in Chicago where they found him to be “irritating with his unpolished zeal, butchering grammar and theology.” So Lyman went to the slums of Chicago to speak to children who were unschooled street kids. Abraham Lincoln once noted that this man Lyman could take “legions of ragamuffin kids and study the Bible.” 

Then the shoe salesman started his own church. The church building was destroyed by the fire of 1871. He became a traveling evangelist. He spoke 230 words a minute, so fast that few could even understand him. He was, however, doggedly determined to spread the gospel. 

This salesman who weighed over 400 pounds went on to lead one million souls to Christ and started America’s largest Bible school and one of the world’s largest publishing houses. He trained and sent over 5,000 missionaries to overseas assignments in his lifetime. 

You might remember him by his full name, Dwight Lyman Moody. Wow, what can God do with those of us who were called but not the wisest, not the most noble, not the most influential and maybe the “weakest of our clan” like Gideon? 

Even though God chose the weak things like us, He still chose us to bring His good news and to make our boast in Him alone.

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Identity

How Do You Handle Failure?

Harland was five years old when his father passed away. When he reached the ripe old age of 14, Harland dropped out of school. He was first a farmhand, then a streetcar conductor but fired from both jobs. He lied about his age and joined the army at 16. Being pushed out of military service early he moved to Alabama and attempted blacksmithing.*

This job didn’t last either and he landed a position of locomotive fireman. Harland fell in love, married and the day he lost this job his wife announced her pregnancy. In fear of the future, his wife left him and returned home to her parents. 

The Great Depression hit and Harland decided to study law. He was licensed and soon thereafter lost his cool, got into a fist fight with his client in the courtroom and was chased from that career. He then was managing a gas station but lost that job when he decided to shoot his competitor while arguing over a sign.

Finding himself in Corbin, Kentucky, he landed a job as chief cook and bottle washer. He found success there but the plan for a new highway bypassing the town caused him to sell the restaurant for a small portion of its actual worth. Now at age 65 he was once again starting over.

Harland signed up for Social Security and his first check arrived. It was a grand total of $105.00. Having failed or struggled most of his life, he took that check and deposited it into the bank. He would eventually start a new venture with his savings.

The new adventure caused Harland to have one of the most successful food chains in U.S. history. You remember this man by the name Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. That idea started with $105.00 and became so “finger lickin’ good” that today there are 20,000 restaurants in 125 countries generating over $23 billion.

Is there failure beyond having hope? Have you ever felt like giving in and giving up? Honestly, no failure is a final failure. Maybe it’s finding out what doesn’t work or perhaps it’s a lesson toward the next venture. Never give up; never quit! Harland didn’t.

*Adapted from the book Amazing Stories

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Sigmund Missed It When It Came to Faith

Sigmund Freud is said to have detested people, but longed to be seen as some sort of savior to mankind. He was born into a Jewish family, but ceased to believe in God very early in his life. He went as far as to say that religion was a “neurosis,” a “poison,” an “illusion.” He pushed a new religion he called “the religion of science” and said that an intelligent “scientific” person would toss religious faith.

Based on no evidence he stated that children were sexual beings from birth. He worked hard to separate sex from love and promoted sex as nothing but the union of the reproductive organs. 

While he did a great deal of harm to faith, he could never destroy it. The real poison was his toxic beliefs spread to his generation and infecting generations to follow. Today, most know him as a cocaine addicted person obsessed with his own sexuality.

The Pew Research Center published their findings about “religious people” around the world and their happiness. Some of those findings are written about in a January 2019 article by Joey Marshall. Pew’s research discovered several important findings:

  1. Actively religious people are more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” compared to the less-religious.
  2. The actively religious are less likely to smoke and drink, creating a higher level of health.
  3. Religious people are more than likely to join other organizations like charities and clubs, even if the organizations are non-religious.
  4. Religious persons are more likely to vote, caring about their civic duty.

Pew’s analysis over all was that, “People who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups…” Sigmund missed it by a mile on that account.

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  (Acts 17:23-28)

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