New Beginnings; Committed Ends

Graduation is one of the major milestones of our lives and generally sets the course for the path we will take for our future. When we first start to school we don’t really comprehend the journey we are beginning. However, as the years pass by, we slowly begin to recognize the fact that at some point we will be on our own and thus we begin to look forward to that day. It seems to become a permanent thought in our minds that graduation day is when our lives really begin. Therefore our focus starts to sharpen for most of us as we look forward to that day.

This week just about everyone I know has been involved in some kind of graduation event with either their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and in some cases even their spouses. As I’ve already mentioned, many young people will begin a new phase in their life and I would venture to guess that most of them are very excited about that. Maybe a little scared but still excited. Young men and women all over this country will begin to make choices that will affect them for the rest of their lives. It is truly an exciting time for them and a new beginning into what they hope to be a successful life. So our hats are off to all of them for their achievements and our sincere wishes for their prosperous futures.

On the other hand, we also need to recognize those whose lives have prematurely ended due to the ravages of war. Memorial Day, which we will officially observe on Monday, is a time that has been set aside to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy in our great nation. The vast majority of those men and women were probably just beginning a new life when they found themselves in the midst of something much greater than themselves. While many young folks at home  were celebrating their new beginning these heroes were about to come to a premature end to their lives. I’m reminded of what Jesus told His disciples just before He was to be crucified. “No greater love than this that a man would lay down His life for another.” So many of our young men and women have done just that so our hats are also off to all of them in honor of their great sacrifice.

I would be remiss with all of this if I didn’t remind each of us of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. He paid the price for our sin by giving Himself on the cross. And my friends, He did it willingly because of His great love for us. When he voiced those words to His disciples He was surely referring to Himself and the task at hand. And in the words of an old great gospel song, “Oh praise the Lord, He did it all for me!” 

 

What Did You Eat Today?

Tonight’s post is being compiled immediately upon arriving home from the local Olive Garden Restaurant where I enjoyed one of my favorite meals. Weather permitting, on Saturdays after our morning bible study, I spend all of my time outside doing the things that need to be done to maintain our house and somewhat of a decent yard. I purposely don’t have anything to eat during the day because I plan on having a large meal at dinner. So after a hard days work, my wife and I head to one of several restaurants we enjoy and have dinner. That’s when I pig out and tonight was no exception. Three bowls of Olive Garden’s famous house salad with their fabulous italian dressing and the dinner portion of their spaghetti with traditional meat sauce heat the spot. I just couldn’t get enough. However, I was a little more moderate when it came to the bread sticks. I only had half of one. Well, to tell you the truth, somehow they got behind my salad bowl and I couldn’t see them. But I was too full to enjoy them when the view changed. So, needless to say, I am stuffed!!!

Actually, I had intended to have a different subject tonight but the minute I started to type I had a very provocative thought enter my mind. I’m not one to over spiritualize things but I truly believe it was the Holy Spirit getting my attention again. Here is the thought I had in the form of a question. Why am I not stuffed with spiritual food from God’s Word? Why is my spiritual hunger not greater than my physical hunger? It hit me like a ton of bricks. And to be honest, I had to stop what I was doing, take a short walk around the yard and admit to God I wasn’t as hungry for His Word as I should be and ask Him to forgive me. I read God’s Word on a regular basis, I am taught God’s Word on a regular basis, I hear God’s Word preached on a regular basis and I even teach God’s Word on a regular basis. But even with all of that I find my focus drifting from what I’ve read or heard because I am not as spiritually hungry as I ought to be. God help me.

I had a wonderful meal at the restaurant but it was not the kind of food I needed for spiritual growth. So, what did you eat today? Thank you Lord for the stark reminder. 

Mother’s Day

Have you ever wondered how the holiday we celebrate as Mother’s Day got started? Is it a religious holiday based on some Biblical truth or is it just something invented by greeting card company’s to increase sales? Before we try to answer those questions we must all realize this very important fact. Every person that has ever been born had a mother, including Jesus Himself. With that said let’s take a look at a very short version of the history of the holiday as provided by Wikipedia in the following paragraphs.

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday (the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910). In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

For a more detailed history of the Mother’s Day holiday the link at the end of the post will take you to a great article that goes all the way back to the eighteen hundreds where mother’s were beginning to be honored even then. 

Now that we have somewhat of an idea how Mother’s Day begin and why, I want to challenge each of us to think about what impact our mother’s may have had on our lives. And, in the case of those whose mothers remain with us, what impact they are still having on their children. So, as you are thinking about yours, let me tell you about mine.

My mother was a wonderful woman and a great mother. I can never remember a time as a child or teenager when I didn’t feel loved. I never felt unwanted, just the opposite. I always loved the fact that she was there waiting when I came home from school and most of the time supper was ready or very close to it. We ate at the table as a family. No eating on the couch and watching TV because we didn’t have one. She was at every activity I was involved in and it was the same for all of my siblings. She supported everything we did and always thought we were the best one. Although as a young woman she encountered a number of health issues that would have stopped most people dead in their tracks, but not her. She showed great courage during those times that would serve her well down the road. I am describing these things that were important to me in some detail because they laid a foundation for how we as kids would handle the family tragedy that would come our way a short time later.

As a young man of 37 years my dad died from injuries he suffered when an automobile fell on him as he was working underneath it. My mother was left with three young teenagers still at home and one recently married and with a child of her own. Because my mother had always been a stay-at home mom, she didn’t know anything about working outside the home or even how to go about getting a job. This sent her into a tail spin that lasted a few years but because of her courage she finally overcame the terrible situation she found herself in. She worked hard and eventually became a proud and self-supporting individual. And she was able to do so until she reached an age that she could no longer physically function like she needed to but still managed to live by herself and take care of herself. Even though her last days on earth were quite painful due to health problems her mind remained very alert. Her courage up to her last breath remains quite an example for me and I pray that my children and grandchildren will be able to say the same thing about me someday.

My mother was a loving and caring mother, full of life and full of courage. I thank God for her life and the impact she had on mine. Thank you Lord for sharing her with me and I know she and my dad are in your presence praising you like they did so many times when they were here. I also believe You and they are waiting for us to come home.

I sincerely hope you have wonderful memories of your mother and that her impact on your life has helped bring you to where you are today.

**Link for article Mother’s Day Celebrated

Family Priorities

Sometimes as we go about our daily lives God allows certain things to happen that He wants to use to teach us or to remind us of an important truth. Most of the time in the midst of these events we have no idea of what He is up to. We usually don’t realize until some time later how He has orchestrated these things and the benefit we have received. This has happened to me this past week and I want to share the one truth that He has so well reminded me of. And that truth is this. Once we have settled the fact that God is to have first place in our lives, our family must be next in line and come before anything else.

This is such a simple truth but is not universally accepted by everyone. And it is quite often violated by those of us that do accept it. But let’s take a look at where and when this truth was established and bring back to our remembrance the significance and importance of the truth. After God completed His creation of the earth as we know it, He then made Adam from the dust of the earth and saw that what He had done was good. But He also recognized that man needed a helpmate so He made Eve from Adam’s rib. He then created the institution of marriage by His words when He said that the woman is to leave her parents and cleave to her husband and they are to become one. This was the beginning of the family and God created and instituted it.

Now that we have determined the origin and the importance of the family let’s take a closer look at some of the many ways that we put our families in jeopardy by getting our priorities out of order. Let’s considered how many men approach this issue. You can find story after story and example after example of men placing a higher priority on their job or career than they do their family. How about the man who consistently spends more time in his fishing boat, his deer stand, or on the golf course than he does with his wife or his children? And how about the man who sleeps in on Sunday mornings while his wife and children make their way to church? Sound familiar? I’m even aware of numerous pastors and preachers that have placed the needs of their church ahead of the needs of their family. This sounds so spiritual but it is as wrong as wrong can be. As a matter of fact it is downright hypocritical. The family was instituted long before the church was and the church was actually modeled after the family. Is it any wonder that our country is in the shape it is in when our families are falling apart because men have their priorities out of order? Women can sometimes put their children before their husband which can also lead to problems but men are to be the spiritual leaders of their home and that is where the burden falls.

If we truly want to please God then we must show our love for Him but keeping His commandments and this certainly includes maintaining the high priority concerning our family. God first, then family. And all else follows that. Nothing on this earth is more important than our family and we must make sure that our priorities reflect that. And that is what God expects from us as men. Let’s not let Him down or our family.