Friday, May 29, 2015

CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT YOUR CELL PHONE?




I TRIED NOT TO READ THIS BOOK WHEN IT WAS RECOMMENDED. 

Then I took the challenge and read it....all 350 pages! In two days!


Now I dare you to read it to understand how vulnerable we are in the electronic age in which we live with all our "essential" electronic gadgetry.

Here is a wake up call, a realistic scenario of the potential demise of our "civilized" American way of life if we continue on our current frantic trajectory of total dependence on electricity and electronics.

 Be prepared: what you read is sure to shake you up, change your perspective on your daily life, and reinforce the importance of eternal values.

New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen takes us to a real location, a  small North Carolina town, Black Mountain near Asheville, and lets us experience a year of struggle for survival with people who could be our neighbors. It begins one second after America has lost a war without even fighting.  Suddenly and permanently everything electronic or electric stopped. Life as we all have become accustomed to vanished. America was catapulted back to the Dark Ages. 

The war had been fought with an unseen and unidentified enemy. The weapon was an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). It could just as well have been caused by geomagnetic solar storm disturbances which can also cause the sudden failure of everything electronic. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, regional power outages or other natural disasters can likewise quickly plunge us backward into an era not unlike how people lived 500 years ago. 

One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book being discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at a Twenty-first century weapon and its awesome ability to destroy the entire United States (or any other nation's) power infrastructure literally within one second. It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could disintegrate American society, a dire warning of what might be our future...and our end. Knowing what could happen and how people can react in a fight for survival allows us time to prepare personally, as families, as a nation, and as citizens of our modern world.

You can find this book on Amazon.com. Check out the fantastic prices for used copies. Or go to your local bookstore. A Kindle version is available. Tell your friends--after you recover from the intense drama of this nail-biter page-turner. Although fiction, it is authentically researched and, be prepared, all too terrifyingly real.

The protagonist is a former military Colonel and history professor at a small Presbyterian college in North Carolina. We follow the story of his family and community in a life and death struggle for self-preservation and community survival where both the best and the worst comes forth in human beings--all too realistically.

This author of more than forty books knows his stuff. Dr. Forstchen lives in the area he writes about and is a faculty fellow and professor of military history at Montreat College.

I believe you will never forget this book and what you visualize in your imagination as you read it and become acquainted with the characters. The bonus is that you learn valuable and practical means of survival and you may still have time for some preparation. If you never have to use your new knowledge, thank God!

Speaking of the possibility of an EMP event, "It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when." General Eugene Habiger, USAF (Ret.) Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

A TIME TO HIDE

"For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me" (Ps. 27:5). "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty." (Ps. 91:1)

All of us have times when we feel overwhelmed with weakness, pain, confusion, fear, trials, and trouble. We may agonize, “Why am I going through such adversities and how long will they last?” It is time to withdraw to the quiet with God and hide away from everyone and everything that troubles you. You and God need some quality time together.
God Himself has provided the Shelter where you can hide. He wants you to dwell, to stay hidden, to abide in His Shelter. As long as you stay there in intimate silence with Him, you are safe and protected. It is a secret place just between you and God—in your inner heart, in your spirit, where nothing can touch you or harm you.
 In the secret of His presence He will quiet you. There you will not be moved or shaken. Calmly and in His peace you can rest under the shadow of the Almighty One, the Most High who invites you to trust in Him with all you are going through. He is in control, although it may seem that everything is out of control. Lean closely against the Sacred Heart of the One who loves you more than anyone else. He is Jesus who gave His life for your eternal salvation and will never leave you or forsake you.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo1wIc8qcvE
In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.
When my soul is faint and thirsty, ’neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.


Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens! and my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me? What a false Friend He would be,
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see,
Of the sins which He must see.


Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.


Friday, May 22, 2015

JOIN THE COMPANY OF "SALS"



I don't remember how it started, but for the past few years I have been signing “Sal” along with my signature when I write to certain close friends in my age category. 

I refer to myself as “God's SALmon still swimming upstream in life," only somewhat more slowly due to chronological factors. The main factor being my approach to the age of 90 this year. (I know--it seems incredible to me--but it's true!)

More than a few friends have acknowledged that I have encouraged them to feel the same way as they advance in calendar years. Life also seems to be an increasing uphill, upstream struggle to them. Being a "Sal" fosters a better attitude, however, than viewing life negatively as a downhill slide as one ages. Such friends have picked up the habit of calling themselves "Sal" too. Welcome to the Club! One friend calls himself a "Wild SALmon."

Another commented, "Hipster salmon swim upstream because swimming downstream is too mainstream." Isn't that a great slogan for us who continue to swim upstream to our Finish Line with the help of God who enables us to courageously persevere regardless of the changes and adversities we encounter in our later years?

A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE SALMON ANALOGY

An Alaskan salmon has a most interesting life. One that will take it from the rivers and streams of Alaska's wild frontier an incredibly long distance to the high seas of the Pacific Ocean—and back again. In fact, right back to the very place it was born. It finds its way from the immensity of the ocean by its amazing created instinct from God. A salmon actually swims from fresh water to salt water and back again!

Hatched from small eggs in a stream bed, salmon journey downstream towards the ocean. The trip takes a couple of years. After that, they head out to the salty ocean for up to four more years. They swim and feed more than 2000 miles throughout the northern Pacific Ocean. Their journey is hazardous at every point because they are constantly hunted by seals, whales, and fishermen.

When fully mature, an adult salmon will swim back to its original stream or river re-adapting to fresh water. Downstream was relatively easy, but returning upstream is dangerous and requires great strength and risk. It swims against the strong current through rugged rivers to leap up miles of rapids and rocky waterfalls, traversing fish ladders, avoiding nets and hooks of fishermen, and trying to stay clear of fierce and hungry bears.  


Those that survive and finally reach their natal stream breed and lay their eggs. Their life cycle is complete. After spawning they generally die within a week or two, fertilizing the stream and creating a nutrient-rich environment for the new infant salmon that are about to hatch. 

AN ANALOGY TO US AS HUMAN AGING "SALS"

Like the salmon, we too have been on a long adventurous life journey of many decades and various geographical scenarios and under challenging conditions, both physical and spiritual.
We have overcome or passed obstacles and hazards and adversities or we've accepted and managed them with the help and strength of our loving God. We hope we have matured in wisdom while we have been weathered by the different seasons of life and shifting circumstances.

At times we might have felt that the change from life's fresh waters to salty waters was impossible to endure. But God helps us "Sals" to adapt. We experience "times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord" with abundant fresh water blessings. 

Violent bear and whale attacks, both material and spiritual, have been frequent in most of our lives. The hooks of the enemy have often come too close. The battles may have been fierce but were not terminal. Some wounds and scars may remain. It seems that we've often had to swim against the current of changing relationships and devastating losses. At times we've struggled through deep emotional waters and stormy seas. 

The distances to accomplish the goals of our lives which we've felt the Lord gave us often seemed daunting. Sometimes we've lost our direction in the vast ocean of life. Time and again God has helped us readjust our compasses to align with His will and sent us on our way once more toward the destination He planned.

Yes, like the salmon, at times we've been exhausted, worn and weary by the length of life's arduous journey. We might have been tempted to stay in the perceived safety and shelter of the familiar ocean and drift with the tide to some easier, closer destination. Swimming upstream and leaping rapids seems just too difficult at our age anymore. That's meant for the young. We've been there and done that.

Nevertheless, the vision and destiny which God planted in our hearts from our youth, like the inborn instinct of the tiny salmon hatchlings, impels us to first head downstream into the thick of ocean life in our prime years, and then in maturity to struggle upstream again. “I press on [keep leaping upstream] in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. And I press on [keep leaping upstream] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (See Philippians 4:12-14).

Let us who would attain to a "Sal" life take courage in the companionship and support of others who are on the same journey. As long as God generously provides His life and breath and strength and opportunities for us, let us keep leaping the rapids of life. 

In these days of our advanced maturity let us be faithful wherever and however and whenever we can to reproduce Christ in others.
That is our "Sal" calling. And God's calling has no expiration date. It is for a lifetime and Beyond, just as there is no end to God's faithfulness to us from here to Eternity. There is no retirement program if our focus is to do the will of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” It's a joyous upstream adventure all the way!

By signing “Sal” with our signature we remind ourselves and others of the Lord's continuous upward call on our lives without respect to our chronological age.

Enrollment is open--come join the rest of us "Sals!"






Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A COMFORTING DUO


“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me...” 
(Psalm 23:4).

One of my earthly physicians suggested that I might benefit by using a walking stick with a hand grasp during my daily exercise treks down my country road. There are several inclines and the surface is not entirely smooth. 

“You don't necessarily need a cane to lean on for support, but for comfort. It will give your pace a rhythmic pattern and help you maintain balance. Just hold it lightly in your palm and swing it ahead of you with each step putting it down at your side like a third foot as you walk.”

Okay. That sounded like a sensible recommendation since my soon calendar birthday ends with a milestone zero. I've noticed lately that I have a slightly weaker right knee; it's no problem that I need to have fixed, but it could give out occasionally. Falls become more frequent as our years advance. I looked for a bargain and bought a sturdy used cane with a gold handle and rubber tip for a whole dollar at a neighborhood yard sale. It works for me! I can even step up my pace a bit with more confidence. My "comfort cane" has proved to be “a comfort.”

According to the Bible Dictionary, in biblical times a staff was a wooden rod used mainly for walking. It was considered essential equipment for any journey on foot, no matter what the health or age of the walker. The poor traveler carried nothing but a staff. When Jesus told the apostles to take no staff for the preaching journey on which He sent them, He meant that they should literally journey with nothing. 

A rod was a taller, slender staff also used as a walking stick by travelers and the elderly. The rod was also a sign of office or authority, as the rods of Moses and Aaron with which they could perform wonders. In other contexts, a rod was used for correction of foolish behavior. The rod of a shepherd, however, was used to direct and defend his sheep; it was never used for punishment, but was a comfort to his flock.

The difference between the two does not seem great, although a staff is often thought of as a taller pole to be held in the middle. Similar to the carved walking pole my grandson Jeffrey gave me for a Mothers' Day gift last year. 

Spiritually, I'm thankful for all the applications of God's rod and staff, especially the comfort aspect which is a reminder of the Holy Spirit who is called “the Comforter,” one called alongside to help. As I walk my journey of life, no matter what my health or age, I'm more than happy to lean even heavily on the Lord. His presence is my “essential equipment.” I don't want to leave home without it!  I welcome His staff to direct me, to point the way where I should go. And when I stubbornly or inadvertently stray from the paths of righteousness, I accept His “correction of my foolish behavior.” I need His defense from the wolves who lurk along my pathway.

“Savior, like a shepherd lead us
Much we need Thy tender care...
….Be the guardian of our way,
Keep Thy flock from sin defend us
Seek us when we go astray....”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcNLvufzbz0

Thursday, May 7, 2015

PRAYERS FOR MY FAMILY


As a follow up to my post yesterday, I have been asked to encore my PRAYER FOR MY FAMILY which was published in Ch.12 of the second book in my LAND OF MORE Trilogy, "LIVING THE TREASURES IN THE LAND OF MORE."



The family is at the heart of our faith; my family is at the center of my world. 

God can hear the “groanings” (sighs too deep for words) which the Holy Spirit expresses on my behalf as He presents to God my prayers for a family member’s needs (Romans 8:26-27). There are times when I am both groaning and sighing. Children, no matter how old or how young, husband, wife, parents, siblings, grandchildren and great-grands are a constant focus for family prayers. It is a matter of the heart. Our children eventually leave our nest, our home, but they never leave our hearts. 

[At this writing,] our four sons are in their fifties and sixties now; two of them are already grandparents! Our ten grandchildren range in age from [fifteen to forty]; our [almost ten] great-grandchildren are "nearing birth," infants, toddlers and in elementary school. Thank God none of them is mentally or physically challenged; nevertheless they are all “special needs children” whatever their age, with personal, relational, educational, financial, physical—and at the top of the list—spiritual needs. 

It seems that I am continually praying one or another through one crisis or struggle after another. As a “single parent” for more than twenty years, I’ve carried that prayer burden for our extended family circle by myself. (Not really alone since our Catholic faith teaches that our loved ones can intercede for us from heaven. I believe my husband is continuing to pray for our family as he did while on earth.) Nevertheless, I feel a heavy spiritual responsibility from God to shepherd my family flock primarily through prayer.

There are times when I’m not sure whether what I face or they face is an assault from the enemy against which I should take spiritual authority, or a test from the Lord through which I or they should persevere and grow. Or whether a physical condition is a call for faith and healing prayer or is permitted by God as an opportunity to unite with the sufferings of Christ. The latter is a biblical (Colossians 1:24) concept I’m still trying to get my mind and heart around.

The most I can do, in fact, the very best that I can do, is to present each situation and each family member to my Lord and ask Him to carry out His perfect will in His perfect way in His perfect time for his or her good and for God's glory.

My prayer below has proved meaningful to me. The precise words are not important. The condition of my heart and my trust in God is what He hears when I pray whether with spoken words or with the intentions of my silent spirit.

Prayer for my family

O Lord, I intercede for Your grace and mercy for each member of my family—natural born, adopted, or in a blended family relationship, my young and adult children, and each spouse, my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those yet to be born. 

Holy Spirit, draw each of their eternal souls to repentance and salvation and grant them eternal life through believing and receiving the promises of Your Holy Word. I ask that their guardian angels will protect and lead each one to his Heavenly Home.

Please protect my family physically and spiritually. Lead them in Your paths of righteousness, bless them with Your favor, give them their daily bread, and provide their needs. 
 
In the Name of Jesus I resist the devil on behalf of my family members. Deliver them from evil and the evil one. On the authority of God’s Word I ask that spiritual strongholds be torn down and any generational curses be broken. 
 
Because of Your love and faithfulness to Your generational promises to my godly forefathers and in agreement with their prayers, I thankfully receive Your favor and grace and mercy for myself and for my descendants. Through the synergy of our prayers united in the Communion of Saints, help me to pass on Your Truth and generational blessings to our posterity with vigor and faith.

I pray that Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven both in my life and in the lives of each member of my family. Help us to be diligent to establish and bring forward a godly heritage to the children in our care and those yet unborn. Help us to faithfully and courageously fulfill the purposes for which You gave us life and opportunity in our particular time in history.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.



FAMILY TREE
Leona Choy
I am part of what has been and what is yet to be.
Sandwiched in between is me:
I am the trunk of my Family Tree.

I have roots and also branches.
Generations from antiquity pass through me.
They have determined what I have become.
They are my history which has made me what I am.

New branches spring from me; they are my posterity.
I’ve had some choice in assisting and inclining them
toward the best of what they might become.
Yet they are still free to grow and change
within the range of their heredity and opportunity
and God’s special plan arranged from Eternity.

I pray for me—the trunk between—that I might be
a planting strong against the inevitable storms
yet bending with the wind if need be
passing on the best from roots unseen
but giving branches room to stretch and reach
upward to new heights
because I faithfully fulfilled
in my Family Tree
with the help of God
my trunk destiny.
****

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

GIANTS IN OUR FAMILY TREE


Suppose an enemy invasion was imminent. My home and family were in grave danger and they depended on me to protect them. I knew of an arsenal full of just the right kind of powerful weapons to fend off the enemy, and I had the key to it and the authorization to use the weapons.

If I didn't avail myself of those resources, my family would suffer the consequences and would be captured by the enemy. The same fate would befall my friends, neighbors, colleagues, church, and community. The ripple effect would be felt throughout the world.

I have such an arsenal and I have the key and I have been given the authority to use the weapons. The weapons are my prayers and the need is urgent.

In one survey of spiritual healthy families it was discovered that somewhere in the past or present there was a giant of prayer. He or she might have been ordinary, far from prominent or even noticeable. Nobody outstanding or striking. The person might not have been a giant in stature or recognizable as a spiritual giant. Quietly, unobtrusively, he prayed constantly for his family surrounding them with God's protection. He had their back with prayer, hedging them about with an invisible fence. Sometimes that person lived two or more generations back in the genealogical  family tree. Sometimes that giant has never been identified.

I had such a giant in my family tree and so did my husband Ted. In both cases it was a grandparent. I will change the tense to say “We have such giants” since those persons are still alive and well in an everlasting dimension we call eternal life in the presence of God. And I believe they are still interceding for new generations who continue to be born in our family scores of years after they themselves laid aside their "earth suits" and passed from this mortal life. 

Once prayed, prayers instantly reach the ears of Almighty God and will be answered by Him according to His own will and time through the mediatorship of His Son Jesus Christ and the groaning of the Holy Spirit. Those very prayers will keep being answered generation after generation in the lives of the men and women of our family tree without diminishing in efficacy with the passing of time. Perhaps their prayers will even gain momentum in power as the ages roll on! I know that I am the recipient of the prayers of spiritual giants in our family tree and so are all those in our blood line and those beloved ones who are grafted in through marriage and through adoption and other blended ways.

Thank you precious giants of prayer in the past in our family tree!

However, each generation needs to have at least another such giant to pick up the spiritual weapon of prayer from God's arsenal to intercede for their immediate family and “pray it forward” to the future generations, if Jesus still delays His return.

It is admirable to leave some material legacy for our children and children's children, if we are able. I am not in a position to do that. Perhaps my legacy is in the words in print that I am bequeathing to my progeny, and the words spoken from my heart to my beloved family. But it is even more spiritually effectual to focus on praying for my immediate family and my descendants, the posterity that I will never see, who will be born after I have tasted immortality. My legacy of indestructible prayers for them can contribute to opening their hearts to God.

The problem is, I don't feel like a giant of prayer or qualified to intercede for our family tree which is extending to more and more generations. Far from a giant, I feel more like a grasshopper! I feel weak and faint and more often than not I don't know how to pray. Well, apparently the Apostle Paul felt the same way. (Romans 8:26, 27) I don't feel that my prayers are muscular. Often I don't feel that my prayers even reach the ceiling let alone reach the ears of God. How can my prayers potentially influence the undying spirits of children yet to be born?

I must understand that of course the power is not in me or in my words or even in my prayers. By prayer I am tapping into the power in the hand of God. It is His power that will work in the lives of those whose names or relationships I will simply lift to Him.

We each have our particular family tree in this great forest of human life during this brief span of time given to us on earth. God has destined each of us to be born in this generation with the specific circle of relationships for which He makes us responsible if we are His children. The very fact that I know there is an enemy who seeks to drag down the souls of our family should cause me to run to the arsenal and grab the sword of the Spirit and stand my ground on their behalf.

It is a moot point whether I feel like a giant or not—I have a giant's work to do and I should be about my Father's business of prayer for my family and our progeny to come!

Friday, May 1, 2015

EXCHANGE MY LIFE FOR HIS


God's Holy Spirit can speak through many ways and at precise times to meet our needs and current circumstances. 

Recently on Facebook He dropped the good words below into a specific situation in my life. Although this is already the modus operandi of my life, it was a fresh reminder to polish up my trust in God's work in and through me and trade it for my current anxiety:

To fulfill your mission in life will require that you abandon your agenda and accept God’s agenda for your life. Surrender your plans in exchange for His perfect plan. Don't just add it to your "To Do List" with all the other things you’d like to do with your life.

Yield your rights, expectations, dreams, plans, ambitions, and your will to Him. Stop praying selfish prayers like “God bless what I want to do.”

Stop your conditional prayers like "I'll do this if You do that Lord." Stop making wrong choices for your life without consulting Him....then begging Him to bless them.

Instead, pray, “God help me to do what You’re blessing!” Hand God a blank sheet with your name signed at the bottom and tell Him to fill in the details. Trade your life for His Life....don't live
your life for Him....Live His life for you.

Let this be your prayer...."Good Morning God. Thank You for this day. I love You. What are You doing today? How can I help? Amen and Amen....so be it unto me according to Your Word.”

 Early in my life I declared my love to Jesus and opened my hands and my heart to the sovereign will of God for my life. During the many lived scores of my calendar years He has faithfully led me in the direction of His foreordained destiny for my life on earth and my Ultimate Destiny of Eternal Life in His presence. 

Unfortunately, sometimes like a willful sheep I have wandered off from the green pastures He provided and found myself isolated in painful thickets and briars in need of His Shepherding rescue. God has never failed to tenderly bring me back to quiet waters to restore and refresh me and point me in the right direction again.


From my teenage years I sang the hymn below and offered myself to the Lord, like the blank sheet of paper described above, and let Him fill in the details. 

Every morning, even after a night of sleepless anxiety trying to carry my own burdens, attempting to control my way, trying to solve my own problems, I declare anew, "TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE CONSECRATED, LORD, TO THEE"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ93HVuYd5Y