Archive for the ‘My Faith Zone’ Category
Today is the National Day of Prayer. The administration’s spiritual advisor has renamed it the national day of reason, which makes about as much sense as targeting for court-martial our military members who are Christians. Yet both are happening, which proves that our nation needs prayer more than ever and so do our citizens who condone these actions.
Going back to our founders, John Adams declared that our Constitution depends on religious freedom. It is, after all, the reason that many braved the trek and the United States was formed. To avoid religious persecution. And yet now, we see seeds of persecution forming, as with our military’s freedom of religion being infringed upon blatantly.
If you want total reliance on the government, God is an obstacle. Historically, getting God out of the way has paved the way for government reliance and created some of the most vicious dictators in the history of mankind.
I could go on, but honestly see no need. There isn’t a soul who hasn’t seen the attacks on faith, religion, spirituality, or the social decline present in everyday life. I will say that history proves that path leads to pain and destruction, and for far too many death. Look it up.
So if you are aware of the shifts in our collective but remain or have become enlightened, I don’t have to tell you that that your country needs you today. You know it. And if you’re asking what can I do–I’m just one person–I’ll give you a powerful answer: pray.
Our founders knew the power of prayer. Read their comments on it. Jefferson bluntly stated that without God a nation couldn’t continue to exist. Think about that. Think about the tiny percentage of people in the world who are actually free. Decide what you want. Reliance on government or freedom.
And if you’re so inclined, pray for our country. For it is as it has been: our National Day of Prayer.
Few doubt we need it.
Believers know we need and crave it. The physical and emotional sides of human beings are incomplete without the spiritual. It’s how we’re created, it’s how we function. Think, balance.
Throughout the day today, as you’re able and willing, pause and pray. Send your 411 request. It resolves our 911. And please remember our military. By oath, the members of it are prohibited from speaking for themselves. We rely on them for our physical safety. They need to be able to rely upon us for their spiritual safety.
It’s our National Day of Prayer. That it is being blotted out again this year, and the National Day of Service failed to replace it, let’s make sure the National Day of Reason fails, too. Prayer is an expression of reason. Today, I will pray for our nation and our military. I will also pray for our leaders, who seem unfamiliar with our national principles or fail to grasp the power harnessed in them.
I hope you will join me.
Authors are curious by nature and inspirational authors get a double dose blended with a strong desire to reach out and lift others up.
And that brings me to a new venture I’m undertaking. I’ve teamed up with the Book Fun Organization on their monthly magazine and plan do to a one-minute video each issue. The title of the collection (when there is one) will be “Lift Me Up!”
The way I envision these, they’re a bite-size bit I hope will lift spirits and improve moods. Family friendly, like the magazine.
I’m thinking of something like this for the visual to accompany the video, so it’s easy for readers to spot:
It’s a rough sketch and not finalized, but what do you think? Thumbs up or down, or indifferent? I’d appreciate your feedback!
It’s Holy Week. Almost Easter. A revered time for people of faith. The most revered time for Christians. Today, I need to chat. That’s right, to chat. I need to talk with like-minded people—people who believe. My soul needs food.
Most Christians go through times of sheer weariness. We tire of the faith struggles in our own lives and in our society. Our freedom of religion is being interpreted by some as freedom from religion, and we’re frustrated by it and weary of it.
How can we not be? We look around and see children exploited, young girls being programmed that sexy is better than virtuous (look at the magazine covers targeting teens). We see a barrage of attacks against even Christmas trees with governors wanting to call them holiday trees, and Christmas break being tagged winter holiday. We see our leader insist that Christian statues be covered during a speech at a Catholic college and yet he speaks beneath a banner that includes a photo of the father of terrorism. We know important things seem, well, upside down, and now comes a push to rename an Easter Egg Hunt a Spring Egg Hunt.
What? We have Christians being crucified for their faith (literally and figuratively) and we (as taxpaying citizens) are giving them billions of dollars. Why?
All this is just the tip of the heap, as you well know, but it’s sufficient to relay the reason for the weariness.
We trust God, we celebrate Holy Week and Easter. We do not waiver on it being the holiest of holidays in Christendom. The Resurrection… It’s awe-inspiring and humbling. And even those who are not Christians should respect that.
If they did, I doubt we’d be living in a culture of deep corruption. In a society where half—yes, half—of the children born are born to unwed mothers. Our values have eroded and our ethics along with them. We’ve buried our moral compass. Allowing it to happen, doing nothing to prevent it, condones it. And what we condone, we own.
I’m not an idealist or standing on a soapbox or suggesting we become raging zealots, but I am suggesting that I’m weary and I know other believers are, too. For me, I’m battling it, determined to follow our beliefs and to refuse not to support them. In other words, the PC police can forget it. They have their vision of PC and I have mine, and this weary soul is opting for faith.
The weariness is not to the bone. Close, but not to the bone. In part, I thank Roma Downey and Mark Burnett for that. Yes, the star of Touched by an Angel and the reality show guru. They did the five-part series The Bible that’s airing on Sunday nights on the History channel.
Okay, so there’s been a lot of controversy on the show itself. Of course, there has. But considering how many don’t and never have read the Bible, and considering that this series is the only exposure they’ll get to the Bible, can’t we see the good in it? The series is like a missionary to the U.S. And if you’ve seen the religious decline (which has been actively sought by factions within and outside this country), you know we need a revival of spiritual matters and food for our spirits. Give us that and the other problems decline. We know it. Our country was built on the premise of putting God first. Through diligent effort, particularly in the past forty years, we’ve had our identity muddied and now we’re muddled. For that reason, while some might find fault with The Bible’s production, I’m celebrating it.
It’s said to be #1—most watched. The Examiner had an article on it that said Hollywood didn’t understand why the series was so popular. It confounded them. We, of course, know exactly why it’s popular and why other films or series like it will be popular, too. People are three-dimensional—physical, emotional and spiritual—and our spiritual selves are starving!
Simple. So very simple. We need soul food! We don’t just want it, we need it. We need a spark to recognize what we need.
So last night, I’m watching the fourth part of the five-part series, and I notice the commercials. Christianbooks.com had one. Walmart had one. Advertising the Bible. I’m sure there were others, but these were on when the advertisers caught my attention and snagged my thoughts. And I sat there feeling extremely emotional. An ad for the Bible. The BOOK. The Word of God. I’m choking up again now.
This is good. Even if you disagree with exactly the way this or that is done in the series, you’ve got to see that this series and these kinds of commercials (which are wholly suitable for viewing by all ages [and that certainly can’t be said for many, many ads or shows]) are good. Sparks!
I hope that this series spurs an avalanche of films with spiritual themes that get people to thinking and talking and exploring and searching. I hope it spurs a mountain of ads that are constructive and respectful. But most of all, I hope it touches hearts. The weariness and emptiness and longing that crushes so many in our society can be filled by faith. We know it can, and I pray soon those who didn’t know it discover it, too.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to watch an early evening program with your family and not have to change the channel because of inappropriate content? To have shows with content that is constructive and inspiring to viewers?
I boldly dare to dream that this starts a trend. One that renews faith, depletes weariness in believers, and offers all who want it a path out of the darkness and into the light. Wouldn’t it be terrific to see a swell of enthusiasm that leads to truth and contentment replace the current destructive behaviors that assure the absence of both? Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, that spark will ignite a flame and those who choose to walk and live outside the light will at least respect the rights of those who choose to walk in it. That would be refreshing, and constructive, too.
What I know is this. I write books to help the broken heal. I read books that inspire and enlighten. I view films for the same reasons. And I know that this morning my heart is less weary. A series and some commercials and because of constructive, faith-filled content, my soul is less weary.
And I know that without a spark, there is no flame. A spark serves. If we recognize hunger and what we’re hungry for, we can seek it. It doesn’t take much to recognize it, just a little spark. If you think about it, doesn’t it kind of remind you of the mustard seed…
Sooner or later, we all must choose–and refusing to choose is making a choice.
During our lives, we all spend time on both roads. How much time we spend on either is wholly our choice…
We all endure personal trials and challenges and we focus on the larger ones taking place that impact our lives and those of our loved ones. We empathize, sympathize and look on with hearts engaged at the troubles others endure and suffer.
Some are more sensitive to those challenges than others. And one challenge for the faithful is that they take on the burdens of others and before they realize what’s happening, they’re personally impacted by them. Their hearts are heavy. Their attitudes are affected, their emotions are engaged and they’re no longer viewing from an objective state but from one that is up close and personal.
When we reach out to others regularly, we take in a lot of strife and negativity. The objective is to comfort and soothe, and the outcome can be that we soon discover ourselves out of balance and unwell. We bear the weight of the burdens. We feel the pain, suffer the hurts. And often that manifests in our physical selves in the ways stress typically affects our bodies.
This isn’t to say that we should distance ourselves and our emotions from others in need; that’s a direct contradiction to teachings. It is a signal to delve deeper into those teachings, so that we feel, we empathize and compassionately engage, but that we do so and let those feelings travel through us and release them. It’s the failure to release that makes us ill and destroys our balance.
Feel. Emote. Seek solutions. Do all you can as you can. Then let go. Put it on the altar, so that solutions and assistance can flow through you but not consume you.
And remember your blessings. Why?
We’ve heard since the cradle to count our blessings, but we seldom hear why we should do so. Counting your blessings reminds you of all that is good and right in your life. All the wonderful things that you’ve embraced and that, by its very nature, helps restore balance.
If we’re taking in the bad stuff continually, we need to focus on the good stuff to balance our personal scales. This reminds us in mental, emotional and spiritual ways that there is good, that a lot of it is part of our lives. And that assures us that in helping others we don’t harm ourselves.
We retain balance and we don’t forget that we are too blessed to live stressed.
New Vicki Hinze Releases
CHRISTMAS IS . . . WHAT?
© 2012, Vicki Hinze
‘Tis the season. For too many, the meaning behind the holiday is lost. For them, it is a time of duties—sending Christmas cards, attending school plays, buying gifts (often ones we can’t afford and often for people we’d really rather not buy for but feel we must).
It’s a time of mandatory office parties, gatherings we must attend when we’d rather be at home with our feet up watching mindless TV, singing songs that we’ve forgotten the words to because we haven’t thought of them for years much less the meaning behind them, of traveling, using our “vacation time” to visit family living at a distance, of baking and cooking and spending more time in the kitchen than we have all year.
It’s a time of duty and obligation and high stress and tension. A time of forced company with some we’d rather not see much less interact with during a time when all we really want is peace and quiet. Or a time when the loneliness we live with each and every day is magnified because we know most people are not alone but spending time with family and we don’t have one.
For many, this is what Christmas has come to represent. They either play sick or do the work, go through the motions—sometimes with a good attitude, sometimes grumpy and grumbling—but they do it. Whether alone or with family they wish blood didn’t demand they claim, they endure.
For far too many, this is what Christmas has become. What they’ve allowed Christmas to become.
Even for those who celebrate and love the season, many are distracted by the commercialism it in. By the war against it by those who don’t believe Jesus Christ or the celebration of His birth (where are those wars against other religion’s holy days, I wonder?). They’re saddened that people say, “Happy Holidays” for fear of offending, when their hearts yearn to hear, “Merry Christmas” because that is indeed the holiday being celebrated.
And then there are others. Those who believe. Those who embrace Christmas, are still awed by the magic in it, and by the awesome power of God’s love. They spend the season overwhelmed—whether alone or with others (including their mad-as-hatter family members)—but joyful.
They pray for the naysayers who’d like to eradicate the celebration. They pull the kids into the kitchen with them for all that baking and create memories, decorating cookies and dabbing icing on noses. They wrap those gifts with smiles on their faces imagining the looks on the faces of those who will open them. They are innately joyful. Tired to the bone. Weary from all the extra work. But oh-so-joyful because they believe—and they have embraced and held fast to the Christmas spirit found in the meaning of Christmas.
Love. That’s what Christmas means. That we—you, me, each and everyone of us—regardless of circumstance, is loved unconditionally. And that love is so deep and so vast it can never be replicated or destroyed. Love is. And it is for all of us—and we know it.
Believers find tears in their faith restored by it. Their weary souls made peaceful by it. Their troubled minds eased by it.
Regardless of circumstance or fame or fortune, we are all loved equally by the God who loved us so much He gifted us with His son. That’s the ultimate gift, and the very heart and soul of Christmas.
In a world of strife, it is so easy to lose our way. To forget what we never knew or what we neglect to remember. Faith is a muscle and it needs exercise to get or stay strong. No one forces faith on us here. It is our free will choice. We choose to embrace it or ignore it or to fall somewhere in between. And we can choose to make a different choice than we’ve made in the past at any moment on any day. We aren’t required to live with the regret of our previous choices.
If you’ve lost Christmas and want to find it, you can do so. Read and absorb the story of Jesus’s birth. Let the awesomeness of this gift to each of us from God settle over you and run through you until you fully absorb it. You’ll be richer for it, and so too will those around you.
Christmas isn’t a day. It’s celebrated on a day, but it is really an attitude embraced that leads to a joy that surpasses understanding. It must be experienced to be understood.
If you choose to embrace it, read the story of Jesus’s birth from the Bible. You’ll find it in Luke 2: 1-21.
Here is the reason for the season from the Bible (New International Version, as posted on Bible Gateway).
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
Luke 2: 1-21 (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
May you be blessed by it. And when you next hear, “Merry Christmas,” may its true meaning fill your heart and bring you joy and peace.
Blessings . . . and Merry Christmas!
Note: Bible Gateway has the entire Bible online in multiple versions for readers. (Somewhere around twenty.) You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Google +. My gratitude to them for their efforts and kindness in sharing.
Stuff happens. We’re impacted. Those we love are impacted. And often when we’re impacted, and more so when those we love are impacted, and we oppose that impact, we reel.
There’s been a lot of reeling going on in everyone’s life since early November–and, honestly, since long before then. Many expected that the reeling would cease and it hasn’t, and that often sends the reeling into hopelessness and despair.
In the past month, I’ve talked to more people despairing than I remember speaking with in my whole life. It’s been hard to help because I’ve been reeling, too. So I’ve prayed on it and put it on the altar.
I was beginning to think that either those prayers weren’t going to be answered or for some reason the time for answers hadn’t yet come. Boy, was I wrong–on both fronts!
We all know that seemingly unrelated incidents aren’t unrelated at all. The connections are there. We just haven’t yet seen them. We also know that our awareness of those connections can come from anywhere, any direction, at any time or place.
Such was the case for me while dropping into Walmart yesterday to pick up a “by request” goodie for one of my angels.
Cruising down one of the semi-main aisles, a red T-Shirt caught my eye. I don’t typically go for bright reds. I favor the blue-reds. So this oddity–that this bright red shirt caught my eye–really snagged my attention. I stopped to look at it. Here’s a photo I snapped of it:
Body slam! Mind grounded. My life’s guard does walk on water. Even when I can’t figure things out, He can.
And then I saw, T-Shirt number Two:
Be Strong, I thought. Neither hopeless nor despairing. Strong. Okay, strong, I thought. But when you’re bone dry, where do you find more strength?
And then I saw the third t-shirt:
In God We Trust. That’s where strength resides–and our shield (life’s guard), too.
And there it was. The answers I sought for myself and to share were right there before me, in three Life Source™ T-Shirts hanging innocuously on an aisle rack in Walmart.
Despair fled. Hope sparked. I smiled then, and now. Suddenly grounded.
And (because someone’s going to ask) did I buy the shirts?
You bet I did. All three of them.
Call it cheap therapy, or supporting the vehicle for answered prayers. Call it whatever you like. I call it God Speak. Because He did. He spoke to my weary mind, body and spirit, and He grounded me, reminding me of all we tend to forget when we get too wrapped up in this blink we call life.
And because He spoke, my heart is at ease and I hope that in sharing this now yours is, too.
I’ve heard from a lot of you in the past week–many of whom are despairing. When we pray hard for something and it doesn’t turn out as we wish, it’s easy to feel God failed us. It’s easy to despair. It’s easy to feel all is lost and to fall into what I call the abyss, where hope is dead and we wallow in its absence.
I don’t have to tell you that’s a bad place. If you’re in it, you know it, and you know how destructive it is. And you do know that or you wouldn’t be writing to me asking for help out of the abyss.
I wrote an article a while back, When God Says No, that I’m going to share with you. But I’d also like to remind you that even the most keen among us has a very limited perspective. God doesn’t. Even if we think we know it all, we don’t. Even if we believe we have all the answers, the truth is we don’t even know all the questions.
It’s easy to have faith when everything is calm, and things are going our way. But think about it. Exactly how much faith does that require? It is when we don’t see clearly, can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel, are fearful of losing it all that we most need faith. We struggle to find it or hang onto it, and we think we just can’t do it. But we can. A mustard seed’s worth is all it takes. A free-will choice. A leap. That’s it. We muster that, manage that, summon that–and we can–and God will do the rest.
While indeed we are in times that try men’s souls (and women and kids’ souls, for that matter), faith is our weapon. We’re told to shield ourselves with the full armor of God, that if we walk with Him, He will fight our battles for us. He’s ready and waiting only for us to choose.
We walk blindly, in faith, unable to see and without knowing exactly where’ll we’ll be when the music stops. The certainty is in that if walking with Him, regardless of where we are or what happens between now and then, when that music stops, we’ll have a chair.
So read the article below, and do not despair. Courage and fortitude might be required. If so, you’ll have it. What you need, He will provide. It’s time to have faith, believers. Be strong, and trust He who sees all, knows all, is still on His throne and for Him there are no surprises.
And remember Psalms 30:5
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
The Fall Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt has concluded. Hearty congratulations to the winner, 2nd and 3rd place winners. (That information is being disclosed on Stop #32.
A special thank you to all of the participants in my Bonus Raffle. I so enjoyed your comments and notes and thank you for welcoming Janice to my blog with such warmth.
Now it’s time to announce the Bonus Raffle winners! They are:
Marianne (comment #47)
Winners: Please go to www.vickihinze.com/contact
Send me your email address and mailing information and I’ll send you your book.
I realize there’s typically a time limit, meaning you would normally have to respond within 24 hours. Due to the storm, I don’t feel that’s fair, so we’ll just leave it up and you respond when you can. Hopefully that’ll be within the next two weeks. If not, we’ll revisit then.
Wishing you hearty congratulations, much joy, and many