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Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey

As I’ve watched on television the people of Texas deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve heard many reporters and commentators expressing their opinions on the rescues, recovery, and responses about those affected, their neighbors and how both citizens and elected officials around the nation have reacted to this natural disaster. I posted a video interview on my Facebook feed about one man who came from Kentucky to help out. The man told a story of how, while helping, he became hungry was helped by hospitable citizens affected by Harvey with a meal in the midst of their own loss and devastation. His heart-felt and humble testimony, while giving God the glory, was inspiring.
Video of a good Samaritan

Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, The Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, and many others led the response preparing to send people and supplies both now and for the long haul of the recovery. The Cajun Navy from Louisiana loaded their boats and supplies and en masse jumped in the water (both literally and figuratively) to seek, save, and serve their fellow man. The Red Cross is helping with shelters and supplies while coordinating contributions. Govenor Abbot and public officials throughout Texas have rallied together to coordinate their efforts while accepting assistance offered by President Trump from the federal government. Mexico and other countries have also offered to help and are sending aid.

In spite of thousands of what I’d say are wonderful stories and responses to the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, there are many reporters that seem determined to be critical. They appear to feed on being divisive, disparaging and destructive as they pompously judge the thoughts and motives of elected officials, church leaders and others. I heard one reporter try to bait Govenor Abbot to say that the mayor of Houston made the “wrong call” about evacuating the city. Many in the media are not content to report on brotherly-love, self-sacrifice, and people doing the neighborly and right thing because of their faith in Christ or their patriotism as Americans. They want conflict and controversy. I for one am tired of the media pitting one group against another just to “watch the show” of one group tearing down or into another verbally and even physically.

As I was reading in the gospel of Luke this morning, I came across the passage in Luke 9:49-50 where John tells Jesus that they saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name and how they tried to stop him, because, as John said, “he is not one of us.” Jesus replied to John and the apostles, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” This story is also told in Mark 9:38-41. Sometimes, just like in Jesus and John’s day, people get territorial about their service and critical of others who try to serve God and man. I think Jesus speaks to this in these passages, and there are lessons to learn. As I read this passage, it also called to mind another group of Bible verses that seem to contradict this message. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” In this passage Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute (Matthew 12:22-23) so that the man could both see and hear. Those that saw the miracle were astonished and wondered if Jesus could be the Son of David. The Pharisees, when they heard about the miracle, said Jesus was of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. As such, that is how the Pharisees thought Jesus drove the demon from the blind and mute man. Jesus’ next words address the Pharisees contention and have been quoted by millions, including President Abraham Lincoln. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Jesus could not be casting out demons by the prince of demons. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Our nation needs to know this truth and act on it to survive as a nation. The success and well-being of our cities and our very homes depend on us working together and being united. Too often, we have let dissension, disagreements, and down-right destructiveness reign in our homes, our cities, and our nation. This is one reason why our families have failed, and the divorce rate is at 50%. Recent studies show that Washington D. C. has the highest divorce rate in our nation. Is anyone surprised? In contrast, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, so there may be something to being stuck on an island and having to work things out together. I say all this not to meddle or digress, but to inspire thought and consideration for how we may “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:23-24 NIV) I think that’s what many have done in response to the situation and needs following Hurricane Harvey. They have considered how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

So what is the answer about the apparent contradiction between what Jesus says? I did find an interesting article that seems to have an answer to the question. (Disclaimer—Please know that I don’t give a blanket endorsement to all of what anyone says unless they are specifically quoting the Word of God. I do think that there are many scholars and Bible students that can present excellent information and insight from which we can decide what to think or believe about a Bible message or passage. As such, I just read the article written and copyrighted by Ken Collins titled “Did Jesus Contradict Himself about Who’s on His Side?” this morning. I do not know the author, except by reading what he has posted about himself, so I encourage you to think, study and decide for yourself on this question and others.) Many say that the Bible contradicts itself. I don’t believe that. I think that sometimes I just don’t have the skill or understanding to fully grasp some of the statements and concepts in the Bible. But – I keep trying, and I’m continuing to study, learn and grow. I hope you are too. As I read Ken Collins article this morning, I think that Ephesians 6:10-18 and especially verse 12 may also tie in to the discussion. I hope you will enjoy the article and dive into the exercise of studying God’s Word and discovering more fully God’s will. Read the article.

In response to a concern I had about the article written by Ken, I want to say that I believe that we all make choices every day in our lives to seek, serve and be subject to God or not. I believe that Jesus was sent as the Son of God to serve His Father’s will and be offered as a sacrifice to save all mankind from sin and eternal death. I believe that God gives us the choice to accept Him and His free gift of redemption through Christ or not. I believe we all choose by our actions, and even by our inactions, whether we will accept Jesus as our Savior or serve ourselves and satan.

Finally, my desire is like that of Paul, who said in I Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” I hope that everyone reading my message will be encouraged and be voices for unity and peace in our homes, cities, and nation. I hope that we will continually seek God and share his wonderful message with our families, friends, and even our foes. Let us think on these things….

Robin House
© 2017

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Stocks, Seeds, and Investing

IMG_2307 Robin’s Roses Photograph by Robin House

At the opening bell this Wednesday, January 25, 2017, as the U. S. stock market opened it topped 20,000. Reporters all over the world carried the story as the floor of the stock market erupted with cheers. Video graphics of fireworks displays were shown and a sense of excitement prevailed. The stock market had been flirting with 20,000 for almost a month, and now the record had been reached. Discussions about whether the number was a fluke or would hold were made. Experts discussed whether 20,000 was just a new beginning benchmark for a new optimism in America since the presidential election. Many asked themselves if they should get in the market now or sell before the possible fall? People looked to experts in stock predicting to learn if they had waited too long to seize opportunities. They questioned if they should keep investing or pull back?

In II Corinthians chapters eight and nine, Paul writes to the Corinthians about their plans for giving and thereby investing financially in the gospel and others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of their commitment to giving a year previously. At the time of his writing, the Corinthians had not yet fulfilled their promise. Paul reveals in II Corinthians 9:1-5 that he had been boasting to the Macedonians of their commitment to give. He said that the news of what the Corinthians planned to do had inspired the Macedonians to give also. He reveals in chapter eight of II Corinthians that in spite of “severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” As a result, Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians were prepared to fulfill their promise. He didn’t want the shame that would accompany an unfulfilled commitment when it came time to gather the funds. As a result, Titus and others were sent ahead of Paul and the Macedonians to assist the Corinthians to complete their commitment before Paul arrived. Paul wanted to make sure that the gift they promised was “ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” How many times have we forgotten a gift for a party or shower and had to inconveniently rush out to get something? Or how many times did we just skip the party, because we were unprepared or unwilling to bring the expected gift or party food?

Sometimes today we are enthusiastic about an opportunity or project we’d like to invest in and make ambitious commitments to help or participate only to, with the passage of time, forget our promises and lose our ardor for the project. It is easy to do. Time flies and sometimes we lose track of what we promise. Sometimes after making a commitment, we don’t plan or think at all about that date in the future when the “bill” will come due. Procrastination is an easy habit to keep. In II Corinthians 8-9, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to not delay and to be prepared. In II Corinthians 9:6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” In the next verse Paul reminds them that, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Both of these statements have to do with planning, preparing, and being proactive to do what we say we will do.

What about us today? What do we commit to each day? Do we prepare for the promises we have made? Are we cheerful in our commitments? What kind of “farmers” are we? Do we sit on the porch swing of life moving back and forth but never really going anywhere expecting to reap a crop we have not planted? When we do sow the seed, is it sparingly? Paul makes clear that sowing sparingly can only reap a sparing crop. What kind of harvest do we want and expect in this life— and what harvest do we want in the next one?

In II Corinthians 8:10-12 Paul says, “And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it will be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” In II Corinthians 9:8, Paul continues telling the Corinthians that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Here’s the question. How can one fail when God is able and willing to help us? The answer is, we can’t. Like the Corinthians in Paul’s day, when we serve to supply the needs of God’s people, our generosity will reap great rewards and overflow to thanksgiving to God in our world by those of the world.

To sum it all up, is a bull market on the run? Time will tell. The stock market will always go up and down. Gains and losses will continue. Should we get in the stock market or sit it out? Each person must answer that for himself. The bigger question in life is this—Do we have the courage and commitment to plan, prepare and generously plant into others today? With God’s help to make us able, there is no need to be afraid to invest in the good things that are of eternal consequence. There is no better season to plant and invest in God’s will than right now. When we watch carefully each day, we will recognize the opportunities we have to sow (invest) generously in our church, community and culture. Remember that God even supplies the “seed to the sower and bread for food.” Just like he promised the Corinthians in chapter nine verse ten, God will help us – “increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” When we invest ourselves in others and in the ways God wants us to, our mission and enthusiasm will be clear. When we fulfill our commitments, God will be praised even by the ungodly in our world. We will bloom in beauty like a rose for all to see. When we work in God’s field to generously plant, we will reap a generous harvest. It is a law of nature, like gravity. When we keep our commitments, God’s grace will abound to us, so that in all things at all times having all that we need, we will abound in every good work.

Robin House

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Football, Politics, Polls and Fair Play

angry voters

Do you know who won the football game last Sunday? Did you see it? Though the Dallas Cowboys are not “my” team, no one can dispute the successes and quality of the Dallas Cowboy team play since Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and others banded their team together to complete one of the best Cowboys football seasons in recent history. Since Dak Prescott is from my hometown, I have enjoyed seeing his success. Watching a great athlete compete with skill and perseverance while calling his mind and body to perform at an elite level is a beautiful thing – no matter what team a player is on. I saw only the last seconds of the game Sunday night, but it was in those final moments that it became clear that Green Bay’s kicker, by the narrowest of margins, kicked the football between the uprights to give the Green Bay Packers a winning score of 34 to 31 over Dallas. The scoreboard numbers and the celebrations by the Packers team and fans showed the television audience that Green Bay would move on to the final playoff game before the Superbowl. Dallas Cowboy fans were stunned, shaken, and sad. What happened?

What happened was that the Packers won and the Cowboys lost. But wait just a minute. On Monday I heard a story that said Green Bay won the scoring vote but that the Cowboys won the popular vote. The Cowboys had been ahead during the game and let’s face it — the Cowboys are America’s team. According to the story, the Cowboys deserved to win. The final score just couldn’t be the “be all and end all” outcome of the competition. Could it? Should someone send a note to the Green Bay Packers and fans to tell them that the final scoreboard score just didn’t count? Would someone actually say that a popular vote of public sentiment and rankings trumped the actual game played and score?

Of course not! Green Bay just like Clemson in the College Championship game beat Alabama in the final seconds because they scored more points than the other team. Yes, Alabama like Dallas, was favored to win, but they didn’t. They didn’t win because they didn’t score more points than the other team. That’s the way the game is played. Yes, some will be disappointed that their team did not win, but that is what happens in a contest. One wins, and one looses. The contest and the rules are clear to all before the competition begins, and then the game is played. For 60 minutes the football teams competed and each did their best to win.

In the recent presidential election, the candidates entered the contest, knew the rules, and competed fiercely for victory. One won, and one lost. Since the infancy of our nation and for over 240 years, we have held the same system of electing a president. On several occasions the presidential candidate that won the popular vote did not win the majority vote in the electoral college. The first incident of this kind was in 1824 with Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote by over 10% but losing to John Quincy Adams in the electoral college. Yet in the 193 years since that first contentious election where John Quincy Adams became our sixth President, our citizens, and as a result our elected officials, have not voted to change the electoral college system or rules by which U S Presidents are elected each and every 4 years. I’m not giving an opinion on the electoral college system, but simply stating that it is the current system and provides the rules for the election of all of our presidents.

Our government is not a true democracy, but a representative republic by which each citizen (unless they are a felon or live in a U S territory) has the right to vote to elect representatives to vote their will. Unlike most governments in our world, the United States of America has a system of government that is of, by and for the people. Too often I think our citizens have abdicated their rights to control the government by being inattentive, ignorant and apathetic. In most elections only a small percentage of citizens even show up to the polls to cast their votes. As a result, the small majority that do vote or do push their agenda in the halls of our state legislatures and in Congress often get their way in a manner that is many times not “fair” or good for the citizenry as a whole.

Like the Clemson/Alabama game the week before and the Cowboys/Packers game this past Sunday, the presidential team with the popular vote, poles and rankings did not win. The final score was Hillary Clinton 232 and Donald Trump 306. Mr. Trump seemed to trail most of the game, and the popular opinion and poles were not favorable for him. But, in the end and at the end of the election, Donald Trump had the winning score.

In less than 24 hours, our nation is set to inaugurate the 45th President of the United States. This man was elected by the rules of candidacy and competition set forth in our laws to serve our nation and its people. Like the 44 Presidents before him and as required by the U S Constitution in Article II, Section One, Clause 8, Donald J. Trump is scheduled to take the same oath his 44 predecessors did. The oath says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” George Washington, our first President, was recorded to have concluded his oath of office with the statement, “So help me God.” requesting the help of the Almighty as he served. Washington set a precedent that has continued for over 200 years, including both swearing in ceremonies for Barak Obama.

Our national motto says “In God we trust.” But do we? Our Pledge of Allegiance says “… One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But is it? I see a great rift in our nation today. What once was clearly an indivisible citizenry is divisive. Those promoting freedom and tolerance are often the most restrictive and intolerant. Justice seems to apply to some more equally than others. Have you read Animal Farm? Any look at our history, its monuments and the words engraved on many of our government buildings clearly shows that our nation was based and built on Christian values and freedoms. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian who came to America in 1831 and wrote Democracy in America, said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Revisionist historians and teachers are working diligently to rewrite, revise and remove all semblance of this truth from our documents, monuments, buildings and culture. As a result, many today have no knowledge or appreciation for the work done and the price paid by our founding fathers for the freedoms we enjoy. In no other country in the world are people dying to “break in” to join our society. In no other country in the world do its citizens hold as many rights and freedoms. No other country has the opportunity and the great responsibility to self-govern as we, the citizens of the United States, do.

In watching the recent events and outbursts designed to disrupt, dismantle, and delegitimize our society and government, I am sad to see the disunity in these United States. This is not good for our nation. The spirit of anarchy should not be allowed to fester and grow. I hope that you will join me to pray and to work for our nation’s best interests and unity. I believe the answer to what ails us lies in developing a more godly, patriotic, informed, critical thinking and intentional voting citizenry that seeks not their own good, but the good of the nation as a whole. A citizenry that loves their neighbor as their self. Towards that end, here are some lessons that I learned as a child from my parents, teachers, and mentors about sportsmanship and life. Some in the younger generations may not have seen these teachings before, so I hope you will enjoy them, take note and let them guide and enrich your life.

LESSONS OF SPORTSMANSHIP AND LIFE FROM A LOUISIANA LADY

1. Life isn’t always fair. I just hated hearing my mom tell me that over and over, but it’s true.

2. You have to play the game to have a chance to win. Get in the game.

3. In almost every case, the more skilled or competitive player or team will win.

4. You won’t always win, even if you work and try hard.

5. There are no awards for just showing up and participating.

6. Opponents will often work and fight just as hard, or harder, to win as you did. Life’s tough.

7. When you give your best efforts and still lose, there’s no shame in that.

8. Competing by the rules with integrity and fairness is expected.

9. Cheating is wrong.

10. It is important to be a “good sport.” Otherwise, you are a bad loser.

11. You don’t argue about the rules of the game after the game is over.

12. You may not have a hissy fit if you lose. You’ll be disciplined if you do.

13. Be gracious in loss and victory. Learn to sincerely show respect and congratulate an opponent.

14. Learn to “follow the leader” elected or selected even when he/she wasn’t your preference.

15. Know that there might be a next time, or there might not be a next time for a rematch. Sometimes you just get one chance at something.

16. Remember that President Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” from Matthew 12:25 (NIV)

17. It is often beneficial if you can get along with those with which you disagree. We know that Galatians 5:15 (ESV) says, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” So, don’t burn your bridges and boats.

18. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” I John 4:20-21 (NIV) Love is the greatest commandment.

19. About authority, remember Romans 13:1-7 (NIV) which says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience…” Respect those in authority, whether you like them or not because they are under authority too.

20. Don’t forget that “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)

21. Winning doesn’t make us better than others.

22. Losing is not the end of the world, and God is in charge of the end of the world too. (See Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32)

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. May God bless you and yours.

Robin House

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Open Doors and Opportunity

In a new year I often feel like I have a new beginning point and opportunities. New resolutions, renewed plans to try again or start over, and the desire to set new goals for the coming year come to mind after Christmas and in the first weeks of the new year. Sometimes I make resolutions for the new year, and sometimes I don’t. This year I am having a “take 2” shot at one of the major resolutions from last year. I “sort of” like making resolutions but often bite off more than I can chew. Like a child in front of a restaurant buffet or at a church pot luck dinner, my ideas – like my eyes are often bigger than I can possibly handle. Committing to a better diet, exercising regularly, beginning new projects, exploring interests and learning new skills all call to me. I like challenging goals. I like the satisfaction I get when I have completed a difficult task well. It gives me feelings of confidence, accomplishment, optimism, and fulfillment when a goal is achieved. It just makes me feel good!

Today opportunities abound for many worthy causes and goals. Just Google it, and you’ll see. As a child of the 70s, I grew up with the “Superwoman myth.” It said that as a woman, I could do it all, be it all, and have it all. Both experience (I tried it.) and wisdom have taught me that I can’t do it all, be it all, and have it all. So how do I choose what priorities to address, goals to set and plans to make? I credit my husband for pointing out and sharing a passage in II Corinthians 2:12-13 for helping me address this question. I read this passage again this week and want to share it now.

Paul had travelled to Troas to preach the gospel to the people there. The Scripture says that he had an open door from the Lord, but Paul had no “peace of mind” or confidence in his ability to carry on the work in Troas. Paul said that because his brother Titus was not there with him, he said goodbye to the people of Troas and went on to Macedonia. It seems that Paul gave a pass to Troas in his missionary journey to share and spread the gospel. What did that mean for Paul then? What does it mean today?

Here’s what I think. Sometimes we have great opportunities open to us for doing God’s will and good in our world, but something is just not quite right. A specific ingredient is missing, or the timing is not quite right in the moment. In Paul’s case, the Lord gave him an open door of opportunity in Troas, but Paul didn’t walk through it. In Paul’s example, I see that I don’t have to go through every door of opportunity either — even if the Lord opens the door. I believe that if God really wants me to go in a particular direction or through a particular “door,” He has just as much power today as He did when He dealt with Jonah to send me through any “door” He wants me to enter. I can say that I have had some “Jonah-like” experiences during my life, minus the fish, of course. Second, I think it is important to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Not now.” Sometimes, like Paul, I don’t have a “peace of mind” about a project or goal. Third, I need to remember that some plans and goals are better achieved with the help of a trusted colleague or friend. Some goals are just not meant to be completed alone and may need to be deferred until help arrives. The church Jesus established is an excellent example of this principle. The body of Christ works best when it works together to support, nourish, and spur its members to love and good works. God made us to need each other. If not, why did God make Eve for Adam? If not, why did God tell Adam and Eve to be one as husband and wife and have children? If not, why did Christ establish his church for his followers?

I hope that as we encounter various opportunities in this new year, that we will remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 where He says to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and all the things we need will be provided to us. In addition let’s look at the very next words of Paul in II Corinthians two after he reveals that he left Troas to go on to Macedonia to preach the gospel. In II Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Paul knew — and I think we can see, that wherever he went and whatever “door” he entered, as he put and served God first, God made him effective in His service. In the same way, we, too, can be effective and successful with our goals and plans as we go through whatever “doors of opportunity” we may enter.

May God guide and bless you in all ways!

Robin House

Additional study verses Colossians 3:2, Psalm 119:112, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 16:3, II Timothy 1:7

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Happy New Year, 2017!

2017 feels like “Ready or not — here I come!” After watching the ball drop at Times Square in New York City on television and then the Dallas celebration at midnight in my time zone, I went to bed New Year’s Eve with hope for a good 2017.

New Year’s day began on Sunday this year. So far I have a perfect record for being early and not late or just on time for church services. We will see what next week brings. As I listened to the sermon about reflecting and evaluating 2016 and planning for 2017, many thoughts went through my mind. I could identify with the minister’s resolution to complain less and appreciate more. I learned that what separates the highly successful from others is writing down your goals. To prepare for 2017, the minister asked us five questions. They were: 1. Where am I? 2. What do I want? 3. Where is my focus? 4. What’s my reward – or what do I hope to accomplish? and 5. Am I praying? These are great questions and something to ponder. But it was the sermon I heard before the sermon that reminded me of another very important lesson.

As I entered the church building, I greeted and asked an older “sister” how she was doing. Her response was, “Better. I am just taking things one day at a time.” As her words sunk in, I thought that her answer and approach was exactly right. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us not to be anxious about anything because the Lord God loves, values, and will take care of us day by day. In verse 34 of Matthew 6, Jesus specifically says not to worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own. For me, 2016 had many days with trouble and struggles. As much as I like to plan, some things just didn’t go “right.” The devil seemed determined to derail and distract me from my plans and goals. Sometimes I think I spend too much time looking too far down the road for what might or could happen. Though I believe I am planning and preparing for all eventualities by looking ahead, I see that worrying about the future can prevent me from being prepared in the moment —for the moment that is here and now.

Have you ever felt like the day began without you? Many times in 2016, it seemed like an emergency or crisis would occur before I could even get up and get dressed. It reminded me of a morning many years ago when I woke up to the constant barking of my three dogs. As I looked out the kitchen window, I had to get my binoculars to clearly see what was happening. A raccoon had lured one of my dogs into our pond and was on top of his head biting him and pushing him under to drown him. I’m sure I was a sight to see running out the front door in my pajamas and house shoes carrying a 20 gauge shotgun. There seemed to be no time to dress before that day began, but that’s another story for another time. The point is that the Bible has something to say about being prepared and about how Christians should prepare for each day.

In Ephesians 6:10 and following, Paul commands the Ephesian Christians to put on the whole armor of God. He says that it helps us stand against the schemes of the devil. A roaring lion, the devil oppresses to steal, kill and destroy. Perhaps you too experienced his roar and disrupting presence. Maybe some of his flaming arrows hit their marks to singe and wound you too. For the Christian, there is a ready defense against the devil. In Ephesians 6:13 Paul repeats himself by saying again, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Some days last year it seemed that all I could say at the end of the day was that I was still standing. There will always be days like that, but we can know that the armor of God is available to protect us and help us stand. Just like the soldier without his armor, we are vulnerable to the devil without the spiritual armor God freely provides to us. The shield of faith is the Christian’s specific defense weapon against the devil. In Ephesians 6:16 Paul says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Paul doesn’t say we’ll be able to put out some of the flaming darts, but all of them. What a comfort to know that God provides for our protection if we will simply get dressed for the part we are to play in his plan. So in this new year of 2017, I hope you will purpose with me to pray for God’s will and make plans to accomplish the goals God gives us, and before we begin our days, let’s make sure we get fully dressed with the whole armor of God while taking life – just one day at a time.

Robin House

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Announcing My New Book “God From A to Z”

Hello friends! I am happy and proud to announce my first children’s book was released this week.

I was not expecting to write this book. I had other plans and ideas. But like so many things in my life, God had other ideas for the path and direction I would pursue. Like a pregnancy, the past months have been full of changes, growing, and development for me. My days have been consumed with work on this book. Like many pregnancies, the labor was hard and there was not much anesthetic. But like so many births, the trials and pain have given way to joy and accomplishment as my book has come to life and is out for all to see. I am proud, like all new moms, for you to see my work and to appreciate its value in our world today. Like a new babe, my book has a name that I think suits it. Entitled God From A to Z with the subtitle of Describing and Defining the God of the Bible, I have high aspirations for my book. A book for children and adults, God From A to Z, was designed to teach and be a resource for learning about who the God of the Bible is. At 9″ X 9″ my book is easy to hold. A hard cover makes it durable, and at 64 pages, it is twice the size of most children’s books on the market today. Full color on every page makes my book beautiful, supporting the text with metered rhyme and Scripture. Encouraging discussion, God From A to Z, is interactive and helps the readers to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God.

I’d can’t wait for you all to meet my book and turn its pages. Thanks to my daughter, Brittany, and sons, Reuben and Dwight, my book has an online presence and is available to everyone now. My children gave me a wonderful birthday gift this year and purchased the domain, Godfromatoz.com, for my book. They also set up the website and online store there. They did a great job at something that was a big hurdle for me. I hope you will take a look at Godfromatoz.com. I’ll also be at various libraries, bookstores, churches and other venues in the coming months to share the message of God From A to Z. If you have a group or organization that would like to schedule me to come to speak or present about my book or other topics I speak on, contact me at Godfromatoz@gmail.com, and we’ll set it up.

Lastly, I have not forgotten my newsletter, The Good News Gazette. It will be back in 2017 as a blog. Thank you all for reading my articles and the kind words of encouragement over the years. I hope you will follow me on this new adventure of writing books to help and encourage. Once again, I deeply appreciate each and every one of you and thanks for reading. May God bless you today and always.