National Anthem

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The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

September

This month I remembered 9/11 and as I remembered such a difficult time in our nation’s history, I started thinking about the national anthem.  As the national anthem of the United States is making headlines over and over but not in the way, Francis Scott Key ever intended when he penned the words so many years ago on Sept. 13, 1814.  As he witnessed the attack at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and then raising of the US flag to show their victory over British forces in the War of 1812.  He penned these words after a night full of fighting and years later our country took these words as our national anthem.  These words for me represent pride for my country and respect for the men and women who have fought and died to protect my rights and freedoms.  As I ponder the Star-Spangled Banner and its words, I see a connection to Christ.

Connection to Christ

Christ who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed himself for me, so that I might live eternally with my Father in heaven.  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18.  This sacrifice reminds me to not just be proud to be a American but proud to be a Christian.  “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12.  As a proud Christian, I must show myself as a humble servant not one who stand and looks down on others.  I must live by example so that other may find Christ and have the same sense of pride in their relationship with him.  “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.

Proud American

So just as I show by living for Christ, I must stand as an American that others can see my pride in this country.   “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:32.  It is sad to see so many in this country state so firmly their disgust for a country that was founded to protect their rights.  Sometimes I even wonder where I am living and long for my eternal home.  “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16.  As long as I am here, I will choose love not hate.  “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

 

Closing Verse:  “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14.

Challenge:  Stand up for Christ in your life! Live as an example for others of his sacrifice.

A Favorite Rendition:

Did you know?  The song has 4 verses.

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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Eye of the Storm

Peace in the midst of the Storm

Today, I sit and wait on Florence to arrive at my home. She has ravaged the NC coastline and kept me in the dark for days about my daughters well-being.  Today, though, I received good news for a change.  All is well where she is and her home is still standing with minimal damage.  Praise God!  Watching the rain and wind now brings me little anxiety as compared to the past few days.  God has answered prayer.  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24.  As I praised God this morning, I just felt this song in my heart.  I needed to hear it and sing it.  The emotions of the last few days are wrapped up in these words by Ryan Stevenson.

When the solid ground is falling out
From underneath my feet
Between the black skies and my red eyes
I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been let down by my friends and my family
I can hear the rain reminding me

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds, me in the eye of the storm

I know that as I watched, waited, and cried these last few days, God was with me and he comforted me and cared for me.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.  He loved me like no one could in such circumstances.  He was my rock and anchor when I felt like everything was out of control.   He provided my solid ground.

Faith in the midst of the Storm

This past week when I felt out of control and helpless, it was my faith that kept me going through the storm.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.  Walking in my faith has been the strength God has provided as I waited and waited for word of the storms impact.

When my hopes and dreams are far from me
And I’m running out of faith
I see the future I pictured slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm

Faith is all that can bring peace in the midst of storms in life.  Whether the storm is real or just storms of life the only peace can be found in faith.  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1.  Guard your soul with the word of God.

Trust in the Lord

So this storm has taught me to trust more in the Lord.  To give my worries to him and stand in his strength and faith.  He is my protector.  “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.  I will hid under his wings through the storm.


When they let me go and I just don’t know
How I’m gonna make ends meet
I did my best
Now I’m scared to death
That we might lose everything

And when a sickness takes my child away
And there’s nothing I can do
My only hope is to trust You
I trust You LORD

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Closing Verse:  “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Challenge: Find refuge and peace in the eye of the storm under your Father’s wings where peace and faith live.

 

 

Visit Ryan’s website: http://smarturl.it/ryanstevenson

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Praying

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“Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Earlier this week, I felt I knew what I wanted to write and then Hurricane Florence became real.  She threatened a piece of me and I just can’t write.  I can only pray.  I ask you to stop and pray for Eastern North Carolina and the rest of the state as we anticipate her arrival.  Prayers also for South Carolina as it appears she will also create havic through this state as well.  I ask you to pray not just for my beautiful daughter but for the students she serves selflessly each day.  Please pray that God will spare lives.  These students have so little and school is their safe place and now school will be an after thought possibly for months.  I pray for these communities, the military and emergency personnel that will work tirelessly over this weekend and into the coming weeks.  I pray for my son in law who will work around the clock at the hospital saving lives.  I just can’t stop praying, pleading for God’s mercy and grace in this moment.  There are no words this week just prayers.  Please stop and pray with me.

 

 

Good, Good Father

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Summer is Almost Over

As life starts to get busy and summer is coming to a close, I think about the many different openings to school I have had over the past 28 years.  I have always loved watching the excitement of students, even my own, as a new school year begins.  Everyone is ready and excited about the new year, new experiences, and new relationships.  As students begin a new adventure in a new classroom, the excitement of searching for answers and writing a new chapter of their lives seems reachable as a new school year begins.  It gets me excited about what is to come.  For some reason this experience brought the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin to my mind.  I guess just watching students at the middle school level searching for who they are and who they want to be just reminded me that God is where all the answers really lie.  “But test everything; hold fast what is good.”  1 Thessalonians 5:21.

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

Searching for Answers

I love watching middle schoolers search for their identities and acceptance.  This can be such a hard time for so many and sets them down particular paths in their lives.  I pray for the students that I get the honor of building relationships with each year.  I pray that God will somehow shine through me and they will find hope and strength in who they are.  These students are seeking so many answers for their future.  I pray that those who need a Good, Good Father may find the peace of God sooner in their lives.  “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:2.

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you                                                                                                                     It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Love Speaks Louder Than Words

As this new year begins and students enter my life one more time, I pray that I will bring love and peace to their lives.  That they will see a deep love within me that they will want to seek for themselves.  I pray that I have the opportunity to plant seeds and share his love.  As I watch students walk through a day with little love in their eyes and in their lives, I know that I might be the only person to call their name or smile at them that day.  This is a reality for many children.
1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
Because you are perfect in all of your way                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways                                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Closing Verse:
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Challenge:  Share the Good Father with those who need Him.