Dear Lord, “I do believe, please help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

When do I discover the most? During the times of greatest pain. During the times when I am most lost. Faith shines brightest in the darkness. My faith grows most during those dark times, when I see what’s most important to me, when I know I can’t accomplish those important things, when I see Your strength and love taking care of those important things. When I see your strength continue where mine has left off, that’s where my faith grows. That’s where I discover the most. Thank you.

“I do believe, please help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24.

Lord, please give me the strength to choose to believe. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. In all my paths, I choose You. I choose to learn about the faith that you are teaching to me.

Lord, “I do believe, please help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24.

Hebrews 11 is a chapter on faith. In it, I read about the faith of so many of my heroes. What great examples I have! Now I know that I am never alone in my struggles. Now I know that You are there for me. Please help me to see, hear, and know how you take care of me. Please help me to remember it. Please help me to share it. Please give me the strength to repeat it for others.

“I do believe, please help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24.

Thanks be to God because I know that You always have, You currently are, and You always will be helping me.

The Faith Rainbow rises with trust and is completed through hope

What is a Faith Rainbow made of? What does it mean? What does it show us?

Trust
The first frontier
The voyages of past encounters
swirling into our imaginations
to explore new found friends
to seek out new ideas
and conquer our strongest doubts
to boldly discover our most secret dreams

Hope
The final frontier
The voyages of confident expectations
soaring into life long desires
to explore our deepest fears
to build on new found trust
and conquer our strongest doubts
to boldly seek out our most secret dreams

Rainbows
The ultimate goal
The voyages of built up trust
soaring up from the past
to explore the peaks of our lives
to lead down into our confident expectations
and conquer our strongest doubts
to boldly live out our most secret dreams

Faith Rainbows are colored with trust and hope
Faith Rainbows remind us of the promises of God
Faith Rainbows  show us that real love is filled with colors

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV

“Jesus said to them, “ I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 ESV

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” Ephesians 6:16 ESV

How Do You Know Those Secret Desires are a Secret?

Temptations
Whispering out
No one will know
Instant gratification
You need it right now
It’s all that you can see
Just one time won’t hurt
It won’t cause any problems
Look at what you have to gain
Will you succomb to the secret desires

But don’t be fooled
Temptations aren’t secrets
They won’t stay hidden for long
Just look at the viscous cycle that they offer

Temptations start with your thoughts
Your thoughts turn into secret actions
Your secret actions project on to your face
Your face is a beacon for others to see
Others see you face and they react to it
Their reaction causes you to react
Your reaction effects your thoughts
Your thoughts turn into more temptations

 Temptations are Secret desires
If you don’t fight those desires
They’ll hurt you in ways you cannot see
Making you think that you’re all alone
They tell you that no one will understand
Temptations shape your life for all to see

Jesus has faced the temptations that we face
Jesus gave us weapons to fight the temptations
Submit to God and discover amazing opportunities

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Co 10:13 ESVST

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:7-8a ESVST

They’re Waiting to Take You

Breathe
Shallow at best
Did it all your life
Never did it well
Breathe
The predators
You’re feeding them
They’ll destroy you
Breathe
Worrying now
Anxiousness sets in
Anger is here
Breathe
Loneliness
They’ll take it all
Too tired now
Breath
Don’t believe me
Keep not breathing
Feed your stress
Breathe
Breathe deep
Fight for your peace
Breath deep for five 1000
Fight for your freedom
Breathe deep
Breathe deep for ten 1000
Breathe life into your dying world
With each deeper breath, watch worry flee
Realize that we belong to something greater then ourselves
Feel the anxiousness turning into a slow moving stream
Let peace be the umpire in your life
Always practice breathing deep
Feel the new energy inside
Breath deep
Breath deeper
Feel the new joy and love
Feel your body coming back to life
Discover the hidden world around you
Breathe deep and don’t let them take you
Breathe deep and discover the freedom of new life

The Mysterous Shrinking Freedoms Tour

Sometimes, the best place to hide the truth is out in plain sight. The vary place we never look.

Sitting on a cloud could not have been more comfortable. Digging my toes into the plush red carpets could not have felt better. My eyes were being treated to amazing creations of art. And, my ears drank in the sounds of this luxurious hotel. Still, the beautiful surroundings could not shake my friend Michael’s words from my head. “What is the measure of a great vacation? Taking snapshots that the mind eternally remembers. You never forget the best vacations. Tropical beaches, breath-taking landscapes, cities that never sleep, they’re nothing. You have to go on The Mysterious Shrinking Freedoms Tour!”

I tried to get Michael to tell me more about it, but he wouldn’t. He said, “TJ, you have to experience it to appreciate it.” So, here I am. Waiting for the tour guide to show up. I checked the clock on the wall. I checked the time on my cell phone. I checked my watch. Then, I checked them again. “Come on, breath. Is this tour ever going to start?”

The clock chimed in the hour and the tour guide marched up with all of the fanfare of a master sergeant who’d been in the military for 20 years. He marched up to me. “And who might you be?”

I answered, “TJ.”

“Well TJ, the tour starts now sir.” Then the sarge turned to the group. “Good morning everyone. My name is Jonathan Taggart, but you can call me sarge. It’s time for The Mysterious Shrinking Freedoms Tour! Everyone onto the bus.”

I rolled my eyes. “Do you mean to tell me that I traveled thousands of miles to listen to some drill sergeant when there are so many better things to do? A day at the pool, a message, a root canal.”

The sarge saw my reaction and marched back up to me.”So TJ, are you foolish enough to think that ALL of us are perfectly free? I just bet that you don’t even realize that our freedoms are shrinking.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

The sarge smiled a very odd smile, but would say no more. So, we all got onto the bus. Then he said, “First Stop, the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.”

The bus trip was short and the sarge led us off of the bus, through the halls, and to a glass covered case. “Here are some of the most famous words that Thomas Jefferson ever penned.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

“Strong Words. Powerful Words. Words that keep ringing in your ears long after they have been read. Hey TJ, are these truths self-evident?”

My response was immediate. “Well of course they’re self evident! We live in the United States of America – the land of the free!”

The sarge merely smiled and left me to my thoughts as we looked through the rest of the exhibits. After a time, the sarge guided us back onto the bus. “Next stop, the Lincoln Memorial.”

The sarge’s voice dripped with pride. “Standing in a small field in Pennsylvania, Abraham Lincoln said,”

Four score and seven years ago our fathers
brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.”

“Lincoln wrote those words while he was on a train traveling to Gettysburg. Gettysburg, a Civil War battle ground where more than 36,000 Americans had just lost their lives. Compare that to 9-11 where nearly 3000 people lost their lives. We would have to have twelve 9-11’s to equal one Gettysburg! Hey TJ, Do you think that those truths were self evident to Lincoln?”

I stuffed my hands into my pockets and turned away from the sarge. I thought about how Lincoln had freed the slaves. Then I thought about 9-11, Iraq, Afghanistan and the terrorists fighting against our freedoms. But, I said nothing. I said nothing and remained that way until their next stop, the Smithsonian museum.

The sarge was speaking, “Today, we have more information at our fingertips, than at any other time in history. And with all that knowledge we can make huge pieces of metal fly through the air to the farthest reaches of the world. We’ve made staggering advances in medicine. We’ve even touched the moon. Hey TJ, with all of this knowledge, do we believe that these truths (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) are self evident?”

My forehead scrunched in thought.

The sarge continued, “All this knowledge and people are addicted to drugs. People are slaves to money. Their intense greed caused a world economic crisis. Greed is just another word for addiction. Addiction is just another word for slavery. Slavery is worse now than it was in Lincoln’s time. Hey TJ, do you have an answer yet? Are they self evident?”

I was more confused than ever.

The Sarge saw my confusion. “Hey TJ, perhaps we are too busy spending money that we don’t have. Did you know that in 2010 Americans owed a staggering $826.5 billion in revolving credit? To put that into perspective. One billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was flourishing and Christianity was emerging. It was about 100 AD. If you stacked one billion one dollar bills you would have a stack 67.9 miles high.”

My confusion deepened. I had tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt. And, I had to work 2 full time jobs just to make ends meet. And, I was raising three kids by myself. It wasn’t pretty. I was a slave to that debt and I didn’t even realize it. I was giving up my freedom! How many more people are like me? Distracted, slaves to money. Allowing someone else to run OUR lives!”

The sarge continued, “How long are we going to tolerate such slavery? What are we waiting for? Are we looking for another Abraham Lincoln, a Ronald Reagan, or a Martin Luther King Jr.? Do we need one strong voice?”

“Listen again. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’ “We are that voice. All of us! We the people! Is your voice silent? Are your hands idle? Slavery has a new name – addiction! What is the price of freedom? What is the price of reaching out to help another person in need? What is the price of lifting up our voices together in a call for freedom? How much should we sacrifice? How much is freedom worth? In the words of Edmond Burke, ‘The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing.’ What are YOU going to do?”

Then, it finally made sense. “Hey sarge, I have your answer.”

The sarge smiled and let me continue.

“Even though Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers of our country knew that those truths were obvious, self-explanatory, and self-evident, they knew that knowledge wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to stand on the side-lines and hope that the truths would come to pass. They knew that they would have to stand up and do something to obtain them. They took action. And so did Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others. They fought for their freedom! And, we have to fight for ours!”

The sarge beamed, “Well done TJ.”

The tour ended but the snapshots of the tour would be burned into my memories.

The end.

Food for thought:
Freedom is not just another word. Neither is slavery or addiction. The greatest author of freedom is Jesus. And, we have only scratched the surface of the freedom that God offers to each and every one of us.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” Psalm 119:45

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

 

 

In Honor to You – Make Every Moment Magical

To all of those guarding our shores, we humbly give our thanks
for fighting for us and keeping us free. We dedicate this to you.

Life is full of amazing stories waiting to be discovered.
1 teaspoon of a neutron star weighs 6 billion pounds.
Our blood vessels length, when laid end to end, would wrap around the Earth.
Insects masquerade as plants and butterfly’s taste with their feet.
And now we have a new baby boy. Memories can’t be moved.

Babies are full of amazing love waiting to be discovered.
The bursting laugh of a baby boy is a tiny slice of heaven.
The light in his eyes when he sees something new is a marvel to behold.
His smiles and hugs and touches and coos define pure love for us.
And now our boy is a teen. Memories can’t be moved.

Teens are full of amazing discoveries waiting to be uncovered.
The building of friends and finding first love is starting to cross their minds.
The discovery of skills and finding new thrills and freedom is slowly revealed.
The fruits of their lives are starting to grow and now their looking for more.
And now our teens discovered life long love. Memories can’t be moved.

New couples are full of amazing love that’s waiting to be discovered.
The flaws may be there, but they really don’t care. They appreciate what they do have.
It’s friendship and love and comfort and joy and every parent’s big dream.
They walk hand in hand and discover new lands and the two will now become one.
And now the couple has kids who have kids. Memories can’t be moved.

Marriage is full of amazing things waiting to be discovered.
The grandparents of a beautiful clan have been married for seventy years.
“I thought I once knew incredible love when we did first tie the knot.
But that was seventy years ago. Now we really know true love.”
Love is a tool that binds us all. Memories can’t be moved.

Love is full of amazing stories waiting to be discovered.
“I love you more than the sands in the oceans.” No one can ever top that.
“I love you more than the stars in the sky.” Yes I can top that.
Love always tries to show something more. The bounty that never ends.
Now take advantage of every new moment because memories can’t be moved.

They fought for us and died for us to give us the freedom we love.
Freedom you see is a beautiful gift, not to be wasted but lived.
So, we honor their fight with our choices for life and make every moment magical.

How can God possibly use me? Look at what I’ve done. Look at who I am.

There once was a man who decided to build a water fountain by the side of the road. When he was complete, he attached a cup to it. Then, he went back to the village.

Soon, very important people of the village came upon the water fountain and looked on it with disgust and disdain. Very quickly these important people sought out the man who had built this terrible fountain. “Come quickly man and tear that fountain down. The design is poor and it looks awful. It must be torn down and a proper one built in its place.”

The man thoughtfully considered what the important people had said. After a time he spoke, “You say my fountain is poorly designed and it looks awful?”

They all chimed in agreement.

The man thought some more. “How many of the poor are able to drink from the fountain?”

The important people answered quietly. “Thousands, but that it not the point.”

“Dear sirs, that is exactly the point. A fountain is made to give water. And, this one is fulfilling it’s purpose admirably.”

The important people walked away.

So it is with us. There will always be “important people” to criticize us and tell us how flawed we are and that we need something more. Yet, that is not the point at all. We all have good water to give to those around us. We all have good messages that help others. God made each and every one of us perfectly with plenty of water for our neighbors.

Thanks be to the Creator who paid the price for our flaws.
Thanks be to the Creator who made each and every one of us useful.
Thanks be to the Creator.

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” Ephesians 1:17-19 ESV