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Independence Day- So many seem to be unaware of why we celebrate today other than BBQ and fireworks. America was considered a grand experiment because we were the first country on earth to formulate a nation’s government based on the rights given to us by our Creator rather than an earthly King. You can see that in the words of the Declaration of Independence. We were a little slower giving those important rights to all that the Creator endowed, but we did finally after a terrible war to sort it all out and show us what was most important. Men’s hearts took even longer to fully change, but our nation was growing. Because we were trying to grow, God blessed this nation richly and used us to bless the world. Those rights were fought for from the very beginning and tested again and again as we showed the world they were worth not only standing up for but dying for. We are a nation founded on the beliefs that there is a Creator that is all powerful and all knowing. The phrase “In God We Trust” was first printed on our coins in 1854 and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. That is who we are as a nation. Beginning before but marked by Roe v Wade in 1973, we began to forget who we were and are supposed to be. We began to strip away the rights that so many had fought and died to gain and protect. We began to forget that our nation was founded on the belief that people are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that you are given when God creates you. From there, we have begun stripping away more and more of the foundation of America. There is still hope. America isn’t what she was, but she can be again and even better. Remember who we are, America. Remember that we are thankful to our Creator for the rights we are founded upon. Remember why so many men and women have been willing to sacrifice everything including their lives for what America stands for. Remember this day and everyday. Turn back and truly mean “God bless the USA!” I love this country, and I love the God who brought her into existence to be a light shining from the hill. We have become as lukewarm water that is spewed from the mouth. Be bold, America, for that which you have always stood for. I thank those who have stood in uniform and died in uniform to protect my rights. I stand with them now as a proud American.Thank you, God, for being the One who loves us and still calls to us.
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Just how are we supposed to answer such big questions from children when they are big questions with no visible, concrete answers even for us? That is especially difficult when you know a lot rides on that answer. One such question is about the existence of God? How do we know God is Really There? is a book by Melissa Cain Travis and illustrated by Christopher Voss and published by Apologia that might get you started with your little ones and maybe, even firm the debate dialogue in your own mind.

Father and son reading the book which is the cover pic of this book.The story is a simple plot that plays out in many bedrooms, kitchens, backyards, and yes, treehouses over and over. A mother and child or a father and child playing and learning together when a child suddenly asks that question that makes our mind jerk to a halt and releases the feelings of inadequacy and even a little fear as the questions of our own spill into our mind. What? How did we get here now? How can I possibly explain this to him when I can’t always put words to this myself? How do I tell her that I just know God exists because I see Him everywhere when He is invisible? Using wonderful illustrations that look drawn by a child and almost real enough to touch the crayon wax and words that fill your mind with awe and lead you through a rational discovery through the known ideas of science to the abstract thinking in a step by step path to the only conclusion that makes sense of a person who chose to create the world and has the power to do it. You end with a pretty powerful answer to that all-important question: How Do We Know God is Really There?

Father and son looking through a telescope at Saturn as they explore God's creation to discover Him as Creator.

The  book’s scientific content does seem a bit weighty for very young children, but it can be a good read-to-me book for five to eight year olds and a good read together book for up to about ten or eleven with some children. The concept though can be used in conversations beyond that age level. Many young children and some special needs children may not get all the deep content the first time, but they will get the gist that can be grown through repeated readings as they grow older. The analogy to to rewinding a video is a humorous way of toning down that weighty science material. if it isn’t enough, the idea might lead you to something even better that your child will understand, so don’t fear giving this book a chance.

Father and son discussing how they can know God is really there by exploring creation to know there is a Creator, God.

You can find this book on Apologia’s web site to get more information or to order. The price is $16.00 for a durable, glossy, full-color hardback copy. That is affordable, but is it worth it? Three parents that I asked to read the book felt it was a great way to handle this tough question. Two students I read it to, including one in ASL, got really big-eyed and curious and really loved the pictures. The book got even the four year old who happened to be listening, too, talking about how “God is so big and can do anything.” That delight was enough for me to make it a part of our library permanently.

I received a copy of the above product to facilitate the writing of a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

I was watching a popular Bible teacher this morning, Joyce Meyer. I enjoy her. I feel she is anointed by God even if I may not agree with everything she teaches or believes. Today, she was talking about not having to be perfect and not having to be constantly worried about whether we are doing right or wrong. God loves us even though we are imperfect. He is pleased with us despite of our imperfectness because we want to do right. We are trying to do right. He also uses us despite the fact that we aren’t perfect. She told a story about when she thought she was hearing from God to be a preacher or Bible Teacher. She wasn’t sure if that was really from God. Many of us struggle with knowing if we are hearing from God. Often times, we have acted on something and made a fool of ourselves because it wasn’t from God, so we become afraid to try to listen and act on God’s will for us. Joyce went on to say that she took a tiny step in faith to test it. She started teaching a Bible study in her home. God blessed it. People came. It grew, so she knew that her desire had been God speaking to her. That was interesting to me. I have learned to do the same thing in my life as I try to follow where God is leading me.

What interested me more, though, was what she said next. Joyce Meyer said she taught that class in short shorts and smoking cigarettes. She smoked so many cigarettes, she said, that smoke filled the room where she and her guests couldn’t see each other. I thought to myself that I know some people who would have tried to shut her down if it was a church sponsored or advertised event or at the very least they would have stopped going and told everyone they knew about that woman who was disrespecting God by reading scriptures while dressed so inappropriately and smoking like a “choo choo”. I know in my own life that I have had people criticize me and tell me to stop doing something that I felt God was leading me to do because I wasn’t perfect. I had sin in my life. I sometimes sinned while I was doing what God wanted me to do. I wasn’t necessarily meaning to sin. I just did. I sometimes have a temper. I sometimes get passionate about something or angry and use certain colorful expressions or even profanity. I was trying to do right. I often failed, but I was trying. I wanted to be good at what I was doing for my Lord, though, so I kept trying. Doing it in the face of harsh criticism was very difficult at times, but I kept trying.

It is obvious though that God wasn’t disrespected. He wasn’t offended or angered. God was pleased with Joyce Meyer. She was doing what He wanted her to do which was teach His word to others. God was pleased with her even though she wasn’t doing it in perfectly the right way. He blessed her efforts and brought her more students and increased her borders of influence. God is still doing that today. God anointed her though she was imperfect because she wanted to do His will. That was enough. Along the way, God helped her to learn how to do His work in better ways. Eventually, He used her husband to point out that she really should dress more appropriately. Eventually, God showed her that she should stop abusing His temple, her body, by smoking and helped her to stop.

In the same way, God was pleased with me. My teaching improved. He sent me to various places to teach that were difficult in many ways, but honed my skills even more. God showed me patterns in some of the students I taught that were more of a challenge and helped me to develop better ways to teach them. When I was better prepared, God gave me the desire and life situations to confirm the desire was from Him to prompt me to begin teaching first just a few students out of my home to now a growing, accredited school that helps all kinds of students including some with needs that other schools haven’t been able to reach. God is helping us to reach those students’ needs successfully. He is even now using my more recent situation of being Deaf and blind to help me to understand even more the needs of people like myself and giving me the desire and resources to begin helping others like myself become more independent. Along the way, he has helped me with my temper to learn more how to control it when it isn’t appropriate, but given me the courage to use it to help fight what is wrong. I am still not perfect in so many ways, but God is pleased with me, and He is anointing me to do the work He has for me.

The criticism is often still there from those I don’t know to even those very close to me. It can still be difficult at times, but I have learned that it is more often the work of Satan in those voices and in the voices in my own mind trying to lessen my impact and weaken my spirit. I have to focus on the lessons I have learned.

From that knowledge that God is pleased with me and blessing my efforts of doing His will for me, I am learning a new lesson that I also see Paul teaching in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5.

3But [as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I should be put on trial by you [on this point], and that you or any other human tribunal should investigate and question and cross-question me. I do not even put myself on trial and judge myself.  4I am not conscious of anything against myself, and I feel blameless; but I am not vindicated and acquitted before God on that account. It is the Lord [Himself] Who examines and judges me. 5So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God. Amplified Bible (AMP)

I am learning to let go of the worry about my mistakes and the fear that I will displeased God with my mistakes. That is true freedom found in knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. God is pleased with me in spite of my mistakes. He already knows my flaws and what mistakes I will make. He knows we aren’t perfect. He knows what we are going to do wrong before we even do it. He also sent His Son, Jesus, to live like us. Jesus understands what we go through. He didn’t sin, and He can help us to learn how to live right. We find these promises in Jeremiah 1:4-5 and Hebrews 4:14-16. He is pleased with me simply because I have chosen to love His Son and chosen to try to do what is right with the help of Jesus. I can be free because I am confident that God loves me and is pleased with me. I can be free because I am confident that because I am trying to follow that God will lead me in His way and bless my efforts.

This freedom can be found by everyone. It is found by choosing Christ and wanting to do right and allowing Christ to help us learn while we are also being used to reach others in spite of our imperfections. Part of that means we also have to learn that we can be blessed by others who are imperfect, but anointed, too

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