Category: One Focus Blog

“The Four Freedoms”

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a State of the Union address that thereafter became known as the Four Freedoms speech.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

These essential human rights were then illustrated by my favorite American artist Norman Rockwell (1874-1978) in 1943. Originally oil paintings, these illustrations were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post over four consecutive weeks in 1943. As a result of a subsequent touring exhibition, the accompanying sales of war bonds raised over $132 million. Freedom from Want has also become known as the “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

These freedoms mentioned by President Roosevelt and illustrated by Norman Rockwell are being challenged even within American shores. They have not been attained “in our own time and generation.” More than ever, we need to defend these freedoms.

Even so, these freedoms can be practiced in societies that try to tear them down because God is in charge. What He wants His children to do does not depend on what any government says.

Freedom of Speech

472px-%22Freedom_of_Speech%22_-_NARA_-_513536Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not (Jeremiah 20:9).

Freedom of Worship

471px-%22Freedom_of_Worship%22_-_NARA_-_513537Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! (Daniel 3:28).

Freedom from Want

lossy-page1-402px-%22Freedom_From_Want%22_-_NARA_-_513710.tifIf then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you (Luke 12:29-31).

Freedom from Fear

474px-%22Freedom_from_Fear%22_-_NARA_-_513538“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:28-32).

Mankind will forever be fighting for these freedoms on earth. Trust God. He determines how these freedoms will be exercised in the lives of His own for if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

A Vision of Purpose

But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

Artists and sculptors have a special ability to visualize their completed work.

The story is told of the great American artist James Whisler that he once went to the boat docks expecting a shipment of canvas for his paintings, but they weren’t there. That upset him, and someone asked him, “Were the canvases of any great value?” He replied, “Not yet!”

800px-Mt_RushmoreGutzon Borglum was able to visualize the presidential figureheads on Mt. Rushmore even before the project was begun. Even though Borglum was a great sculptor, his workers encountered problems while carving the Jefferson head. They originally started carving Jefferson’s head to the right of Washington’s but discovered that stone was not strong enough to support the sculpture. A new site for Jefferson’s head was found after removing a lot of stone to Washington’s left. The old Jefferson head was blasted away.

Every stroke of the brush and every strike of the chisel has a purpose – a purpose only the artist or sculptor can visualize.

God sees you like that. He sees your potential. If you give your life completely to God, you’ll be astonished at what He will do with it.

God cannot only visualize the possibilities contained within our lives, but unlike human artists and sculptors, He even created the very material He is working with. From the dust of the ground and from the ribcage of a man, He made man and woman. Perfect in our creation, but then marred by our own sin, in order to complete the work He had begun it was necessary for our old sinful self to die (somewhat like the blasting away of the original Jefferson head), so that His perfect work could be completed in us.

1024px-Dolceacqua43_-_Artista_locale_mentre_dipinge_un_acquarelloThere is value in a canvas to the artist because of what he is planning on doing with it. There is value in our lives because of what God can and will do with us. Unlike a blank canvas or hunk of clay, however, God wants our participation in His work. We are not simply a canvas to be used, but a life designed to bring Him glory.

He is the potter and has the vision for whatever His purpose is for us. Although we cannot visualize all He has planned, He can. Our part is to let Him work.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

The Leadership Legacy

One hundred and forty eight years after the people of Cleburne, Texas chose to name the city after Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, a statue was erected in his honor. Underneath the statue is a plaque containIMG_3025ing the following statement.

Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne’s battle cry was “Follow me” when other generals said, “Forward, men.” Robert E. Lee wrote, “He shone like a meteor on a clouded sky.” Jefferson Davis called him “The Stonewall of the West.”

Cleburne was born March 16, 1828, in Cork County, Ireland. His superiors revered him; his troops trusted him. Cleburne died on November 30, 1864, as he led his unit at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

In 1867, with the support of local veterans who had served under the General, the new county seat of Johnson County was named Cleburne.

IMG_3027General Cleburne died many years before I came to live in Cleburne, Texas. As a resident, I have been curious about him. Now I am struck with the legacy of leadership he left.

His men literally followed him into battle. They didn’t just hear his commands; they observed his bravery. As a leader who was respected and trusted, he demonstrated his loyalty to their joint cause by his example and gave his life to that cause in the process.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ who gave more than General Cleburne was capable of giving. Although our Lord Jesus has won the greatest battle of all time – the spiritual battle for our souls – many people are just curious about Him.

I revere and trust Jesus as my Savior and Lord. He led by example. He demonstrated in His own body how to live a victorious life. He died in my place. As the Son of God, He rose from the grave and gained the victory over sin and death for those who would trust Him. Through His sacrifice, I do not have to die. I serve Him with gratitude for all He did for me and for the spiritual army of which I am a part.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps …who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:21:24).

Purified Water

My husband and I frequently travel internationally. When we travel, we often have to buy purified or natural spring water. Local water can make us sick.

Companies that provide the bottled water often advertise that they have acquired water from the source. The leading water supplier goes to great lengths to find spring waters that are pure and free from contaminants.

I have had stomach issues when I travel and I do what I can to avoid having them again. I rinse my toothbrush with the bottled water; I avoid salads (lettuces and vegetables have been rinsed with the local water); I have even learned that delicious local fruit drinks can be mixed with the local water and I no longer drink those.

All of this can be hard to remember. Occasionally I have forgotten to take the precautions I knew I should take – for one simple reason. The water coming out of the tap looks the same as the water that has been bottled. Looks can be deceiving.

800px-thumbnailThis is an issue that must be dealt with. We cannot live without water. Although you cannot see the contaminants – such as E-coli, coliform bacteria, lead and nitrates –  they can definitely make you sick.

Even though we need water, not all water can satisfy.

water-1373543892cbL This is perhaps the best example of the relationship between the physical and the spiritual. Jesus made this point when He was speaking to a woman drawing water from a well. She was not drawing impure water, but because the need for water is constant, she had to return daily. Jesus used this physical need to make a spiritual connection with her.  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).

There is no physical life without water. There is no everlasting spiritual life without the living water the Lord provides.

Jesus is truly the source of living water. As He did the woman in Samaria, He invites each of us to drink of the water He provides – pure and uncontaminated. In doing so, He shares His life and His Spirit with those who believe in Him.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

That Special Someone – A Friend

We all need friends.

I have some very special friends – some that I don’t see very often, but when I do, we take up right where we left off.

DSC03454 Cuba Oct '08 153 Stephanie, Sharon and Tina Photo on 8-10-14 at 4.56 PM IMG_1255I am an American. Some of my friends are American but many of my friends live in other countries. We communicate by phone, email, or Facebook but there can be great lapses of time between each message. I often wish for a chance to catch up – to have a cup of coffee or tea with that special someone – a person I feel comfortable with, I can relate to, who understands me.

Although I consider myself a friendly person, not everyone I meet falls into that “special someone” category. There are those who do not share my interests, my values, or my faith.

God is the creator of all people, but not every person wants to be close to Him. I take encouragement from those who do and learn from their special relationship with God, such as these biblical characters:

  • Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he and his family were saved from the flood.
  • Abraham who was called a friend of God.
  • Moses who could talk with God face to face.
  • Job whom God called a blameless and upright man.Oma and her friend Lisa
  • Elijah who was known as a man of God.
  • Isaiah who was given prophetic visions by God.
  • Ezekiel who had the hand of the Lord upon him.
  • Daniel who was protected by God in the lion’s den.
  • The virgin Mary who was highly favored, chosen to be the mother of the Savior.
  • John, the apostle, who called himself “the one whom Jesus loved”.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. His miraculous birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His bodily resurrection is a gift of grace to those who chose to believe in Him. There don’t have to be any lapses of time for communication – we can talk with Him constantly.  Especially comforting is – like Abraham – we are His friends. And like John, He loves us completely.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15).

 

Rest From A Completed Project

My life is full of projects to be completed – little ones and big ones.

Every day is full of the little projects:

  • Laundry is not complete until I have folded it, put it away and ironed items that require it. After a trip, that particular project may take all day.
  • If we want to eat a meal, it is not enough to decide what to cook, cook it and serve it. The dishes must also be washed and put away.DSC03514
  • If yard work needs to be done, I have found it best not to do it in stages but to devote enough time to get it completely done including weeding flower beds, cutting the grass, trimming and cleaning up afterwards.
  • I maintain a couple of blogs. The article is not complete until I have finished writing it, added an image or two, proofed it and posted it to the internet.

IMG_2127When I am able, I help my husband with some of our household projects. These are more lengthy in nature and may take days or weeks, but I am always aware the project needs to be completed. If I do choose to “enter into the project” with him and follow through to the end, I can take delight in the fact I had a part in finishing it.

Some projects are part of something larger. If we are building a house, we may finish building a bathroom, but the remainder of the rooms may need to be finished as well. It is not completely finished until the last nail has been driven and the last paint brush has been put down.

I need to rest when I get tired, but I want to rest as well so that I can enjoy the result of the project.

God never gets tired but He does take time to enjoy what He has created. And God rested on the seventh day from all His works (Hebrews 4:4).

If you are a child of God, God is in the process of completing His work in you. When you believe, His rest becomes your rest. … we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3a).

There is a future element to that rest. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from His works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10). Together, for eternity, we will enjoy all that God has planned for those who have chosen to believe in Him.

since a promise remains of entering His rest… Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…(Hebrews 4:1, 11).

The World Clock and Sleep

I am often waiting on an international flight. The last time I did that, although my flight was more than twelve hours long and the door to door time in route was to be over seventeen hours, according to the calendar and the flight schedule, I arrived before I left – part of the curious life of working and living on the world clock.

I know the advantages we have our predecessors did not. Businesses are now able to work around the clock. Communication and business transactions can be conducted twenty four hours a day.

454px-C_Krohg-TrettI can also keep track of friends and family no matter what time of day or night it is. I may send a message late in my day knowing a friend or family member will receive it the next day when they arise. Often when I am overseas, I wake to a message about a loved one – some good, some bad, but the occasion for the message occurred during their daytime – my night.

This lifestyle leads to an interesting attack on my body. I often have serious problems with jet lag. Having tried every solution there is to conquer this, it still takes me days – sometimes weeks – to recover.

Angelo_Agostini,_1887,_El_Rey,_nosso_senhor_e_amoOur bodies are structured to need sleep. It is so important that people have even died from the lack of sleep. It is an effective torture tactic. Loss of sleep can cause you to lose your reasoning ability or become dangerously disoriented.

Often when I am sleep deprived or recovering from a long overseas trip, I thankfully reflect on the fact that my God does not need sleep. The world clock is not an issue for Him – He created time and is in time for all of us. He is as available to me during the night as He is during the day. When I am concerned about a loved one on the other side of the world, I know that when I talk to Him about him or her, He immediately hears.

In fact, because He never sleeps, my sleepless hours can be some of the best time to talk to Him about everything – those I love and my needs as well.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:1-5).

We Chose Adoption

Once again adoption is more than an idea in our family – it is a reality.

10929019_10206604680294704_245956839076266793_nMy second Chinese granddaughter is now in the family. I was reminded, as I was with the first adoption, that the entire family made a choice. Every member – daddy, mommy, two brothers and a sister – wants Ava to know how much she is loved and wanted. So do my husband and I. The rest of the extended family feels the same.

Ava and I have yet to meet, but once I was aware she would be joining the family, she earned a special spot in my heart. She doesn’t know me yet, but I love this precious girl.

Prior to leaving to pick Ava up from China, the family made preparation for her10665191_10207033896384959_5610547872014842076_n at home – shifting things around and making sure that she had her own spot in which to sleep and keep her belongings. Time, thought, effort and expense were given willingly – all because having Ava in the family was worth it. She has been and will continue to be loved sacrificially, unconditionally and completely.

Ava has yet to fully realize the depth of love that brought her into the family. I think someday she will.

Adoption is a choice God made. As part of His adopted family, I am blessed. I feel His love. I know that bringing me into His family cost Him immeasurable sacrifice – the death of His only begotten Son. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew the cost of offering me an eternal home with His family. I will never be able to fully comprehend the depth of His love, but the reciprocal and grateful love I have for Him is very real.

Our lives have been immeasurably enriched because my son and his family chose to adopt. This has helped me come a little closer to understanding God’s love for me and all of my Christian brothers and sisters.

We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). “I go to prepare a place for you…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you….He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him…”(John 14: 2b, 18, 20-21, 23).

Dressing Properly

When I am attending an event in another country or even my own, I try to make sure I am dressed properly and know what is expected of me. Some civic events or worship services are very formal. Others are quite informal. When traveling, I always carry a skirt with me. I can never go wrong wearing a modest blouse and a skirt.

Anyone visiting the President of the United States, the Queen of England or any other national head of state would first be taught the proper protocol to exercise while in their presence. This would include how to dress, what to say and what not to say. No one would expect otherwise.

DSC07083

When it comes to entering the presence of God, however, that is another story. Disrespect toward Him abounds. He is often referred to as the Man Upstairs or worse still, His name often comes in front of a curse. There is even a nonchalant attitude about coming to the house of God.

If we would dress differently visiting Buckingham Palace, what statement does it make to God when we wear shorts and flip flops in His house? Certainly we should not judge those who have nothing else to wear and they should be welcomed in church. Sometimes, however, those who do have nicer clothing are encouraged to come to church in their beach clothes so they will feel more comfortable. That makes me sad.

It is also wrong to wear fancy clothes to church just to be noticed but our dress reflects our attitude. God knows our hearts and whether we respect Him. By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy and before all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3 NAS).Nigeria 225

In Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, the man without the proper wedding garment was cast away into darkness. Access to God came at a high price – the price of His Son. Jesus provided pure white garments for us. We need to wear them.

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son…But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness…(Matthew 22:1, 2, 11-13).

Biographies and Personal Testimonies

If I admire someone for their strong ethical principles in public life or have enjoyed reading an author’s works, reading their biography often adds to the depth of appreciation I have for that person. For instance:

22541929Billy Graham’s integrity throughout the years of his ministry are inspiring. The biographies I have read about him have cemented my admiration of him.

26779My favorite daily devotional book is My Utmost for His Highest. Reading Oswald Chambers Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest added to my appreciation for Oswald Chambers. Many things about his life surprised me, but nothing disappointed me.

705983The poetry of Helen Steiner Rice is simple, clear and compassionate. We gave a copy of In the Vineyard of the Lord: Lights and Shadows from the Life of Helen Steiner Rice to my husband’s grandmother in 1982. After my husband’s father passed away, I found that book in his mother’s trunk and brought it home. I’m glad I did. It is a great testimony of a woman who used her talent for God.

1059875I thoroughly enjoyed reading We Had Everything But Money, a collection of true stories of people who lived through the Great Depression. Many of these testimonies were written by family members who were proud of their loved ones, their attitudes, their contributions to others and their examples of the truth that happiness doesn’t come from money. These people were not famous, but their stories impacted my life.

Few of us will have a biographer ask to write our story. It is usually famous people who receive those requests.

We are, however, well known to God. Those of us who are His children have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I believe there is also a possibility that He has written the stories of His children down in another book – a collection of stories about those who love Him.

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8).

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16).

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).