Delta, Military Lounge, volunteering

Volunteering

Welcome to the
 Delta Military Lounge

I’ve always believed that “it is better to give than to receive,” and I have always wanted to help people in some way, especially at Christmas. Some years, my family and I have given money to a family who is in need, some years we’ve given food for food baskets, and at least once during the season, money is dropped into the Salvation Army’s bucket.

 But this year, I wanted to do something tangible—not to be seen by others, but something that required a little more of me than just writing a check or dropping a couple of ones into a bucket.

 This year is the 42nd year Delta Air Lines has sponsored the Delta Air Lines Military Lounge for all military personnel, active and retired, who were passing through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. My daughter is a Delta employee and has volunteered in the lounge for the last several years. This year, I decided to join her.

Amy, Pam & Holly –
 three of the many Delta Volunteers
The Military Lounge was set up in a large conference room in the airport. It was decorated with all things military. There were military coins that had been left by Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel arranged in a glass case. Military plates hung on the wall; even the Christmas tree was decorated with military ornaments.
Movies were played back to back on the screen for the personnel’s enjoyment and Wi-Fi was free. And the food . . . I’ve never seen so much food in one place in my life, almost all of it donated by Delta employees, the rest by other corporate sponsors. The Lounge is staffed by Delta employees who volunteer their off-duty time, and by friends and family members of the employees. It is an amazing thing to see – many of the approximately 6,000 employees in Atlanta, come together for the single purpose of honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces and I was delighted to offer my small service along side these fantastic people.

            The true stars of this program are, of course, the military personnel who stop by the lounge for a few minutes or a few hours, waiting for their next flight. In 2010, there were over 11,000 military personnel who visited the lounge; this year, Delta expects over 15,000 by January 4th, the last day the lounge will be open for this holiday season.

            Wednesday, December 14, was graduation day at Fort Benning, Georgia and it was the first night I served. Many of the graduates and their families were in the lounge that night. Those young men (and I emphasize “young”) were so proud—proud to be graduates, proud to wear their uniform, proud to be a member of the Army. They were so respectful and polite, always answering “yes, ma’am” or “thank you, ma’am.” And they were very grateful for everything the lounge offered and the kind words and the sincere “thank you” offered by the volunteers. These young men were still innocent—not having been to a war-torn country, or participated in a battle.

            On the other end of the spectrum, older, experienced active personnel and retired military personnel, sometimes with families, stopped by the lounge on the way to their next destination.  They were just as respectful and polite as the young graduates. But there was a major difference. Many of these men and women had seen action—had been in the midst of battles and wars and had seen unspeakable things. For some, it showed in their posture and in their eyes. Yet, their pride in serving their country showed above all else.

            These young men and women and the veterans should be our heroes and our children’s heroes. Not the actors and actresses or the sports figures who are “popular” today and not heard of tomorrow. Not the hip-hop stars or the reality TV stars, but the reality of these men and women who are willing to give up their life, if need be, for our freedom and safety.

            Let me encourage you to take a few seconds and say “Thank You” anytime you see someone in a military uniform. They deserve our thanks and our respect, because they have volunteered to serve our country – to serve us – in this manner. They deserve our prayers—that every single man and woman would return home safely. May God bless each and every one of our military and may God bless America.

           
beginning, lowly, manger

Christmas Day: The Gift of Himself

Good Morning and Merry Christmas! I understand with the dawning of Christmas Day, Advent has ended. And yet, the priceless gift, given for all, comes to us in a baby . . .

Luke 2 (New King James Version)

Christ Born of Mary

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

   Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
      “ Glory to God in the highest,
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

The beginning of our Savior’s life. His life begins humbly, in lowly surroundings. But His beginning did not stop in from doing anything that God had sent him to earth to do. He answered the call on His life.

What about you? What about me? Have we allowed our beginnings and our history to keep us from answering God’s call? If so, it’s not too late. He remains at the door, knocking. All we have to do is answer, by opening the door.

Abba Father, You have given your most precious, your greatest gift—Your son. He willingly came to earth and was born in a manger in a stable. What a humble beginning for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. At the end of His life, He was victorious over all. May we, your sons and daughters, not look at our beginning or our history or even where we are today, but look to You and answer Your call. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pray, AMEN and AMEN.

praise, Westminster Catechism, worship

Day Twenty Seven: The Gift of Worship

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Psalm 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

There are hundreds of verses encouraging believers to worship. Almost all of the chapters in the book of Psalms are praise and worship chapters. It is one thing that I do not have to be encouraged to do. I love to worship. I love worship music. I have worship music playing now as I write this blog. 

The Westminster Catechism states: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” One way we glorify God is through our worship music and one way we enjoy Him is through our worship. When we worship, whether privately or corporately, we are entering into the presence of the Holy One of Israel. The Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How can we not help but worship the God who created us and who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins that we might spend eternity with Him?  

When we worship, we are reminded of the awesomeness of God. We are reminded of His goodness, His love for us and of His blessings. We are able to thank Him for these blessings. We are able to tell Him how much we love Him. Many times, in our worship, Father God will speak to us—through the music, the words of the song and through His gentle whispers to our hearts and minds.

Worship music is beautiful and our Father’s heart is blessed to hear our voices lifted in worship. Even if we “can’t carry a tune in a bucket” as the old saying goes, we can still worship. The Bible says “Make a joyful noise” – it doesn’t say “sing a song in a perfect tune!” As we lift our hands in praise and bow our hearts in worship, we move even closer to the worship that is continually going on in Heaven. Psalm 63:4-5: “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

I have realized worship lifts my spirits when I’m down. It energizes me when I’m tired. Worship makes me feel better when I’m ill. However, this is not why I worship. I worship because I am so in love with my Abba Father. And the best way I know how to tell Him is through worship.

If you have never truly entered into worship, I encourage you to do so. Put a worship CD on at home and let yourself go in the music. Listen to the words of the songs. Let the music flood your heart, your mind, your soul. Tell Father God how much you love Him and listen as He answers you back. You will be so edified, so blessed, that worship will soon become a part of your daily life.

 Father God, thank you for worship, for beautiful music and words. Thank you for times of private worship and times of corporate worship. May our lives be an act of worship unto You. May we constantly live in an attitude of worship. May our worship be a sweet smelling savor to You, O God. I love you Abba Father. You are my King, my Lord, My Bridegroom. Amen.
His Word, treasures

Day Twenty Six: The Gift of His Word

John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

When I opened today’s gift, it was the gift of God’s Word. What a treasure chest – many gifts all in one place! He gave us:

·         The story of Creation

·         Recounting of the Israelites journey

·         The Leaders/Judges

·         The story of King David

·         The beautiful Psalms

·         The wise Proverbs of Solomon

·         The story of Esther

·         The trials of Job

·         The love story between Christ and His Church – Song of Solomon

·         The Prophets

·         The story of Jesus, found in the four Gospels

·         The visitation of the Holy Spirit

·         Paul’s letters to the churches

·         The letters of Peter, John and Jude

·         The book of Revelation that reveals Jesus to the world in the final days

These are only a few of the treasures found in God’s Word! Every time we “discover” a treasure, we find there are more jewels hidden within that treasure. All we need to know, every answer we seek, is found in His Word.

 Dear Father, thank you seems very inadequate for the gift of Your Word. We am thankful for the lessons found therein and the new revelation You give to us every time we study Your Word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Father Son Mary, Joy McGee

Day Twenty Five: A Sacrifice in His Birth by Joy McGee

I am delighted to have Ms. Joy McGee as my guest blogger today. God has blessed Joy with spiritual insight and wisdom that she uses to bless others. Enjoy this beautiful and moving blog.

A Sacrifice in His Birth
by
Joy McGee

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1: 26-38)

This Christmas season has me more drawn to the birth of Christ, I am sad to say, than any years before and more so, with this passage in particular. We often concentrate on Mary and commend her response to the Lord as she takes on this amazingly huge responsibility. The possibilities are endless as to what could happen to her as an unwed pregnant young girl who is engaged but nevertheless, she seems honored to be given this cup to drink. But I ask, if only for a moment, to look at the supernatural and the possibilities that could have taken place in the heavens at this very same moment. I see it happening something like this:

 “Gabriel’s words to Mary echoed through the heavens as the most crucial of conversations between man and angel occurred. What would Mary say? How would this young woman react? The Holy Trinity already knew the outcome as the angels hung on every word. The Father, looking over at the Son, can already feel His heart being pulled as the separation will soon occur. “Are you ready, Son?” With a smile and a nod, the Christ answered the Father. With his large, gentle hand, The Father reaches over and pulls the Son in for one last tangible hug before The Son leaves his right side for the very first time. The Son is about to enter into the world through the womb of a virgin. He is about to leave the throne of His Kingdom to be born to the very poor family of a carpenter. His head will rest upon hay in his first days and will be crowned in thorns during his last. His earthly mother will cradle him as he enters her world as well as when he leaves it. He will experience every emotion, every temptation, every fear and every feeling that comes with being sinned against, and yet He still agrees to come . . . He still agrees to come.

And then Mary speaks, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” And like that . . . It’s done. The Son has left. He is now Son and man. The angels roar with rejoicing and The Father leaps with glee. The world is being reconciled to Him.

 So during the season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Lord, let us be gracious for his sacrifice, even at his birth. What an amazing God we serve!
MERRY CHRISTMAS

Uncategorized

Day Twenty Four: The Gift of Silver

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Malachi 3:3)

Yesterday, I wrote about the “Gift of Trials.” As I wrote it, I remembered the above verse and a story I read long ago.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character of God.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and share her findings at the next Bible study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one need to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot – then she thought again about Malachi 3:3 “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”

If today, you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God holds you in His hands, watching you until He sees His image in you.”

Steve Green recorded a song about the Refiner’s fire that explains it far better than I ever could:

 The Refiner’s Fire

There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will

Chorus: The Refiner’s fire
Has now become my soul’s desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner’s fire

I’m learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire’s embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I’m not sure that I’ll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive

Chorus

Words and music by Jon Mohr and Randall Dennis
Copyright 1989 Birdwing Music/Jonathan Mark Music (admin. by Gaither copyright management)/J.R. Dennis Music. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Father God, thank you for the Refiner’s fire. Help us to trust you, knowing that You hold us in your hands as we go through the Refiner’s fire. Amen.
gift, joy, trials

Day Twenty Three: The Gift of Trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Just in case anyone thinks this verse is not written to them as a believer, the footnote in the New International Version says: “James 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.”

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christians will not suffer. In fact, it is something we should expect and for which we should be prepared. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying we should walk around in fear, waiting for something bad to happen. But I am saying we should not bury our heads in the sand, thinking because we are Christians, all the trials and tribulations of this life will pass us by. No, in fact the above Scripture tells us just the opposite. We will face trials and we should consider it joy.

In The Message, these verses are even more specific: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

 “He’s kidding, right? I am to consider trials a gift?” Surely the author of The Message, Eugene Peterson, totally messed up that interpretation. But when we receive a gift, isn’t it usually a time of joy, such as Christmas or birthday?

“My faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” Ouch. Now he’s getting too personal. Yet, how many times in my life have I gone through a trial, kicking and screaming all the way? How many times, rather than standing in faith, have I stomped my feet and pitched a fit, like a two year old who can’t have her way? Instead of letting my faith “do the talking” how often have I questioned, “Why me?”  “Why us?” More times than I care to admit.

So what do I need to do about these past trials where I’ve failed so miserably to “consider it a sheer gift?” I repent, asking for God’s forgiveness. And if my kicking and screaming and stomping my feet affected others around me (and don’t think it didn’t), I ask for their forgiveness also.

Then I must make sure that I am prepared for the next trials. And that’s not a typo – trials. Because there will always be more than one. Here’s how I prepare:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:13-18) (emphasis mine)

As Christians, none of us can control what trials come our way, or when they come. But we can react with joy, “considering it to be a gift.”

“Abba Father, thank you for the gift of trials and for the faith and perseverance those trials produce. Help me to always have on my armor and be prepared when trials come my way. Thank you, Father. Amen