1st Presidential Inaugural Address

george-washington-webIn his Inaugural Address to both Houses of Congress, April 30, 1789, George Washington proclaimed:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

…Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

…Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

George Washington

Best Plan Ever

john-3-16-web-print-horiz“The heart is deceitful (crooked) above all things, and desperately sick with an incurable disease”

(Jer. 17:9).  Even a reformed healthcare system can’t fix it.

But we’ve been offered a new plan that works from the inside out and ultimately promises a total transformation (Phil. 3:20-21, 1 Cor. 15:49, 53-57). Partakers of this new plan will experience powerful renewal & strength internally as their mind is transformed to a superior way of thinking (Eph. 3:16, 19; Col. 3:10).

                You see we’ve been offered an amazing gift from a beneficent God in the form of His only begotten Son. For those who accept this precious, indescribable, free offer they will receive (1) irrevocable eternal life assurance (Eph. 1:13) and (2) bonus benefit of a new nature that can be redeemed & utilized immediately (2 Cor. 9:15, Eph. 2:8, John 3:16, 1 Tim. 4:8, Rom. 5:18-19, 6:23). This is a free deal! A universal plan (no exclusions) open to all who accept the offer (John 3:16). There are no premiums or deductibles and no need to be concerned about a pre-existing condition as it’s waived upon acceptance (2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 7:24, Col. 2:14, Rom. 3:19-26)!

Read on for more details regarding the plan.

 New Nature portion of the Plan (Follow for optimal results):

By accepting this new winning plan the member immediately receives the flawless designed New Nature (Eph. 4:24, 2 Cor. 5:17). As the instructions in the manual are followed correctly the member will be able to deal with everything this life throws their way (Refer to sections: John 16:33, 1 John 5:4, 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:15-17, 1 Cor. 2:16, Phil. 4:9).

  • DETOXIFICATION IS A MUST. Members of the new plan must rid the body of toxins from the old diseased nature (Eph. 4:22). (It isn’t profitable to leave in the system-John 6:63, Rom. 7:18.) Purge: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, conceit, provocations, envying, evil desire, covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying… (Ga. 5:19-21, Col. 3:1-9). Repeat detox as necessary to eliminate toxins as they re-emerge.
  • DAILY MIND RENEWAL VITAL. After the old is purged, the member will want to renew their mind to be in accordance with the new plan (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:10, 1 Cor. 2:16). Full coverage will take effect as all the required items of protection are put on (See Eph. 6:13-17). These will act as antigens and protection against the onslaught of unseen elements in the present fallen environment (Eph. 6:11-12, 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Full & fruitful benefits of: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control along with tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance & forgiveness will be reaped (Gal. 5:22-23, Col. 3:12-13) enabling the member to effectively cope in the new man mode.
  • PREVENTIVE CARE: The outward is dying so physical training will be of some value, but spiritual training for the inner man will have value for all things in this life & the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8, 2 Cor. 4:16)–so don’t waste too much time at the gym.
  • AVOID ADDED STRESS & STEER CLEAR of exposure to profane & idle chatter as well as divisive disputes & arguments over words which come from toxic sources that try to entangle members into worldly affairs (1 Tim. 6:4-5, 20, 2 Tim. 2:4, Rom. 16:17).
  • MAINTAIN FOCUS on things above (Col. 3:2) and what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). This will keep the mind at peace.
  • IF FEAR & ANXIETY SET IN refer to these sections of the manual: 1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7, 1 John 4:8, 2 Tim. 1:7, Rom. 8:6, Col. 3:15 and it will subside.
  • 24/7 CARE: See sections: Romans 8:26-27, 34 & Jeremiah 33:3.

A loving, merciful God has offered an amazing plan.

What are you waiting for? Act today and reap the benefits now & eternally! 

Laura

 

CHOOSE LOVE

The purpose of creating this piece of Martin Luther King Jr was to focus on his message of love & forgiveness. In his time he had every reason to be bitter & hate but he chose love over hate & peace over conflict. He was not a perfect man but chose to handle himself in a way that has garnered respect many decades after his death. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness”. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Lets choose to live together as brothers instead of perish together as fools. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”martin-luther-king-jr-web-print

BECOMING UPWARDLY MOBILE

Rock that is Higher
Rock that is Higher by Laura Kestly

The Christian life, like mountain climbing, is all about challenge and perseverance–not everyone will reach the summit. It’s akin to a mountaineering expedition that many are content with staying at a low altitude. It’s a wonderful (or as my Grandma would say, “Marvelous”) thing to be saved purely by grace from a loving & merciful God for all that receive it by faith. Thankfully, salvation does come by grace rather than by our works of any kind & we can feel secure that it won’t be taken away (It’s a sealed deal-Eph. 2:8-9, 1:13). Sadly many Christians stop here (at the base) and set up camp. They never desire ‘things above’ or to become “upwardly” mobile (Col. 3:1-2). Some seem content as the Israelites were with their captivity in Egypt. The hazards of “falling rocks” & “avalanches” in their lives keep them at base camp rather than ascending toward the summit.

                To know and be secure in one’s salvation is a glorious thing and it should propel the believer toward good works. After all we are God’s workmanship & He even prepared ahead of time what our good works will be. He’s just waiting for us to walk in them (Eph. 2:10). Even though God has equipped us with all the proper gear that’s needed for our climb, we need to be willing to ‘work out’ what He’s already ‘worked in’–doing so with fear & trembling as a prize awaits to be won & a crown to be gained–but no man is crowned unless he strives within the rules (Phil. 2:12-13, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 2 Tim. 2:5). The outworking comes as the hideousness of sin is exposed and the mind is renewed & understands what the good, acceptable & perfect will of God is (Rom. 12:2). All these the Lord uses to influence those willing to ascend to a Rock that is Higher (Ps. 61:2).

            BEWARE: LET NO ONE CHEAT YOU OF YOUR REWARD

            It isn’t just the obvious hazards of the climb that keep believers camped out. Satan doesn’t need to waste his time & energy in trying to deprive the believer of his acceptance in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6) as his life is ‘hid with Christ in God’–in the shadow of His wings (Col. 3:3, Ps. 91:1-2, 4). So Satan invests his time in trying to deceive the believer to turn away from the fullness of Christ—causing him to release his grip from the ‘Head’ (like gear protection from falling). The enemy accomplishes this through diversion–tricking the believer to be occupied with the philosophy & empty deceit of men & the basic principles of the world. This includes deluding the believer to delight in false humility, the worship of angels & be brainwashed into obeying the regulations according to the commandments & doctrines of men. These are only a facade of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, & neglect of the body, but are worthless protection against the indulgence of the flesh. Thus the devil’s scheme has effectively dishonored the believer and cheated them out of their reward. Their prize is lost & above all the Savior robbed–for what is a crown to the believer but an added crown to Him?” (Col. 2:1-10, 16-23). It’s not surprising that many have fallen off course in a society where instant gratification is promulgated whereas the reward in God’s economy goes to those who patiently suffer (Phil. 3:19, Heb. 12:1-2).

FOCUS on Upward Mobility. Avoid falling back. Look to the Rock that is Higher than you–where your true citizenship is (Ps. 61:2, Col. 3:2-3, Phil. 3:20-21). Be like the apostle Paul who desired to know what it was like ‘to walk in Christ’s shoes’ which involved a deep, personal relationship that was willing to partake of Christ’s suffering & shame–a fellowship & conformity that knew that the prize, reward and crown were worth the steep climb! So forget those things which are behind & reach forward to those things which are ahead–Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14)! If we endure, we will also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you (Phi. 4:13)–So Ascend!      Laura

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

o-come-let-us-adore-him-webFor most, it’s far easier to grasp God as the Creator of the majestic mountains, the delicate flowers and the patterned butterfly than as a baby in a lowly manger.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

A few years back when my husband & I took a trip to Arizona for our 25th wedding anniversary we road-tripped to the Grand Canyon. As we stood on the rim of the canyon and gazed first-hand at its majesty, it was awe-inspiring & breath-taking.

                All creation bears God’s handiwork and the imprint of His touch as His eternal power & divine nature are revealed (Rom. 1:19-20). Pattern and purpose are visible everywhere–from the intricate design of a flower and butterfly to the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning & reproduction of the human body, as well as the reliable & orchestrated rising & setting of the sun.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

Purposefully God revealed Himself in the likeness of man (Hebrews 1:1-4).

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

–The same Word that is the invisible God.

–The same Word that is before all things & in Him, all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17).

–The same Word that upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

–The same Word, who being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-7), being born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7).

Why?

                God chose to take on the likeness of man and suffer to pay the penalty (wages) of sin for man, which was death (on the cross), so that man could be redeemed through His blood (saved/released from the power & fear of death) and be reconciled to enjoy eternal life with Him (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, Col. 1:19-22, Eph. 1:7, 2:13-19, Col. 2:13-15, Heb. 2:9).

                God revealed this great LOVE for man (even while man was dead in trespasses) because He so LOVED the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Eph. 2:4, John 3:16). It’s by grace man has been saved through faith (not of man’s doing)—it’s the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). But to enjoy a gift, one must first receive it–and this one through faith. Faith receives the gift that is undeserved.

                When God came as a baby thousands of years ago, He wasn’t well received (except for some angels, shepherds and wise men)–But after Christ died & was raised from the dead, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Col. 2:12, Phil. 2:9-11).

 O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant–

O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

  Laura

God’s Faithfulness in a Fallen World

great-is-thy-faithfulness-without-border
by Laura Kestly

GOD

faith•ful: loyal, constant, steadfast, true, trustworthy

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful & gracious, slow to anger, & abounding in steadfast love & faithfulness.” –Exodus 34:6

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”           –2 Cor. 1:20

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful–for He cannot deny Himself.” -2 Tim. 2:13

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MAN

un•faith•ful: disloyal, wavering, adulterous, false, unreliable

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23

Throughout the history of mankind, mortal man’s unfaithfulness to God is recorded.

  •  Man’s allegiance to God failed in the garden resulting in man’s separation from God to live in a sin-stained world with death as his sentence (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:13, 6:23).
  • In the days of Noah, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
  • “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21-23).
  • God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, had a pattern of being unfaithful to God. “…for a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore” (Hosea 4:12). “How the faithful city has become a whore” (Isaiah 1:21).

God commissioned Jeremiah as His spokesman to prophesy to a nation gone astray. Jeremiah lamented bitterly as Israel went into captivity and Jerusalem was desolated.

It wasn’t until Lamentations 3:21, where Jeremiah’s tone changes, beginning with a pivotal word, “but”. All seemed without hope to Jeremiah until ”but this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness…“therefore I will hope in him” (Lam. 3:21-24).

————————————————————————–

BUT

but: except for the fact

In man’s failures of unfaithfulness to God above, all is not lost–there is a “but”…

                Mankind should be so very thankful that God’s great faithfulness is coupled with great love & mercy. The Psalmist declares, “Thy mercy O Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.” -Ps. 36:5

  •  but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).
  • “for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
  • but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:4-7).
  • but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13).

                Alas, this fallen world continues to be filled with disappointment and sadness whether over the loss of loved ones, failing health, broken appliances, vehicles & relationships…or even disappointment with our very own short-comings, but we can be like Jeremiah and keep God’s Words of hope in the forefront of our mind as we cling to the Father of lights Who never changes as we hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; FOR HE IS FAITHFUL THAT PROMISED” (James 1:17, Heb. 10:23).

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” –Isaiah 40:8

 With a thankful heart, Laura

AFRAID OF SCARY THINGS IN THE DARK?

fear-not-armor-of-god
Fear Not: Armor of God by Laura Kestly

If we really believe in just what we see in our world today, we can be filled with fear.

One only has to look at the events going on in the news every night (not to mention the Presidential election) to realize we live in frightening times.

                The truth is that we do wrestle against some pretty scary things–things that we don’t actually see but are pretty mighty like: “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age–spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The enemy or bad guy in our scary movie, the devil, is a wily one with ‘tricks’ that may appear as ‘treats’ as his mode of operation (Matt. 13:39, Eph. 4:14, Gen. 3). The fact is that he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). This prince of demons (Matt. 12:24) wants us to believe that it’s “flesh & blood” (the physical human person) that we wrestle with, instead of the very real, dark spiritual forces behind it. Satan is an incredible illusionist– a master of disguises. He is able to deceive many when he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). That’s why God has provided us with a costume of sorts for our protection—it’s called the armor of God (aka the Lord Jesus Christ). When one chooses to put on this protection, they will become ‘hid in Him’ and able to stand in strength & mighty power against the devil’s tricks (Col. 3:3, Eph. 6:13-17).

Believers can take comfort that greater is He who is in their inner man than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4, Eph. 3:16). When we ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, we also put on love (Col. 3:14, 1 John 4:7-12). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

                When we’re fearful we rely on our own fallible understanding & ways rather than trust in an almighty infallible God, Who moves in mysterious ways that we do not always understand. It’s helpful to be constantly mindful that God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose (Isa. 55:8-9). A Christian believer is someone who trusts in the knowledge & the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities or in man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:20-21, 2:5, 3:19; 2 Cor. 1:12). If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of a child of God.

                Who hasn’t given their all physically at a time or two (or three…) and become exhausted? But when one gives of themselves spiritually (relying on an almighty, powerful source) their strength is enhanced, not depleted (Isa. 40:29; Eph. 3:16 6:10). Fear & worry steal the strength that God freely has available for us to be utilizing each moment of our day.  

                As we look to the Author & Finisher of our faith, we can be motivated to move in love, not fear (Heb. 12:2).

I find it helpful to consistently ask myself, “Are my words and actions motivated by love or by fear?” If I find they are motivated by fear, I pray to cast down this false thinking & renew my mind in the right spirit (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Eph. 4:23, Rom. 12:2).   There is some truth in what the character Yoda, in the movie Star Wars said,

“Fear is the path to the dark side,

Fear leads to anger,

Anger leads to hate,

Hate leads to suffering.”

The suffering referred to is not the suffering that is patiently endured in the Christian faith (Col. 1:24, Phil. 3:10, 2 Tim. 1:8), rather it’s the suffering that’s rooted in fear and doesn’t lead to a peaceful resting in God.

                So let’s pursue love, not fear and cast off the works of the dark side, and put on the armor of light–the Lord Jesus Christ–making sure there’s not any room for the flesh (or fear) (Rom. 13:12, 14).                     Laura

FRUSTRATED? MISSING THIS?

nisi dominus frustra web print“Nisi Dominus Frustra”–three forgotten words that were brought back to memory after a recent cleaning of my art room. The small canvas that I had painted of this saying had fallen off a wall & was wedged in between cabinets. I picked it up & looked at it—remembering the Latin words meaning immediately: “Without the Lord—Frustration”. This forgotten truth had also fallen away from me–lost in certain areas of my life.

 The reality is that there is nothing (not one thing) that is good that dwells in any of us apart from God in Christ. Our fallen, fleshly nature is corrupt & should not be trusted (Rom. 7:18, 3:23). Truly, “To err is human”. We mere mortals are so easily deceived (as our earliest ancestors were in Gen. 3:5) in believing that we are God and so we go about our day in our own self-sufficiency (thinking we have it all figured out) as we make our plans excluding God from our thoughts and conversations (prayers). For those of us who have chosen to believe and receive the gracious gift of God in Christ we have another Divine option available that doesn’t have to rely on fallible wisdom (Rom. 8:9, 26, 15:13; Eph. 1:13, 3:16, 4:23).

 Without God one only has to look at Romans 1:18-32 & Eph. 2:12 (or at much of our world today).

We’ve seen how our country has deteriorated in the areas where God has been removed. When I catch myself striving in my flesh during projects, errands, household tasks—life’s circumstances, I know that I’ve forgotten to make God first, consulting Him through His Word and prayer.

 Frustration sets in

as a man sets his own course

without thoughts from God

 God seems to have an interesting way of upsetting the plans we’ve made when we don’t bring Him in on the initial stages of things. We may find ourselves in circumstances that weren’t chosen by Him and suddenly realize that we’ve been “leaning on our own understanding”, not trusting in Him with all our heart. Proverb 3:5-6 says, “In ALL your ways acknowledge Him (not just in what we consider the more important things) and He will direct your paths.”  The following verses show the benefits of including the Lord in every area of life—besides a lack of frustration, there will be direction, established plans, and a renewal that brings strength and health to our lives.

  •  “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” -Proverb 16:3-
  • “Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him; and He will bring it to pass.” -Psalm 37:5-
  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” –Psalm 127:1-
  • “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” -Proverb 16:9-
  • “…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run & not be weary, they shall walk & not faint.” –Isaiah 40:31-
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”  -Proverb 3:5-7-

With God all things are possible—we have purpose, love, mercy, forgiveness of sins, hope, peace, protection, & escape from temptation (Matt. 19:26; Eph. 2:10, 2; Rom. 15:13, 5:1; Phil. 4:9; Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Cor. 10:13)…and a lack of frustration!

 

Laura