A Time to Build. A Time to Grow.

By Tina Aviles, Guest Writer

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

“I listened for God. He said to build things and grow things.” Quite a straightforward proclamation for a 10 year old to make at the breakfast table. But, as many moms know, sometimes God reveals himself through words spoken from a child’s toast and jelly stained lips.

That particular morning, I didn’t catch on to the significance of his words right away. I filed it away as our youngest son’s simple response to his Daddy’s challenge earlier that week to try to listen for God’s side of the conversation and not always just ramble on during prayer time. As is his way, God has repeatedly used the truth revealed in that fleeting moment as a touchstone in our lives. Those first words from God that my son heard have a firm place in our family lore and spiritual growth because they are rich with meaning. More importantly the concepts of building and growing have continued to cause us to meditate on God’s word, influenced our course, and driven us to action. 

Building and growing are similar and yet distinctively different. When building something, you use materials readily available, plan, and create something tangible. Fairly quickly, the hands of man can provide results from building. Growing something is altogether different. It requires that you take what is available to you, bury it, wait, and see if God turns what you have seeded into something tangible. Planting requires faith.

Our foremost desire as parents was to be faith planters in the lives of the four children God miraculously sent us. So, to teach the precepts of building and growing, we turned to God’s Word. It was easy to find references throughout the Bible to both building and growing, but it was chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah that we continually found ourselves drawn to. Much like today, the days of Jeremiah’s life were filled with some major government turmoil. The people faced God’s imminent judgement due to their sinful ways, yet refused to repent. Jeremiah obediently delivered a message from the Lord that foretold utter destruction and capture of the king by enemies. For this gloom and doom prophecy, the king had Jeremiah shuttled to straight to prison. And, as is common for prisoners, he prayed. Jeremiah’s prayers were the kind of prayers that my husband challenged my son to have. A two way conversation with God, where concerted effort is given to listening for God’s response. Ever faithful, God did respond to Jeremiah with a message that proved once again God’s loving kindness. This is where knowing the difference between building and growing comes back in play. God told Jeremiah to buy a parcel of land and make the purchase known publicly because even though total destruction was coming, God deemed it would not be final. In time, God promised to restore not only their land, but peace and safety to the people as well. Have faith amid impending ruination, a season of building and growing was coming.

No matter what it looks like on the ground, remember that nothing is too difficult for God. Expect restoration. The very course of our lives, the big choices, and the small changes have all been influenced by that kind of faith. My dear friend recently shared these words of Mother Teresa with me, “We are called to love the world. And God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus. Today He loves the world so much that He give you and me to be His love, His compassion, and His presence, through a life of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God.” This great woman of faith understood these precepts. She lived a life that exemplified the way God works through both building and growing. She knew that both were worthy endeavors at the right time. As Ecclesiastes extols, there is indeed a time to build and a time to plant.

Contemplating all of this brings me to pray that we would all want more. More time listening to God. More focus on prayer. More revelation of God’s precepts. Today, consider taking some time to listen for God too. He gave a 10 year old some meaty morsels to chew on and share. He has good things for you too.


Confessions of an Appaholic

 By Bethany Jarrell, Guest Writer and current Texas Eagle Forum intern.

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

What would you do if you took a month to completely unplug? No screens. Not a movie, a TV episode, a quick Facebook scroll or an Insta-story. For a solid month. Could you do it?

For as long as I can remember, my family has made it a point to do exactly that during the month of August. Growing up, my friends mourned with me as August approached. As an adult, most look at me strangely when I attempt to explain why I disappear from social media for so long. 

Even as I write this, I am on day 14 of our month turned off. And it is glorious.

The first week is torture.

I delete all of my apps that would tempt me to distract myself and I find my thumb hovering over a spot where an icon should be. After those first days, I start to notice a few more details in my interactions that amuse me and I find I am no longer looking for a way to phrase my “noticings” to humor the few hundred followers I have accumulated on Instagram.

Halfway through, I might check into Facebook to make sure I hadn’t missed a message, only to realize that the noise and clamor of political posts, those weird quizzes to find out what herb you are, and videos of people trying to smear lipstick all over their faces no longer holds as much entertainment as it did a few weeks before. (No offence, lippies. I’m sure your product is still fabulous.)

It is in this time I reflect on the changes in my life since deleting my apps, turning off my notifications, and generally avoiding the mindless distraction that is so readily available.

And here is what I found:

  1. I feel infinitely more creative – Given back the time no longer wasted away on my phone, I am looking for more outlets of productivity. I built a bookcase, bought a set of watercolors, and have actually written more like I said I would ‘if only I had more time’.
  2. I am more focused – Not at first. The initial struggle of not falling into old habits is a tedious battle. The weekends are even harder. No Netflix binging or Twitter Trolling for this girl. Instead, I sit to read the book I bought at the beginning of the year and organize my planner for the upcoming semester of grad school.
  3. I am more intentional with my friendships – I may not know what they ate for lunch or what funny little thing their toddler said. I might miss an engagement announcement or an occasional invitation. But the connections that bring me life are given the opportunity to be poured into and shaped into something no Facebook post could accomplish. The other night, I had an hour-long conversation with my fourteen and twelve year old brothers about leadership and bravery. We got out the book of Joshua and counted the number of times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous.
  4. I pray more – There is nothing I love more by the end of August than paying attention to the little changes in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Inevitably, He uses this time to help me process the previous months and prepare for those ahead. I spend more time reading and memorizing scripture and watching it impact my decisions and relationships. My prayers are less drive-thru demanding and more five-course dine-in satisfying.

And all of those changes are what make September so hard. As long as it is August, I have a compelling reason to stay “disconnected”. But the first days of September are a tussle between the side of me that wants to pull a Kuzco and boom-baby my way back onto social media and the side that is desperate to hold onto what August brought me.

By the end of the month my life is not extraordinarily different. Only exceptionally fuller, purposed, and peaceful.

I promised myself I would not end this with a challenge for you to do the same thing I do. You wouldn’t have the exact same experience anyway. But I will attempt to summarize my thoughts with this:

Our world is full and the noise can be overwhelming, and the stillness we long to have even briefly is harder than ever to find. Tragedy, celebration, and victory will all come in waves but fighting to clear the air and settle our souls is a worthy endeavor.

Appropriately paraphrased in The Message, Psalm 46:10 says:

“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’”

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Let There Be Light

By Brenda Peterson, Guest Writer

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

A few years ago, I felt instructed by God to begin to pray for light, more specifically to pray, “let there be light.” Now while I clearly understood this to be a prayer call to pray for goodness, holiness, and all things God to overcome evil and all things twisted by the enemy, I thought that surely there must be a stronger or more powerful way to pray than just four words from Genesis 1:3! However, there is NEVER a more powerful tool than praying scripture over a situation, and one fragment of God-breathed scripture is more than enough to shatter any force of darkness. So, my husband and I began to pray this simple yet astoundingly powerful prayer. It was an exercise in sheer obedience, directed specifically toward all levels of government, the courts, and the media.

After a period of time, we began to see news story after news story of scandals popping up like daisies. One after the other, we saw corruption, immorality, and unethical behaviors uncovered in the federal government, particularly from the White House to individual members of Congress. We also saw beginning inroads at the state level. We could point to half-a-dozen of these situations at any given time. Now that motivates one to keep praying!! And we shall.

Most of us understand that references to light in scripture refer to God’s holiness and righteousness, and darkness symbolizes evil. Evil loves the dark for that is where it can grow and thrive secretly and hidden away. Never will you see evil gravitating toward a place of light. When it comes to light vs. dark, there is no middle ground. Either light dispels the darkness or darkness snuffs out the light. Even in nature, we see that dusk is the darkness of night overtaking the light of day, and dawn is when light once again overcomes and chases darkness completely away. The two will always war with each other, each seeking to be the force that utterly conquers.

The good news is that light will always win over darkness. Darkness cannot exist in the light, and the smallest flame can chase away darkness. Any time light is introduced into darkness, darkness simply ceases to exist instantly. As long as there is a light source, there is a way for light to conquer the dark. Light vs. dark – good vs. evil – will forever war with each other on this earth. Only one can win… so let there be light!

Genesis1:3 – Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (NKJV)

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About Brenda:

Brenda and her husband own and operate a small business, Tax Prep Financial Services. She has served on the Board of Directors for Tarrant County Eagle Forum, and assists on the Texas Eagle Forum Advisory Board.


His Bride and Joy

By Bunni Pounds, Guest Writer and TEF Consultant

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

Recently, our 20 year old (too young but called of God) son, Israel, got married. Our family went to Romania to celebrate as he and his beautiful bride cut covenant and said “Yes” to each other forever.
This beautiful picture of him kissing his gorgeous, radiant, and joyful bride has had me thinking about the relationship between Jesus and His bride, and how much the Father gave up as well, in this adventure called redemption.
December 2015, I dragged my son (yes, kicking and screaming) on a mission trip to Romania. He didn’t want to go but I saw him floundering after his high school graduation and knew he needed to see the world and experience the presence of God outside of his comfort zone.
Little did I know that God would meet him in such a radical way that this little “shy all his life” boy would get on a plane by himself three weeks after he got home from that trip to go back to Romania where he has been off and on for the last year and a half.
It has been hard on us – mom and dad – to see him go even though we raised him on the Great Commission and we knew God was moving so mightily in his life. We couldn’t argue that he wasn’t supposed to be there, so we continued to pray for peace.
Somewhere along his journey in this foreign land, Israel fell in love with his best friend, fellow worshiper, and the love of his life- Teo. She is beautiful inside and out.
I can only imagine what it was like for Father God to see Jesus leave heaven – the safe place that was full of so much glory- to go to a hostile environment called planet Earth. He had to let Him be born of a virgin, be a kid, and then grow up and mature. Eventually Jesus was at the point where He was ready to fulfill His eternal destiny and to lay down His life and the Father had to watch. It was for this full reason He had come to earth, this was His moment, to redeem His bride.
The swell of pride and heartbreak at the same time that the Father must have felt as His “His beloved Son” traded everything He had for a promise- a promise of a bride. Father God knew Jesus had to go to the cross. He knew this was His ultimate destiny, but I am sure heaven cried as the ultimate sacrifice was made.
All Jesus could see in His heart and mind was His brides’ beauty. He was overcome by love for her. Hebrews even says “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”
What was the joy? 
The joy was the marriage supper of the Lamb- the culmination of His love story where He could finally be with His bride.
As I sat and watched my son’s eyes brimming over with tears as His bride walked down the aisle toward him, I was struck with my own loss (losing my baby boy that I kissed on the cheek over and over again) but at the same time, I was so happy that he had found the perfect bride that I had always prayed for – that matched him completely.
Together in wild unity, joy and sorrow exploded in my heart as my son and new daughter in law became one, but then the rejoicing happened. The dancing. The singing. The pure joy at the marriage supper. It was pure bliss. It had all been worth it!
This is the eternal reality of this love story- you were worth it! The bride from every tongue and tribe and nation was worth it to Jesus.
The bridegroom is singing over you even now, dancing and smiling, and so thankful that you said “yes” to Him.
Just as in this picture above, Jesus is kissing His bride on the cheek as she radiates His love to everyone around. The love is infectious!
“For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the brideSo shall your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5

Facing Our Dunkirk

By Kevin and Marnie Freeman

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

A new movie arriving in theaters July 21, will attempt to tell the story of some rather extraordinary events that took place in May 1940. Tragedy of the most extreme type was about to befall the British, with more than 300,000 soldiers trapped in France and surrounded by a German army more than twice their strength. Short of a miracle, these brave souls, comprising the bulk of the British army, were to be captured, killed, or starved. Yet, as any amateur historian knows, the vast majority was safely transported back to England in what is now known as “the Miracle of Dunkirk.”

Hopefully the movie from acclaimed director Christopher Nolan will tell more than the facts of the matter. The true story is that not one, but multiple miracles took place after King George VI called his nation to set aside May 26th as a National Day of Prayer. The King worshiped God at Westminster Abbey. The rest of the British Empire joined him in churches around the world crying out to the true Almighty. This heartfelt prayer certainly had an effect.

We know from the scriptures that when two or more gather in the name of the Lord, God shows up (Matthew 18:20).  We also know that the effectual, fervent (heartfelt) prayer of the righteous has great power (James 5:16). These scriptures proved true at Dunkirk. As Winston Churchill observed, “335,000 men had been carried out of the jaws of death and shame to their native land.” How that happened was indeed a miracle.

Reverend David E. Gardner wrote a trilogy on Dunkirk entitled The Trumpet Sounds for Britain. He went to be with the Lord in 2002 but MovieGuide saw fit to excerpt his work for a recent article titled History in the Movies: The Miracle of Dunkirk (https://www.movieguide.org/news-articles/history-in-the-movies.html).

Rev. Gardner explained the miracles that saved the men (quoting the Movieguide excerpts):

“The first miracle

The first was that for some reason – which has never yet been fully explained – Hitler overruled his generals and halted the advance of his armored columns at the very point when they could have proceeded to the British army’s annihilation. They were now only 10 miles away! Later, Mr. Churchill asserted in his memoirs that this was because Hitler undoubtedly believed “that his air superiority would be sufficient to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea.” That is very significant in terms of the second miracle.

 The second miracle

A storm of unprecedented fury broke over Flanders on Tuesday, 28 May, (1940), grounding the German Luftwaffe squadrons and enabling the British army formations, now eight to twelve miles from Dunkirk, to move up on foot to the coast in the darkness of the storm and the violence of the rain, with scarcely any interruption from aircraft, which were unable to operate in such turbulent conditions. The Fuehrer had obviously not taken the weather into his reckoning, nor the One who controls the weather! And, the third miracle?

The third miracle

Despite the storm in Flanders, a great calm—such as has rarely been experienced—settled over the English Channel during the days which followed, and its waters became as still as a mill pond.

It was this quite extraordinary calm which enabled a vast armada of little ships, big ships, warships, privately owned motor-cruisers from British rivers and estuaries – in fact, almost anything that would float – to ply back and forth in a desperate bid to rescue as many of our men as possible.

The Little Ships

There were so many ships involved in the evacuation that this is the way in which Douglas Bader, the legless Spitfire fighter ace, who sped over with his squadrons from the fighter base at Martlesham, near Ipswich, to help cover the operation, described the scene in Fight for the Sky: “The sea from Dunkirk to Dover during these days of the evacuation looked like any coastal road in England on a bank holiday. It was solid with shipping. One felt one could walk across without getting one’s feet wet, or that’s what it looked like from the air. There were naval escort vessels, sailing dinghies, rowing boats, paddle-steamers, indeed every floating device known in this country. They were all taking British soldiers from Dunkirk back home. You could identify Dunkirk from the Thames estuary by the huge pall of black smoke rising straight up into a windless sky from the oil tanks which were ablaze just inside the harbor.”

Yet still, to a very large extent, the German air squadrons were unable to intervene. Certainly not in force, nor in the way Hitler had anticipated, for so many of these squadrons still remained grounded. So much so, that General Haider, Chief of the German General Staff, three days after the High Command had so proudly boasted that the British Army was about to be annihilated, was obliged to record in his diary on 30 May that “Bad weather has grounded the Luftwaffe, and now we must stand by and watch countless thousands of the enemy getting away to England right under our noses.”

A strange immunity 

Even though some squadrons did get through, it seems that yet another miracle happened. Many of the troops on the beaches were favored with a strange immunity. When about 400 men were being machine-gunned and bombed, systematically, by about sixty enemy aircraft, one man who flung himself down with the rest reported that, after the strafing was over, he was amazed to find that there was not a single casualty.

Another man, a chaplain, was likewise machine-gunned and bombed as he lay on the beach. After what seemed an eternity, he realized he had not been hit, and rose to his feet to find that the sand all around where he had been lying was pitted with bullet holes, and that his figure was outlined on the ground.”

 

There was and should be no doubt that miracles took place. In fact, it was so obvious that the British, with such deep gratitude, held a day of National Thanksgiving on June 9 with praying and the singing of Psalm 124:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us:

Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:

Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:

Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.

Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

King James Version (KJV)

Public Domain

So What Lessons Can We Learn from Dunkirk Today?

There are at least three valuable and timeless lessons to take from the Dunkirk Miracle.

First, we must recognize that miracles can still happen today. Sometimes it seems easy to relegate God’s hand of Providence to Biblical Times. And then the temptation is to relegate Biblical accounts as simply stories told as if they were Greek mythology or ancient fairy tales. There is no discounting what happened in 1940, however. That history is so well documented that it must be accepted. And that history is absolute in explaining the miracles that took place.

Oftentimes, people will question Biblical accounts because they don’t experience modern miracles. Dunkirk gives us reason to not only acknowledge the miraculous in modern times but heartens our understanding of Biblical accounts.

Think about it. We have a nation in an impossible situation. A hostile army of superior strength intent on their destruction surrounded their people. That nation cries out to God and is miraculously delivered through the sea. Sound familiar?

Kevin was recently in Egypt and had the opportunity to learn about the mummified remains of Pharaoh Ramses II. This is the Pharaoh commonly associated with Moses and the Exodus.  When the researchers unwrapped him for display at the Egyptian Museum late in the 20th Century, his arms were differently positioned from any other mummy. In fact, the museum officially states that his arms were positioned as if he were holding the reigns to a chariot with his right hand and attempting to hold back an onslaught of water with his left. In addition, x-rays suggest that he died from drowning with sea salt found inside the mummy. Other research suggests that he died around the age of 90. All of this is consistent with the Biblical account of Exodus. (http://thecairopost.youm7.com/news/142273/culture/ramses-ii-pharaoh-of-exodus-researcher-says).

 God’s deliverance is a continual theme in the Bible. Sometimes, this was personal deliverance for individuals or families, as in the case of the three Hebrew children (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Other times, it was a miracle to save a nation (such as David vs. Goliath). But the point is that the history of Dunkirk demonstrates that these are more than stories. And, the miracles did not end when the Bible was finished.

The second lesson from Dunkirk has to do with the importance of giving thanks for God’s deliverance.

It is essential to note that the deliverance of Dunkirk did not end the war. In fact, the British were still heavily outmanned and outgunned. The war was going to be taken to their homeland with the Battle of Britain that would start in the next month and last for another year. And, the completion of the war itself was five years away and the prospects remained dire. Britain was about to be tested as never before and they knew it. And yet, they paused on a Sunday in June to drop to their knees in Thanksgiving, prayer, and praise.

For us, we should be careful to give God the glory and demonstrate our own thanksgiving for any deliverance, whether large or small. We must do this even if we don’t know or see the final outcome. It is too easy to ignore the miracles we experience daily because we continue to fear the larger challenge. A good example from Exodus is how the children of Israel took manna for granted because they remained in the wilderness.

A New Testament example that shows a lack of gratitude can be seen with the ten lepers who were healed. Only one returned to give thanks. Jesus rightly questioned (Luke 17: 17), “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”

The third lesson from Dunkirk is a reminder that we ought to be crying out for deliverance. What are you going through today where you could use a touch from God? Do you need God’s miraculous help with your family, your health, or your finances? If God was able to rescue 335,000 Brits from an impossible circumstance, He is clearly able to deliver you. And, for those of us concerned about the declining culture, the economy, or national security threats, it is imperative that we purposely cry out to God now.

There are so many threats we face as Christians in America. There is the effort to stamp out religious liberty, wherein you are not allowed to demonstrate your faith in the marketplace. There is the threat of terrorism and radical jihadists who want to force Shariah law on our nation. There is human trafficking and child exploitation that hides in the shadows but threatens our children. There are potentially systemic threats to our power grid. And, of course, there are international threats from rogue nations and their leaders. The list of threats is long. Given that, shouldn’t we be crying out to God Almighty both individually and corporately?

Sometimes it seems as if God waits for His people to cry out before delivering them. So why aren’t we crying out? Oh that President Trump, accompanied by leaders in Congress, would call for a day of national prayer and fasting to ask for God’s hand of protection. Oh that each state or city’s leaders would do the same. Oh that we would be unwavering in joining together in prayer groups and Bible studies everywhere, to perpetually and persistently petition God for deliverance for our ourselves, our families, our cities, our states, and our country!

For us, the challenge of Dunkirk is to believe in God, to recognize our utter dependence on his sovereign divine hand, to cry out to him ceaselessly, and to understand that the God of the Bible is alive today and He continues to reign in the affairs of men.

Are you facing a personal Dunkirk where things seem impossible and there is no way out? Odds are, you have just emerged from a serious challenge or are about to enter one. Take comfort! The God behind the miracle of Dunkirk is alive and well, ready to help you in your time of greatest need.

If you appreciate the work of Texas Eagle Forum, please consider partnering with us in prayer and financial support.

 

 

Marnie and Kevin Freeman are full on believers in Jesus Christ. They believe their highest calling to be serving God, their families, their friends and clients, their church, and their communities at the local, state, and federal levels. Kevin, an investment manager and CFA, is an expert on financial terrorism, a NY Times bestselling author (http://secretweapon.org/) of Secret Weapon: How Economic Terrorism Brought Down the Stock Market and Why It Can Happen Again and Game Plan: How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Cyber-Economic Attack, and host of the new television show Economic War Room with Kevin Freeman (http://economicwarroom.com/).

Marnie is a full time mom, award-winning artist (http://marniefreeman.com/), teacher, volunteer, and sits on the Texas Eagle Forum Advisory board and the Tarrant County Eagle Forum Board.


Pieced Together

By Heather Stoner, Grassroots America We the People

Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

When my dear friend Trayce asked me to write a devotional for Texas Eagle Forum, she said “just write what God has been showing you lately”.  I thought “Ha, WHICH thing?!” Have you ever had a time in your life where you feel that EVERY time you turn around, God is taking the opportunity to  show you an area in your life that you need to work on?  I now  know how my precious daughter must have felt in those few (and thankfully they were few)  seasons of life when she seemed to hear my voice OFTEN correcting something she was doing. I am in one of those seasons with God.

Recently, I received a stack of old quilts that had been worked by my grandmother who passed away years ago.  Some of the quilts are lovely with just two colors. Red and white or lavender and white. But my favorite one is the patchwork, multi colored one. If I look closely at the tattered fabric, I recognize a little gingham from a childhood dress she made me, a bit of red striped fabric from my Raggedy Ann doll, and a little calico from the summer she taught me to sew doll clothes.

Today, I feel like that quilt. God has taken the “pieces” of my life and pieced them together to form who I am.  And although there are days that I feel like I am tattered and worn. When I see only colors that are not as crisp and sharp as they were long ago. I remember that God has placed each experience, trial, joy and sorrow in my life to bring me to who I am today in him. Often, I wish he would take a seam ripper and cut out a few squares that I don’t want in my story and replace them with a pretty, new version.  But he knows the pattern of the quilt. Some days I wish I was like one of the ones with only two colors.  A life more settled, safe, and sane. But he saw fit to make mine full of textures, patterns and color.

Because I made a major move across the county three years ago I feel like a quilt that was pulled out of a chest. It had taken years to gather all the pieces, have a full life and tell a story with a completed pattern.  But when found by a new owner it is only seen for what it is today. They do not know the story, the history or the purpose that the quilt was created for.  BUT the creator knew. Just like my grandmother knew every scrap of fabric and where it came from and that she had created THAT specific quilt with love, for warmth to her granddaughter.  God knows every single one of my pieces. He knows the purpose that I was created for and that there is STILL use and purpose, although a bit tattered and frayed around the edges, left until the day I am called home.

A treasured quilt also leaves a legacy. Years ago, God gave me a verse when I was going through the most difficult, darkest days of my life.

She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

Many days I may feel too small and weak against the forces I am up against. He will give me strength. I want to honor God even in the most difficult of circumstances. He will give dignity and when I get stressed at the world around me. He will give me laughter without fear of the future.  Will your legacy be one of strength, dignity and some laughter along the way?

So, sure there are pieces that we wish we could go back and re-cut. But be excited about the wonderful pattern and design that God is making out of your life. And know that just like every quilt, he has a purpose and will use you to his honor and glory.  Look for how you can use the very fabric of your life to bring purpose to what you do. I look at courageous people around me standing up for what they believe. Many are using scraps of their story to form their testimonies. What do you have to offer? What is the pattern of your life that God is STILL weaving together and still using with HIS purpose in mind. Unique because just as there will never be an exact same hand worked quilt, neither will our stories and legacy be exactly the same.

If you appreciate the work of Texas Eagle Forum, please consider partnering with us in prayer and financial support.


Appeal to Heaven

By Dr. Thomas Schlueter, Prince of Peace House of Prayer Pastor & Texas Apostolic Prayer Network Coordinator

This is part of our new series – Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

 

The American Revolution was beginning in 1775. The British, the most powerful military in the world, was occupying Boston and problems in the colonies were rising. George Washington and the Continental Army were besieging British held Boston at the time. The British troops were trapped in the city and the only way to receive food and supplies was by sea. Washington wanted to harass and capture as many ships bringing supplies to the troops in Boston as possible, so he formed a small squadron of ships, outfitted at his own expense, for the task. Each schooner was to have a special flag flown from its mast. All boats were to have “An Appeal to Heaven” flags upon them. This flag, also known as “Washington’s cruiser flag.” was a white flag with an evergreen tree in the middle and the words “An Appeal to Heaven” stitched across.

On November 29, 1775, the USS Lee captured the British brigantine Nancy. Captain John Manley was given command of a schooner named the USS Lee, after General Charles Lee. The brigantine Nancy was a massive 250-ton British ship bringing supplies to Boston. Unknown to Captain Manley and the crew of the USS Lee, the ship was carrying tons of ammunition and weapons. The prize was so great that it was said our country would have taken well over a year to produce. Not only was this the greatest capture of the entire Revolution, it also inspired all the founding fathers and the birth of our countries United States Navy as we know it today. The original schooners bearing the“Appeal to Heaven” flags continued capturing British ships and performing special services for the remainder of the war as our new Navy was being formed. In addition to the schooners, the flag was also flown on floating batteries, river banks, in towns, battlefields like Bunker Hill, and even places of most importance like our nation’s capital in Philadelphia.

The Pine Tree, also known as the “Tree of Peace” has been sacred by the Iroquois Indians for over a  thousand years in America. At a very troubling time in their history, a peacemaker united six great tribes from the Great Lake areas and established unity. This great treaty was symbolized by burying their weapons under a pine tree and this tree was to be guarded by a bald eagle at its peak clutching six arrows.

The truth is, our founding fathers and early settlers were very much influenced by the Iroquois Indians. Just around the time of the signing of The Declaration, The Iroquois attended a Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. This meeting was one of the many were the Indians would inspire our founders to unite with them in their ways of living, laws, and style of government. It was just after this that the “Tree of Peace” became known as our new “Liberty Tree” and it would show itself on flags of all kinds, especially those in the fight for our freedom.

The phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” comes from John Locke from England.  Locke was one of the great philosophers of his time. He, like other English Philosophers, was also influenced by the Iroquois in America. “An Appeal to Heaven” comes from his studies on “Natural Laws”, a system of right or justice common to all humankind and derived from nature rather than from the rules of society and the only judge is that of our Creator. Thomas Jefferson penned it well in our Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

As Texans and Americans, let us boldly make our Appeal To Heaven in this hour.

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Clearing the View

By Becky Leach (Wife of Rep. Jeff Leach & Guest Writer)

This is part of our new series – Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)

What if blessing doesn’t come in the form of gross sales, Facebook likes and career promotions? What if instead, it comes in the shape of heart lessons, contentment and peace? What if the way we’ve been taught to measure blessing is actually the world’s view of success? What if “blessing” is NOT measured by worldly standards but by the very presence of God in our lives?

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

Blessed is the man who trusts. Not blessed is the man who has everything. Not blessed is the man who wins elections, has a million twitter followers, has the biggest house or the most friends. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.

Scripture tells us that God’s plan for us is, indeed, prosperous, good and blessed – but somewhere along the way we have turned it into a story of worldly success over simply being God’s vessel.

When I was in Africa several years ago, the term ‘blessing’ impacted me greatly after precious women, who had nothing, would exclaim over and over that they were so very blessed.They had great contentment, joy and the overflowing presence of the Holy Spirit. They worshiped Jesus with every step they took. They saw their very breath as a blessing from God.

They didn’t question quantity of quality because all they had was quality – and they viewed themselves as so very rich.

I fear that I’ve gotten this wrong for so long, y’all. I fear that I’ve valued success over blessing – I fear that I’ve put them in the same bucket when they were never intended to be.

In scripture, the way of blessing was the way of the wilderness, but the Israelites questioned and argued and complained the entire way. Moses, however, trusted God to deliver time and time again and was blessed.

The way of blessing was the fiery furnace. Their faith was extreme – and only grew after God saved them. Their trust in the Lord was contagious. 

The way of blessing was through the death of Ruth’s husband. She persevered, experienced God’s faithfulness and then became a woman in the line of David. Her trust in the Lord deepened.

I have to stop thinking of blessing in terms of the way the world thinks of it. I must start looking at blessing through the eyes of an eternal God. But still, it is hard to come to the conclusion that blessing does not equal success nor does success equal blessing.

Let’s look at the prayer of Jabez, a popular prayer of blessing that has become a great model of how we can pray over our lives. He asks the Lord: “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me.” (1 Chronicles 4:10, emphasis mine).

Isn’t it interesting that he asked for blessing AND that God would grow his reach, protect him and that God would be with him? Could that be because blessing is within and all the other parts of the equation is simply part of God’s divine ordination?

Of course God desires success for our businesses, our families and our volunteer positions. Of course blessing can come in the form of growth.

 But it is when we value the success OVER the heart lessons, contentment and peace that we can get into trouble.

For me it boils down to this : I am a writer so I deal in terms of page views, likes, shares and readership. I am a shop owner so I also deal in terms of sales, revenue and measured growth. I am an artist and deal yet more in technique growth, finding my voice and education. These are all good things.

But they are not the best thing.

They are not the thing that we should be after as believers! The thing we should be after is Christ, because the thing He is after is our heart.

Maybe you are in a place of discouragement today. Maybe you feel down about your numbers or not getting that big promotion. Maybe you simply feel small – and you see women all around you who are “enlarging their territory” and it seems as though God’s hand is on them but not big enough to cover you as well.

Friend, I have been there. Heck – I find myself there most days. But the encouragement is that our God loves us and blesses us from the inside out. He is teaching us, shaping us, molding us to be more like HIM to be used by HIM so that we might speak about HIM.

It’s not about us, but it is all about Him. It always will be.

I am more convinced than ever that God’s blessing is not, in fact, measured by how successful I am, but measured more by how much I trust God – and the result of that is peace, joy and contentment – all of which money (and success) could never buy!

So we have two choices today. We can leave this time here together encouraged that God’s hand of blessing isn’t necessarily measured by numbers and let that carry us through our successes and failures OR we can start our day still questioning whether or not God loves us because our measured growth isn’t going up fast enough.

Which will you choose? I pray you will choose encouragement and trust alongside me today! It is never the easy choice – but it is always the best choice!

It is an honor to share here today! May y’all feel blessed today!

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