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The Lost Champion


 

As one who played tennis for many years and watched championships for decades, I must say I have never seen one like yesterday’s Women’s final at the US Tennis Open.

 In any sport there are rules and regulations. There are contentious moments and days of grandeur but in the end the cliché that “it’s not about winning, but how you play the game,” still holds true.

In the past, players would rant and rave, scream at umpires and throw rackets. Some more than others depending on their temperaments. They displayed themselves in questionable performances or meltdowns of anger and hurt. Often they were cited for violations and sometimes fined as they should be. These outbursts of emotions from top seeded tennis pros would draw crowds filling stadiums to witness such shows of passionate athleticism but it doesn’t excuse their behavior.

Sadly, it has become the victimization of players who get offended by umpire calls and cited for their blistering tirades on the court that screams at the validity of the game. Calling into question are also the umpires who have personal issues with certain players along with whether or not they nitpick rules in different matches. The job is one that comes with recognition but should be scrutinized carefully. Umpires should be fair to all.

Bias of sportscasters of one athlete over all the other players has become as bad as the media in politics.  It only adds to the fury of hate and the loss of the Champion in waiting; and that was definitely the case these last 2 weeks.

 Of course there are discriminating facts between the sexes. It isn’t right, but shouldn’t be given into the debate of one player over another simply because of their accomplishments, fame and fortune. No one is above the rules especially as technology today can reveal exact spots the tennis ball lands and film crews can video tape unauthorized activities of those involved with the players during a match.

Everyone is responsible for how they act on and off the court. In this day and time the authors of entitlement have declared war on others because they believe they deserve to be treated differently and receive that which doesn’t belong to them, no matter what. That goes for players, coaches and umpires alike.

Forget competition as an incentive; the master of greed and offense has taken over.

What started out as an exciting, and anticipated great Championship match ended up being all about victimization that literally stole the greatest moment in a 20 year old girl’s life.

As she stood on the sidelines waiting and watching, her years of hard work and labor were swept under the rug of a diminished culture set on an “it’s all about me” syndrome. Tears streaming down her face should have been tears of joy for becoming the first Japanese woman to ever win a Grand Slam tournament. Instead they were tears overshadowed by shameful disputes that should have been determined peacefully and quickly to the point of being settled off the court in private even if the match needed to be paused.

 

As an American citizen and one who loves the game of tennis Naomi, I apologize that you were exposed to such reprehensible inefficiency.  The USTA needs some strong lessons in court management so that this kind of disorganization never happens again.

I commend and congratulate you, Naomi Osaka for your mature, quiet and graceful conduct in the midst of a tumultuous scene. You truly are the real Champion.

 

 

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Dr. Billy Graham and the Affect He had on my Life


Growing up in North Carolina, the Billy Graham crusades were on our TV whenever my mother could find him. It was a given, that he appeared regularly as I walked through our den listening to his words of hope and encouragement. It helped that my Aunt, my mother’s sister lives in Montreat and is close to some of the Graham family that eventually I became friends with.

I must admit those young years I took it for granted how his sermons were just a part of our life. Now, they are Biblical orations of wisdom and knowledge that I treasure.

In 1993 I moved to Black Mountain, NC which is directly connected to Montreat where Dr. Graham and his family have lived for decades. I joined the church there that they attended and became friends with Ruth’s nephew and his wife through my Aunt. My daughter played often with their son and we split time between our house and theirs which was the Bell Family home for the children to play.

The home was full of memorabilia and souvenirs from China where Ruth’s parents had been missionaries. Antiques and heirloom furniture that had been handed down filled the house with love and a true sense of family.

If you have the privilege as I did to get to know any of the Graham family, you will find them to be genuine, private and protective. I never once thought it as a celebrity relationship…they were my friends.

Twice before Dr. Graham retired from preaching I heard him preach at the Montreat Evangelical Presbyterian church. This beautiful rock chapel in the heart of Montreat is a sight to behold. Dr. Graham felt very at home there and his words resonated throughout the congregation. Now, I remember them as being 2 of the most historical times in my life. I also heard Franklin preach their once.  I was also able to hear one of the last times George Beverly Shea sang “How Great Thou Art” before he passed away.

One Sunday morning after that, I sat in a pew at the 11 o’clock service by myself by the window. Suddenly beside me was Ruth Graham. She had wheeled herself in by her wheelchair and parked right next to me. We had a nice chat as if we had known each other for quite some time.

I worked for 12 years at the local Chamber of Commerce. Tourists came from all over the country to visit the home of Dr. Billy Graham.  It was always a disappointment to them when we had to tell them going to his house was not possible.  Some would actually get angry they had traveled 1000 miles only to find out they were not allowed near his estate. Unfortunately, the way of the world and its threatening situations had forced the family to acquire necessary security measures for them to remain there.

As the news spread that Dr. Graham had passed away, my heart flooded with memories and thoughts of how this man has touched my life even though I never met him personally.

His simple message of God giving us salvation through Jesus kept me believing when times have been hard and difficult. His presence on this earth and in an area very close to my heart that I don’t live in anymore, always gave me a sense of feeling protected. Maybe it’s because I know God protected that man and his family with supernatural guardianship and countless angels. Those blessings of protection seem to flow outward to those of us who listened to him and know Jesus.

Maybe it’s more of the personal connection that I have to Dr. Graham and his family that has had the most profound effect on me. The truth of their honest, unpretentious and unaffected lives they have lived is a testimony in itself.

And now it’s time for the mantle he carried to spread over this earth for a much needed conversion revival.

What Dr. Graham has preached, his family lives.

Dr. Graham’s words are their heart and soul.

His steadfast faith and love for God is the cornerstone of the Graham family.

They are the real thing.

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

Reverend Billy Graham

 


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The Marvel of It All


 

Joseph. The man we tend to forget. The man who had to decide to do the unthinkable.

Bringing to my attention his supporting actor role in the most important birth in history, I felt as if I had left him out of much of the casting. This wasn’t done to belittle his career but the focus was elsewhere.

Mary was a chosen woman. One with an appointment like none other. How would any man be able to live up to the standards of the mother of the Son of God? How would any man be able to do what he was asked to do without some hesitation on his part?

Granted, Mary’s role wasn’t easy by any means but neither was Joseph’s. Over the centuries Mary has been given the lead actor’s position in a drama only God could have written, but Mary couldn’t have fulfilled her heroic purpose without Joseph.

One might refer to Joseph as the back-up guy, or Mary’s support system.

First he had to accept her pregnancy without understanding it. But who would believe such a story?

He had to fight off crowds of accusers for the lie she supposedly was telling.

He lost friends. Coworkers. Acquaintances.

How does a soon- to- be groom explain to his family his betrothed is pregnant by another man?

Yet, Joseph stood against the odds and accepted Mary as his soon- to- be wife in the midst of a presumed scandalous affair.

And Joseph thought this was the hard part.

After God revealed to Joseph in a dream Mary was indeed telling the truth, he would embark on a journey no other man has ever taken.

Matthew 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

How does a man protect the mother- to- be of the Lamb of God?

How does a man walk on foot across miles and miles of treacherous terrain leading his wife who is in her last trimester of pregnancy carrying the Light of the World on a donkey?

And then how does a man who probably had never witnessed a woman giving birth aid in giving birth to the King of the Jews?

Not only were these all “firsts” for Joseph, but he had no other place to take her but a smelly, old hay filled manger with cows and goats watching.

Was that what Joseph had planned for his new bride?

Was this the scene he wanted his legacy to be built upon?

Was this Joseph’s idea of a birthing place for the Prince of Peace? The Anointed One? Emanuel?

My thinking is he never had time to fully comprehend the enormity of it all before it happened.

They had to leave town immediately to escape Herod’s henchmen.  

Joseph didn’t have time to find a Marriott Hotel for the birth; he had to take what was available.

And babies are born on their own schedule. Joseph wasn’t given a crash course in midwifery.

Had God given Joseph a heads up a few years prior to this extraordinary story, would he have skipped town?

Would he have asked, “God, I’m not the man for this job, please find someone else?

If Joseph had thought it through would he have understood the magnitude of his calling?

If he had let it all sink in would he have taken on the fatherhood of the child who would one day be his Savior?

Joseph, the quiet man standing in the shadows probably spent the rest of his earthly life pondering the marvel of it all.

Matthew 1:16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

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Frantic or Panicked? (Part 1)


 

To say we live in perilous times is an understatement. Turn the news on. Read Facebook. Look in your mailbox. One would think the world is ending ASAP.

If you want to be positive, don’t do any of those things I just mentioned; it will only depress you.

It takes effort to get and remain upbeat unless you have faith in God.

Faith? What is that? I can hear you screaming now.

I didn’t have a clue how to have faith in God or how to acquire it.

What happened is when all security in people, things and circumstances were pulled out from underneath me, I realized God was the only  safeguard that works. That was many years ago and I can tell you it was no walk in the park; no joy ride. Someone dug a grave and I fell in full of fear and dread.

Immediately I began seeking God for relief.

You ask, “How do you do that?”

Open the Bible. Ask God to lead you to verses He wants you to read. Write them down.

Make a habit to read them over and over and over. Everyday.

Pray about whatever your fears are. Talk to God as if He is your best friend which He wants to be. And understand prayer doesn’t have to be “all” serious and long. God and I chat off and on all day long about everything. He wants our relationship with Him to be relaxed, peaceful and yet, persistent.

As I began that journey I use this process in any area of my life where there is a need. God’s word is priceless. Get His word so ingrained in your heart and mind, nothing else has room to invade. On that note, don’t watch, listen, or read anything that may bring that panic to roost. If necessary, get new friends; ones that shed light instead of darkness.

God’s word keeps me hopeful. It keeps me going. His word isn’t a band aid. It’s the answer. Period.

Sometimes I read His word just for the heck of it. No need. No want. Just to be close to Him.

I’ll never forget the morning about 15 years ago while reading His word and praying all of a sudden a still, small voice said, “This is faith. You have it. “

It was one of those flashing moments of “ah HA! “ I got it! I understood it, finally.

The key is to keep close to God. As you do that it automatically builds your faith.  I don’t know how but I give God all the credit.

So in the midst of turmoil, unrest and total panic, look to God. Say little prayers like,

“God help me!” or “God, I need you right now!”

Meditate and memorize verses that apply to your need. Then when desperation, panic and fear erupt ask God to bring them to your mind through the Holy Spirit. Get prepared for Him to show them to you as if they float before your eyes!

He wants us to live in peace. If we do our part He will do His.

Peace is one of the greatest weapons against the enemy. That’s another blog post.

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A Letter from my Cousin: The Calling to Minister to Muslims


The following is a letter I just received via email from my cousin Adger Mckay. He is an Ordained minister who has been seeking the Lord for over 7 years as to what he and his family were supposed to do. They have both been in the “wilderness” and finally God opened a door.
 
Adger was raised in a missionary family; lived in Mexico so along with English he speaks fluent Spanish and is learning German. They moved back to the states when he was a young teenager but his experience there set in motion God’s plan for his life.
 
His wife Sandra is from Europe, speaks German fluently as she was born in Switzerland. God knew the amount of refugees that would pour into Germany. He also knew when these two married He would call them to move there to minister to those who are desperately fleeing for their lives from ISIS. 
 
I ask you to pray for Adger and Sandra and their 2 boys as they approach this venture and major move. They will be directly involved with these refugees and at times it could be dangerous so they will need God’s protection and angels to guard and watch over them.
 
As important as their work is, it is truly part of the beginning of this next great “awakening” of God. They will be on the front lines of this harvest for the souls of many Muslims. TY. (Please note my cousins sense of humor in the midst of a life changing move)

 

 

Hello to All,

 The attached photo is part of my evil master plan to make you all so jealous with photos of Europe that you can’t take it any more and begin to fervently pray…like Jesus’ story of the judge in Luke 18:1ff. This one is Sandra’s Switzerland from the Vierwaldstaettersee (yeah, I have to learn that language!!)
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We are in full throttle on the preparations for acceptance as long-term missionaries with (EPC) World Outreach. Sandra and I have tests this Saturday in Montreat, NC…hers is a Bible test and mine is a Language Aptitude test. She will join Christ Community Church there on Sunday, pending an interview on Saturday afternoon. The following weekend we have a counselor that will visit us from the EPC to do marriage/psychological evaluations…might want to pray especially hard for that psych. evaluation : ) I was blessed to be able to preach on Valentine’s Day to my friends at Mosaic in Easley, SC. That was a joy as the Lord opened up some neat prayer ministry as well.
The situation with Refugees in Germany continues to morph quickly…an example is the fact that in 2015 the majority of refugees were adult male, around 69%…so far in 2016, that number has dropped to 40% as women and children desperately flee for their safety and well-being. There is such a prime opportunity to reach these people with the love and truth of Jesus and there is time sensitivity to this mission. The earlier we can build relationship and show His love to the displaced in Germany, the more the receptivity to the gospel. Please join us in this critical ministry of “Engaging the Displaced.”
Thank you for being involved in our lives and callings, we love and appreciate you, the McKays
For now, contributions are still processed through the kindness of Plumtree Presbyterian Church, PO Box 65, Plumtree, NC 28664  (Please note that this address may change soon pending our acceptance by World Outreach/WO.)
 


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2015: My Year from Hell and How God rescued me (Part 1)


 

It was never my intention to stop blogging, but life got in the way with twists and turns I didn’t know existed.  From major Strep throat in the spring, to a busy summer of work along with the worst reaction to medication ever in my life to the virus from Hell, I am ready for this year to be over.

Suffice it to say I have had literally the worst sickness of my life. After 2 doctor visits and many tests run the diagnosis was a virus. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing a “virus” is something simple to get over.  I have been in the bed for 6 weeks and still in and out of it, but getting there.  Top this all off with a kitten we adopted that in the first 6 months of his life has torn the house up!

One main reason for not blogging is the virus has made me so dizzy at times I can hardly stand up much less do anything else. As time has gone by, that is diminishing and I am so thankful to God for his healing.

The good news was all my tests were normal. Unfortunately, there is no medication for a virus or a quick fix. If there had been I would have been all over it. Believe me when I say I have never felt this bad in my entire life. To be writing this right now, is a major plus to say the least.  As Joyce Meyer says, “I am not at all where I want to be, but I am not where I was.” That is my theme.

On the other side of this miserable coin is the love of God. The fact my tests were normal is a miracle considering I thought they would hospitalize me to start with.  Forget driving, feeding myself or doing anything worthwhile; I have done nothing but rest. Doctors’ orders.

However, while resting my new GalazyS6 phone came in handy more than I can say. Not only is a copy/paste app the greatest comfort while one lies in bed but God’s words splashed all over it is truly the only way I got through this.  I was too sick to read from my Bible which I love to do but my phone became a positive substitute.

Hours of laying alone I have quoted healing scriptures over and over until I would fall asleep. Days and weeks of crying when I didn’t have the strength to cry God’s word gave me hope and peace. Minute by minute I discovered the power in God’s word simply by meditating on it. The more I soaked myself in God’s word even in a state of total lethargy, the words proved themselves to be true and work.

A simple few steps from my bed to the toilet I would pray myself there.

The energy to get to the kitchen for a few bites of food of which I lost my appetite completely God’s word gave me the strength to live off of bananas, toast and applesauce. I am small but lost 5 pounds the first 3 weeks I was sick. I can’t afford to lose weight.

Moments of sheer misery when the dizziness and nausea would come in like a flood, God’s word was all I thought about. God get me through this. God get me through this.

I just read Jennifer LeClaire’s article from Charisma magazine about the very issues of being in “hell” while others around you are complacent and misunderstanding of your pain. Of course she brought our dear brother “Job” into the picture who is a prime example of one who is attacked and beaten not only by Satan himself but those closest to him.

I am in no way subjecting my husband or daughter into this rigid scene of battle because God supplied them both for me during this time when I needed them the most. They have been my lifeline besides God.  But even in their case, correctly diagnosing my distress for so long has been difficult for them. There is really much to be said about “walking in someone else’s shoes.”

From God’s perspective, I believe his permissive will in allowing me to go through so many years of hardships has been to teach me compassion, empathy and love for those who are hurting. These last 6 weeks have opened my eyes to understand those in nursing homes, hospitals and sick in bed for long periods of time how they feel and the loss they experience. I can honestly say I know it for myself now.

If I hadn’t known for absolutely sure God wasn’t ready to take me, I would have been begging him to do so, but He has other plans. Even my dear friend in Christ, Larry Nevenhoven prophesied this to me which has given me much hope to move forward.  He also reminded me God’s grace is sufficient to get me through this. Well, I had to find out what that meant. And I did. Maybe not exactly what I wanted to hear while in a dungeon of despair and lifelessness, but evidently God did.

One would never imagine the call of healing yet, the one who is sick knows better than those well, what health is. God’s supernatural grace and power is the only reason for it all.

As I feel I am moving into a state of recovery I must admit during these last 6 weeks all I knew was God. Whether it be from desperation, misery or a pit of depression even in my weakest moments I was crying out to God.

I truly know now what it means when you have nothing else but God, God is all I need.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a phone that lets you play scrabble in between God’s words.

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