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I Love Living in the USA

I love living in the USA; and amidst all the political and ideological clashes we face in this nation, I am still thankful that I live in a country where people are clambering to get in, not out.

While I don’t claim to be a world traveler, I have visited several other countries for both ministry opportunities and pleasure. With each foray beyond the borders of the United States, I have been glad to come back “home”. I realize that some of my discomfort in other countries has sometimes been due to not knowing the local language – having to work through an interpreter – but it’s more than that.

Each culture, even those countries where English is the primary language, has necessitated adjustments for me; for instance using different English words for the same item – a sweater is a “jumper” in Aussie land, for instance.

But there are many other challenges, such as:

  • Differences in monetary units, dollar exchange, and sales taxes that required constant mental calculations as to what a meal, service, or item actually costs
  • Different expectations as to what is polite, or humorous, or taboo
  • Hot weather with no air-conditioning
  • Hard beds – no, make that very hard beds – on one of our trips we slept on a thin mattress on a bed made of cement – it was actually more comfortable sleeping on the floor.
  • Strange food – I once ordered a “regular hamburger” at a MacDonald’s in Australia and it was served with sliced beets on it; also once had tropical fruit pizza (I was expecting cheese and tomato sauce).
  • Dangerous roadways and unusual public conveyances – once on a trip in Haiti I rode with a missionary friend in a “tap-tap” (a truck with bench seats in the back) which wound up the mountain on a major “highway” that offered a scenic view, accompanied by a drop-off ledge with no guard-rails and a very narrow shoulder.
  • A lack of driving laws – or a lack of enforcement; in our travels we often don’t know which – more than once we felt our lives endangered from what we considered reckless driving on roads in much need of repair or safety features.

In any event, whether the differences made a visit to foreign soil either challenging or enjoyable, I have always been glad to get back to the USA.

We have so much here in the United States to be thankful for: adequate food supplies, cheap gasoline (compared to other advanced nations – though the prices have crept up a lot in the past couple years), clean water, the best health care system anywhere, freedom of religion (so far), freedom of speech (so far – though there are many instances where this right is being challenged by the thought/speech control fanatics), the rule of law without military enforcement, the lowest jobless rate anywhere in the world (even with our present high unemployment rate); a volunteer military; and the most affable, generous people in the world.

There is something about the way Americans care about others who are facing disaster – both natural and man-made – and how they seek to alleviate suffering wherever they find it, that I admire. My fellow citizens are extremely generous and give more of themselves and their substance to others in need than do those from most other countries around the world. Americans are rescuers, often even to their own harm.

I love being able to travel from state to state, town to town, on highways and back-roads and to encounter folks who speak the same language, share the same feelings about living free, follow the same sports teams, root for the underdog, are quick to stop and help a stranded highway traveler with a flat tire, advise you on the best restaurant in town, or suggest the motel with the cleanest rooms.

I love football games, homecomings, 4th of July fireworks, parades with marching bands, summers at the beach, pizza, backyard barbecues, and baseball games.

I love the political process and the freedom to run for an office if you want to help change things in our nation. I love the debates – (however, I do wish that each side would take a minute to listen to the other viewpoint before jumping in with negatives). Though we need to learn to compromise on minor points in order to find common ground on the major ones, still we are free to disagree without fearing reprisal or imprisonment for holding a minority view in government.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I just want to say that I love living in America. I think it is very important to protect the freedoms we have of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

I do not live in a war-torn nation.. I’ve never had my life threatened in any of the places I’ve visited, or feared for my life in any travel situation. I have not faced famine. I’ve not been persecution for my faith. I’ve not been imprisoned for having a “variant faith” or of seeking to win others to Christ. I am so thankful for every freedom we have.

I thank God for those individuals who have given and are now giving their very lives to preserve the freedoms we so often take for granted.

There is a slow erosion of many of the values we have held, which are woven into the fabric of our society – too much pulling on those threads and society as we know it will come unraveled.

So I continually lift our nation in prayer to God. I pray not just for God’s blessing, but also for His mercy and grace to allow us to continue in the religious and personal freedoms we have come to enjoy and often take for granted.

Happy 4th of July to you!!

©2012, Marcy Alves (edited, 2014)

Yesterday Has Been Cancelled

When’s the last time you received word that an event, or appointment, or meeting you were looking forward to was cancelled? How about a cancelled airline flight home for the holidays that kept you waiting in the airport lobby for an extra day?

Once, early on in my music career, I had been scheduled to be part of a warm-up performance for a popular singer named BJ Thomas. He recorded such songs as “Rain Drops Are Fallen on My Head”. Some of my friends had planned to attend that concert and I was so excited. But the concert was “unavoidably cancelled” just a few days before.

I have had weather-related cancellations since that long-ago concert, which I welcomed with a cup of hot chocolate, as the snow swirled in the wind outside my living-room window.

The word “cancellation” has been on my mind since early last week. At the end of our weekly women’s prayer time, as we sat quietly in the warm afterglow presence of the Lord, a song floated into my head, which I began to sing. It’s an old anthem entitled “Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”.  I had not sung that hymn for many years. Our church Sunday worship music consists mainly of contemporary worship songs and choruses.

The lyrics and melody of that old hymn stayed with me all week. One verse stood out in my mind and resonated with my spirit:

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,                                                                                                                                                      He sets the prisoner free.                                                                                                                                                                  His blood can make the foulest clean,                                                                                                                                                   His blood avails for me.

The particular line that has returned to me over and over again is “He breaks the power of cancelled sin”.

As I sat in our Sunday Celebration and listened to words that were shared from the congregation – words of praise, words of what God was doing in individual lives, words of struggle and submission – an awareness of the importance of that phrase, “the power of cancelled sin” exploded into my understanding, as a revelation from the Holy Spirit.

I believe that there are many people – both Spirit-born believers and those on-their-way-to-becoming-believers – who haven’t understood or believed that our sins have been cancelled by Jesus’ death on the cross. We don’t need to struggle any longer under the power of past sins.  And we don’t have to keep paying for them over and over again.

There are people to whom many bad things happen – often a procession of bad things throughout their lifetimes – people who feel that God is punishing them for the sins of their past. I do understand that when we break God’s laws, there are natural consequences:  jump from a plane without a parachute and you’ll discover such consequences; commit murder and there are definite consequences.

However, the Scripture does not support the idea that God punishes us over and over again for confessed sins that are under the blood of Jesus. For He, “breaks the power of cancelled sin”. In case you are thinking, that’s just a line from a song, I’d like to share a Scripture that supports the beautiful and significant verse of that song.

Col. 2:13-15 – “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him [in Jesus].                          (English Standard Version)

Are you an ex-drug or ex-alcohol addict? You don’t have to exprience that addictive substance continually calling you back into your past sin. Were you a liar, a cheat, a sex-offender, an adulterer? Jesus has broken the power of that “cancelled sin”.  Satan no longer has a right to condemn you, hold you as a prisoner to that addiction or sin, or to continue to collect payment for the sins of your past. Christ hung on that cross to pay the full price – which cancels your debt – and to break the power of that sin. His death paid the debt – his resurrection settled the issue of who’s in control in the spirit realm.

In Colossians chapter three there are a couple lists of sins of the human nature which include: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying. Then, in  (Col. 3:7) the apostle Paul continues:

“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. . .” and then he adds: “ . . . you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col. 3:9)

So what’s the problem? Understanding and believing what God’s word says:

  • that the debt of our sin has been cancelled
  • that the power of that cancelled sin has been broken
  • that the one-time prisoner, has been set free

Let’s take this one step further:  often the penalties or consequences of unacknowledged, un-confessed sin show up in our minds (negative thinking, confused thoughts, frustrations, doubts); in our spirits (bad attitudes, hopelessness, anger, resentment, bitterness, control issues, judgementalism, un-forgiveness); in our reactions (fear, self-protection, anger, rage, revenge); and eventually in our physical bodies (all kinds of ailments, symptoms, and diseases).

These same things can also manifest in us when we fail to realize that the sins we have confessed are forgiven, and not simply forgiven, but cancelled. The enemy no longer has a right to wield power to harm us mentally, spiritually, or physically.  The power he has held over us, often even after conversion – is because we haven’t fully realized what our salvation has provided for us – “the broken power of cancelled sin”.

When we don’t know or believe that the power has been broken, we remain under bondage to past sin and its power, which has already been defeated by Christ Jesus on the cross.

Are you still suffering from the power of “cancelled sin”?

Yesterday has been cancelled. You don’t have to live in the past any longer. Believe it! Repeat it to yourself as often as you need to. Start living post crucifixion, post resurrection. Allow Christ to set the prisoner free and bring healing to mind, spirit, and body.

©2012, Marcy Alves

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