Sunday

Remembering - A Post from Arlington

These thoughts from my daughter, Kristen, are worth revisiting this Memorial Day.
Copyright 2012 by Kristen Hatcher

Side by side, shadowed by white markers and red, white, and blue flags, they lay quiet under green grass in long, seemingly endless rows. 
 
The silence is loud, the stillness heavy. 

The President will be here soon to express the gratitude of a nation. It’s Memorial Day, and it just felt right to begin my day at Arlington National Cemetery remembering just how high a price was paid for my freedom and the freedom of the country I love so much. Living in our nation’s capital, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing monuments to presidents, generals, and others who shaped our country, but the sight of these white headstones stretching as far as I can see never ceases to move me.

A desire to say thank you brought me to Arlington this morning. I didn't expect to leave with a blessing of my own.  

When I arrived, a kind volunteer offered me two beautiful long stemmed roses. “Place one on a headstone, and take one with you as a memorial,” she said as I took the flowers. Because I am new to Washington and unsure about what is appropriate, I had considered bringing flowers, but ruled it out.

As I walked through the cemetery, it was difficult to comprehend that under each of the thousands of white headstones dotting the ground lay someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, or friend--there in the ground--because of me. Because they believed that the idea of freedom, of a government by, of, and for the people was worth defending, worth dying for. 


Copyright 2012 Kristen Hatcher
Laying my rose on the headstone of a veteran of World War II and both the Vietnamese and Korean conflicts, I breathed a silent prayer of thanks for this brave man’s sacrifice for my freedom. The words of a song from the Civil war echoed in my ears, “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” Their sacrifice reminded me of another innocent life that was given for my freedom centuries ago.  Our nation’s soldiers’ sacrifice freed my body and my mind; His sacrifice freed my heart and my soul. 

Abraham Lincoln, while dedicating Gettysburg National Cemetery, said, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did.”  From where I stand, a river separates our national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, from our nation’s capital, in Washington, D.C.  The Peace Bridge connects the two. This bridge is only possible because of the men who surrendered their lives and were laid to rest here in Arlington. In fitting tribute, I acknowledge that I have peace with God because Jesus Christ surrendered his life long ago for me, because He loved me too much to leave me on the other side of the river without a bridge. 

This Memorial Day, we must remember the price that was paid for our right to shop, barbeque, spend time with our children, protest, live based on our religious beliefs, or choose not to believe at all.  It’s our right.We have the freedom to do so. But we must remember how much that freedom cost, and we must be thankful.

Copyright 2012 by Kristen Hatcher





 If you enjoyed my daughter Kristen's post, would you leave a comment below?

Thank you, Kristen, for allowing me to share this poignant memorial with my readers.







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Wednesday

8 Reasons to Do the Right Thing

Some days I don’t want to do the right thing. 

You’d think after more than 30 years of being a Christian, it would get easier. In many ways, it has. But there are still times when I just don’t want to do the right thing. 

Today was one of them. 

Get out of my warm bed at 5 a.m. to fix breakfast for my husband? Nope, that wasn’t on the top of my Oh boy, I get to do this today list. Even though I knew after breakfast we’d read a snippet of a devotional book and pray together, one of the best parts of my day, I still didn’t want to get out of bed. My flesh wanted to stay horizontal beneath the covers. 

Some days I don’t want to read my Bible, either. Other days I don’t want to be unselfish, or honest, or kind. The alternatives are often mighty tempting. 

I suspect I’m not alone. 

That high school boyfriend who sent you a private Facebook message? You don’t want to say no. And some days you don’t want to come home. And at night, when the kids have been especially bad and your husband doesn’t appreciate you? You think about walking away and never looking back. 

Some days you don’t want to go to church. Or to work. Or to visit your loved one in the nursing home. You don’t want to give. Or serve. Or pray. You don’t want to honor your vows, keep your promises, or train your children. 

Some days you just don’t want to do the right thing. 

But by God’s good grace, we do. 

Thank you, Jesus, for helping us. 

Today, on the day I climbed out of bed at 5 a.m. to fix my husband breakfast, and read, and pray, I thought of eight good reasons to do the right thing. 

We do the right thing: 

1. Because disobedience is sin. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). When I know what I should do and choose to disobey, there’s only one word to describe my action—sin. 

2. Because God punishes sin. “. . . because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Prov. 3:12). Because God loves me, he will punish me for disobeying. His motives are pure. He wants the best for me. He knows that sin and its consequences cannot produce the good life I desire. 

3. Because the natural consequences of my disobedience will hurt me. Skipping my Bible reading, eating junk food, and being lazy all come with consequences. And they’re not good. 

4. Because doing the right thing lays the foundation for a good life. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). 

5. Because God sees every sacrificial, selfless thing I do. ”God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb.6:10). 

6. Because God will reward me—in this life and in the next. “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat. 25:21). 

7. Because I’ve never regretted doing the right thing, but I usually regret doing the wrong. 

8. Because I want to honor God and make him smile. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Most days I love Jesus more than I love myself. Because I love him, I want to please him. Love is the greatest motivator of them all. 

Today we get to decide whether or not to do the right thing. For these eight reasons and many more, I hope you’ll say yes.



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Sunday

"My Desire"

I read something today that made me cry.

Not because it was sad, but because it was beautiful.

One of my favorite authors and theologians, John Piper, in two paragraphs, described God. He used a simple word picture and everyday language. No Greek. No Hebrew. No plumbing the depths of his vast theological training. Just a simple example connected to a profound spiritual truth.*

And I bawled like a baby.

I cried because his writing put skin on God. He took God’s lofty grandeur and brought it down to me, a very unlofty and ungrand human being. I often struggle to grasp the magnitude of God. I wonder, how can he love me? Why does he love me? To what extent does he love me?

In a few short paragraphs, Piper made God so personal that I wept with love and gratitude.

Wow. 

Oh, how I want to do that. 


I want to be able to describe God so well that others are amazed—not by the beauty of my writing, but by the beauty of my Savior.

Father, reveal yourself to me so I can reveal you to others.

I want to share God so transparently that others feel my arms around their shoulders and know I’m walking the faith path with them, not scowling down from a lofty pinnacle.

Father, remove my fear of man and give me a healthy fear of you. Strip me of the sin of pride that wants others to see only the brightest parts of my life. Help me tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.

I want to eliminate anything from my writing that will cause others to stumble in their pursuit of Jesus.

Father, help me learn the craft of writing so well that nothing I write prevents my readers from understanding your truth.

I want to be so in love with God that his love splashes onto every post I write, every article I pen, and every book I create.

Father, draw me near. Keep me close. Guard my heart. Fill my mind. I want to rest so confidently in God’s care that when I hear the enemy of my soul whispering lies, I can point to the cross and never doubt (Romans 8:32). Father, help me say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

I want to love God well, point others to him, and glorify him with everything I do.

If this is your prayer, too, may God hear from heaven and answer our plea.

Lord, be pleased with the work of our hands and use it to draw others to yourself.

You may not be a writer, but your life tells a story that others around you are reading. Which chapters bring him glory? Share them. Which chapters bring him shame? Ask God to redeem them. Which chapters are still unwritten? Commit them to God so the final chapter of your life story will include the words, “'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord'” (Mat. 25:21).


*The passage I read, “Hugging God’s Neck Takes Away Fear,” is on pages 96-97 of John Piper’s latest book, What Jesus Demands from the World.


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Thursday

Rest or Rustle? Two Choices When We Feel Threatened

Thankfully, the mother bird saw the rat snake before the rat snake saw her.

She was perched on the edge of the nest she had woven in my hanging basket, a wriggling worm dangling from her beak. Ready to drop it into the open mouth of one of her fledglings, she froze, then quickly hopped into the nest. Her squawking babies quieted as she covered them with her outstretched wings. Hunkering down atop her tiny charges, she blended into the foliage until the slithering serpent passed by.

Those babies may have been newly hatched, but they knew something I sometimes forget—that danger is an invitation to trust. As my friend Nan Jones says, “It’s better to rest than to rustle.” The Psalmist puts it this way:

“I will trust in the shelter of your wings,” (Psalm 61:4).

When danger threatens me or my family, my default setting is to start squawking. I cry. I fret. I call my friends. I wring my hands and wail as if the Philistines were storming the gates. I work myself into an emotional tizzy that would rival a two-year-old’s bedtime meltdown. In the end, I’m left spent and exhausted.

On other days, when my heart is full of God’s Word and I’ve spent time in prayer, I react much differently. Like the baby birds in my geranium, I seek the shadow of my heavenly Father’s protective wings and rest quietly, trusting that he will care for me.



What about you? How do you react when something scary threatens you? When are you more likely to respond with faith instead of fear? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you're reading by email, click HERE to leave a comment at the bottom of the post.




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Monday

When the Finger Points Back at You

“Young people are so prideful. They think they know it all. They’re arrogant and unteachable.” 

A friend was ranting about what a difficult time she was having parenting her young adult children.

“He wasted time, money, and effort,” she continued. “If he’d done what I suggested in the first place, he’d never have gotten into such a mess.” 

I nodded sympathetically. 

“The worst thing about it,” she said, “is that he's so PRIDEFUL. Why won’t he just admit he needs help? He thinks he knows it all.” 

Proverbs 15:31-33 spotlights this problem of prideful arrogance: 

“The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gains understanding. 

A few days after this conversation, my husband and I were in the car. The air was mighty chilly, not because it was a cool day, but because we were at odds with each other. Even worse, we were at odds together on the way to church. 

I was driving, but I had only a vague idea of how to get from our new house to the church. But I sure wasn’t going to admit this to my husband. Especially not while we were giving each other the silent treatment. I wasn't going to ask for directions, because then I’d have to acknowledge he knew something I didn’t. 

He wasn’t volunteering any information, because, remember, we were giving each other the silent treatment. Everyone knows the person who speaks first during the game of silent treatment loses. 

So after taking the most circuitous route imaginable, we finally arrived at church--ten minutes late and grumpier than ever. 


“The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul . . .” 

Sadly, it’s not just young adults who disdain instruction and pridefully refuse to ask for help. It’s middle adults, and older adults, and senior adults. It's you, and it's me. We’re prideful and hardheaded, oftentimes to our own harm. 

But I’m thankful God is patient with me. 

Day after day he offers his wisdom and guidance through his Word, his people, and his Holy Spirit. “If any of you lacks wisdom,” he calls, “let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him,” (James 1:5). 

He chides me for my prideful spirit and reminds me, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.” 

If you, like me, struggle with pride, will you join me in laying it down? Remember, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5). 

I certainly don’t want God to resist me. 

And who couldn’t use more grace?



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