Independence vs. Freedom

Let us never forget the sacrifices made.

Let us never forget the sacrifices made.

Is there a difference between independence and freedom? Our nation fought for independence from a ruling body that allowed us no representation, as well as for the freedom to worship God freely without government interference. Like the relationship between a child and a parent, independence comes with maturity and doesn’t mean ties are completely severed. It means we have become responsible enough that we no longer depend on them to survive. I think freedom has more to do with ruling ourselves and making our own choices, while independence has more to do with being responsible and not dependent.  Similar, but different.  Both come with responsibility and consequences.  In either case, exchanges and sacrifices are made in order to obtain and maintain freedom and independence. Neither is free, so let us never forget the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made today to keep both!

Happy Independence Day!!!

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Wisdom Wednesday: Freedom

Wisdom Wednesday: Freedom


My Heart Is…

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“If you want to know where your heart is, look at where your mind goes when it wanders.” —Unknown

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  —Jesus

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Wisdom Wednesday: The Heart Revealed


Set the World on Fire… Not Literally, But Stop Making Excuses

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  —Neale Donald Walsch

“Fire tests gold, adversity brave men.”  —Latin proverb

“The lazy person is full of excuses, saying,If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!'”  —Proverbs 22:13 NLT

What’s holding you back?  Be wise, but stop making excuses!

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A Tiny Gift

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Isn’t it nice to find out someone was thinking of you while they were away? And isn’t it nice when they say something or give you something that says “I know you, and I love you”? My daughter found this tiny heart pebble while looking for shark’s teeth on a North Carolina beach, and she brought it back for me! She is truly a gift!

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Finding Love

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Driftwood and a heart discovered by my daughter and me while waiting for a friend to arrive via a ferry.  Thank you, Lord, for the different ways You speak to us and reveal Your love!!

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Heart Stones

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The Greatest of These


Some Christians put more emphasis on the spiritual gifts, like preaching, teaching, evangelizing, or in the charismatic circles, sign gifts like speaking in tongues, as if the gifts of the Spirit are more important than the fruit of the Spirit.  “I’m a preacher, Bible teacher, or missionary, so I am spiritually superior to you and more effective in spreading the Gospel and teaching spiritual things than you,” or “I speak in tongues, so I am more spiritual than you”.  After adding the poster to my Facebook page and receiving a few comments, I realized that the quote parallels 1 Corinthians 13, also known as ‘The Love Chapter’.  Basically, the gifts are meaningless without the fruit.  “And the greatest of these is love…”

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Is Your Window Broken?

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Ever heard of ‘The Broken Window Theory’? I hadn’t until a few months ago when our deputy chief referred to it during one of our fire department meetings. Although ‘The Broken Window Theory’ is based on the premise that disorder leads to crime, within the framework of the theory is a principle that can be found in the book of Proverbs.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. —Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV

Whether it’s a broken window, things left undone or out of place, or disintegrating relationships, it conveys a sense of complacency and apathy, and can become a new ‘normal’ if left neglected or disregarded. Those directly or indirectly involved are basically saying, “I don’t care enough,” or “It’s not my problem or responsibility,” or “We don’t feel led to get involved”. Neglect leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to tragedy.

We are all a part of something, even if only a part of humanity. We all have a responsibility. If we want peace instead of chaos, happiness instead of sadness, beauty instead of ugliness, success instead of failure, and growth instead of decay, then the little things matter, and it’s up to us to take ownership and fix the broken windows.

 

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Lift ‘Em Up!

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with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.

That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.

If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.

My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:

“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”

Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.

 

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What Do You Smell Like?

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Have you ever hugged someone, who was wearing a nice cologne, and later caught a whiff of their fragrance lingering on you? Mmmmm…. Have you ever hugged someone or been in their presence long enough to have their stench get trapped in your nose? [gag] Whether a person physically smells good or bad, some people have sweet smelling spirits while others have stinky ones. Just as breathing in a pleasant scent can bring a smile to our faces and remind us of a nice hug, so, too, can a sweet spirit linger and cause us to smile.

In the letters to the Ephesians and Corinthians, Paul spoke of the sacrifice and love of Christ being like a fragrant aroma to God, like the incense used by Jewish priests in the tabernacle and temple. When we imitate Him, we, too, are like a sweet aroma to God, but we can also be like a sweet fragrance of life to others. That’s what I want— the sweet spirit of God that leaves a fragrance of life.

 

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Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

 


Be Prepared When Life Gets Slippery

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“They’re easier to take off than to put on,” our fire chief stated after some of us ‘probies’ learned how to install tire chains on the fire apparatus. We were expecting a snowstorm, but until the storm has passed, we never know what kind of weather or how much snow we’ll actually get here in Vermont. It’s not good to run tire chains on dry pavement, but being prepared is better than being caught with our chains down, especially since speed is important when responding to emergencies. I couldn’t help but think his statement provided a life lesson.

It is easier to avoid a slippery slope if we prepare ahead of time. It is easier to gain some traction by ‘putting on’ wisdom and knowing what to do if we have obtained the knowledge and wisdom needed for different situations. For example, it is easier to say, “No,” or avoid a temptation if we ‘put our chains on’ before facing that temptation, whether it’s a piece of triple chocolate raspberry torte, sex, drugs, or saying something in the heat of the moment that we’ll later regret. It’s best to ‘walk away’ at the outset of a potential problem rather than end up trying to extricate ourselves from the problem after we’ve succumbed. Remember B’rer Rabbit and the Tar Baby? Either don’t stop by the bakery for coffee, or make a firm decision ahead of time not to buy a pastry, too! Don’t even look at them!  Once you step foot in the bakery or go through the drive-thru, you’re already on the slope. Got traction?

I didn’t say it was easy.

It isn’t always easy to say, “No,” to strong desires, but making a decision about what to do, if we ever find ourselves in a certain type of situation, makes following through with that decision a bit easier if we make it ahead of time. If we choose not to think about it or prepare, we could find ourselves slipping and sliding, and not only crash ourselves, but hurt others as well. Good thing there are no maple cream doughnuts in the house.

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