Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Poor in Spirit?

Berserk horns blared and bright lights flicked on and off furiously as two terrified squirrels bolted down the porch steps and back over the wooden fence. Unsuspecting robbers, they had triggered the home made alarm once they reached the top landing. My dad's warning system succeeded in chasing those furry food thieves from stealing leftovers.

In winter, my mom utilized the cold temperatures to store leftovers on the outside porch off the kitchen. And the squirrels knew. They smelled the food but waited until no one was around to bite through the screen and feast on mom's Italian cuisine. This maddened my mom and spurred my dad to invent a repellent. The only draw back was that if the system was left on, anyone walking up the steps to the porch would trigger the vexatious outburst.

My dad, "Pappa Joe" as he was called, was an inventor of everything necessary and unnecessary. His porch, built with his own tools and design, was his sanctuary. It was also the place our family gathered for meals in the warmer seasons. Looking out from its screened in frame, you could spot his signature in the suburban yard we grew up in. His kingdom consisted of flourishing greenery, haphazard creations he invented for fun and function, and whimsical furniture that included his very own throne--a chair fit for a king.

Dad made life a fantastic journey. Yet he hardly ever left the confines of our colonial home on Long Island in New York. The front of the house included a park bench where he would sit and wait for one of us to join him. As soon as he had a taker, the sky became a gigantic movie screen. Clouds, slowly moving and changing, offered an endless pallet of designs we were challenged to identify as whatever our minds saw: a rabbit hopping to the next billowy puff, an elephant raising its trunk in delight, a willow tree offering shade to the sun, and anything we were inclined to conjure up.

His stories also took us to far away places. Recounting countries the war brought him to, scenarios with interesting characters, people he encountered while working as a TV repairman, good memories and bad, all served to enrich our view of the world around us.

And Dad never left us forget how much we had. Although raising a large family left little money for frills and flare, we never wanted for anything. Food and family meals were times to gather and eat, but they were also times to be thankful. And that table on his proudly built porch provided the perfect place for lessons to be taught.

Before most meals, especially large Sunday dinners, Dad would say grace and just as we rushed to devour the first forkful of food, his words would stop us: "I wonder what the poor people are eating."

That was it. No lecture, no added rhetoric, simple words alone forced us to think of our fortune.

I will never forget his powerful words. All the wonderful memories of my dad float about my mind and I often wish I had given more attention to his lessons. But the one lesson at that dinner table, inside the screened porch, overlooking our small but fanciful yard, will always keep my thankfulness in perspective.

I am certainly rich even though sometimes poor in spirit.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

PLEASE COMMENT! 8^)

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS

PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS 1789-1815 : George Washington, John Adams, James Madison

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - A PROCLAMATION
City of New York
October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
GO. WASHINGTON.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Miracles

Cecil Murphey/Marley Gibson
Foreword: Don Piper
St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 2009
Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN: 978-0312589837
Retail: $14.99

(Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.


Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”


Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of 114 published books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and When God Turned Off the Lights, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have given hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information, visit www.cecilmurphey.com.


Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey

by Marley Gibson

Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.


Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.


Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.


Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.


Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.


Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.


Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.


Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.


Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.


Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?


Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)


Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?


Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.


Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?


Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.


Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)


Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.


Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?


Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.


Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?


Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.


Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles?


Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.


Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.


Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.


Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.



Marley Gibson is a young adult author whose first published books in the Sorority 101 series were released by Penguin Group in 2008 under the pen name of Kate Harmon. She has a new Ghost Huntress series with Houghton Mifflin written under her own name. She can be found online at www.marleygibson.com.





Leave a comment for a chance to win the Christmas Miracles gift basket.

Wouldn’t you love to take home this amazing basket filled with Christmas goodies galore? This amazing gift basket contains everything you’ll need to make your Christmas holiday a success. Inside you’ll find a stocking stuffed with hard candies, kitchen towels and oven mitts, seasonal potpourri, holiday-colored candles, stuffed animals that talk, snowman candle, nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, gift bags, gift tags, gift bows, ornament hangers, Christmas cookie cutters, a Merry Christmas doorstopper, a picture frame, Christmas cards, Santa ear muffs, and not just one, but two copies of Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson’s Christmas Miracles – one to keep and one to give away to someone special.





Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heal this!

This is a different blog for me. Not so formatted and well thought out. I guess I am using it for a public blast! And that it is. I am so worn out with anti-Christian rhetoric when I post some of the basic beliefs: God is real; Jesus is real; the Bible is truth; HEALING happens...

Why do views about other belief systems go unscathed but Christianity gets shot at with fervor? Why is it so hard for logical, intelligent people to believe in the Bible, therefore believing in God, therefore believing in Jesus, therefore believing in salvation?

Love the critics replies: Christians are phonies; they sin anyway; they drive fancy cars and have a lot of money (some of them just like the rest of the population); Christians are always judging me; and bla bla bla...

I am a Christian. I do not BELONG to a certain CHURCH. I belong to a group of peculiar people, as the Word says, who want to live for Christ to bring good to the world and peace where there is none. I will blow it. I will make mistakes. I will get angry. I will make someone mad.

But for all those who are so intelligent they explain away Jesus and the Word and HEALING I say, "You haven't needed a healing bad enough so that when you received it, you knew it had to be a divine healing." And that is a good thing for YOU. But I have been at death's door so many times, that healings stand out in a big way for me.

I was HEALED on Sunday, October 11, 2009. There, I said it. How? For two months I suffered with extreme fatigue and sleepiness. Along with multiple other medical problems, this made for a bad addition to my list. It makes it harder to get through the day, exercise, carry on my life, stick myself with two IV needles every other day, take 30 pills each day, go to doc appts every week, diet, think, live...

Every test was done until one doc discovered I have a kind of narcolepsy. That was until Sunday past.

I went to church with a bad attitude. I was tired and wanted to stay home and sleep. I could go to bed at 10:00 pm and not wake up until 10:00 am the next day. I was angry and attitudal. "God, I want You to heal me--today or at least by Monday afternoon." Oh the thoughts stung my innermost soul. Who was I to demand a healing?

Right after the music, the service was supposed to start, but an elder, Leo, felt the need to have all the elders come to the front of the church and let people come up for prayer for healing or anything else. Only a few people went up--it wasn't even 15 minutes into the service. No fancy Word moved anyone to prayer or repentance. No spiritual message worked anyone up into a life-changing need.

But a voice in my head told me to put aside my pride, anger, rebellion, and attitude and go up for prayer. And the Lord told me who to go to.

I walked up, crying before I got there. I had to let go and stop fighting like I had any kind of power over my life. Maurice and his wife Cheryl prayed for me. Maurice spoke in words I knew were from the Lord. We cried and hugged. I was healed.

I went back to my seat. No one noticed. The service went on.

Leo walked past me. He had no idea what had just happened. But glancing quickly, he said, "Your healing is coming."

That was Sunday. Monday was okay. But by Tuesday, yesterday, I woke up with the sun, had plenty of energy, helped my husband, John, with the inside painting project I could only watch from the couch, worked on stuff, made dinner, and felt so much better! I WAS HEALED!

So there. Call it what you want. No explanation. I have been healed MANY TIMES throughout the past eight years of life-threatening illness. Doctors cannot explain away any of the healings medically. Most of my doctors now accept God is healing me--they can find no other reason for things that have happened.

FIGHT all you want against peace through Jesus. Tell me if you are truly at peace with your life and future. Then again, don't tell me if you think you can convince me to change my beliefs. I know what works. I live in Him every day.


Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

When God Turned Off the Lights

What to Do When the Lights Go Out

by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.


When God Turned Off the Lights

Author Cec Murphey

About the Author: Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the "New York Times" bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He's also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey's books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.


Is it possible that God would use a time of spiritual loneliness and isolation in our life as an answer to our prayer for "something more?" That's what happened with best-selling author Cecil Murphey. In When God Turned Off the Lights (Regal, September 2009), he openly shares from his journey that seemed to be stalled in darkness.

Murphey decided to write about his months of seeking God in the darkness because he suspected his situation wasn't unique. "If this happened to me, a rather ordinary believer, surely there are others out there who have wept in the isolated blackness of night and wondered if they would ever see God's smile again."

Murphey could have handled this topic as a theologian and given pages of heavy, hard-to-read advice, but he chose to write from his heart and expose it for the readers to see. He talks honestly and shares his skepticism and frustration. He asks hard questions. And he lays out the steps of healing that brought him back to the light.

When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, "What's wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?" Readers will learn:
  • Why God turns off the lights
  • Why we have to have dark nights
  • Why asking "why" isn't the right question
  • What's worse than going through the darkness
  • How to feel worthwhile and accepted by God



Each chapter of When God Turned Off the Lights ends with an inspirational personal quote from Cec. Here's a sampling:

Although it may seem as if God is asleep when we go through deep darkness, could it be that God is most watchful in the moments of our despair?

Could it be that moving from why to what might take us one more step closer to the light?

Our task is to hang on. We wait until God takes us off hold and deals directly with us again.

God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness.



Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Truth Shall Put You in Jail

The recent headline in The Washington Times reads “School prayer charges stir protests” stating a Florida school principal and an athletic director are facing criminal charges and up to six months in jail over a mealtime prayer at Pace High School.

The Pace High School teacher’s handbook asks teachers to “embrace every opportunity to inculcate, by precept and example, the practice of every Christian virtue.” So why has a Federal judge imposed this inane threat—and why has he been allowed to begin this assault on our freedoms without the checks and balances of a democracy?


90 miles south of Florida, Guantanamo Bay houses many of the worst terrorists who have waged a bloody war on the US. Their hatred for Americans is beyond measure.

But their “right” to hold daily prayers is accommodated in this Cuban facility with every detail attended to. On the United States Department of Defense website, http://www.defenselink.mil/home/features/gitmo/facilities.html pictures are posted showing arrows painted on the floor in many rooms, pointing the direction to Mecca, the Islam holy city, so the detainees know which way to face when the call to prayer sounds. The call to prayer is broadcast five times a day. During the broadcast, a yellow traffic cone, with a big "P" stenciled on it, is placed at the center of each cell block. This cone signals the guards must be silent while the detainees are praying.

The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not mention anything about a "separation between church and state." This phrase came about through a letter written by President Jefferson to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association in January of 1802.


The First Amendment of the Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." These words established that government would not stand for either an official religion or restrictions on the freedom to practice any such religion.

History shows that the practice of “Christianity” is found to be offensive and unlawful in the majority of religious disputes. Many religious institutions such as Islam, Buddhist, Hinduism, Sikhism, and others are respected and exalted in public and state settings.

Frank Zappa, a forceful but invisible critic of mainstream education and organized religion, was a little known supporter for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship. Regardless of the famous musician's insane lifestyle and flare for far out living, he made a succinct statement: “The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.”

A lone Federal judge single handedly makes a bad call on a gray constitutional particle—that should make all Americans stand up and roar with objection.

Why Christians? Jesus is controversial. Christianity is seen as a threat. Prayer—to the one true God, stirs up arguments and brings offensive dispute.

Truth carries the sting of hysteria to people who fear their own lies.

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love Knows No Color

When Obama got elected to be our next president, I had a cousin in Italy write me to congratulate my country on such a bold and updated result. Mixed feelings came with the realization that our new president had many controversial ideas and beliefs. I will not get into a political match here. But I will make an observation many must talk about but is never heard about in the media. Obama is black.

Call his ethnicity what you want--his skin is darker than all the other presidents. Why does that matter?

It makes a difference for me. I am so worn out from discrimination due to ethnic background and color of one's skin. What a moronic race we are from the beginning of time to assume that appearance is an indicator of a person's worth or abilities.

In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, chapter 16, Samuel makes a judgment on appearances:

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Matthew Henry's Consise Commentary on the Bible says this:


"It was strange that Samuel, who had been so disappointed in Saul, whose countenance and stature recommended him, should judge of another man by that rule. We can tell how men look, but God can tell what they are. He judges of men by the heart. We often form a mistaken judgment of characters; but the Lord values only the faith, fear, and love, which are planted in the heart, beyond human discernment. And God does not favour our children according to our fond partiality, but often most honours and blesses those who have been least regarded."


I live in a city where African-American residents are scarce. It bothers me. I don't want to be a partaker in any kind of discrimination. I hate that my area is deemed "white." I have written several commentaries in our local newspaper regarding the presence of Aryan Nation groups and praised the runners in our popular race, Bloomsday--winners always being from Africa. They cross the finish lines, sleek, dark, tall bodies with arms raised high.


When Obama got elected, I proclaimed that television and media would take on a more balanced appearance--more black people appearing in commercials and TV shows. It is happening. I am so glad to see the ratio of peoples in the spotlight coming to a more even keeled percentage.


Modern America? How modern can we be and intelligent when discrimination still permeates every city.


Argue what you want about our president. Takes sides. Hate his policy. Fight to have him rid of. But I am glad to see his color skin reflecting out to the world. America the beautiful...


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Monday, July 20, 2009

When Someone You Love Has Cancer

Author: Cecil Murphey
Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2428-3
Retail: $10.99

About the Book:

The World Health Organization reported that by the year 2010 cancer will be the number one killer worldwide. More than 12.4 million people in the world suffer from cancer. 7.6 million people are expected to die from some form of cancer. That's a lot of people, but the number of loved ones of cancer sufferers is far greater. What do they do when a special person in their life is diagnosed with this devastating disease?

Murphey brings his experiences as a loved one and many years of wisdom gained from being a pastor and hospital chaplain to his newest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones (Harvest House Publishers). His honest I've-been-there admissions and practical helps are combined with artist Michal Sparks' soothing watercolor paintings.

Readers of When Someone You Love Has Cancer will receive:

  • Inspiration to seek peace and understanding in their loved one's situation
  • Help in learning the importance of active listening
  • Guidance in exploring their own feelings of confusion and unrest
  • Suggestions on how to handle anxiety and apprehension
  • Honest answers to questions dealing with emotions, exhaustion, and helplessness
  • Spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles
  • Murphey explains why this is a much-needed book: "Most books about cancer address survivors. I want to speak to the mates, families, and friends who love those with cancer. I offer a number of simple, practical things people can do for those with cancer."
Interview Questions

1. The first sentence of your book reads, "I felt helpless." Tell us about that feeling.

Because her doctor put Shirley into the high-risk category, I felt helpless. To me, helpless means hating the situation, wanting to make it better, but admitting there was nothing I could do for her.

2. On that same page you also write, "One thing we learned: God was with us and strengthened us through the many weeks of uncertainty and pain." How did you get from feeling helpless to that assurance?

Shirley and I sat down one day and I put my arm around her. "The only way I know how I can handle this," I said, "is to talk about it." Shirley knows that's my way of working through puzzling issues. "Let's consider every possibility." If her surgeon decided she did not have breast cancer, how would we react? We talked of our reaction if he said, "There is a tumor and it's obviously benign. Finally, I was able to say, with tears in my eyes, "How do we react if he says the cancer is advanced and you have only a short time to live?" By the time we talked answered that question, I was crying. Shirley had tears in her eyes, but remained quite calm. "I'm ready to go whenever God wants to take me," she said. She is too honest not to have meant those words. As I searched her face, I saw calmness and peace. I held her tightly and we prayed together. After that I felt calm. Since then, one of the first things I do when I awaken is to thank God that Shirley and I have at least one more day together.
3. When most people hear the word cancer applied to someone they love, they have strong emotional reactions. What are some of them? What was your reaction when your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a pastor, a volunteer chaplain, and a friend I've encountered virtually every emotional reaction. Some refuse to accept what they hear. Some go inward and are unable to talk. Others start making telephone calls to talk to friends. Me? I went numb, absolutely numb. That was my old way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I heard everything but I couldn't feel anything. It took me almost two weeks before I was able to feel--and to face the possibility that the person I loved most in the world might die.

4. "What can I do for my loved one with cancer?" That's a good question for us to ask ourselves. How can we be supportive and helpful?

Many think they need to do big things; they don't. Express your concern and your love. Be available to talk when the other person needs it--and be even more willing to be silent if your loved one doesn't want to talk. Don't ask what you can do; do what you see needs doing. To express loving support in your own way (and we all express love differently) is the best gift you can offer.

5. Why do you urge people not to say, "I know exactly how you feel"?

No one knows how you feel. They may remember how they felt at a certain time. Even if they did know, what help is that to the person with cancer? It's like saying, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know what it's like and I'm fine now." Instead, focus on how the loved one feels. Let him or her tell you.

6. Those with cancer suffer physically and spiritually. You mention God's silence as a form of spiritual suffering. They pray and don't seem to sense God. What can you do to help them?

God is sometimes silent but that doesn't mean God is absent. In my upcoming book, When God Turns off the Lights, I tell what it was like for me when God stopped communicating for about 18 months. I didn't like it and I was angry. I didn't doubt God's existence, but I didn't understand the silence. I read Psalms and Lamentations in various translations. I prayed and I did everything I could, but nothing changed. After a couple of months, I realized that I needed to accept the situation and wait for God to turn on the lights again. Each day I quoted Psalm 13:1: "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?" (NLT) I learned many invaluable lessons about myself--and I could have learned them only in the darkness. When God turns off the lights (and the sounds) I finally realized that instead of God being angry, it was God's loving way to draw me closer.

7. Guilt troubles many friends and loved ones of caregivers because they feel they failed or didn't do enough. What can you say to help them?

We probably fail our loved ones in some ways. No one is perfect. If you feel that kind of guilt, I suggest 3 things: (1) Tell the loved one and ask forgiveness. (2) Talk to God and ask God to forgive you and give you strength not to repeat your failures. (3) Forgive yourself. And one way to do that is to say, "At the time, I thought I did the right thing. I was wrong and I forgive myself." 8. Do you have some final words of wisdom for those giving care to a loved one with cancer? Be available. You can't take away the cancer but you can alleviate the sense of aloneness. Don't ever try to explain the reason the person has cancer. We don't know the reason and even if we did, would it really help the other person? Be careful about what you say. Too often visitors and friends speak from their own discomfort and forget about the pain of the one with cancer. Don't tell them about your cancer or other disease; don't tell them horror stories about others. Above all, don't give them false words of comfort. Be natural. Be yourself. Behave as loving as you can.

A Word from The Man Behind the Words

When Shirley walked in from the garage, she didn't have to say a word: I read the diagnosis in her eyes. I grabbed her and held her tightly for several seconds. When I released her, she didn't cry. The unshed tears glistened, but that was all. I felt emotionally paralyzed and helpless, and I couldn't understand my reaction. After all, I was a professional. As a former pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain I had been around many cancer patients. I'd seen people at their lowest and most vulnerable. As a writing instructor, I helped one woman write her cancer-survival book. Shirley and I had been caregivers for Shirley's older sister for months before she died of colon cancer. All of that happened before cancer became personal to me--before my wife learned she needed a mastectomy. To make it worse, Shirley was in the high-risk category because most of her blood relatives had died of some form of cancer. Years earlier, she had jokingly said, "In our family we grow things." In the days after the diagnosis and before her surgery, I went to a local bookstore and to the public library. I found dozens of accounts, usually by women, about their battle and survival. I pushed aside the novels that ended in a person's death. A few books contained medical or technical information. I searched on-line and garnered useful information--but I found nothing that spoke to me on how to cope with the possible loss of the person I loved most in this world. Our story ends happily: Shirley has started her tenth year as a cancer survivor. Not only am I grateful, but I remember my pain and confusion during those days. That concerns me enough to reach out to others who also feel helpless as they watch a loved one face the serious diagnosis of cancer. That's why I wrote When Someone You Love Has Cancer. I want to encourage relatives and friends and also to offer practical suggestions as they stay at the side of those they love. The appendix offers specific things for them to do and not to do--and much of that information came about because of the way people reacted around us. It's a terrible situation for anyone to have cancer; it's a heavy burden for us who deeply love those with cancer. by Cecil Murphey

About the Author:

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grieving, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information, visit http://www.themanbehindthewords.com/.


Something Extra!

Cec designed the appendix to be the most practical part of the book. He's witnessed too many situations where genuinely caring people had no idea what to do, so he has tried to givea few general guidelines.

1. Before you offer help. Learn about the disease before you visit. Determine to accept their feelings, no matter how negative. Pray for your loved one before you visit. Don't throw religious slogans at them, such as, "This is God's will" or "God knew you were strong enough to handle this."

2. What you can do now. As the first question, don't ask, "How are you?" Instead, ask, "Do you feel like talking." Don't offer advice. Be willing to sit in silence. If you need to cry, do so. Be natural. If appropriate, hug your loved one. Human touch is powerful.

3. Long-term caregiving. The overarching principle is to let the seriousness of the disease determine the amount of time and commitment you offer. This can be a time for you to help them spiritually. Think about tangible things you can do that say you care. Plan celebrations for every anniversary of being cancer free.

Ask them reflective questions such as:

What have you discovered about yourself through this experience?
What have you learned about relationships?
How has your faith in God changed?



Monday, June 29, 2009

Discipline!

It’s the 40th anniversary of Disney’s epic movie, The Jungle Book. When my son was growing up, it was one of our fondest videos to watch together. We often walked around the house quoting our favorite lines.

When Mowgli (the man cub) runs away and Bagheera (the black panther) is trying to convince Col. Hati (elephant’s father) to look for him, Hati lines up his troops and instructs them in the art of military form. His trunk held high, he commands “Discipline!”

“Discipline!” became one of the most famous lines in our house. I used it often when I needed my son to buck up and get things done. The cuteness of it could soften the harshest commands.

Most children and adults do not like the word discipline. But it doesn’t have to be a negative word. Discipline can be freeing and it can bring good to people who practice it.

Recently, in the news, reports were out that health care and prevention can cost more than treating actual medical conditions. This is true only if the preventive care must entail detailed and closely monitored compliance from “un” disciplined patients.

People who practice preventive care and healthy lifestyles do not need programs to educate and motivate them.

I know. I have heart disease (unprovoked), diabetes (genetic), suffered years of surgery on my heart, cancer, broken bones, and a heart transplant four years ago. I am only 48 years old.

Before I got sick, I was a normal weight, never smoked, ate healthy, and exercised regularly at home and by enjoying outdoor activities.

Bad genes stole my health.

Now it takes me 20 hours a week minimum to keep my health in check. It’s a lot of work and discipline to monitor levels, take medications, refill prescriptions, make doctor appointments, have preventive testing and treatments, exercise enough, eat right, deal with insurance claims, nurses, billing, etc. But if I don’t do what it takes to stay on top of my health, I will suffer the repercussions of bad health and my lifestyle would be drastically inhibited.

By doing the right thing, I am free to enjoy my life after I get the maintenance part done. I have enough energy to enjoy the things I love to do and be there to help others who need a hand.

Health care starts with individual people. Denial and excuses don’t work. Doctors are not gods and aren’t there to fix everything for everyone.

It’s the same for Christians and their relationship with the Lord. Pastors are here to feed God’s people.

“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15 KJV).

Pastors are not gods. They aren’t here to fix broken people or give answers to life’s problems. They are here to teach and feed and gather.

Christians are responsible to read the Word of God, pray, and study on their own. It takes discipline and will produce a fruitful, balanced, healthy life.

“Discipline!” your physical and spiritual health to live life the way God intended—in abundance and with joy.

Visit me at http://www.cindyscinto.com

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guest Blogger



Multiple Streams of Contentment

By Karen Whiting

My mother didn't smile on my wedding day. She spent the day overwhelmed with sadness although she loved me and loved my fiancé. He was everything she wanted in a husband for me. The wedding stayed within budget and everything went off fairly smoothly. My extended family all attended, everyone got along, and tried to cheer her up. Yet, my wedding photos will always show her sad expression.

The day before the wedding my mentally handicapped brother had lost his little job of waiting on tables at a school cafeteria. Although social workers could easily place him in a new position, mom remained discontented and focused on that problem the entire day. She made the mistake of magnifying one problem, so that it robbed her of joy on such a happy occasion.

Many people let one problem override all the blessings in their lives. It steals their contentment. They forget to trust their anxieties to God and rejoice in the blessings he has given them.

Some people fixate on something until it changes their personality and fills them with negative emotions that spill out in sin. Herodias, in Matthew 14, is an example of a person whose discontent led to a life of sin. She had a husband but chose the sin of adultery. She must have been discontent with her husband. She felt more discontent at hearing John the Baptist speak of repentance and point out her sin. That led to her plotting the murder of John the Baptist. She trampled over people and even used her beautiful daughter to get her way. She ignored John's calls to repent, the one action that would have healed her heart and given her joy. Her bad choice snowballed into disaster for many.

In contrast, Paul spoke about contentment, in Philippians four, and said that he had learned to be content in prosperous circumstances and impoverished situations. His circumstances could not rob him of his joy or peace. It is very seldom that every detail in life is perfect because we live in a fallen world, but we can make choices that help us remain content despite our circumstances.

My mother finally discovered how to be content after a stroke left her partially paralyzed. She started to listen as we expressed gratitude for her life and what she could still do. When she complained that she could no longer do crafts, I mentioned that with her good hand she could write letters, a lost art, to grandchildren away at college and to her friends. She struggled to use a walker and spent much of her time in a wheelchair, but she spent time thanking God for her blessings of family, the patient care-giving of my father, the use of one hand, and a new ministry of writing letters of encouragement to family and friends. She realized that joy came as she filled her life with multiple streams of contentment.

Viewing all the different blessings in life is like seeing many streams that flow into an ocean or a lake. If one stream dries up, others keep flowing. One stream of contentment we can create is to do something for others. It gives us purpose. List your abilities and talents and consider ways to use them to bless others.

God is a giver of blessings. We learn in James 1:16-17, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Blessings from God may be in the form of friends, financial security, a home, health, pets, clothing, and food. The meeting of our basic needs is a gift. Each one of these can become a stream filled with blessings. So let the abundance of gratitude for blessings flow into your heart. Consider each aspect of life as a different stream. There is always one stream that is bubbling up with blessings to fill your life with contentment.

In Philippians four, Paul provides wisdom regarding contentment: he urges people to live in harmony, rejoice in the Lord, and give anxieties to God in prayer. He encourages people to let their minds dwell on positive thoughts, stating that we should think about what is true, lovely, honorable, pure, true, and anything excellent. Positive thoughts help our emotions flow in an optimistic direction. To do this, list the blessings in each stream of life.

Spiritual streams include a relationship with Jesus, prayer, church family, Christian music, Bible study, and church fellowship.

Relational streams include family, friends, faith friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and new people we meet.

Blessings in daily life include past memories, pleasant thoughts, encouraging words, compliments, accomplishments, laughter, and smiles.

In creating the world, God also created beauty to provide natural streams of contentment filled with beautiful sunsets and sunrises, wonders of nature, blossoms, gentle breezes, showers that cause the earth to spring forth in color, and creatures that scurry and fly about.

After listing the positives, praise God for each one. Thank God for each friend and every little circumstance that is going well.

Then list past prayer requests that God answered. Thank God again for each response. Then add any new prayer needs. It's easier to trust God and give away worries when you recall the past times when God met your needs.

To prevent the flow of blessings from drying up, of being blocked as a dam blocks a river's flow, spend time nurturing the streams. Paul's contentment continued in prison and despite hardships. He nurtured his relationships. He continually prayed and wrote letters. He sent greetings to friends and encouraged his companions and fellow-workers with praise. Paul's later years stood in stark contrast to the discontented man who watched alone, as his soldiers stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58-8:3). They placed Stephen's cloak at Paul's feet. It's a lonely image of someone isolated from others. He made threats from the anger of discontentment and asked others to write letters for him, letters to imprison Christians. As a Christian, he viewed the blessings in life as gifts from God and knew the joy of friendships.

Paul developed a network of friends everywhere he traveled. And he encouraged his friends to live in harmony and stay focused on their relationship with Jesus. Paul's letters to Timothy urge Timothy to continue his relationship with God, to visit him, and to fill his life with loving actions.

Paul's wise words offer ways to keep the streams flowing. First, continue in your relationship with God. Do not let blockage occur from sin. His letters encourage people to keep the relationship with God right and strong. He sang songs in jail and praised God in the midst of trials. Secondly, work at relationships. Keep in touch with people, invite them to visit, praise them and express gratitude for their friendship. Paul generated streams in lives of others. Paul had discovered the truth of Jesus' words in John 7:38, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

My mother suffered from cancer in the final months of her life. When she called to say she had cancer I asked, "Mom, are you ready to go home to the Lord?" She said, " Yes." I could hear joy in her voice in spite of pain that filled her body. My children put together little care packages and wrapped up a tiny treasure to open each day. They made little crafts, wrote cards, wrapped photos, and taped messages. She smiled at each little gift. She had something positive to look forward to each day. My father, her husband of fifty years, read Scriptures at her request. She nurtured the streams.

My mentally handicapped brother had to be coaxed to visit her. He didn't think mom would know him because she was so near death. As he entered the room I asked, "Mom, do you know who is here." She almost yelled, something very difficult for her to do and said, "Johnny. I hear Johnny." That melted Johnny's heart and he stayed by her side for the afternoon, holding a cup and straw for her to sip water. She thanked him. She had learned to work at the relationships even when it became most difficult.

Until her final hours my mother did not feel pain. As she passed on to heaven, my dad and some siblings surrounded her. My mother had learned an important truth: streams of contentment can be a powerful force to ease pain, change our perspective, and create peace in our hearts.

About the Author:

A creative person with creative solutions- that's Karen Whiting! She has a heart for busy women and desires to help them free up time for what God has truly called them to do in relationships and ministry. She challenges listeners to discover ways to connect, serve, and treasure one another.

Karen found time to follow God's call to write even while she and husband, Jim moved around the US and raised their five children. They currently live on Maryland's eastern shore and are new grandparents.

An author of ten books for women, families and children, Karen writes to creatively strengthen families. Her articles have appeared in dozens of magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today's Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, and Parent Life. Karen has been named Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in the World, and Professional Speakers Network member of the year award. Karen has been a guest on numerous radio shows and hosted the educational television series Puppets on Parade. With humor and inspiration, Karen loves to encourage women to nurture their relationships and family life.

Find out more about Karen at her website http://www.karenwhiting.com/

To schedule Karen for a speaking event or interview, please contact Kathy Carlton Willis Communications at WillisWay@aol.com or check out http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com/ .

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beauty from Tragedy

Late one recent summer night, the news came abruptly:

“A 19 year old woman was killed after her car hit a moose. The driver got out to look at the damage after hitting a moose that was crossing the highway. An oncoming truck hit and killed her.”

Tragedy took away a young life. My thoughts wandered. How instantly she was taken away from her family and friends.

Who would be affected? Parents getting the news will collapse with shock. Siblings will experience a new level of loss. A fiancé maybe? He will never forget this night.

The driver of the truck? His life is now changed in a permanent painful way. Images flash over and over in his mind. The memories are indelible now that they have been burned in his psyche. Guilt will plague his nights and no one can console him. Only a Divine Creator will ever be able to bring a complete healing from the pieces of turmoil.

All these thoughts ravaged my mind as I heard the news.

But then, I thought of the possibility of beauty from tragedy. Was she an organ donor?

For a moment, the thought sent pangs of selfishness through my body. I remembered back when I was sitting and waiting—waiting for someone to die so I could live through a heart donor. My own heart was failing me and at 44 years old, I wanted to live. Guilt nagged at my despairing soul each day that passed. My thoughts were often tortured with blank images of my potential heart donor and their devastated family.

How mixed the emotions become when you want so badly to have one more chance to remain here on earth with family and friends knowing someone else will be taken from their own circle of relationships. Oh God, what a price to be paid for life.

Jesus paid an immeasurable price for our lives. He selflessly gave His life so we could live. John 3:16

The words of a liver transplant recipient came to mind: “Why should two lives be lost when that person’s organs can save someone’s life?” 50 people can be saved or have their lives enhanced by one organ donor.

My heart donor—Danielle—she is my angel on earth as her mom reminds me. Her mom and brothers are my family now. I love them dearly as if they have always been part of my life. And Danielle knew the Lord Jesus. I will see her in heaven.

Tragedy can spur on beauty from the ashes of loss and suffering.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

http://www.donatelifenw.org/

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