Today’s post is by my friend Diane Virginia. She is a wonderful storyteller and I love to read everything she writes. This story was first used on www1.cbn.com for a Memorial Day post. Since it is Veteran’s Day, I thought is was appropriate to use it.
I hope you enjoy it.
In Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Memorial Day speech given at Arlington National Cemetery,  the President says, “It’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins.” He lists hero after hero, outlining through these examples why we honor our fallen military men and women.
Reagan shares, “Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen. … Perhaps you’ve seen it—three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. … The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on.” Reagan is stirred by this artistic rendition of the three young men because it typifies the commitment and courage of the United States’ armed forces, some having given their own lives to save the lives of their loved ones at home.
What does the Bible say about celebrating fallen heroes? We don’t have to look far to see it is God’s intent to remember our valiant military men and women, and to recount their accomplishments.Tweet
King David, for example, like Reagan, makes an accounting of his military men and their achievements. First, he names Adino the Ezinite who spears eight hundred enemies in one battle. He continues his honorarium and names Shammah the Harite who stands his ground in a barley field refusing to yield it to the Philistines (see II Samuel 23:8). David mentions other heroes along with their accomplishments.
This is only one biblical example where military heroes are recognized. There are many other places in the Bible where heroes are named and honored.Tweet
If God is “The Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6), then why do we fight wars in the first place? President Reagan answers this question towards the end of his speech by saying, “If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.”
Sometimes peace needs to be enforced by military prowess. When godless men oppress our children, women, and elderly, it is then we must call upon the courageous amongst us, including our brave young men and women, to save us from these intruders.
Our peace is not free…. It is the gift of selfless heroes who look beyond their needs to secure ours. Jesus says,
“The thief comes only to kill and steal and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10b ESV).”
Our military robs the enemy of his assignment to destroy, and secures life for us.
It is fitting for us to honor our fallen American mighty men and women, for they have paid the ultimate price to secure our freedom, because their love is like our Lord’s. When Jesus faces death on Calvary’s cross to save humanity, He says,
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 ESV).”
Jesus leads the spiritual army, and conquers the ultimate battle—and in the process, secures for us eternal life.
It is worthy of a national pause to thank God for the United States’ armed forces, who have followed in the footsteps of Commander Jesus by giving their lives to save ours.
Thank You Lord, for our fallen heroes, for they have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free.
Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day, and established as a national observance by General John A. Logan in May 1868.
Copyright © 2019: All rights reserved: VineWords Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: Fallen Heroes: Our American Mighty Men; www.vinewords.net
About the Author
Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.
She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.
Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.
I am almost finished writing my Bible study called The Jewels of Hebrews. It is a study covering the New Testament book of Hebrews while helping Christians understand the Hebraic roots of our faith.
It’s called The Jewels of Hebrews (JOH for short) because each chapter is named after a gemstone such as a sapphire, ruby, pearl, opal, or diamond which have a biblical meaning based on their color. These colors correspond to the theme of each chapter.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my study which correlates to Hebrews 8:
In his book, The Jewish Gospel of John, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg explains the Greek word for “his own people” from John 1:11, is better translated to mean Yeshua’s tribe, or the Judeans. [i] It was the tribe of Judah who did not receive him. Overall, many Israelites accepted Yeshua. He came first for the Jews. In Matthew 15:24, Yeshua told the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came for Israel, and he sent Israel to the Gentile world (Matt 28:19-20).
Yeshua may have come first for the Jew, but he came for the entire world. The Jewish people were the first evangelists. Just think what would have happened had they not shared the good news of the Messiah with the world.
In Joshua 13-21, God had Joshua place the twelve Tribes throughout Israel. Judah was south of Jerusalem, between the Dead and Mediterranean Seas. If you lived at the time of Yeshua, you entered the Temple from the land of Judah.
As you crossed the threshold, you came to the square, bronze altar where the priest waited to offer your lamb as a sacrifice. He laid it on the altar, and you “crushed” its head with your hands to transfer your sin to the perfect, white lamb.
We can now see this altar as our sacrifice of praise, or where we surrender our hopes, dreams, future, spouse, children, or job to God in prayer.
Next, you came to the bronze basin for washing. Before entering the Holy Place, you washed your hands and feet; you must be clean. Exodus 30:21 says, “They shall wash their hands and their feet, so they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him [Aaron] and his offspring throughout their generations.” Yeshua washed us clean once and for all as our Lamb.
As we enter this place in our imperfection, we wash by confessing and repenting for our sin each day as we spend time with the Father. Now we are clean to enter the Holy Place.
As you walked through the veil into the Holy Place, you saw the menorah on your left with its seven lamps lighting your way to the Holy of Holies. We will never again walk in darkness because Yeshua is the Light of the World (John 8:12).
On your right, the gold table held the steaming bread of the Presence. The warm, moist air from the fresh, baked artisan bread surrounded you. It’s the true Bread from Heaven; the Bread of Life. You will never hunger once you have eaten this Bread (John 7:32-35).
Ahead was the altar of incense before the veil which led to the Holy of Holies. This golden table held a fragrance of sweet and spicy licorice. We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as Yeshua leads us into God’s presence.
A thick veil made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim woven into it separated all but the high priest from the Most Holy Place. YHWH (YaHWeY) descended onto the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat. Never to be closed again, God ripped this veil from top to bottom so we have access to him (Luke 23:45).
Our High Priest allows us to approach his throne with boldness to find grace and receive mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).Tweet
When we pray, we approach God starting from the outside courts making our way to the innermost Holy of Holies. When God deals with us, he starts in our Holy of Holies out to our courts. When God addresses our needs, desires, or problems, he goes straight to our Holy of Holies (our heart and spirit) then out to our courts (physical body). But, we approach God starting from the outside (praise and worship) to his intimate presence, (his desires and will for us).
In prayer, I take my time getting to the heart of God. I worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by reciting scriptural descriptions of them: You are a good Father, worthy of praise, Faithful and True, rich in mercy, loving, kind, compassionate, my Savior, Redeemer, teacher, Helper… I praise him, reminding and thanking him for answered prayers. Next, I confess and repent for my sins, as Yeshua washes off the grime of my sin so I can move toward intimacy with him.
As I step closer into his presence, I lift loved ones, my needs, my questions, my desires. I ask for truth, discernment, wisdom, and peace to know his will. I seek his heart for me and for those I love.
When God responds he goes right to my spirit. He takes care of my heart problems first. Sometimes, he reveals a motive behind my questions or hurt. The Lord may bring Scripture to my mind to answer my need or fill me with his love. He fills me with peace, calming my fears or distress. God cares for my physical needs (or my court).
What ways can you add to or change how you approach God in prayer? Ask him to inspire you to come to him daily. Renew your commitment to seek him.
That’s all for now.
Please share your thoughts about this short excerpt. I would love to know what you think! Thank you.
[i] Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John, (Tel Mond, Israel: Israel Study Center, 2015) xi-xiii
Picture is from my trip to Israel. It was a microscale representation of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple at the time of Jesus.
Love makes us do crazy things.
We sing more love songs than any other song. We hear Country songs about what a man will do for his love, and pop singers singing about the love of their life. And who doesn’t like a great love story? Hallmark movies, romance novels, and magazine articles all boast of love. It is everywhere. We adore love.
History holds incredible love stories. King Edward VIII of England abdicated his throne for the love of an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, in 1936. He could not take her as his bride as king, so he gave his kingship to his brother, King George, and married the woman he loved. They became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Who doesn’t remember reading about the famous Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra and the Roman General Mark Antony? After losing a war on Rome, they took their lives rather than be apart in life. [i]
In a recent El Paso Walmart shooting, a man shot a couple, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, to death while they tried to protect their two-month-old son. The shooter shot Andre as he threw his body in front of his wife and then shot Jordan as she tried to protect their son. [ii]
What has love caused you to do?Tweet
When my children were young, my husband built them a swing set and fort with a slide and tunnel to play on in our backyard. He started it in our garage in the middle of winter. I have the cutest pictures of my three bundled children sitting on the steps of the garage watching my husband, hammer nails, saw wood and piece together this surprise. They could not wait to play on it.
On Father’s Day, I gave Mike a small plaque inscribed with “From Daddy, with love” to attach to the wooden beam of the playset so my children would always remember who built it for them. My kids are nearing the end of their college careers and that playset still stands in our yard.
Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is “The exact imprint of [God’s] nature…” God sent his Son as a loving imprint of his nature and love for us. One of the most famous Bible verses is John 3:16 (ESV),
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
We could also say, “From Daddy, with love.”
Who among us would give their child for the life of a good person, let alone an evil, selfish, or hateful person? Only a loving God would offer His Son for sinners like you and me. Jesus suffered and died for us, for love.
Hebrews 2:9 says,
“But we see him, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
Not only was Jesus willing to die, but Hebrews tells us how He went to the cross. Hebrews 12: 2 says,
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who, for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Emphasis mine).
The Greek word for joy means gladness, state of rejoicing, happiness. [iii] Why would Jesus be in a state of rejoicing in going to the cross? Because He knew that cross would restore the relationship He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit wanted with us. We could finally come to the Father, be in the presence of the Godhead, and experience Their love.
Jesus said in John 15:13,
“Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
There are many people who have not only laid down their life for a friend or family member but also a total stranger. How often do we see videos of or read about someone who risked their life to save another or gave their life saving someone? Just as Andre Anchondo threw himself in front of his wife to save her from the shooter, Jesus did the same for us.
Jesus took the blame and punishment for a crime He did not commit. Soldiers beat Him and He bled the blood we should have bled. He allowed the soldiers to nail His body to a cross that ours should have been nailed to.
But, Jesus did what we could not do. He raised himself from the dead (John 2:19, 10:18). Love raised Him. Love gave Jesus life from a horrible death. Love left scars on His resurrected body. Love seated Jesus at the right hand of the Father.
Remember, when we read verses like “Love is patient, love is kind…” from 1 Corinthians 13, we can replace all the “Love is” with God is.
God is love. So God is patient, God is kind; God does not envy or
boast…God never ends.
[iii] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
A filter is a common word in today’s vernacular. Growing up, it meant a white, paper thingy you used in your Mr. Coffee to keep the coffee grains from getting into your cup of caffeine. Now, we have the French press and the Keurig, and there is no need of the big, white filters anymore.
Filters on our phones and computers make our selfies and pictures look anyway we want. I can make myself look twenty years younger, glamorous, silly, or like a cat, dog, biker, or a banana.
I have friends and family who love to take selfies with Snapchat. We send crazy photos to each other, laugh at one another, and make comments.
You can turn a color photo into black and white or a vintage-style picture. On Instagram, there are over twenty different filters to choose from to apply to every picture we take.
All of us have filters ingrained within us.
We can have filters for different reasons:
We inherit certain filters, people teach them to us, or they develop in us by circumstances beyond our control.
We had a German shepherd named Olivia who loved us as much as we loved her. She knew we would protect her so she protected us. She knew she could trust us, too. Whenever anyone came over, she would walk up to them and roll onto her back so they could rub her belly. She loved people because no one had ever given her a reason not to. (I realize that is not always the case.)
Our current dog, Sophie, does not trust anyone. To us, she is the sweetest dog, but let someone visit or drop off a package and she will bark and growl at them until we make her stop, which is why she must stay behind a fence.
Sophie has a pancreatic problem which also causes behavior (fear) issues. Before we knew what was wrong with her, she was already starving. Her body did not digest the large amounts of food we gave her so she ate everything she found. Believe me it was not good. She ate dozens of eggs from our chickens and a couple of times she ate the chicken, too. :((
Two dogs raised in the same way, but one loved all people and the other is afraid of everyone.
Just like our phone apps, filters influence the way we see ourselves and other people.Tweet
Hurt, betrayal, pain, illness, or any injustice can be a filter causing us to see things a certain way. Our worldview can skew how we perceive God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, or how we read and interpret the Bible.
For example, sometimes I may need to examine why I react to particular things. I have a friend who told me if I always over-react to the same kinds of comments or behaviors (triggers); I can ask God for the cause of this reaction.
He has been faithful to show me why certain things trigger a negative response from me. My trust issues and disappointment with others stem from family dynamics which affected me as a child.
God has done deep healing in me over the years.
I want to see Him without the filters caused by my parent’s dysfunction. And I want to know truth that only the Holy Spirit and the Word of God can teach me without the negative filters of hurt instilled by teachers and pastors through their erroneous teachings.
Ask God to remove your current filters through his healing and truth. Ask Him to reveal the root of those filters.
Be transparent. Remove the filters telling people you are happy all the time and you don’t need anything. Be vulnerable. Let people get to know the real you.
Last week’s blog post was on thriving in our spiritual lives, but this week I want to talk about thriving physically.
About twelve years ago, my husband and I implemented better food choices to get healthy. We started on minerals and vitamins and gave up white flours, sugars, and potatoes.
Six years ago, I started Trim Healthy Mama and gave up most grains and all sugar. I know unbelievable, right? I was fortunate; sugar addictions and withdrawals did not affect me when I stopped eating sugar. My husband and I feel better; we have little inflammation (because sugar and grains increase inflammation) and seldom get sick (as a biologist, I know all bacteria feed on sugar).
Think about how sick most people get between Halloween and the New Year when we eat the most sweets and desserts.
Don’t even get me started on high fructose corn syrup.
After I got sugar out of my system, I noticed my food tasted better. I now like certain foods I had not liked before. And if I eat something sugary now, my joints and body get sore and stiff. I have even gotten sick to my stomach. My body now hates sugar.
I should mention that I am NOT talking about naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables.
I believe God made us to eat for our health, not to self-medicate or to satisfy our sweet tooth.
Balance is God’s way for us physically and spiritually.
I am not suggesting we never eat for enjoyment either. God gave us food to be pleasing to the eyes and taste buds. I enjoy food now more than ever, but what I eat is much better for me and tastes better, too.
Children are getting Type 2 diabetes younger and younger. Obesity is getting just as common among children as it is among adults.
Eating habits are not just eating how we were taught as children, but why we eat as well.Tweet
Depression, loneliness, fear, pain, and guilt, among other things, cause us to medicate with food and drink. A lack of nutrition causes many of our diseases. We need vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E to keep us healthy and our bones, muscles, nervous and digestive systems to operate as they were designed.
We find most of those vitamins and minerals in foods grown from the ground, not in processed foods or at McDonald’s…
Many people may wonder why we do not see as many healings as in the Bible. I have even heard people claim that Jesus only heals us in a spiritual sense, but not physically. I don’t believe that.
But, could it be we don’t see as much healing because Jesus wants us to take responsibility for what we put in our mouth? OUCH! Sowing and reaping apply here.
I believe God can heal anything/everything. I am not suggesting He won’t heal because we eat donuts and candy. He alone knows when and how He wants to heal our bodies, but sometimes it may not be until Heaven.
Steps for taking control of our body’s health:
1. Examine your eating habits and pray.
2. Ask God if you need to do better, and if so, ask for His help.
3. Pray about balance within your diet.
4. Invite Jesus to keep you accountable or to send someone who will.
5. Seek healing for any reason you may over-eat or self-medicate with food.
6. Know God wants the very best for you.
He wants us to live free from sugar addictions and self-medicating. He is the Healer of our minds, bodies, and emotions.
Seek Him if you are hurting. Forgive and bless those who have caused you pain. Freedom comes only through Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:32 (NLT) says, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.”
My German shepherd was starving to death, and we didn’t know what to do. Sophie got twelve, yes 12 cups of food a day and at a year old, she was only forty pounds. After many tests, the vet diagnosed her with a pancreatic problem, called EPI, which kept her from digesting her food. As a result, whatever she ate went through her system without nourishing or feeding her body. With the help of pancreatic enzymes, Sophie is now thriving.
As a culture, America is starving. So are some of her churches. Why? We live to eat but don’t eat to live. We are not feeding on the one thing we need most, the Word. God made us to have intimacy with him through his Holy Spirit, prayer, and Scripture. Without the catalyst of God’s Word, we won’t thrive spiritually.
We need to digest the Word before we can absorb it and do what it says. But if we barely open the Book how will that happen?
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit…”
The word living means God’s words are alive, and they give life. Active is the Greek word energes which resembles the English word energy. God’s Word and words are full of life and energy. God’s words are to achieve something in our heart and life. Scripture needs to become more than head knowledge. We shouldn’t let it go in one ear and out the other, because we need the Word to be heart knowledge so it can be absorbed and nourishing to our very soul.
God’s word is sharper than a sword, able to pierce through the soul and spirit. The word pierce means to penetrate or get through. This may be one reason we may not care to read the Bible. Unless the Word penetrates our heart, we will not grow and change.
Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions, and our spirit is what the Creator breathed into us. They are often at war with one another. Our spirit communes with God through the Holy Spirit while our soul is everything which makes us who we are.
So, why would the Word divide the soul and spirit? God wants us to be Spirit-driven, not soul-driven. The Spirit is love, peace, truth, patient, gentle, kind, self-controlled, faithful, and joyful. This is how God wants us to function.
The soul can be moody, self-centered, turbulent, depressed, thoughtless, self-driven, lacking self-control, and deceitful. Satan influences our soul, by manipulating our thoughts. If we are not in the Word of Truth, under the perfect power of the Spirit of Truth, we get off track.
God wants us to be Spirit-led and Word-led. One without the other is only half the equation. Unfortunately, many overdo one or the other. We become so Spirit-led we assume everything we think is of the Holy Spirit and will act and speak out without the guidelines of Scripture. However, being overly Word-lead can stifle or quench the Holy Spirit so we can no longer hear him because everything becomes an intellectual experience. There needs to be a balance.
In Hebrews 5:11-12, the author rebukes his readers for becoming dull of hearing. He says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food.”
The Greek word for dull refers to “a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.”  Isn’t that how we can feel, too?
Studying Scripture takes time and effort.
God does not think less of us if we are not in his Word.
But, have you ever thought how it must sadden him to see the time we invest in things having no Heavenly value?
Do we spend too much time on our phones, iPads or binge watching our favorite shows on Netflix? Yes. Do we need to improve? Yes. Am I preaching to myself? Yes.
The answer lies in putting those things away for a set time each day and getting out our Bibles to let the Holy Spirit guide us through the Word one verse at a time. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Reading one verse and letting God speak to you through it is better than reading one chapter or an entire book just so we can say we did it.
If you are a parent, can you imagine letting your ten or fifteen-year-old still drink from a sippy cup or a bottle for each meal? Unfortunately, that is the state of a lot of churches in our country. We need more than milk; we need solid food. We need to get back to reading, discussing, and studying God’s Word. Our spiritual health depends on it.
 Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary
I originally wrote this for a friend’s blog. I am reposting here, because today I received my first rejection from a publisher for my Bible study called The Jewels of Hebrews.
There was a post going around on Facebook which stated, “Don’t believe everything you think.” Its truth crashed head on into my thoughts of rejection.
Throughout most of my life it felt as though others rejected me. It’s one of those feelings which is so easy to believe, like fear. We can spend our entire existence thinking people are talking about us, believing no one values us, even feeling sure people don’t want us around.
I can feel excluded when I see my friends on Facebook sharing pictures of themselves having a great time together, wondering why they didn’t invite me. When people don’t attend my Bible study classes, I assume it is because of me. When people won’t buy my book, it looks, feels, and smells like… rejection.
I am not ignoring the fact people have distanced or removed themselves from my life. It hurt when a boyfriend broke up with me because I wasn’t right for him, and when friends thought I was a “Jesus freak”, or a woman didn’t want to be friends any longer.
Even though people have rejected me doesn’t mean I am rejected.
Rejection can become a stronghold in our Christian walk. It is the lie which keeps us captive by Satan, who tells us we are not worthy, wanted, or appreciated.
One night in a dream, I saw myself with different people, in a church, at a restaurant, and in a friend’s home. I saw myself looking down at the ground not making eye contact with anyone, feeling alone, and despised. Everywhere I went people treated me the way I saw myself. I woke up knowing I needed to stop believing the lie that no one wanted me around. If I kept acting rejected not only did I believe it but soon everyone else would as well.
Victory came when I repented for believing the lie that I am rejected. I asked God to replace that lie with His truth.
Psalm 94:14 (ESV) says, “For the LORD will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance.”
We are His inheritance.
God has not rejected us—quite the opposite, in fact. He faced the ultimate rejection by His death so we can live as adopted sons and daughters.Tweet
We can turn the tables on Satan by rejecting him and his lies and forgiving those who rejected us. Forgiveness is a weapon for victory. It removes the power of the evil one and frees us from the captivity of unforgiveness. It will allow healing.
One of the greatest gifts we have is being able to spend time with the Lord. He strengthens us through our relationship with Him. He affirms us and shows us love and patience while healing the hurts of our hearts.
Another source of truth for victorious living is God’s Word. Ephesians 1:4 tells us He chose us before He created the world and Ephesians 2:4 tells us God loves us with a great love.
I love Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV). Let your heart hear God’s love:
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a Mighty One Who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
Scripture memorization means we always have access to the truth even when we don’t have our Bibles with us. Satan cannot steal what is in our hearts. We can repeat verses when the temptation to believe a lie assails us.
Prayer is a mighty weapon for continuous victory over rejection. Be honest with the Lord. We can tell Him the emotions of our hearts and our desire to believe all He says. He wants us to tell Him about our hurts and disappointments. We can approach His throne confidently and we will receive mercy and find grace when we need it (Hebrews 4:16). Continuous conversations with our Father gives us hope and the power to stand even when we feel rejected.
How have you conquered the feelings of rejection?