Farewell President Obama

Here is President Obama’s farewell message received January 19, 2017:

My fellow Americans,

It’s a long-standing tradition for the sitting president of the United States to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for the American elected to take his or her place. It’s a letter meant to share what we know, what we’ve learned, and what small wisdom may help our successor bear the great responsibility that comes with the highest office in our land, and the leadership of the free world.

But before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

Throughout these eight years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I’ve pulled strength. I’ve seen neighbors and communities take care of each other during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers — and found grace in a Charleston church.

I’ve taken heart from the hope of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and wounded warriors once given up for dead walk again. I’ve seen Americans whose lives have been saved because they finally have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.

I’ve seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I’ve seen our future unfolding.

All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work — the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.

I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.

And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’

Yes, we can.

President Barack Obama

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Age 39 Revelation

While reading the story of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22 and 23, I had a fresh revelation about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Bible states that King Josiah reigned over Judah at Jerusalem from age 8 until age 39. Assassination at age 39 caught my attention because that was also Dr. King’s age when he was killed.

God told Josiah that he would remove Judah from his presence and reject Jerusalem and the temple because the people preferred to worship gods rather than the living God.

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did-with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses” (2 Kgs 23:25).

Even though God was pleased with Josiah, he allowed his enemy to kill him after he had reigned for 31 years.  Would you consider being struck down in battle by an evil ruler a blessing? I’m sure Josiah trusted God for protection when he marched out to meet the king of Egypt. But the enemy killed God’s servant. Why? Death was a way of being shielded from pending disaster! Prior to his final battle, God’s word to Josiah was: “Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place” (2 Kgs 22:20). Wow!

After all the reforms good king Josiah had made, God took him to his final resting place at age 39. In spite of Josiah’s zealous efforts to correct the wrongs of a  nation that had provoked God’s fierce anger, the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be.'”(2 Kgs 23:27).

Josiah had a chance to celebrate some milestones before his death. Then God allowed Josiah’s sons to succeed him knowing they would perform evil deeds to undo all the good their father had done. The evil sons were allowed to reign only for a season, but long enough to set in motion the downfall of a nation. Jehoahaz reigned three months and Jehoiakim reigned as a figurehead under the control of the king of Egypt who had assassinated his father and taken his brother into exile. The quest for leadership is no small matter.

God was provoked to anger and nothing, not even the prayers of his intercessors, made him turn away from doing all he said he would do to punish Judah.  Yet, it was through death that God spared King Josiah the heartbreak of seeing Judah decline under the wicked leadership of his sons. Josiah had been forewarned that he would die and be buried in peace (2 Kg 22:20). And so it was (2 Kg 23:30). I just don’t understand why God decided on a violent death rather than dying peacefully while asleep.

Dr. King, like Josiah, lived long enough to celebrate some milestones. But God must have decided that Dr. King did not need to see the undoing of the civil rights laws that had been achieved through hard-fought battles of the many who marched, bled and died.

My study of death at 39 revealed that history has a way of repeating itself. May God bless us all and may God bless America.

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr!

 

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How to Make Wise Decisions

Tosha Freeman discusses her desire to integrate music, dance, teaching, writing, and ministry. Following thirteen years in a quandary about her career, she emerged confident and determined to accomplish her goal. This young  entertainer now models biblical decision-making as she takes a gigantic leap of faith.

Don’t be discouraged when you are faced with making difficult decisions. Pray and trust God to lead you every step of the way. God is pleased when you walk by faith and not by sight.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding  fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NIV).

 

 

 

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My Student’s Response to A Dare

One day at school some of my students ran to tell me that a young man in my eighth grade science class had stuck his head in a public restroom toilet bowl and drank water.

“No way!” I said. “That’s unbelievable.”

“Ask him, ” they said.

I  asked the young man during lunch break if what the other boys had said was true.

Through eyes laden with tears, he looked into my eyes and said, “What else could I do? They dared me. I would be called a sissy if I didn’t do it.”

I was crushed by his innocence. Didn’t he know that kids can be cruel?

 

Witnesses saw what the young man had done and nobody tried to stop him.  Growing up can be such a challenge for adolescents.

That young man and I would not have had that conversation had he been bold enough to stand firm for what he believed about himself. If only he had not felt the need to defend his manhood.

It’s often easier to take a courageous stand when you find safety in numbers than when you stand alone.  How I wished that young man could have had the courage to face the consequences of not accepting the dare.

The Bible tells us about three young God-fearing men who refused to bow when threatened with being tossed into a blazing furnace if they did not fall down and worship an idol god:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”  (Daniel 3:15-18 NIV).

How should a parent teach a child to respond to a dare?

Please share your comments with this teacher who will never forget the pain in this young man’s eyes.

 

 

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“YES” Men Are Dangerous

This morning I was reminded that God wants our obedience with the right attitude regardless of the way things may appear. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman, commander of an army (a VIP), went to Elisha the prophet expecting a healing miracle. Without leaving his house, Elisha sent a messenger outside to tell Naaman to go wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be cured of leprosy. “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy’.”
Naaman went off in a rage about the instructions he received because he had in his own mind the way he thought things should be done. But God does not move according to the way we think. In fact, we’re told to “lean not to our own understanding.”
But the point I want to make is found in 2 Kings 5:13. Commander-in-chief Naaman had people in his life:
servants/followers/subordinates/employees… who were not “yes” men. They dared to challenge the actions and attitude of their commanding officer. While Naaman was fuming over things not going the way he thought they would, these men went to him and said, “[Sir], if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
Naaman listened to them, followed the prophet’s instructions and was cured. God blessed this man after he dealt with his prideful attitude. Thank God for people in your life who will respectfully challenge your attitude and behavior and leave you to wrestle with the truth.
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I Thank God for You

Right now I’m in awe at the goodness of God and how each one of us has a unique purpose for being alive at this appointed time. God sent his son Jesus Christ that we might have life and have it more abundantly. I thank God for every doctor, nurse, caregiver, garbageman, teacher, barber, hair stylist, driver, cashier, shoe shiner, physical trainer, poet, writer, administrator, preacher, parent, student, postal worker, computer geek, inventor, counselor, designer, composer, singer, artist, housekeeper, police officer, paramedic, repairman, plumber, pilot, reporter, judge, lawyer, mechanic, construction worker, missionary, engineer, fire fighter, landscaper, therapist, employee, athlete, landlord, sales person, insurance agent, security worker, cook, friend, business owner, farmer, mortician, musician, politician, volunteer, deejay… Whew! and all who are not shown on this list. It takes a whole lot of people to make a world! We need every one of you. I thank God for how you use your unique gifts and talents to make this world a better place.

Today I’m especially grateful for the skillful hands and mind of a surgeon and the marvelous creation of our incredible human bodies. For every successful surgery I praise the LORD.
“O that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8)

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Confession of an Ex-Drug Dealer

Do you know someone who is struggling with a drug habit? Let this testimony of an ex-drug dealer and user bless you. We welcome your comments.

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