Why the Angels sang Peace on Earth

One of the memories of my days at the FBI was leaving work on a bitter winter night and seeing bundles of rubbish piled on the street grill. I was shocked to realize there was a human being lying there trying to keep warm from the steam rising. I never forgot that sight and carried it with me for more than 30 years before I acted and returned to that scene with a resolve to feed and clothe my friends with warm coats and blankets.

This is why I make the pilgrimage to Washington DC every year to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the dark alleys and lonely streets with the homeless. The city is emptied of its ordinary daily bustle as everyone has gone home to celebrate the joys of the season with friends and family. All but those who have no home to go to.

I do not return alone. Each year the Lord brings a team of volunteers together. Now 20 others join me who have the heart to befriend the hidden lost people of the streets. We call it Operation Silent Night.

We often begin our trek on the streets with the tradition of going to Arlington National Cemetery to pay homage at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to remember all those that sacrificed their lives. Inscribed in the marble of the western panel overlooking the city are these words…

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD

It is a sobering and solemn experience which helps us to be sensitive to the displaced veterans that we see living on the streets.

One year we honored them all by laying a wreath at The Tomb that had a ribbon with Operation Silent Night. As I walked that afternoon with the escorting soldiers and three of my volunteers who had served in the military, I thought, surely this will be one experience to remember.
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But it was another year in that same location that topped it all.

Our team had spent the morning packing food, and loading the bus with items. It was around 4 p.m. when we all piled into the little bus and headed for the annual visit to Arlington. The team quietly walk down the sidewalk, respecting the little sign that says Silence and Respect and stood with a large crowd to watch The Changing of the Guard, which occurs every hour on the hour. The weather was warm for December and there were many people gathered to watch the event.

Because of my MS, I had to use my Rollator walker to make the distance. The walker has a built-in seat so that I can sit when I become tired.

I stayed at the edge of the granite plaza as I felt I needed to make an early exit to beat the crowd as soon as things were over. I slowly ambled down the sidewalk and stop by the walkway where the soldiers marched to go back to their barracks. Sitting there on my walker alone and away from the crowd, I watched as the soldier that had just been relieved of his duty marched ever so slowly and reverently towards me with his rifle over his shoulder. I felt so overwhelmed by such gratitude for his service that I made a fist with my hand and very slowly took my fist and hit my heart three times and then pointed to him.

He never blinked but continued his rhythmic pace, turned, marched down the stone steps and disappeared into the dim recess of the barracks. I quickly glanced back at the crowd only to realize another soldier was marching towards me. He was a Sergeant of Arms and was not carrying a rifle. Once again, I acknowledged and thanked him by hitting my heart and then it happened…

He continued his slow-stepping march but then his arm began to move so slowly and precisely with each step and he gave me the same salute that he had given to the fallen Unknown Soldier. A few more marching steps and his arm slowly went back into position. While the crowds of people began to pour out of the plaza arena, I sat there in silence completely overwhelmed with tears.

I will never forget that experience and the stranger that God sent. I will be forever grateful to those that have laid down their lives for me that I can live in freedom and peace.

That memorable trip to Arlington reminds me of a prayer that I had to recite as a child back during my speech therapy days. Out of all the poems I had to learn in order to teach my voice to fluctuate, was this prayer that I never tired of reciting.

Our Father, up in heaven,
Hear this fervent prayer–
May the people of All Nations,
Be United in Thy Care,

For earth’s peace and man’s salvation
Can come only by Thy grace
And not through bombs and missiles
And our quest for outer space.

For until all men recognize
That “The Battle Is The Lord’s”
And peace on earth cannot be won
With strategy and swords,

We will go on vainly fighting,
As we have in ages past,
Finding only empty victories
And a peace that cannot last.

But we’ve grown so rich and mighty
And so arrogantly strong,
We no longer ask in humbleness –
“God, show us where we’re wrong”.

We have come to trust completely
In the power of man-made things,
Unmindful of God’s mighty power
And that He is “King Of Kings”.

We have turned our eyes away from Him
To go our selfish way,
And money, power and pleasure
Are the gods we serve today.

And the good green earth God gave us
To peacefully enjoy,
Through greed and fear and hatred
We are seeking to destroy.

Oh, Father, up in heaven,
Stir and wake our sleeping souls,
Renew our faith and lift us up
And give us higher goals,

And grant us heavenly guidance
As war threatens us again.
For, more than Guided Missiles,
All the world needs Guided Men.

–Helen Steiner Rice

 

IMGP5424What more perfect gift can be given than the giving of oneself? I am indebted to those who lie in Arlington National Cemetery for my earthly peace and freedom. I hit my heart that day to express thanks for the price paid. It was a small gesture that was rewarded by an eternal memory.

This is the time of year when carols are being sung everywhere about the sweet baby in the manger. But we must not forget the reason that Jesus came. He came as an innocent child but he grew to be a man that knows our sorrows and took our sins upon himself. He came to pay the ultimate price, to give his life and be that sacrifice, that I, and you, might know spiritual peace and freedom. He is the Prince of Peace. The Mighty Counselor. The Lamb that was slain from before the foundation of the world. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the reason the angels sang “Peace on Earth.”

May you experience His peace in 2019,

Sue Thomas
Sue Thomas Ministries

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It’s Giving Tuesday!

Today’s the day! GIVING TUESDAY!! Today is the day that your donation will be doubled automatically (matched by PayPal) when donating through PayPal!

Imagine, if you give $1.00 you will be giving $2.00 or if you give $500 you will be giving $1,000!!!!

Today is the day that you can make a huge difference through your donation being doubled, whether it be for the bus for Operation Silent Night, or for the building of the lodge at Water Brooks, the Prayer Refuge. By the doubling of your donation you will double the blessings for Sue Thomas Ministries.

Simply click the button below to make a difference on this TUESDAY GIVING.

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May your blessings be doubled today,

Sue Thomas
Sue Thomas Ministries

Thanksgiving

The people of the United States of America have celebrated Thanksgiving ever since it was set aside as a day of Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims in October of 1621.  Almost 400 years later our traditional Turkey Day with the celebration of football games and Black Friday sales is a far cry from the original intent of giving thanks to God for His bountiful blessings and provisions of food, shelter, and for sustaining life.

The heart of the question remains, is Thanksgiving simply a one day event where we give thanks for the turkey at our table and for the family gathered there, or is it an every day…never ceasing, giving  of thanks in all things even when your day is down and out and you are having a real turkey of a day, to say the least?

From the beginning of our Christian walk the Word of God admonishes us to give thanks.
I love the Holy Words from the book of I Thessalonians 5:18…”in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

We are to give thanks in everything! These are very powerful words that cover every detail of our lives. Stop for a moment to ponder this statement. That means the good, the bad, and the ugly!  Does God allow the bad and the ugly… You betcha! Why? For many reasons but primarily to draw us near to Him; to lean upon Him; to learn from Him. When we are at our wit’s end and feel the weakest spiritually, our strongest Prayer is a simple cry, “Oh, God help!” We say this Prayer many times when we face the bad and the ugly.  Something deep inside of us recognizes that God is our refuge in time of trouble. We acknowledge His sovereign control and power and acquiesce that it was His Will through Jesus Christ concerning us. With that understanding did we follow through and give thanks with the deep faith in knowing that He has His glory and our growth in mind, and that all things really do work out for the good of those who know God?

For me, this past year has been a hard one, to say the least. Living with my affliction of  multiple sclerosis, then suffering a stroke last December, and then to be tried with heart issues that needed a pacemaker in July, yep, a lot was going on and the physical therapy to get me back on my feet was hard. Many days I felt like my life had been grounded.

With all honesty, I must confess that it was not until my last hospital stay with my heart issues and I was facing the surgical procedure that the words of 1st Thessalonians 5:18 took root and became embedded into my being.  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…”  It is the will of God for me to be thankful, and it is the will of God for me to see that everything that comes from His hand  is His will. Over and over this past year in every trial with health issues, in that moment of time, I saw that it was the Will of God in Jesus Christ concerning me to do a good work in my life..

Before the foundation of time my God had plans for me which are not to harm me but that I might prosper. I believe that every single thing that happens to me comes from God, by God, with God, and for God. Every thing that ‘happens’ is another glimpse of His bigger purpose in my life…to reflect His likeness for His glory!

Life has become more easy and more peaceful since I gained that true understanding of 1 Thessalonians and began to live it… I don’t need to  mumble and grumble, or fight against my trials and challenges with resentment. Instead, I know that every moment is the Will of God concerning me in Christ Jesus and I simply need to wait upon the Lord to reveal His richer plans for me.

Yes, this Thanksgiving, like I do every single day, I bow my head and give thanks. For although it is a day with the turkey, my heart soars with the eagles for the greatest gift of His love and His plans for my life.

Can you truly trust with Him every second of your life? Yes! He who made you and formed you in you mother’s womb, knows you better than you know yourself, and He has great plans for you, not to harm you but that you will prosper in Him.

May you experience the joy of Jesus as you put to practice the scripture of 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  “In everything give thanks for this is the Will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.”

God bless you, my friends, not only on this Thanksgiving but in every second of your life as you give thanks to the One who gave you that life.

Here is a thought to ponder in the days ahead…are you walking with the turkeys or soaring with the eagles?

Giving thanks,

Sue Thomas

Birds - Turkeys, Soar Like an Eagle

Hallowed Be Thy Name….or Halloween?

Vermont in the fall is the most fantastic place to behold the splendor of God’s majestic power in the colors of His foliage. As a profoundly deaf person, I rely on my eyes to take in and understand the world. This time of the year is the most incredible, awesome sight my eyes can behold!

God is basking in His glory through all the warm colors of Autumn. As His Garment sweeps the Earth, He surely is the King of kings, as revealed by the Bountiful Harvest of His  own creation.

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Red Door Church, South Royalton, Vermont

Is it little wonder that for generations men have bowed humbly before Him in adoration and praise for the Bountiful Blessings of the year’s Harvest? In the US we call this day Thanksgiving, and it has become the gateway of the season which holds all the various festivities and celebrations. At one time it was a season that once held  purity and joy and purpose.

I say, ‘once held’  because long gone are the days when families gathered around the laden table with heads bowed to give thanks and praise for the bountiful blessings that God had bestowed upon them throughout the year. Those days have been replaced by eating until we are stuffed,  then plopping on the couch to watch “The Game” on TV.  Or there is the frenzied shopping for the Black Friday sales (which now start on Thursday before the leftovers are even stored in the fridge).  Who has time to quiet their hearts until they are overflowing with thankfulness when the turkey is calling, and they are being torn by exciting sales and the thrill of watching a leather football sail through the air?

Thanksgiving is not the first celebration of this season, though, nor is it the most popular one in our Western culture. Are you surprised? You should be. The most anticipated and favored celebration of our culture is the celebration of the dead…Halloween, or Hallowed/Holy Evening.  The name alone is a smear on the name of all that truly is holy. Even God’s people say “Happy Halloween”  when they should be saying “Hallowed be Thy Name…Thy Kingdom come!”

When I was young on Halloween,  kids dressed up as clowns to make people laugh. But today, in some towns, clown masks have been banned because of their association with the violent killings by those wearing a clown mask.  We donned cowboy and Indian outfits, but today that is considered racist.  We modeled those we admired, and posed as policemen, and nurses, and firemen.  But respect for our elders is lost today and these innocent costumes have gone by the wayside.  The entertainment world now dictates the costumes of our kids.

Today our western society has a morbid fascination with the realm of darkness and the underworld.  The perversion of the haunting has overtaken the mind.  The entertainment world has capitalized on the season of Halloween and is constantly trying to outdo itself with eerie darkness and violent death.  The gorier the presentation, the more exciting to the audience.  You cannot even escape to the grocery store or the hardware without observing how they revel in the dark side through the displays. While the adults are morbidly fascinated by the haunted themes that attempt to make people shiver with fear; visions of witches and the Walking Dead have overtaken the minds of our children. I recently read a news article that shared how a young boy, as he attended the funeral of his friend’s father, attempted to console his friend by saying, ” It’s so cool…your Dad is now one of the Walking Dead!”   The thin line between Reality and Fantasy has been broken.

What can we do? In a day when the enemy goes about as a roaring lion, we must be bold!  Romans 13:12 truthfully speaks these words, “The night is far gone, the day is at hand, so then let us cast off the work of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

How much do we as a culture love Halloween? In 2015 Americans spent 6.9 billion dollars, in 2016 we spent 8.4 billion dollars and this year we continue to grow at 9.1 billion dollars!! Certainly, these staggering figures show where our hearts are!  It is truly hard to comprehend that we spend this overwhelming amount of money on the lifestyles of the dead and the darkness!

Perhaps you’ve not given much thought to Halloween and what it signifies.  But, as a Christian,  have you pondered the thought that where your treasure is so your heart will be also? If you want to know where your heart is, then just look where you spend your money! Scripture echoes,  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:27)

May I challenge you this year to seriously think twice before you add even $1 to that 9.1 billion in celebrating the things of darkness? Our world is dark enough.

It is very hard to comprehend that my eyes behold both the majestic splendor of fall with such vibrant living colors of His Creation, and at the very same time I see those that He created shrouded in darkness as they seek new decibels of fear and dread.

Where are you today? Are you celebrating life and giving thanks, or are you like one in  that popular TV series, The Walking Dead, wandering with no purpose or hope?

You have the choice, to choose life or to chose death. And at this time of year, will you choose the lifestyle of the living, or will you celebrate the lifestyle of the dead?

As for me and my house, we choose life…there is no Halloween candy here, so please pass us by and don’t knock on the door!!!

Joy is Tried by Storm

 

sunset HC

The month of July brought forth many blessings and yet it reminded me of the words, “when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say, ‘it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

But now you ask… how can you speak of both blessings and sorrows in the same breath?

Seven months ago  I was struck by the hand of God with a stroke. That was the beginning of the lesson pounded in me for the rest of my life. The words from 1st Thessalonians 5: 18 became as natural as my breathing.  “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I give thanks that as the months have passed, I have made a full recovery from that stroke. For this I give praise and thanks to the Lord.

Almost exactly seven months later, the Master’s Hand touched me again and this time it was my heart. I was rushed to the hospital on July 3rd as my pulse slowed to heartbeat of 28 to 35. The rhythm of my heart hovered there for the next 8 hours. It was decided that between my AFib and the slow rate of my beating heart, I needed a pacemaker.

Did I want a pacemaker? NO! Was this the will of God concerning me in Christ Jesus? YES! Could I truly give thanks?

I did, and it became the most incredible experience of my life!  I was not only able to give thanks for those 8 days in the hospital, and the mistake that was made when they punctured my lung during the implant or my collapsed veins due to being NPO with no fluids causing it to be nearly impossible for the techs to insert the IVs … BUT… I was given a tremendous JOY with each passing moment.

Where did the joy come from?  It came from the Lord God, who made Heaven and Earth! My joy came in proclaiming Him to medical professionals.  As each cardiologist or doctor entered my room  I would ask them,  “Are you a praying man?” Being in liberal New England, the majority of them responded with a “No” and with that, it was a God-opened  door for me to proclaim the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to them. I next would ask each of them, “How can this be? You didn’t make my heart; you didn’t fashion or design my heart.  Should you not be talking with the One Who made it? You do not know me or my heart, but you are the one person  that has God-gifted wisdom and knowledge, and the delicate hands to be used in heal me. You are absolutely nothing, but in Christ Jesus, you can become everything. You will become much better if you talk to the Creator, the One who molded me and fashioned me in my mother’s womb and the One who knows my most inner parts better than even I do.”

Time after Time, with every new medical professional that entered my hospital room, I had the privilege with a tremendous amount of joy to proclaim my Lord.  I felt an identification with the Apostle Paul who proclaimed our Lord while in the confinements of prison. It was another opportunity for me to live and experience His Word,  In everything give thanks for it is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I truly believe that God’s plans are not to harm us but that we might prosper… and there is no greater prosperity on this earth than pure joy!

I saw rain drops on my window, joy is like the rain
Laughter runs across my pane, slips away and comes again
Joy is like the rain

I saw clouds upon a mountain, joy is like a cloud
Sometimes silver, sometimes gray, always sun not far away
Joy is like a cloud

I saw Christ in wind and thunder, joy is tried by storm
Christ asleep within my boat, whipped by wind, yet still afloat
Joy is tried by storm

I saw rain drops on a river, Joy is like the rain
Bit by bit the river grows, till all at once it overflows
Joy is like the rain.

(Medical Mission Sisters)

I continue to run the race before me, strong and brave against the foe, looking only unto Jesus, as I go! Now I am staying in the race with a pacemaker to keep me going and I indeed give thanks to God for it as it is the will of Christ Jesus concerning me.

I pray that you will permit God to draw you near to Him with every and all circumstances and that you will be able to see that His plans are not to harm you, but that you may prosper. As you see this,  you can honor Him by giving thanks in everything, knowing it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. May you, too, experience the tremendous joy that floods the soul when proclaiming the good news of Christ to everyone that God sends your way.

Blessings on your day,

Sue