Thursday, December 7, 2017

How to Straighten Out the World

A small boy, filled with all kinds of playful ideas, anxiously awaited his father's return from work. An extra-long day at the office, however, had taken its toll, and the father longed desperately for just a few minutes of relaxation. Over and over again, the boy tugged at his dad's leg with yet another suggestion of something they might do together.

Courtesy Google.com
Finally, in total frustration,the father ripped from a magazine a picture of the world and tore it into a hundred pieces. "Here," he said, handing the child a roll of scotch tape, "go put the world back together."

Peace at last, or so he thought. In just a few minutes he was interrupted again. There before him stood his son, holding in his hands a crudely fashioned picture of the world.

"Son, that's incredible! How did you ever do it?"

"It was easy," said the boy. "You see, on the other side of the picture of the world was a picture of a man. As soon as I got the man straightened out, the world was okay too."

Such wisdom out of the mouth of a child!

Over and over in the Old Testament, we read that when God wanted to solve a problem, he sent a man. But the fix was never lasting.

Our Heavenly Father looked down from heaven and saw a broken world--a world that had been shattered into a million pieces by the deadly hammer of sin. But God loved that world. He demonstrated His love in the form of a tiny Baby who would grow up and give His life on the cross to make it possible for us to straighten out. That's the message of Christmas.

Courtesy Google.com
"They will call him Immanuel--which means, "God with us"--God in human flesh accomplishing what no other human being can do for us--straightening us out and reconciling us to God.

Now, we are able to help solve this world's problems by sharing the Good News. And when He comes again, He'll make the world all new again too.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Be Like a Postage Stamp

Last week we ordered the stamps for our annual Christmas letter. There were many beautiful options to choose from, but I love the ones depicting the Holy Family. The last few years I've chosen the silhouette against a starry sky.

But what makes a postage stamp so useful?

Its ability to stick to one thing until it gets to where it's going!

Remember Thomas Edison? Without his inventions, we would have no beautiful Christmas lights to decorate our houses and trees.

What does Edison have to do with postage stamps?

Edison was a man with a dream. An inveterate inventor, he made things we still use today, but his biggest dream was to make an incandescent lightbulb. He struggled for many months, making hundreds of unsuccessful attempts and spending more than $40,000 of his own money in a time when the dollar was worth much more than it is today.

Discouragement and the temptation to give up threatened to rob him of his dream, but he stuck with it and was successful at last. His incandescent bulb worked for 40 hours. From that point on, lighting in houses and businesses revolutionized our way of life.

Edison's determination to stick to his task until it was complete made the difference between success and failure. And that's what he and a postage stamp have in common! Stick-to-it-tive-ness.

As I wrote the four books I have now published, I was tempted many times to quit. The task seemed impossible. Then I came across Raymond Obstfeld's quote:

"The main difference between successful writers and 

wannabe writers is not talent--it's perseverance."


Perseverance and determination are just as important in our spiritual lives. Every Christian faces times of discouragement and defeat when Satan whispers, "Give up! It's no use. You're a failure." But the Bible says,

Courtesy Google.com
In other words, STICK IT OUT!

Some years ago I came across this poem from an unknown author:


DON'T QUIT!

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, 
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must--but don't you quit!

Life is erratic with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns;
And many a failure turns about,
For you might have won had you stuck it out;
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow--
You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than 
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt--
And you never can tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit;
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit!

Never give up! Who knows but that the very next attempt may be successful. When I'm tempted to give up before a task is completed, I remember the postage stamp, and Thomas Edison and his lightbulb. How tragic it would be to stop just short of reaching the goal!



Looking for an inspirational Christmas gift?

Check out my Alaskan Waters Trilogy completed just this year at www.AnnaLeeConti.com.






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving 1621   Courtesy Goggle.com
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. The Pilgrims had set sail from England on the Mayflower in the fall of 1620 to find a place where they could practice their religious convictions free from the persecution they endured in England.

The trip was no pleasant cruise. A North Atlantic winter storm nearly sank the ship. Short on food, water, and firewood, cold, damp, and hungry, they sickened and many of the original number died en route. Others succumbed to the harsh winter as they struggled to establish a colony.

Governor William Bradford
Courtesy Google.com
Governor William Bradford described the perils of their struggle: "So they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed. Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.

"Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation."

Less than half of the original Pilgrims survived the journey and that first winter. Yet, they certainly fit the biblical definition of pilgrims in Hebrews 11:13, 16 (NKJV):

"These all died in faith, not having the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They desire a ...heavenly country. Therefore, God...has prepared a city for them."

The Pilgrims desired a country where they could build a community based on biblical principles for their children. Those who died did not received their desires in this life, yet they prepared the way for those of us who have come after them. And they entered the eternal City God had prepared for them.

How about you? Are you a pilgrim? Are you by faith embracing God's promises as strangers and pilgrims on this earth, desiring a heavenly country? Then, you are a pilgrim.

The proof of our faith is not that we receive the promises of God in this life, but that we run the race of life so as to obtain a good reputation with God and man because of our faithfulness (Hebrews 11:39-40).

This Thanksgiving Day, no matter what our situation in this life at this time, let us give thanks to God with grateful hearts for His promises fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled--in this life or in the next.


To receive an e-mail announcing each new weekly post, please sign up in the next column where it says, "Subscribe to follow by e-mail."

Books by AnnaLee Conti. for more information, see www.AnnaLeeConti.com





Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankfulness

I once read of a soldier in the American Third Army who was sent to a rest camp after a period of intense fighting in World War 2. When he returned to his outfit, he wrote a letter to General George Patton, commander of the Third Army, thanking him for the splendid care he had received.

General Patton wrote back that in the 35 years he had endeavored to give all the comfort and convenience he could to his men, this was the first letter of thanks he had received.

Are we guilty of neglecting to thank God for His many blessings to us?

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, but for the Christian every day should be a day of giving thanks.

The Psalmist encourages us to "magnify the Lord with thanksgiving."

Courtesy Google.com
A magnifying glass makes objects seem larger. Thanksgiving makes God bigger to us.  It helps us see Him better, see His ability to supply all our needs. When we thank Him for what He has done in the past, our faith is built up to know He will meet today's needs too.

Psalm 103 admonishes us to "bless the Lord at all times." To bless means "to praise and to give thanks." This psalm is an outpouring of thanksgiving for God's many blessings.

Some of the many benefits we receive from God listed in Psalm 103 include
(1) He forgives our sins and redeems us through the blood of Jesus--vv. 3-4.
(2) He heals us--v. 3.
(3) He surrounds us with lovingkindness--v. 4.
(4) He renews our lives--v. 5.
(5) He gives justice and reveals His will--vv. 6-7.
(6) He is merciful and tender--v. 8.
(7) He is slow to get angry and does not stay angry--vv. 8-9.
(8) He never holds grudges and is the ideal Father--v. 13.

Before we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner this year, let's pause to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for His many blessings to us.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

God's Gift to a Lonely Army Wife


As Veteran's Day approaches, my thoughts always turn to our personal experiences during the year my husband spent in Vietnam, 1969-70. He left the day before our second wedding anniversary. We've been married 50 years now, but that was probably the hardest year of our lives for both of us. The separation was heart wrenching.

Bob in Vietnam in 1969-70
And it didn't get easier with time. One night after Bob had been gone for about six months, I had a strange experience.

I was living alone in an apartment just off the main street of downtown Anchorage, Alaska. As I drove home from church that evening, I was feeling sorry for myself. All of my friends at church were going home with their husbands and families, but I was alone.

Snow was beginning to pile up. The street I lived on was quiet. I was anxious to pull into my assigned parking spot just across the street from the entrance to my building and snuggle up in my warm bed.

But somebody had parked in my place. "Oh, no!" I muttered angrily.

As I drove by, something about the car caught my eye. It looked vaguely familiar.

A ways down the street I found another place to park. Fortunately, I was wearing my snow boots. Disgruntled that I had to walk so far, I gathered my purse and Bible and trudged back up the street to my parking spot.

Before entering my apartment building, I went to investigate the car that had invaded my space. That's when the realization dawned on me. The car was a two-door, beige, 1960 Chevy Impala--the very automobile Bob had bought when we started dating at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks five years earlier.
AnnaLee beside our 1960 Chevy Impala while we were
students at the University of Alaska

I could scarcely believe it. It must be a car that looked just like our old car. But no! The interior was tan, just like our car. Then, as I walked around the vehicle, I noticed that the decorative strip on the front fender of the passenger side was missing.

It was our Impala!

Bob had been teaching me to drive on the rutted, unpaved streets of Valdez, while we were visiting my parents. I had hit a pothole--the entire street was full of them; they couldn't be avoided. The car jostled against a telephone guide wire that tore off that very strip.

I smiled as memories flooded my mind. We'd had so much fun in that Chevy. We'd loved it.


Floodwaters rising at 4:00 a.m. as we evacuate.
It had been faithful even when the summer we got married, Bob and I and that car had gone through the worst flood in Fairbanks history when the Chena River that flows through town overflowed its banks.

Water flooded our little cottage and left mud and debris and a dirty ring nine inches above the surface of the floor. The Chevy was parked just outside the whole time. Although it still worked fine, we weren't sure if water had gotten into the engine.

When Bob went on active duty with the Army a month later, we were afraid to trust it to drive the Alaska Highway and all the way back East. So we sold our beloved Chevy and flew to Bob's first Army school and then to his assignment in Germany.


A week later floodwaters receded

As the snow fell softly around me, my anger fled. In its place was a peace that God had given me a gift that cold, dark night--a gift of memories and the assurance that He cared about a lonely Army wife.

The next morning our old Chevy was gone. I never saw it again. I never did learn why it was in my parking spot or who had parked it there. Only God knows.




As we recognize our veterans this year, let's also remember the sacrifices made by the wives and children who are left at home while their husbands and fathers offer their lives in the defense of our freedom.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

We've Got to Pass It On

I've always been fascinated with family history, especially stories of how the Christian faith has been passed down from generation to generation. The Apostle Paul had a similar interest. In 2 Timothy he commented on Timothy's faith, which his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice passed on to him.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul spelled out God's plan for evangelism and discipleship:

In 1858, a man named Kimball, a Sunday school teacher, led a Boston shoe clerk to give his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. That clerk was Dwight L. Moody, who became an evangelist. He led many thousands to Christ in the United States and England.

While a student at Lake Forest College in the late 1870s, J. Wilbur Chapman, attended a Moody meeting in Chicago and received counsel from Moody that helped him receive certainty of his (Chapman's) salvation. Later, Chapman became a friend and coworker of Moody's.

Billy Sunday was converted at a street corner meeting held by the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. Chapman hired the former baseball player to help with his evangelistic meetings. Billy Sunday became an evangelist too and held a series of services in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. A group of local men became so enthusiastic as a result of the series that they planned another campaign, bringing Mordecai F. Ham to town as the preacher. During the meetings, a young man named Billy Graham heard the Gospel and yielded his life to Christ.

Who hasn't heard of Billy Graham, evangelist to the world and pastor to many Presidents of the United States? And his son, Franklin Graham, continues as an evangelist and leads humanitarian efforts around the world through Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

I can trace my own Christian heritage as far back as 1650 to the persecuted French Protestants nicknamed Huguenots. My grandmother, Florence LeFevre Personeus, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The first white settler there in 1712 was our ancestor, Isaac LeFevre, who at age 16 was the only member of his large family to escape martyrdom at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They were French Huguenots.

A LeFevre cousin holds the LeFevre Bible now preserved
at the Lancaster County Historical Society
Isaac fled with the family Bible baked in a loaf of bread to the Feree home in Strasbourg, France. With them, he fled to Bavaria, then to Holland, and eventually to England, where they met William Penn, who deeded to them a tract of land in Pennsylvania in the Pequea Valley, 55 miles west of Philadelphia. They named their new settlement "Paradise," because they had finally found a place where they could worship God freely. The name of the town remains to this day, and a monument to them stands beside the railroad tracks near the spot where U. S. Route 30 crosses Pequea Creek.

My grandfather, Charles C. Personeus, was the third generation ordained minister in his family. He spent 65 years as a pioneer missionary in Alaska, 1917-1982. My parents followed in their footsteps as missionaries in Alaska, and now I am the fifth generation ordained minister in the Personeus line. Both the LeFevre and Personeus genealogies include many missionaries and pastors.

My husband, on the other hand, started his own chain of conversions when he became the first born-again Christian in his family. His parents eventually came to know the Lord too. Our son and his family are active in ministry. And now, our grandson and his wife are preparing to go to Thailand on a two-year missionary assignment, which may be extended.

What about you? Do you have a Christian heritage? I'd love to hear about it.

It's been said that Christianity is always a generation away from extinction. God has no grandchildren. No matter whether we are a minister or not, passing our Christian faith on to our children and associates is our greatest privilege and responsibility. A shoe clerk led D. L. Moody to the Lord and started the above chain that continued to Billy Graham, perhaps the most influential Christian evangelist in the modern world.

Are you teaching "these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others"?

My grandparents' story is told in my book, Frontiers of Faith. You may also enjoy my historical Christian fiction trilogy based on true incidents my grandparents told about. To read more about them, go to my website: www.AnnaLeeConti.com

Thursday, October 26, 2017

100th Anniversary Celebration at Juneau Christian Center

Juneau Christian Center Past and Present
This past month I had the great privilege of returning to my childhood home for the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Assemblies of God church in Juneau, Alaska, pioneered by my grandparents, Charles & Florence Personeus, in 1917.

I wasn't born there, but I lived in Juneau from my earliest memories until I completed 7th grade. I grew up in this church, so this celebration was especially meaningful to me. All of my spiritual formation took place here, as well as my call to fulltime ministry. Returning for this celebration fulfilled a long-held dream. Since this year my husband and I also celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, we decided this trip was how we would commemorate it too.

What a celebration it was! Here are a few photos (courtesy of the Alaska Ministry Network) of the event held at what is now called Juneau Christian Center.

A banquet at the church kicked off the weekend event.
I was the guest speaker at the banquet. I recalled my memories of growing up in
the Juneau church and shared about my grandparents' call to Alaska and
their 22 years of pioneering the church 
in Juneau (1917-1939).

The entire Alaska Ministry Network flew in for the celebration. Alaska District Superintendent,
Rev. Bill Welch, presented a commemorative plaque to the pastor and his wife,
 Mike & Deenie Rose, who were also celebrating 30 years as pastors at Juneau Christian Center.


The plaque showing the church's previous name
from the former church building was on display.
I brought greetings from my 95-year-old father,
Rev. Robert E.  Cousart, a former member of the
 church, and the First Secretary Treasurer of the
Alaska District


When I concluded my presentation, I challenged everyone to be found
faithful in carrying out the ministry God calls us to do for Him.
Pastor Rose closed in prayer.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Mike Rose preached a powerful
message, "Surging into the Future," a fitting conclusion to
a memorable celebration and a launch into the next 100 years.

Reconnecting with friends from years gone by and making new ones were highlights of our visit.

Even the weather cooperated! Juneau had a rainy summer and rain was forecast for this week too. We landed at the airport in pouring rain. The next morning, though, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted to reveal the tops of the beautiful mountains that surround Juneau, and the sun came out. No rain fell for the next 5 days!

We visited all the scenes of my childhood--the Bethel Beach Children's Home my parents' operated for 5 years had long been demolished to make way for Egan Highway, but I recognized the twin peaks on Douglas Island right across Gastineau Channel from where the home had been.

We drove up Starr Hill past the house we lived in just three houses down from the beginning of the trail up Mt. Roberts. I pointed out Harborview School, where mine was the first 1st grade class to attend there. The 5th Street School, where I went to 3rd-7th grades, is now a vacant lot.

At the old Alaska Coastal Airlines on the waterfront, where my father worked as boss of cargo for the 10 years we lived in Juneau, we ate several times at The Hangar, a restaurant located in that building that overlooks the channel. We especially enjoyed the fresh halibut, my favorite fish.

Funny, how narrow and steep the streets of Juneau are. As a child, I didn't realize that, but then we usually walked everywhere.

Of course, we went to see Mendenhall Glacier, one of the most photographed glaciers in the world. And we drove past Auke Bay and Tee Harbor, where my family picnicked often in those early years, and then out the road as far as it went, where we could see the beginning of Lynn Canal.

One morning we ate sourdough pancakes with Alaskan blueberries. Yum! Our table had a great view of Mt. Juneau towering above the Governor's Mansion. Right across the street from it the house where my Uncle Byron was born in 1918 (the blue house with the square cupola on top) still stands.

Two of my Alaskan Waters novels feature Juneau. The second half of Book Three, Beside Still Waters," is set here. Bob continually asked me, "Is this where Violet did _________?"

It was a week I'll never forget!


My grandparents' story is recounted in my book, Frontiers of Faith. They are also featured in my novels under the fictitious name of Pennington.