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