WHAT’S INSIDE YOUR HEART?

Do you remember this line from an old Sunday School chorus?

if you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it;  if you’re happy and you know it shout, “Amen.”

A woman’s birthday party came to a screeching halt when her husband crashed the gathering. The woman’s face turned to stone the moment she saw him. Her icicle frown and his cowering posture revealed the icy temperature of their relationship. As the party atmosphere quickly altered from festive to frozen, guests scrambled for the exit.

Rewording a quote attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, my dad would say “you can fool some of the people all of the time, more of the people most of the time, but not all the people all of the time.”

Perhaps we find the “take-home” from this woman’s birthday party in Numbers 32:23 where Moses warns “… you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

No matter how much we try to mask what’s in our hearts, God knows!

So, when our masks slip and the truth is revealed, will our faces show the depths of disdain or an effervescent fountain of love, joy, and gratitude?

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matt.12:34, KJV).

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the words in bold WHAT’S INSIDE YOUR HEART? and scroll down. Please subscribe and share this post with a friend. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂

A LITTLE KNOWN FACT

Through an interesting turn of events, southern-born Rose’s (Maria Rosetta) marriage to Dr. Robert Greenhow ushered her from a life of poverty to one of financial and social status.  In fact, Rose often hob-nobbed with Dolley Madison and other well-known socialities of her day. It’s said that Rose’s influence helped elect President James Buchanan in 1856.

However, when the Civil War began, Rose became a Confederate spy. Though imprisoned on several occasions, she continued to leak Union information to aid the Confederates. Then, a diplomatic excursion brought her to France, where she wrote her memoirs and sold them for two thousand dollars in gold.

Far wealthier than when she’d arrived, Rose boarded a ship bound for home with her handsome salary sewn into the hem of her gown. But when her ship reached the mouth of Cape Fear River (Wilmington, N.C.), a Union ship gave chase.

Not to be outwitted, Rose and two soldiers hopped on a lifeboat to avoid capture. When the stormy seas capsized the small vessel, Rose and her gold perished.

We know that God’s word says in 1 Tim. 6:6 that our relationship with Him is what brings contentment and is of great gain. I wonder if Rose had ever read this verse: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9, NIV).

My parents had framed a poem by Charles Thomas Studd on a wall of my childhood home. Its impact is the same as the first day I’d read it. I pray it blesses you too:

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title in bold above, A LITTLE KNOWN FACT, and scroll down.  Thank you for subscribing and sharing this website with friends. God bless you!  🙂

 

 

 

THE BRIDE PRICE

According to Jewish customs, the groom’s father offers an amount for his son’s bride based on what he can afford and the worth of the bride.

A story circulated about a man who thought his daughter as lovely as a fence post. She slouched, her smile was crooked, and she had no confidence or sense of style. What price could he fetch for such an offspring? With each sunset, his hopes for marrying her off–for any amount–dwindled.

But one day, the news this father longed to hear reached his ears. A man from out of town would ask for the girl’s hand in marriage. The father scarce could believe the report. He determined to accept whatever pittance was offered.

Imagine his shock when the groom-to-be proposed the price of six cows for his unattractive daughter. The father showed no disbelief but instead bowed in gracious and immediate agreement.

As the story goes, a few years later, the bride and groom returned to visit. Stunned at the beautiful woman standing before him, the father thought surely the man had divorced his daughter and married another. But as the couple conversed with the man, the answer became clear. His daughter saw her worth in the price her husband paid for her and lived up to his opinion of her. The ring on her finger couldn’t compare to the constant, dazzling smile she wore.

The Bible speaks of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb with the church — Jesus’ bride.

You and I are the church.
We believers are the bride.

We often base our worth on what the mirror shows, what the scale reads, or what our paycheck says. Worst yet, we derive our confidence from the world’s opinions and standards.

Thank God, while we were sinners, He showed His faithful love for us (Rom. 5:8). And He has plans for us that we can’t even begin to dream for ourselves (Jerm. 29:11).

God’s love for us is so great that He sent His son Jesus to pay the ultimate bride price. Not a dollar amount. Not an animal sacrifice. Certainly not the value assigned an unlovely, blemished bride. Jesus willingly died on the cross. Because of His sacrifice, He longs to present us to His Father as His beautiful, redeemed bride.

In fact, God says our worth is beyond rubies and gold! Let’s live up to it!

What do you have to do to earn the highest amount ever paid for a bride?

Only believe (Acts. 16:31).

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THE BRIDE PRICE, and scroll down. Please subscribe and share this site with friends. Thank you, and God bless you!  🙂

 

RUMORS OF WAR, THE BATTLE WITHIN (PART 2)

Does your head spin whenever anyone says, “our country wasn’t founded on Judeo-Christian principles”? When it’s postulated that the language the Founding Fathers used, “In God We Trust” and “One Nation under God,” reflect weak moments and/or casual homage to a god? What about the ministers who signed the Declaration … were they given that opportunity as a token nod to Christianity?

The facts recorded for time immemorial are these: the signers of the Declaration identified themselves as Christians:

Except for one, all were Protestants;

Some were ministers and had sons who were clergymen;

Many studied theology or divinity;

More than half were Episcopalians or Anglicans;

The remainder were Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarians, and one was Roman Catholic.

Thus, when the issue of State representation threatened these fledgling United States in 1787, Benjamin Franklin stood and addressed the Constitutional Convention. He authored a speech that not only reminded those assembled of an egregious error but solidified his non-deist beliefs:

“In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered.  . . .And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

“I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men.”

Mr. Franklin, at the ripe age of 81, said that without God’s continued help those assembled would fare no better at building our political system than the “Builders of Babel.”

Several articles corroborate that on Mr. Franklin’s original speech, he’d noted that “3 or 4 persons” would find prayer unnecessary.

What would that number be today?

Great Britain was the most powerful country in the 18th century, with the most well-trained and well-equipped army. Yet, 13 colonies emerged victorious against their formidable foe and gained our freedom.

A mere 245 years later, within university walls established by the sweat and blood of our Christian Founding Fathers, unrestrained despise or rejection of our country’s origins prevails.

For all of our education and knowledge, have we reduced ourselves to “Builders of Babel?” Are we once again “groping in the dark,” as Benjamin Franklin said?

America’s foundation is God. The Founding Fathers believed and sought His help. Shouldn’t we acknowledge and return to the God who “governs in the affairs of men”?

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, RUMORS OF WAR, THE WAR WITHIN (PART 2), and scroll down. Please subscribe to this website and share the link with a friend. Thank you, and God bless you. God bless America!  🙂

 

RUMORS OF WAR, THE BATTLE WITHIN (PART 1)

Do you think you’re too young or too old to embark on a new adventure? If the Lord calls you to a task, would you let age stop you? What if the call involves danger . . . or a revolution?

Let’s pull back the tapestry of time and examine the faces of those untested men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Hazard a guess as to their ages?

According to most articles, the Declaration signers’ average age was 44!

David McCullough, famous author who wrote John Adams’ biography, observed that decades had passed by the time the Founding Fathers sat for portraits. In fact, since Mr. McCullough couldn’t locate a list denoting the ages of these men, he compiled one himself.

Can you guess the age of the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence?

Prepare to be surprised!

Thomas Lynch, Jr., and Edward Rutledge were 26 years old.

Lynch studied in England and returned to the colonies as a lawyer. Though one of the youngest to sign the Declaration, he was also the youngest to die (age 30).

Edward Rutledge, also a lawyer, became the youngest member of Congress and one of the independence nay-sayers (1775). Yet, in 1776, this brash and influential South Carolinian signed the Declaration of Independence. He continued to serve his country until his death at 50.

Several of the 56 signers were trained or served as ministers. Four were physicians, 24 were lawyers, and one was a printer. The remaining 26 men made their living as merchants, plantation owners, surveyors, musicians, or scientists. Not a slothful or ignorant man among them!

Nine of the 56 Declaration of Independence signers died in battle or as a result of their wounds. Col. McKean moved his family a minimum of five times during the first few months of war. He later told John Adams that the enemy hunted him like he was a fox. Abraham Clark’s two sons were captured by the British, and John Witherspoon’s son was killed in battle.

Five signers were captured by the British and tortured before they died.

Francis Lewis’s home was destroyed and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart fled while his farm and mills were demolished, then died in hiding. Ten other signers had their property and homes destroyed.

Of those who survived the Revolutionary War, most served this new nation in some capacity at either the state or federal level.

So, back to the original question: do you think you’re too young or too old to begin a new adventure? What if the task requires you to defend America’s freedom?

This quote has been attributed to several including Edmund Burke, who criticized Britain’s treatment of the colonies and later moved to America:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”

We are a blessed nation in part because our Founding Fathers sought God and would not allow evil to triumph.

Will we follow their example?

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, RUMORS OF WAR, THE BATTLE WITHIN (PART 1), and scroll down. Please subscribe to this site and share the link with a friend. God bless you!  🙂

 

FAITH OF OUR FATHERS

As a child, I often wondered how legends came about. Here’s one that I only recently discovered was not a legend but an actual event.

One of the best-known paintings of the American Revolution, The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg, depicts George Washington praying on his knees. For years, I held the misconception that the painting came from the artist’s imagination. Not so.

General George Washington chose Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, as his troops’ winter quarters in December 1777. The setting created an optimal defense locale … beyond that, nothing about their situation was idyllic. The men were underdressed for the brutal, freezing temperatures; roads were treacherous; food was scarce; farmers were unwilling to accept Continental money. With approximately twelve men per hut, poor sanitation caused disease to spread quickly.

It’s estimated that due to starvation, disease, and suboptimal hygiene, 2-3,000 men died that winter. How this must have weighed on their leaders’ heart!

Yet, it’s recorded that his men saw Washington read his Bible, pray, and at times venture away from camp to attend church. Often he would go off into the woods alone to pray.

On one such occasion, Quaker Tory Isaac Potts was passing through the woods when he heard a voice that sounded like “a man at prayer.” Potts left his horse to venture closer. He spied the general on his knees praying to God for his country, and not only the people of this country but everywhere in the world.

Potts hurried home and told his wife the shocking sight and prayer he’d heard. How could a man be both a soldier and a Christian? Potts had, to this point, believed in the British cause. But his conversion was swift and immediate. In fact, it’s recorded that Washington spent the remainder of the winter with the Potts’ family in their home.

The faith Washington demonstrated changed the course of the Potts’ family, the course of our country, and the course of history. And, while we’re grateful that’s true, is it any less miraculous and praiseworthy that prayer changed George Washington’s life and the lives of all he prayed for?

Could our prayers do any less?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, and scroll down. Thank you for subscribing and sharing this website with friends. God bless you!  🙂

THE GREAT EXCHANGE

Stretch and bend,
Reach for the stars.
Here comes Jupiter,
There goes Mars.

Perhaps you, too, learned this song as a child?

This simple tune helps illustrate the various religions of the world. Man stretching, reaching, doing whatever to appease the gods.

For example, in ancient times babies were burned to secure the favor of a pagan god. Whether coerced or not, some cultures adhered to these demands because they believed the only way to ensure blessings, abundant crops, etc., was to sacrifice to chiseled stone or wood-carved gods.

Are we any different? Has the passage of time altered our thinking or do we still work to please a man-made god?

We all have a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts. Religions leave us searching, thirsty, lost. The world’s standards – money, power, and fame – create a deeper void.

Not so with Jesus Christ.

Biblical accounts and historical findings document God reaching down to save us. He sent His son to die in our place! In contrast to world religions, we can’t impress God by good works, thoughts, or deeds. When we acknowledge we can do nothing to save ourselves and choose to accept God’s love and forgiveness, He meets us where we are!

So, let’s forget about how to strive, to do life ourselves. God wants to wrap us in His love and freely pour out His blessings on us.

Where’s the catch, you ask?

There is none!

God’s word says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of His perfect plan for our lives (Rom.3:23). Because Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and shortcomings, we’re forgiven. No blood-letting, human sacrifices, or boxes to check.

Instead, we exchange our brokenness for God’s love, peace, and joy. He alone fills the void in our hearts.

Ready to make the great exchange?

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, click on the title above, THE GREAT EXCHANGE, and scroll down. Please share this blog with your friends. Thank you and God bless you!

FLIGHT SCHOOL

Mother bird builds her nest with choice twigs, feathers, and other objects before she lays her eggs. Her care in this monumental task ensures that her young ones will transition well.

Watch as the little birds grow and gain their footing. Suddenly, they discover sharp twigs along the edge of their home. Limited space and a painful perimeter make for uncomfortable bedfellows. Mother’s meals arrive later each day and aren’t enough to fill their empty tummies. Hence, when Mother bird offers free flying lessons, little wings anxiously volunteer. And another scary, yet important step toward maturity begins for her little ones.

We may not have literal twigs poking at us, but we’re sometimes prodded by the Lord for our good. Trouble in the nest? For our good. The free-fall? You guessed right–for our good.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19, NIV)

The illustration of Mother bird is but one of the wonderful examples of the Lord’s love for us. Even when it seems He’s far off, He’s not listening, or is unaware of what’s going on in our lives, He is with us. Though we may rail against His silence, His timing, and His method of bearing our burdens … “He is never far from any one of us.” (Acts: 17:27b, NIV)

Consider how purposeful Mother bird’s constructs are – her diligent plans secure her babies’ futures.

How much more diligent is God’s design for our lives! In fact, Paul says He set the boundaries for our lives so that we will reach out to Him and find him! (Acts 17:27a, NIV).

When we think we’re in a downward spiral, God has abandoned us, and there’s no help in sight, is it possible that He’s teaching us to grab onto Him so we can learn to fly?

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, FLIGHT SCHOOL, and scroll down. Please share this blog with friends. Thank you and God bless you! 🙂

LIBERTY OR DEATH

When Patrick Henry famously uttered the words, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” he had already represented his home state of Virginia at the First and Second Continental Congresses. No cush heated seats or air-conditioned SUV chauffeured him to a 5-star hotel, nor did Henry receive a handsome paycheck for his service to our country. Not by a long shot. Whenever congress convened, his was a long journey on horseback to Philadelphia. Whether snow, rain, scorching heat, or subzero temperatures.

Familiar with the hardships of securing liberty, Henry did not balk but rather rolled up his sleeves and inspired others to do the same.

I dare say, the hearts of those who considered freedom a necessity had rallied after Henry’s impassioned speeches.

And yet, biographers have a common complaint against Henry: he put very little on paper! Perhaps his speeches were all on his heart, in his head – impromptu. Nonetheless, if his peers hadn’t recorded Henry’s words, service to our country, and other accomplishments, his legacy might have been buried with him and known only to God. Could it be this revolutionary orator and statesman preferred action to accolades?

What a lesson politicians could learn from such an American!

Throughout history, various men and women have stood and pleaded just causes. Many gave much more, pouring out their blood for our liberty. Our hearts beat with gratitude for their service.

However, to me, no one has ever uttered more life-saving words or served with more compassion, wisdom, and impact than Jesus Christ.

The following essay, adapted from a 1926 sermon by Dr. James A. Francis, usually finds its way into Christmas cards. I believe the prose and truth are too good to unwrap but once a year:

One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

By Amre Cortadino (with Dr. James A. Francis as above)

To leave a comment, please click on the title above LIBERTY OR DEATH, and scroll down. Thank you for sharing this blog with friends. God bless America, and God bless you! 🙂

IMAGINE

“…and the great Babylon came in remembrance before God to give her the cup of the fierceness of His wrath.” (Rev.16:19b)

Does this verse leave you quaking in your boots too?

Imagine if we received the penalty for our sins … the wrath we’ve earned?

Yet, Ephesians 5 reminds us that because of God’s rich mercy and great love, even when we were dead in our sins, He made us alive with Christ. He saved us by His grace!

Ephesians paints a picture you and I need to see daily.

Stand with me in the shadowy wing of a vast gallery displaying portraits of familiar faces—yours and mine! Do you see the sunken eyes? The mottled, emaciated skin? The thick chains that have ravaged our flesh and opened sores, left scars? Shrieks of pain overtake the once proud and self-confident visages, and in their place lay the crippled, broken, still forms death has claimed. Too horrible to look upon, their torment bleeds through the canvas. Icy fingers grope in the darkness, in one last menacing attempt to capture us…

Hurry, now. Don’t delay! Run with me through a narrow passageway that brightens with each step. Our heart rate slows as we enter a smaller space, the floor ladened with gold. Awe fills us, and warmth bathes each portrait in a radiant glow. We recognize the smiling faces— some familiar, some new, some we’ve longed to meet. 

The Tour Guide approaches. Dressed in white linen, crowned with many crowns, He holds out His arms, His nail-pierced hands, in greeting. In His embrace, we escape the anguish we’d felt in the previous portraits—sin’s punishment He’d paid…

When we choose to kneel before the Lord, relinquish our sins and accept His pardon for our wrongdoing, and ask Him to be the Lord of our lives, our portrait changes. We no longer face the fierceness of His wrath. We’re wrapped in His love now and in the life to come.

That verse in Revelation speaks of a time to come during the tribulation. As you think of loved ones, friends, and neighbors who haven’t accepted Christ as their Savior, imagine in which gallery you’ll view their portraits.

What are you willing to do to change their portrait? To bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, IMAGINE, and scroll down. Thank you for subscribing and sharing this website with a friend. God bless you! 🙂