Thursday, November 13, 2014
Yesterday I shared this photo on facebook asking, “What does trusting God look like?”
As a former cat lady, I came to see a truth unfold about cats: They only sleep like this when are are completely at peace with where they are. Wild cats do not sleep like this. Neither do feral cats nor strays.
My lady, Polo, was transported away from us on her 1st Birthday. We lived where people came and went frequently. It could have been an accident. But she was gone for a whole year, arriving back home in the same month that she had disappeared. She knew she was home, but she was still on alert, looking over her shoulder constantly and sleeping only briefly with her senses on full alert.
Eventually, she calmed down and began to sleep comfortably with her brothers and mother around her. But she never, ever trusted strangers again. She could take off faster than a rocket ship when any stranger came around her. She gained quite a reputation as a sprinter. She never quite got this comfortable again.
As I live among loved ones who are in many different types of troubling and suffering, I find it difficult to speak in sincere words rather than cliches and well worn Bible verses. My greatest desire is that God will hug them tightly as they travel through these troubles and will make His presence known to them.
Psalm 45 starts with just such a promise: God is (my) refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
I choose to quote the King James here because “a very present help” means something deeper to me than just “a help.”
To me it says that God is in the midst of it. God is deeply present in whatever is going on. He saw it coming, He was and is prepared for it and He will help us to it, through it, or out the other end of it, as He sees fit. But He will never, ever, leave us alone in it. He suffers along side us as we walk the path He sets before us.
This verse touched my heart today on behalf of those many whom I know who are suffering through serious trials:
A tiny daughter with something unknown taking her down. Some tests have revealed that the worst case is not the reason. But more tests must be done and a diagnosis must be made. This is frightening. They need to know and trust God's part in this.
Another family with a second diagnosis of Juvenile diabetes.
Cancer patients in various stages of healing; a great grandfather separated from his family due to insurance issues and his need to be diagnosed through test after test on his veins; families who have just adopted and those who are seeking adoption against the wall of bills that will need to be paid overall, and the heartbreak of anticipation; but they are determined to give a baby a loving home; and then. there are friends with issues too personal to mention. They all need the strength that God has for them if they rest in Him and and a heart that knows that He is present with them every hour of everyday.
I can only pray that God will strongly make His presence known to them all and be with them as He has promised in many places in His word. And I pray that they will feel His presence and find their strength in Him, as He walks with them, never leaving their side.
There are approximately 104 Bible references to God's UNFAILING LOVE. This is just one:
Psalm 27:3 – For I am constantly aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to (that) truth.
May we all live with this truth at the front of our minds and imbedded deep in our hearts so that we may bring peace to our hearts and glory to God as a result. Amen.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Currently we are in a world of panic over a particular infectiuous disease called Ebola, or Ebola Virus, the hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus – AKA: Ebola Fever.
The media (and certain governers) are intent on causing panic over this whole situation, even though our learning curve is high and in force, changing as needed for each situation, and containment has been close to miraculous.
But Ebola is definitely a very dangerous virus. And there is no doubt that it must be contained.
However, all reason has left the reporting and panicking over this disease. It has clearly been shown that people who do not attend to someone in end stage Ebola have very miniscual chance of getting the virus. At the very least they have to have touched the person in some way and would have to have been direct in contact with some form of that person's bodily fluids in order to even be watched for symptoms.
The fact that American doctors and hospitals are getting ahead quickly in this invasion of a virus has not really come through in the reporting and speculations about the coming catastrophe. Right now, everyone who comes down with a fever seems to be a cause for fear.
Panic is a strong
I was having a conversation with a stranger over a year ago, maybe two, and as we discussed our aches and pains in our aging years, she suddenly said this mouthful:
You know our bodies are not made to fail like this. They are supposed to be perfect, but they have flaws. Someday science will figure out what to do about that.
As my jaw dropped and my mind was grasping what she had said, the person we were there to talk with came up to us. I was blown away that she had given me a perfect opportunity to explain that situation in testimony for Christ and that the opportunity flashed away as quickly as it had come! I was dumb founded, to say the least.
She was so right: Our bodies were not meant to be weak and vulnerable. But Science is not the answer. God, and God alone is the answer.
As for the Ebola “epidemic,” the truth is that even with the few patients brought into this country, and even with those in this country coming down with this, we are nowhere near the need for panic. But that is the big buzz for now: Epidemic sure to follow! We will all be killed.
Actually we like to panic about a lot of things - check this list I borrowed from facebook:
But, truly, there is one infection that will kill us all and which we cannot avoid. No one can.
It is the most destructive infection of all infections. Way too many people refuse to recognize that it even exists, let alone panic about it; rather, they keep trying to obliterate any thought of it from their lives.
This is an infection that all of us are born with and it came “genetically” down the line through our ancestors, destroying lives left and right for centuries; bringing all that were born to a time of dying: no exceptions. Well, okay, there were a couple of people whom God reached down and brought up from the earth before they had a chance to die; But even they were destined to die from this disease if God had not taken them home to be with Him, out of his deep love for them.
This disease is SIN. Even before we are born we have begun to die, because sin has permeated this world and no one can escape it. Even before we are born distress effects our lives; dead cells collect as hair and nails; and some things begin to go wrong with our development: some of those being life threatening, while some are actual impairments or simply distressful annoyances once we are born.
In this day and age the word sin is laughed at. Even the word evil is frowned upon, though we see it at work every single day of our lives and it enriches the imaginations of those who love horror.
But sin and evil do exist. It is a topic of much discussion ,not only in Christianity, but in religions world wide. There are many remedies suggested, and many ways to express it are shown constantly in movies and TV shows, even in innocent comics, movies and TV shows.
Why are Super Heroes needed? Because there are evil forces at work all around us. Someone has to save us from them. If there is no good and no evil there cannot be such comics and movies and shows. But they do exist, so... on some level we all pretty much acknowledge the struggle between good and evil.
Christians did not make this up. It is “Good Guy vs Bad Guy” all over the place, all over the world. Christians are simply trying to tell you the truth about good and evil: that evil is led by Satan, who is Evil itself; and good is led by God, who IS GOOD.
Satan came into the lives of Adam and Eve and established his reign on earth by infecting them with his Evil. God, knowing this test would come, had already planned the only way out of this predicament through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And God kept His word that Christ's Blood would be shed for the sins of all mankind. And that all who asked would be forgiven their sins through that shed blood.
This is a very short summary of this truth of sacrific which can be found in Christianity, but also in many other religions who developed their own sacrificial lambs to artificial gods.
The point is that knowing Christ is a life changing thing. Following a religion is slavery to rules and regulations, none of which help change or cure the conditon of sin.
There are many ways to begin seeking this truth, but the important one is to choose Christ with your heart and voice: let yourself hear Him call you, and answer Him with a ”Yes, Lord, I am here.”
Christ is wooing you even now, let Him into your heart and your life and change your direction from sinning and doing evil, to following Him through this sin-filled world, with a goal of seeing Him one day in the true home of God, where Love lives.
What are the benefits of accepting this truth: Eternal life with God in Heaven and expert assistance for getting through this life as the Holy Spirit of God enters your life and brings you Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness (a God who is faithful to you and helps you to want to be faithful to Him), Gentleness and Self-Control. As you follow Him, you will grow and grow away from the sinfulness of your earthly life to the eternal faithfulness and peace of the next.
If you are sick of sin and greatly disturbed about the evil going on around you, take the time to seek God now:
God so loved the world that He gave (to death) His only Son (Jesus Christ) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (to eternal death) but (shall instead) have everlasting life (with God in Heaven.)
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved (healed from sin.)
(Whoever) believes on Him is not condemned: but he that does not believe (on Christ) is condemned already (to eternal death) because he has not believed on the Name of the only Son of God (Jesus Christ.)
Check out John 3:16 online at Bible Gateway and you will see many translations of this truth.
Seek Him while he may be found. And, if you are reading this, He may be found right now. Just ask Him for His help for you to believe this. He is listening for your prayer.
May those who hear (by reading this) also respond to it and find the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior today.
This morning I am trying to get my faith back. Pretty silly on one hand but really important on the other.
THE ENEMY WANTS MY FAITH. That is his number one goal for my life: He wants me to doubt God's work in and through my life. He wants me to fear making moves because they may be the wrong moves. He wants me to think that what I say or what I write is wasted time and effort. He wants me to believe that I am useless on this earth.
He also wants me to fear my immediate future: Will I ever be able to walk comfortably again and get some exercise? Will my heart and lungs ever be strong enough again to support me through a serious health crisis, since I have not been walking and they are getting weaker and weaker? Is my car finally falling apart? Will I have a car to drive at all in the near future because I cannot afford to get my car fixed? Can I rely on my current income to ever fill my cupboards again with the staples I need to fix meals for myself that I will be willing to eat? (As if I am anywhere near starving, or even hungry, compared to “those little children in foreign countries.”) Okay, I am a little sarcastic about that, but one can easily see that I am not starving or even close to it – Just frustrated that my idea of how to sustain me is apparently different from “Someone” else.
Apparently I have been building up a lot of faithless ideas lately and it has come to my attention that one of the things I feel called to do has been blocked by this lack of faith. I am currently convinced that what I write is senseless and not a blessing to anyone. I have written many things that I then drop and leave in file rather than post. I am sure that those things are stupid and a waste of time for whoever reads them. I have been convinced that no one is actually interested in reading them, even though my goal is not to have readers, plural, but to reach out to someone who may just need to consider the points I am making.
I write and then I do not post because I have lost my faith that this simple thing is what I should do. Talking and writing and loving on people are about all I think I can do, so if I drop any of these things, I truly become useless.
What I need is prayer, but...
Well, maybe this is the way to reach out for that prayer. Will you pray for me?
Sometimes I hesitate to ask for prayer because my requests seem so wrong. But asking for your help is not wrong. In my Bible study, I have asked for prayer for gaining some clarity because of my confusion. This morning I looked up to God and said, “My brain has gone nuts: I cannot keep it focused on one subject long enough to grasp it or form ideas from that subject. Help me pull things together and be more focused and less confused.”
Perhaps you can help me with this? I am currently working on a post that I think is relevant and purposeful but I am being discouraged from posting it. Perhaps I should not, but maybe I should.
Pray for me to regain my focus and ability to step up to the plate and do what God wants me to do.You do not need to answer this request. Just pray, please. And, thank you.
Friday, October 10, 2014
This blessing is found in Psalm 42:1, NIV version. My first thought when reading this was of Techno-man. He is my hero when it comes to technology. One of the weaknesses I experience as an “elderly” lady, is that I am a Tech-not!
Though I have managed to learn to use a computer, self-taught over the years, I nevertheless have no real technical knowledge of PC's. I once took a class in programing (before PC) and found that my logic was very rusty and may never be any good again, even with a good dose of Naval Jelly. (Look it up.) I may never understand the “how did it get this way,” but I do know some things about “how do I use this thing?”
Techno-man is a young man, with a young family, who works from home developing all kinds of techno-things that I do not understand. He also helps with training and serving in technology areas in our church. But, if I have a question, he will stop for a minute and try to answer it. He always has a really good answer, calms me down from my worries, and even has invaded my computer to put a few things to rest.
The point is that he - a very busy, very knowledgeable young man - has “consideration for the weak.” And a huge smile as well. He has won my heart, and He makes God glad.
In the King James, the word “poor” is used; but as in many cases, this is probably not specifying just the unrich. For me “the weak” seems a better understanding than “the poor.” I am weak. Many of my friends are weak. Not all of my friends are poor. Yet they all have a weakness somewhere. And many join me in my modern weakness as a Tech-Not.
Meanwhile, there are other weaknesses all around us that are even more serious than a failure to understand technology:
There are those who are weak physically and have a hard time getting around. I have dear friends in that situation. One accompanies me to church on Sunday. Church is greatly important to her and she needs the help of those “stronger” than her to get her there and into the church. When we drive up, the men who are greeting move right out to help her; they get her out of the car and up on the sidewalk, so that she can go in and enjoy the time of worship. These men “have regard for the weak” and they are blessed.
We also have people in our church who come in weak of spirit and weak in self-control. We welcome them and nourish them and help them grow into stronger people through the comfort and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who pray for them, those who do what they can to guide them, and those who befriend them in the Love of Christ are showing “regard for the weak” and they are blessed.
And, not the least of them, are those who show regard for the children (the weak) will be blessed: This includes actively, and prayerfully, supporting the lives of the unborn children; speaking out for abolition of “sex-trafficking;” and caring about food and shelter for the homeless children here and around the world.
It also means loving the children around you and sharing your children with others for loving attention. Teaching, nursery care, youth group leading and simply befriending; all of these come under the umbrella of loving in Christ in a way that reaches out to the weak. Those who do will also be blessed.
Basically, a little compassion goes a long way with the Lord. Those who show it – compassion, not pity – have “regard for the weak” and are blessed.
May we step up to the plate and put ourselves out there, with a smile on our faces, to encourage and build up the weak, no matter what the weakness. Then, we too will be blessed.
God help us to see and recognize the weak and help us to reach out in your love, with regard for them. In Jesus name, Amen.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Have you ever been frustrated? Pretty silly question, right? We all find ourselves frustrated from time to time, if not all the time. Frustration can come from a multitude of occurrences in our everyday life: Spilled coffee, slow traffic, misbehaving children, plans thwarted, loss of control in situations where control was all we could count on.
Frustration has many side effects: Anger is one; confusion about where, what, why... is another; fear of what's next; hope for good results crushed; despair, depression, despondency, even deep self-deprecation and desire to just quit everything.
When Paul finally returned to Jerusalem, after many years of travel into Asia Minor and Greece, his biggest hope was to be able to preach and teach the Gospel of Christ to all who would listen; especially since he had such great news to tell them about the work of Christ in the hearts of the Gentiles. We might say he was “pumped” to get on with spreading the Gospel of Love and Grace back in Jerusalem where it all was completed many years before.
However, it seemed that he just ran into one brick wall after another:
First, he ran headlong into church leaders who had heard that “some” were spreading bad reports of what he was doing “out there” in Gentile land.These same men had collaborated with him on how to handle the subject of circumcision and had come to an agreement which was written down and signed for Paul to carry with him. Now they were alarmed that these false rumors were spreading throughout Jerusalem when they knew that Paul, himself, was true to the Jewish laws and traditions. They were not going to accuse him of anything – BUT – some appeasement was needed to dissuade these rumors. They suggested that he join a group of local men who were going to participate in a purification ceremony. That turned out really well for him. NOT.
When he was at the temple, toward the end of the time of purification, some of the complaining Jews from the province of Asia saw him. They accused him openly of defiling the temple by shouting lies about him and his teachings. “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions.” There was a riot, during which Paul was dragged out of the temple and beaten, and nearly killed. The riot was only stopped by the appearance of the Roman Guard.
Not knowing what was going on, they came and arrested Paul, binding him in chains, as prophecied earlier in Act. As they were removing him, he spoke up in Greek and startled the guards who thought he was an Egyptian rebel.
I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cylicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.
Then he changed to Aramaic, which hushed the crowd. Then he gave his Jewish resume and continued with his testimony in Jesus Christ, ending with this statement:
Then the Lord said to me, “Go: I will send you far away to the gentiles.”
With that, the riot started all over again. And, once more, the Roman Guard stepped in to get Paul out of there.
Being frustrated themselves, they removed Paul from the situation, but tried to further the inquiry of him by ordering a flogging and questioning. Paul spoke up again and asked if it was legal to flog a Roman citizen without a trial and a verdict. It was not. They were, shall we say, astounded about what they had almost done, but the commander wanted to be sure and asked more questions. As these questions were answered, the ones who were about to flog him quietly backed out of the room.. “The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.”
I think we can be sure that this was not a good day for Paul. And, his night was surely a rough one as well.
The very next day, the Romans decided to find out the truth of all this by turning him over to the court of the Sanhedrins, the Jewish Court made up of Pharisees and Sadducees who were not even able to agree with each other about what the truth was in the laws of God.
Things went from bad to worse when they took him into custody and those near him where told to “strike him on the mouth.” - That was an illegal action according to the law to which these leaders held themselves.
Paul spoke up saying, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall...” He accused them, just as Christ had, of being clean appearing on the outside but filthy dirty on the inside; and willing to break their own laws. This did not set well with anyone and Paul was called out on failing to respect the High Priest.
Paul, being a faithful keeper of Jewish law, immediately confessed what he had done and what law he had broken. Then he challenged the Sanhedrin with the fact that he was being persecuted for believing in the resurrection, which the Pharisee half also held as a belief, but the Sadducees did not.
That did not help. The Pharisees and Sadducees began their own shouting match at each other and the whole thing became another riot from which Paul needed to be rescued. The Roman Guard once again had to step in:
“There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law stood up and argued... became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them.”
They took him away by force and brought him into the barracks, like a prisoner. At this point, it can be said that Paul was beside himself with frustration over the whole situation. Even though he knew this was coming and that he would be sent to Rome, his plans to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem were shattered. His heart was breaking over the people of Jerusalem and what they were missing out on. He needed some encouragement.
Acts 25:11 – THE FOLLOWING NIGHT THE LORD STOOD NEAR PAUL and said, “Take courage. As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
If that doesn't grab your heart, break it and heal it at the same time leaving you with a conviction that you are not alone, then you are not paying attention.
Paul had just experienced the worst three days of his life and he was ready for some new energy and eagerness to go on with what was to come.
Is there anything more exciting in our lives as Christians, than the realization that Christ is at our side during every single trial that we go through; the realization that He is not off somewhere in Heaven tending to kingly duties while we struggle through life on this earth; the fact that Jesus is truly with us every step of the way as we remain bound by the forces against us on this earth? He is always at our side. ALWAYS.
THE FOLLOWING NIGHT THE LORD STOOD NEAR PAUL. He came in body form and stood right next to Paul. He is present with us ALWAYS, standing at our side, encouraging us to continue on the path He has set before us.
The riots and persecutions were not over; BUT Christ had already won this war.
Monday, September 8, 2014
I have many things on my mind this morning, but one thing is blossoming above the rest: Children being frightened into Salvation.
Some years ago, a four year old child told me that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior because he did not want to go to hell. I was disturbed by this, although I told him how happy I was for him that he accepted Christ as His Savior.
His parents were and are friends that I love dearly. They serve Christ unquestionably as He leads them down a road of wonderful and inspiring ministry in His name. But something about this profession of faith disturbed me and I could not put my finger on it.
Since then, I have heard other such testimonies and I have heard many mothers speaking in dismay because they fear their little one will go to hell if the do not realize Christ as Savior as soon as possible.
When you see this picture, what comes to mind? We know that Jesus called out for the Apostles to let the children come to him, and we see many images of what that may have looked like. But what do we think He is talking to them about? Do you hear Him saying to them, “Little Children, you are sinners and will go to hell if you do not follow me?” I doubt that anyone thinks that. So what DO you see and hear as you gaze at images such as that or this...
Can't you just see and hear Jesus telling them how much He loves them and how much His Father loves them and how beautiful they are in his eyes. Can't you just hear Him showing them the beauty around them rather than the ugly? Can't you feel the love and the children's excitement as they feel that Love?
I remember one mother telling me about her very young daughter and saying, “She just was born loving Jesus, and she is just bursting to live His love out in her life.” What a beautiful realization that the LOVE of Christ is enough to bring a child into a relationship with Him. He alone can make their little hearts long for Him and turn to Him just because they love Him and He loves them. That is definitely enough for the little ones.
They do not have to come laying out their sins before Him. They just have to answer the longing in their hearts for Him. Sins will be known and confessed later; right now it is all about love.
I know that it must be difficult for parents to take the burden of leading their children into a relationship with Christ. That has always been a huge responsibility. But I have a deep conviction that there needs to be an emphasis on Love over sin with young children. Knowing about sin will come. What they need at their tender age is a courtship with Christ.
Recently I was watching “19 Kids and Counting” and watching the attitude about dating and courting and even engagement and all the steps it takes to arrive at Marriage. I guess that is where I got this idea of the courtship of Christ in a young child's life. That, and my own testimony of His Courtship with me.
I had no actual concept of sin. I grew up in a family situation that was full of it, but I did not know it by definition.
God had known me even before my parents came into being, let alone into a sinful intimate relationship that was the beginning of me, the human named Cheryl.
We celebrated Christmas as Xmas with Santa Claus. We pretty much ignored Easter, except for the Easter Egg Hunt theme, and the big dinner. But because the Word of God says that God the Father desired me to be one with Jesus; and because Jesus, Himself was seeking after me, I am assured that Jesus was courting me even in my earliest days. I was chosen and I was intended to be His from before the beginning of my life. I had no idea of this and I just spent my time growing up a little; driving my mother insane with my constant howling; but otherwise pretty obedient to and respectful of her.
Finally, when I was eight years old, I had a chance to go to church. I had no idea that I wanted to do that, but I was very pleased with the doing. Mom sent us off to the corner church every Sunday Morning (I'm thinking... so that she could have a nice quiet Sunday morning all alone.). I loved going and I started learning about Jesus and His love for me. I was definitely interested in knowing more; so I kept going.
When summer came, Mom enrolled us in two DVBS sessions. That was her vacation, for sure. At the end of the second one, the Pastor asked those of us interested in joining with Jesus to come forward. I was ecstatic. I grabbed my brother and our friends and made them come with me. I do not know how they handled the situation, but I spent the time thanking Jesus for loving me and promising Him that I would love Him back.
I am sure they went through the required preparation prayer, but all I was concerned with was that Jesus asked me to be His friend forever and I accepted that invitation. I was in love and it was all about Jesus!
And for the next 9 years I lived on that and that alone. My connection to any church at all came to a halt when we moved away and I found that choosing a church to go to was impossible because they all had names; the churches I went to before were community churches without specific names. Mom and Dad were too busy to help me out, so I spent the next 8 years longing to go to Sunday school, but hindered by not being able to convince anyone to take me with them.
But the longing to know more about Jesus never went away. He was always there reminding me that He loves me and that He will be near whenever I need Him. I was still a little vague about sin, but I had a pretty clear view of right and wrong and God used that to keep me from many things that could have trapped me for life. He watched over me carefully.
But the point I am trying to make is that sometimes we allow fear to guide us in what we do; then we use it to try to accomplish what God can accomplish completely on His own. God is not the Author of Fear – Nowhere in His word does He tell us to fear; nor does He teach us to teach our children to fear. He tells us to give our children to Him and let Him court them into a full relationship with Him.
Sometimes we disregard the truth that Jesus knew these children LONG before the parents came to know them, and that He planted in them the longing for Him that He would use to bring them to Him. He did not plant a fear of hell in any of our children; and I think maybe we should not do that either.
All in all, it comes down to the idea presented to us this week in the sermon: God plants in us the way we should go and how we will be used for His Glory in this place.
There are many prophets and servants in Scripture who fill that bill in our minds: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Samuel, David and several Kings and prophets through the years.
And I always default to King Cyress, who was pre-instructed that he was to let the Israelites go from their bondage and to rebuild their lives back in Jerusalem; this even before his parents were aware of the blessing of a child to be born. And King Cyress admired the One True God, but may have never submitted to that God to worship Him alone. Still, God wanted to use him at that critical point and he was pre-instructed to do exactly what God had planned.
But the need is this: that we see ourselves and our children filling that bill as well. We, and they, are in God's hands and God's plans.
May we step back just a little from instilling fear, and get on with instilling LOVE and plenty of it. Children need love; Children respond to love; Jesus LOVES us into coming with Him and doing as He wills with our lives. We can never say enough about how much and how well God Loves us.
May we allow Jesus do His courting in the lives of those we love, and in our own lives as well. He will succeed where we may fail.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Is this the day I die?
He'd asked himself the question every day since he was (his son's) age. Every day the answer had been no. But his father had taught him, “One day the answer will be yes, and on that day you must be ready."
Yesterday I went to the library at church and sought books that might give me new insights to write about. God handed me Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn.
I am excited about God handing me this book to read - it was on the shelf displayed as “new” to the library – and it was authored by a man I admire for his intelligent discussions of difficult issues, so I was immediately drawn to it. I also picked up a second book, but this one seemed to call me to read it first. Then on page seven I found out why: Is this the day I die? Powerful question.
I know where Alcorn is going with this question, but, before I read the rest, I need to dwell on this question awhile. I know the answer for me, but what about for you? Are you ready if this is the day you will die? This time I will not be including myself in the scenarios where I usually use the third person “we.” I do know that if today is the day, I am ready.
When I had my heart attack, I did ask God to consider those who where “under my care” at that moment before he let me die. I felt there was still a need for me here. But I was quite happy to go if that was His plan. It wasn't.
Most of my readers are mothers; and mothers, perhaps, will never be ready to die, so long as their children are alive. That is a God built-in response that mothers will have, always. It is an excellent response. But we all know that even mothers sometimes die before their children; in fact it is, to a point, the accepted way that as the parents get older they are destined to die before their children. No mother can ever quietly accept the loss of any of her children. She never quite gets over it, and carries an emptiness within her that just does not go away.
There in lies an intricate and difficult problem; children also carry an empty place in their hearts that will not go away if they loose their mother, no matter how old they are at the time. Let's face it – no one is truly ready to die when it appears that their time has not yet come. No one. And no one is ever prepared to loose a loved one to death, no matter if it is sudden or long expected. Death is the curse of sin in this world, and we are all born to eventually die; but we have never found delight in this fact. Nor should we.
“Is today the day I will die?”
This was a cultural thing in the book. Not everyone grows up thinking that thought everyday of their lives. But it is a thought we all should have now and then. Am I ready to die today, if that is what will happen? Am I prepared to die, knowing that I will be okay if I do? How about you?
There is only one way to be sure about the answer to that question and that is to ask another question: Have I secured my future after death through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ?
In the world view of today (and yesterday) - “to live, live, live until I die,” because that is all there is - we might as well make the most of it and "live it up." But one thing confuses me: most people think they are making the most of it, but they are really making the least of it by spending their lives drugged or drunk or chasing the fountain of youth or the almighty dollar, while finding 101 ways to sin, and always angry about every little thing; they never actually live life in any full or joyful way.
It seems to me that - if you are going to live, live, live until you die - you should do it with some abandon and glee; not angry and empty and half psychotic. So why don't people do that instead of rioting and rousting and doing damage to each other as much as possible? It certainly seems that not being ready to die is not helpful in actually living joyfully, and in fullness of life, such as it can be known here on earth.
The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes came to realize this and wrote his findings down for us to enjoy and meditate on. In his time frame verses it is clearly stated that there is “a time' for many things, but all things add up to just one: Life is short and the only way to live happily or joyfully on this earth is: Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.
The only way to actually have something to live for is to know that Jesus Christ died on the cross to give us all a reason to live and a way to live:
John 10:10 The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that (you) might have life, and that (you) might have it more abundantly.So who is this thief? It is drugs, strong drink, addiction to looking and feeling young, living for sensuality and chasing after the mighty dollar. The thief is Satan with all his tools of distraction which bind us to him instead of to Jesus Christ. He totally robs us of the ability to live life joyfully or abundantly, appearances not withstanding. We are born sinners and as sinners we do not have any chance of living life well until we receive the offer of Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
And to find fullness of joy with abundance in this life as well as the next, we must have within us the source of all Joy and Fullness in life: The Holy Spirit who can guide us and teach us and give us the Joy, Peace, and Love that we cannot find for ourselves in this place or the next.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...
May you find the peace, joy and the fullness of life that you desire by listening to Christ's question for you; and answering that persuasive, beautiful voice which is calling you to be one with Christ, now and forever. And may your answer be – Yes, Lord, I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that He alone can change my life completely. I confess that I am a sinner who needs to be washed in the blood of Christ, forgiven for my sins and forever changed into a person who leans on Him for everything in my life. Amen.
Now go and read His Word, starting in the Gospel of John. If you are not already connected to a Bible teaching/preaching church, find one and get involved with learning more and more about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who loves you more than you can ever imagine and who will be there for you always; as you journey on this earth in life and move on to heaven in death. So be it. God bless you.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I have been thinking of updating my profile on facebook and I grabbed a verse from my reading this morning that just might be my testimony: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for His sake. Philippians 1:29
The suffering is questionable, but the part that fits is that “I was granted the opportunity to believe on Him.” I might say it this way: It has been granted to me on behalf of Christ... to believe on Him!
My conversion experience was not about my sins. I was not raised in fear of death and hell. I was not told anything about my “naughtiness” being sin. What I was told was that Jesus Christ loved me very much and that He lived as a human, died on the Cross, rose the third day and was back in Heaven waiting for me to realize that He wanted me to love Him back and to have Him as my best friend for the rest of my life. That is what I knew, and that is what I accepted.
I was changed that day into a child of God and a friend of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit confirmed that fact with me through my own spirit, and continues to confirm that fact to this day, and will continue to confirm it until I am taken from this earth to be with my Savior in Heaven.
The picture I see in my mind it that of Jesus Christ spreading out His arms and smiling at me (and you) saying please come and be my friend so that I can be your Savior and friend for eternity. Talk about a true BFF. Jesus Christ is the only one who really is that.
My life has been up and down; my faith has been tried; my walk has stumbled big time; but Jesus Christ is a Rock who never leaves my reach; who is never not on my “six”; who has stayed with me through thick and thin. He can be quite the nagger, and quite the super hero. His love never fails - not for one moment. His Mercies are new every morning, and He will nag and push and encourage and comfort and guide us through each day, if we will keep the line open to Him by talking and listening all day long. He is there and His arms are wide open seeking each one of us to come to Him and believe in Him and walk with Him, in Love and Joy.
On Christ's behalf, God the Father is granting us the privilege of knowing and lovng the One who loves us more than any human ever will or can.
Father, may all who read this today be assured that You are seeking them out to be your child through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And may we all share this love and knowledge with our neighbors whom we have been instructed to love even as we love ourselves. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Monday, July 28, 2014
As I was reading in Psalm 38 & 39, I found myself wandering onto a strange road, and asking myself, “What do men think that God sees in them?”
David is pretty punked out. He is the King, and yet he sees himself as a great offender of God. He has sinned and he is suffering the consequences. He needs to talk to someone, but who? He is the King after all; to whom can he trust his personal thoughts? So he keeps quiet. He holds his thoughts close. But, eventually he realizes that he will break apart, spiritually as well as physically, if he does not talk to someone. So he finally opens up to God; spilling out the truths of what is bothering him.
While speaking about the sins in his life, he asks God to not bring down the punishment these sins deserve; but to give him Grace and to allow him to move among men again, showing that Grace to the people, once more before he dies. It is a prayer of contrition and submission to the righteous judgement of God. It is what God needed to hear.
I could speak all day about the implications of this in our lives, but what it really brought to my mind was all the verses in the Bible that declare a man blessed.
David was a man “after God's own heart” and there was a reason for that: In all his troubles and successes, he never once thought of giving up on his God, the God of his Fathers and his personal guide and Lord.
One impression which may be just my own interpretation, but bothers me, is that men have very little to hang there hats on when it comes to “How does God see me?” I know that there are verses and I know that there are lessons taught that intend to give men a good perception of themselves, but I feel that sometimes the only people that guys have to measure against is heroes in the Bible and leaders in the church. I am sure that many have the feeling that when God looks at them, they don't look good at all.
As a woman, I have dealt with the issue of beauty over and over again. Women do that. And women go out of their way to help each other see the beauty in themselves because of Jesus Christ in their lives. There are all kinds of Bible studies on this subject and there are unending conversations going on in support of each other about this subject.
But what about men. Do men ever think of themselves as beautiful? Do men have any realization of being beautiful in God's sight. Would a man even consider thinking of himself that way? Men are supposed to be handsome, not beautiful.
I searched the word “handsome” in the Bible and I came up almost dry. The Revised Standard Version uses the word in Psalm 45:2, but other versions more commonly used, such a King James and NIV, do not use that word.
One verse – Song of Songs, verse 1:16 – is consistently translated handsome, but it is speaking of how a woman sees a man, not how God sees that man.
In my mind, I thought Saul was called handsome; it is not coming up; though he was definitely described in ways that add up to handsome. But it really doesn't matter, because most men do not consider themselves handsome anyway... most men.
Women are taught that they are no longer caterpillars, but are now butterflys – if they have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. Doesn't that apply to men as well? Doesn't it?
How many times does the phrase, “Blessed is the man who...” come up in scripture? More than I can count, that's for sure. But these verses come with a catch: being blessed requires living blessed. And everyone of these verses declares a life style of seeking God. This is not that we must live correctly if God is to see us as beautiful; it is about us being beautiful in Jesus Christ, and then showing our beauty and growing in our beauty by making God our focus as we live out our lives.
(Note: If we find salvation and then sit on our backsides watching the world go by, or refuse to listen to and learn from God – we will not be blessed or beautiful in our lives.)
So God sees us as butterflys because of the shed blood of Christ and the veil of Christ's blood between Him and us. We have been given a new existence, a new us. He sees us as beautiful when He looks at us. And he sees it now, not waiting for the day we arrive in Heaven, changed into our heavenly bodies. He sees us that way right now.
So how can manly men come around and begin to see themselves as beautiful, even though they may not think they are handsome in their own eyes? I'm thinking that they can make a point of remembering the verses that declare them blessed and substitute beautiful:
“Beautiful” is the man who... And that is not beyond probability. After all, the blessed men of Matthew are in a list called the “Beaut-itudes.” Okay... there is no “u”; but close, right? These verses, and others that use blessed, are telling us that the man who follows after Christ with his whole heart is a beautiful man. That man is a butterfly and that man will be seen as a butterfly by God for the rest of his life, here and in Heaven.
If you want to get the “feeling” of what I am saying, consider reading Psalm 119; substituting the word beautiful for blessed. David is telling us why he is blessed (beautiful) and how you can be too. Basically, if you seek after God with your whole heart, mind and soul you will be beautiful; to others around you, as well as to God. And don't forget my favorite, Psalm 1:1.
So what is the basic requirement for achieving beauty; Knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and aiming, every day, to keep his presence alive in your lives. Beautiful is the man who...
Gentlemen, allow yourselves to be beautiful. Seek after God throughout everyday; pray to live in the power and beauty of the Fruit of the Spirit; and enjoy being beautiful.
May we all, men and women, seek to be beautiful in God's eyes, and not worry so much how we rate among others. May we strive to be beautiful God's way, rather than man's way. And may we keep watch over the one whom we know really matters in our day. Amen
Consider this view:
Matthew West Hello, My Name Is